The New York Mets are expected to have one of the best offenses in baseball in 2009. Between Carlos Delgado, Carlos Beltran, Jose Reyes, and David Wright; there is no reason why the Mets should not score at least 750-850 runs. There lineup could, and should, be that good.
At the same time, the Mets lineup has a gigantic problem already. Who will hit #2 in the order?
Daniel Murphy is the obvious choice. Murphy, one of the Mets best prospects, hit .313 in only 131 ABs and produced an impressive .397 OBP. He has a fantastic approach at the plate and has no problem working into deep counts and taking lots of pitches. There is no doubt that Jose Reyes would benefit greatly from having Murphy hit behind him. The lineup should be fantastic with Murphy in the #2 hole.
Unfortunately, the Mets still have Luis Castillo. The second baseman put together a miserable 2008 campaign where he only hit .245 with 46 runs scored and looked like a shell of his former self. Castillo is nothing more than a singles hitter and has virtually no ability to hit for power. Castillo was supposed to be the Mets #2 hitter in 2008 because he could take lots of pitches for Jose Reyes, get on base, execute the hit and run, and pinch hit. He is the prototypical #2 hitter and really should not be hitting anywhere else in the lineup.
And that's where the problem lies for the Mets. If they have Murphy hit second, they will have a very strong lineup 1-6 with:
However, after that, the Mets will have either Schneider/Castro, Castillo, and the pitcher. None of those guys are particularly good hitters and the bottom of the Mets order could become a quick and easy 1-2-3 inning. These guys have the potential to be automatic outs, which is obviously not good for the Mets.
So herein lies the dilemma: should the Mets have the best 1-6 possible by having Murphy bat second or make the lineup deeper by having the inferior Castillo bat second? It's going to be a tough decision, but ultimately I think the Mets will give Castillo the first crack the job. They have a lot of money invested in Castillo, and for their sake, they need to see something from Castillo.
Omar Minaya better be praying to his lucky stars that Castillo's 2008 season was simply an aberration and he produces in 2009. Lord knows, Mets fans will not take another three years of a .250, slap hitting, slow footed second baseman.
So who should hit second: the scrub Luis Castillo, or the wunderkid, Daniel Murphy? All opinions welcome.