Here is the Mets lineup from yesterday's game against the Braves:
J Reyes SS
L Castillo 2B
C Beltran CF
G Sheffield LF
D Wright 3B
F Tatis 1B
R Castro C
R Church RF
J Niese P
When I saw the Mets lineup from yesterday's game, a few things surprised me. I knew the lineup would be different without Carlos Delgado, but Mets Manager Jerry Manuel made a few interesting decisions.
DECISION #1: Ryan Church batting 8th
There is no denying it: Ryan Church has been awful in May. He is hitting only .154 this month with no extra base hits and only 1 walk. But on the other hand, Church is a very good offensive player when he is on, far superior to Ramon Castro, who hit above him yesterday. True, Castro has been very good of late, but I never expected to see him hitting above Church.
I can think of a few justifications for this move:
1. play the hot hand
-Castro is obviously playing better than Church right now so he should be hitting higher in the order
2. lack of confidence in Church
-Instead of giving Church ample opportunities to right himself, Manuel has relegated him to the bottom of the order. Considering that Church is currently platooning with Gary Sheffield, it does not look like the Mets are as high on Church as I initially thought.
-Ramon Castro is one of the slowest players in baseball and having him bat eitgth is counter productive. Castro cannot score on a single to the outfield from second base, which in effect, takes away the effectiveness of the sacrifice bunt from the pitcher.
DECISION #2: Gary Sheffield batting fourth
Manuel obviously has lots of confidence in Sheffield, but entering yesterday's game, Sheffield was only hitting .178 with 1 home run. There is litte justification for hitting Sheffield above David Wright, who has struck out far too many times this season and does not look 100% comfortable at the plate. Simply put, Wright is a MUCH better hitter than Sheffield right now even when he's struggling.
These are the only justifications I can think of:
1. Manuel has tons of confidence in Sheffield
2. Manuel wants to limit pressure on Wright until he comes out of his funk
3. Manuel wants to see what Sheffield can do in the middle of the order
Sheffield actually played very well yesterday by going 2-6 with a home run. So who knows, maybe Jerry Manue knows something I don't.