Onward and upward. I’m not going to let a four game series in Miami define what the Mets will do over the next 149 games. It’s a long season, there’s still a lot of baseball to play, there’s still a lot of roster moves to come, and I can assure you that just like the last two seasons, this is not the team we’ll end the regular season with. In other words, chill out.
That said, I do have one concern and that’s with the leadoff spot in the lineup, currently reoccupied by third baseman Jose Reyes. Spare me your “it’s only April” tirades because if you really understand this game, you’d understand that as long as Reyes keeps swinging off the back of his heels and lifting most of the balls he hits into the air, it doesn’t matter if it’s April, June or August. Reyes poses a big problem right now and me, you, Sandy Alderson and Terry Collins knows it.
The Mets have hit a major league-leading 22 home runs so far this season, and yet all those homers were only good enough for 27 runs scored. Where have we seen that before?
While Asdrubal Cabrera is enjoying a strong start to the season batting in the number two spot, our table-setter in chief is mired in the worst slump of his career to begin a season. Reyes is hitting .087/.186/.109 in 46 at-bats with one double, five walks and 13 strikeouts.
Collins has turned to Curtis Granderson again to reprise the leadoff role, but let’s face it, he was never really good at it before, and this season he’s off to a rough start himself, batting .174/.235/.261 in 49 at-bats.
“We’ve got to get guys on, we’ve got to get the top of the order going,” Terry Collins said. “We’ve got to get Jose going. He’s just a really, really big piece of this offense. We’ve got to get him going.”
The problem as I see it is that Collins seems to think that his leadoff options are limited to Reyes and Granderson, a predisposition that undermines the team’s ability to correct the problem and score more runs.
With players like Jay Bruce (.364 OBP) and Lucas Duda (.353 OBP) off to strong starts and getting on base at an above average clip, why not blow a hole into that antiquated thinking that speed is a prerequisite to batting leadoff?
Sure it may look odd seeing Bruce or Duda at the top of the lineup, but who cares about outward appearances if the team is scoring runs in bunches and no longer squandering solid starts from their top three pitchers?
Eventually, Reyes might start putting the ball on the ground again and not lifting baseballs into the air at a Dave Kingman pace. And when that happens then we can move him back into the leadoff spot again. But until that happens Terry Collins will need to be more creative and stop being a slave to old ideas and outdated thinking.
I believe that Duda or Bruce can jump start this team’s offense and get them back on track while batting in the top spot of the order. And wouldn’t it be nice to see Reyes batting seventh or eighth instead of Travis d’Arnaud who could replace Bruce or Duda in the number five spot.
And heck, I don’t know how long d’Arnaud will continue to produce at a .323/.417/.645 clip, but as long as he is why not bat him third while we’re at it?
The point is that the Mets have many options and interchangeable parts. It’s time we start employing a philosophy that understands that and letting that dynamic put more W’s in the win column.