As usual, the New York Mets ignored my advice and didn’t sign Manny Ramirez. They could have done it, you know. If the Dodgers talked him into a two-year deal, the Mets could have done it, too. I know a lot of you disagree with me, but my point is this: with Manny in the batting order, the Mets would have the best hitting team in baseball.
Of course, you can argue that they already have the best hitting team in baseball. In fact, I will argue it: last year, the Mets tied with the Phillies for the second highest total of runs scored in the National League, 799 (56 behind the Chicago Cubs). But the Cubs played their home games in Wrigley, a great hitter’s park, and the Mets played theirs in a bad one, Shea. If you look what the Mets did on the road, they were first in runs scored (six ahead of the St. Louis Cardinals), and only five behind the major league’s best road-hitting team, the Texas Rangers — if you spotted the Mets a DH for a season, they surely would have passed up the Rangers. Now, if they had Ramirez this year …
Okay, I’ll drop the discussion of Manny except to add that there is no
good reason why the Mets can’t have the league’s best hitting team. In
fact, I’ll go ahead and make a projection right here: no matter how
Citifield turns out as a hitter’s park, the Mets will have the best
hitting lineup in baseball. Jose Reyes, David Wright, Carlos Beltran,
and Carlos Delgado should hit 115 home runs minimum and steal 90-100
bases (despite Delgado’s pushing 37), making them the best combination
of lumber and lightning in baseball.
As of this morning, it
looks as though Jerry Manuel has given up the silly experiment of
batting Luis Castillo first, ahead of Reyes. Not that batting second
would have cramped Reyes’s style much anyway, but batting first give
him his best chance of having his superstar breakout MVP season. Daniel
Murphy looks to be the starting leftfielder and number two hitter, and
if his on base percentage (.397 in 151 plate appearances in 2008)
holds up over the season, the Mets’ run scoring could be off the
We’re guessing that Wright will bat third and
Beltran fourth with some occasional flipping to take advantage of
Beltran’s switch-hitting ability. Delgado should bat fifth,
rightfielder Ryan Church sixth — and if he can just maintain his
career OBP of about .350 he’ll do very well. Catcher Brian Schneider
will be batting seventh, and Castillo (OBP of .355 last year with 17
steals in 19 tries) will take the eighth slot. The only possible
drawback with this order is batting three straight lefthanders —
Delgado, Church, and Schneider — but the first two hit lefties last
year almost as well as righties.
Look for the Mets to score
between 800 and 850 runs this season, and closer to 850 than 800. But
damn — if they had Manny ….