Church’s Future

Since the season ended, we’re all looking at the
changes the Mets need to make, and most of us have a couple players at the top
of their list of people they’d like to see elsewhere.  Notably, the
majority of the bullpen and Luis Castillo tops most lists. Recently, though,
I’ve seen people list Ryan Church up there, and I’m a little perplexed. Sure
Ryan Church lost a lot of production at the plate down the stretch, but he
injured himself (twice) exemplifying the type of play we look for in our

Mets fans and media-alike have been crying out
for the Mets to fill their holes with players who have grit. Ryan Church not
only carried this team offensively through the first two months of the season,
but he concussed himself not once, but twice this year in the process. On those
two plays, he injured himself because he played with the grit necessary to make
the play, to make the difference. His first concussion occurred in a Spring
Training game where he collided with Marlon Anderson in shallow right field. Church’s
second concussion occurred in a close game in May as he was trying to break up
a double play against the Braves. Granted, he should be exercising caution out
there, especially in a Spring Training game.   

When these injuries occurred, the Mets were
already seeing that they needed all hands on deck. Thus, Church forged forward,
stating that he could play. After the second concussion, the Mets should have
just shut him down. Instead, they chose to fly the recovering Church across the
country to their upcoming series in
Colorado. You don’t need to be a
doctor to know this is a stupid idea for someone who has just experience his
second concussion in two months. During this time, the Mets relied on reports
from Church that he was “good to go” and pinch-hit in three games and
started four. It seemed as though it was only after media attention to their
blunder did the Mets decide that something wasn’t right in Church’s head and
put him on the 15 day DL, three weeks after the second concussion.  Church
ended up missing upwards of 2 ½ months because of these injuries.  

Even taking away his offensive production,
Church patrols right field with a good ability, and he’s got a cannon for an
arm with good accuracy.  Runners think twice about taking that extra base
with Church patrolling right field for the Mets.

Church was batting .311 when he had his second
concussion in
Atlanta.  He ended the
season with a .276 batting average and 12 HRs and 49 RBI’s.  In 2007 with
the Nationals, Church batted .272 with 15 HRs and 70 RBI.  With the Mets
lineup around him, I expect that Church could surpass these numbers, especially
in the RBI department (given a healthy season).

Now, people are calling for him to be put on the
platform of the off-season catapult.  It bothers me that we can act like
Johnny-Come-Lately’s so much (I’ve fallen victim to this way of thinking as
well).  Granted, Ryan never returned to the batter we had before the
injuries.  Could it have been a honeymoon period of productivity the first
two months?  Sure. I think that Church has shown the guts and grit that
we’re looking for on this team, and deserves to be our starting right fielder
in 2009.