02.20.10

Jerry Manuel – Considering Squandering An Excellent Leadoff Threat As His No. 3 Hitter (OR, “Can Jose Be The 5th Starter, Too?”)

Posted in Baseball at 3:12 pm by

Could there be any greater confirmation that Jerry Manuel has little confidence in David Wright and/or Carlos Beltran’s power numbers rebounding at cavernous Citi Field than the Mets manager telling writers yesterday he’s considering penciling in SS Jose Reyes as his number 3 hitter in the batting order? Reyes might be one of the few Mets who might thrive at Citi Field, assuming he stays healthy, though Gangsta Jerry’s scheme leaves other Mets in flux, in particular, mooted leadoff man Angel Pagan and the aforementioned Beltran. Manuel’s thoughts on the matter are provided by the New York Times’ David Waldstein :

With Beltran out for what could be the first two months of the season with a knee injury, Manuel feels the need to get more production out of his lineup. But he also said that if Reyes was doing well when Beltran returned, he would not be inclined to move him back to the leadoff spot.

œHe would stay there and I could fluctuate with Beltran at any place between second, fourth, fifth, Manuel said.

What he did not expound on is that the Mets do not necessarily see Reyes as the prototypical leadoff hitter. He is an aggressive hitter who does not take many pitches or draw a lot of walks, he does not have a high on-base percentage, and he has some power, which could naturally increase as he gets older.

œReyes should be at that period in his evolution that he could be a No. 3 hitter on a good team, Manuel said.

Manuel offered up either Angel Pagan, who will compete for the starting center field job in Beltran™s absence, or second baseman Luis Castillo as replacements for Reyes in the leadoff position. He sounded as if he preferred Castillo because of his .387 on-base percentage last season.

Reyes said he would not change his game if he hit third, but Manuel said he would probably drive in more runs and steal fewer bases.

Aside from his first year in the majors in 2003, Reyes hit .300 only once, hitting that exact mark in 2006. He has hit at least 30 doubles in each of his last three full seasons, but has never hit more than 19 home runs.

œI don™t expect him to try to be a 30 home run guy, Manuel said. œI expect him to still hit the triples, hit the doubles and still be a threat, but have a good feel of hitting with a man in scoring position early in the game.

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