It’s time for Jerry Manuel to call in the dogs on his batting order experiment and return Jose Reyes from third to leading off.
In theory, the switch was to provide Jason Bay with more fastballs with Reyes on base as a steal threat. In reality, neither is hitting and it is time to return to the basics … and that begins with Reyes.
Reyes is out of his element in the three hole and you can see that in every swing-out-of-his shoes at-bat. Reyes has become the pop-up king. It is clear he has adjusted his game mentally and is trying to lift everything.
Personally, I think when they go back Reyes will be so entrenched in bad habits that he’ll be totally lose.
As for Bay, he’s not hitting anything, fastballs included.
“I’ve been seeing more fastballs because I can’t hit them,’’ said Bay, who hit in nine straight then has fallen into a funk going hitless in his last 15 at-bats and is batting just .238 on the season and on pace to strike out 191 times.
The Mets knew when they signed him that he’d be streaky, so maybe he’ll figure it out. Then again, maybe he won’t and will have the kind of power year David Wright had last season. Only thing, Wright made up for it with average and getting on base.
For the past five seasons we’ve been told Reyes has the potential to be this generation’s Rickey Henderson. He, quite simply, has all the tools to be the game’s premier leadoff hitter.
Angel Pagan, however, does not. So return to the fundamentals and put Reyes back into the spot where he has the best chance to perform.
A No. 2 needs to be patient, he needs to exercise bat control and put the ball in play. Hitting second snapped Wright out of slumps before and it might be time to think the same might work for Bay. And, if Reyes snaps out of it, Bay should be seeing those fastballs Manuel promised. If nothing else, it will remove what has been a consistent out in the middle of the order.
Wright is the team’s best hitter in Carlos Beltran’s absence and should go back to hitting third.
Quite honestly, if you tinker with Bay hitting second – and I doubt they will – that leaves a hole at No. 4. If not there are four options: Jeff Francoeur, who has been spotty lately; Ike Davis, who might have the best plate presence in the line-up and Rod Barajas, who is tied with Wright for the team lead in homers.
As Reyes played out of his game moving to third, I’d be wary of moving Davis to clean-up for fear of picking up bad habits.
I’d try Francoeur – who has hit there before – and have Davis bat fifth followed by Barajas. Then I’d go with Pagan and Luis Castillo, which in theory would bunch the speed together and consequently help Bay.
Whatever Manuel does, something needs to be done because this line-up isn’t clicking. Manuel made the initial move out of desperate measures. Well, these are also desperate measures.