Just yesterday we took a look at the lineup without Carlos Beltran in it, and boy, was it ugly. Now that he’s out for at least 15 days with a bone bruise, we’ll get a good long look at this lineup. Scroll down for some shivers down the spine. That lineup will depend on Daniel Murphy and Ryan Church to be heroes every night, and as we’ve seen, that can be a dicey proposition. David Wright can’t do all the work alone.
So what should the team be looking for? Let’s look at the flaws of the lineup below before identifying some possible additions.
SS Alex Cora
1B Daniel Murphy
3B David Wright
LF Ryan Church
RF Gary Sheffield
2B Luis Castillo
CF Jeremy Reed
C Omir Santos
Alex Cora‘s limitations are obvious, but the solution is also obvious because acquiring middle infielders is probably more costly than it’s worth. Even though Jose Reyes is still too hurt to run, he’s the best way to fix that spot. Cora is decent enough on defense and is capable of putting up an okay .340 OBP for a little while longer at least. We’ll put backup middle infielder on this list, though, since the Mets currently don’t have one.
Murphy, as reported in the last post, is great against lefties (.306/.341/.500 in 36 at-bats), and could probably use a caddy against tough righties, so let’s add that in: a guy that can play 1B and hits righties well. Unfortunately, in corner outfield, they’ve got a different problem. Ryan Church is playing well again, but he sports a .279/.354/.468 line against righties – and a .252/.323/.383 line against lefties. That last line comes in 342 at-bats, so it’s a significant problem. Church should probably be platooned against lefties, and that need trumps the backup 1B situation, especially since that need could continue once Carlos Delgado returns.
Then again, could the solution be on the team currently? Last year’s revelation, Fernando Tatis, has taken a heck of a step back this year, but his .256/.333/.380 line right now looks suspiciously like his career line (.264/.346/.442). He is marginally better against lefties (.270/.350/.450 lifetime in 793 at-bats), so the best outfield would have him in against lefties, over Church.
But here’s the rub: Jeremy Reed is actually okay against righties lifetime (.715 OPS), and with his capable defense, he could caddy for Beltran – against righties. But what to do against lefties? Tatis and Gary Sheffield can not – I repeat – cannot play center field. And recent callup Fernando Martinez hasn’t played center field in AAA all year (in fact, due to Martinez’s better split against lefties in the minors – .903 OPS vs lefties, .878 OPS vs righties – he’ll probably start in LF over Church against lefties and in RF when Sheffield needs a breather). Obviously, the team needs a center fielder against lefties.
So there you have it: the team most needs a capable outfielder that can hit lefties. Next on the list is a backup middle infielder. Those aren’t the sexiest needs. Probably, the the name coming our way won’t be too exciting. But here are some names of some players that might be available, might be able to play center field or the middle infield, and can hit lefties reasonably well:
Felipe Lopez – Josh Byrnes, the Diamondbacks’ GM, said this before the team lost three straight to the Mariners over the weekend: “It’s the middle of June and we’re 10 games under .500, so I think there’s a reality as far as the types of discussions we have had and will have with other clubs,” Byrnes said. Looks like the team will be a seller, and selling spare parts is the easiest way to pick up some spare prospects. Lopez can play the MI and has a batting average over .300 against lefties over the last two years.
Mark DeRosa – his team is in last place, and his name has been connected with the Mets for some time now. You may be surprised that he’s had close to 300 attempts at shortstop, too. Throw in his lifetime .864 OPS against lefties, and he seems perfect. Unfortunately, those tries at shortstop almost all came in 2001 with the Braves, and he’s not the defender he used to be, so he would be more of an emergency shortstop that can play the corner infield, second base, and the corner outfield. But not center or short. Oh, and he’d probably cost a better prospect.
Aubrey Huff / Nick Johnson – both of their teams would be ready to deal their extra veterans for the right price. But Huff can’t play a premium position on the field, and his .751 OPS against lefties means that he doesn’t add enough to pay a good prospect for his production. Johnson can hit lefties, but he famously cannot play anywhere in the field other than first base. What happens when/if Delgado returns? Expensive bench piece. I doubt either of these is going to happen.
Trevor Crowe – This is just conjecture, but this young Indian is on a seller and is running out of options. Of course, he doesn’t cost the Indians much, so he probably won’t move. But he can play center field, and his .811 minor league split against lefties is better than his split versus righties. This could be a move to complement Jeremy Reed in a smart way. Maybe he’ll be a throw-in if the Mets go for DeRosa.
Scott Hairston – Maybe young Tony Gwynn (currently batting .348/.439/.467) is turning enough heads in San Diego that they can let the older Hairston go (he’s 28 years old). Unfortunately, Hairston was peaking before getting injured, and his numbers are currently inflated. If Minaya can convince the Pads that the numbers are a mirage, he can maybe pry Hairston and his .896 OPS versus lefties loose. He would be a great fit on this team.
Jason Michaels – The list can’t get any less sexy, I assure you. Michaels can play center field, though, and has a .797 OPS versus lefties (.714 versus righties). He could be had for a song, too. And not even a good song.