There's a couple of players on this Mets team that simply do not belong in the Majors. This list includes Alex Cora, Mike Jacobs, and Gary Matthews Jr. I understand that it's only the first week of the season but each of them look awful. Cora is no range at shortstop. He looks like a statue standing out there. Despite his supposed clubhouse presence that Jerry Manuel continually mentioned (as if there is nothing good about him outside of the fact that he may or may not be a jovial fellow behind the scenes), his on-field play has been less than admirable.
This is true with Jacobs who, despite his home run today against the Nationals, has appeared lost at the plate. He is behind literally every pitch. He cannot take a walk (a major issue his entire career) and is another awful defensive player. The fact that Jerry had him batting between Wright and Bay shows very little strategic understanding. Gary Matthews Jr. is another awful offensive player who has no right being anywhere near the Mets. Angel Pagan has more offensive upside and is all ready better defensively. There is no excuse for Angel to be sitting and Matthews Jr. playing when the Mets are, on paper, a better team with Pagan playing.
Pagan's range is far superior to Matthews' and has all ready made a handful of plays on balls that Matthews simply would not have gotten to. A play against the Marlins earlier this week comes to mind when he cut off a ball that would have gone to the wall if Matthews was playing.
The Jerry Manuel strategic disadvantage continues with the Mets. In a game this week against the Marlins, he decided to pinch hit Ruben Tejada for Luis Castillo. Not an awful decision but he allowed Alex Cora to hit in front of him. Why would you pinch hit for Castillo (a better hitter than Cora anyway) but not Cora? More importantly, Tejada is a shortstop! Why are you pinch hitting for your second baseman with a shortstop? Especially when your light hitting shortstop is up at bat? The mind boggles.
The bullpen has done a decent job but once again, Jerry's stupid decision making strikes again. Stop allowing Pedro Feliciano pitch against righties. He's a very good LOOGY but not good enough to be facing righties. His career xFIP against lefties is a very respectable 2.83 but against righties it's 4.77. There's no excuse for him to be out there.
There are some positives, though. Rod Barajas was on WFAN a few days ago and he seemed like a good guy to have. He hit two home runs in a game and although he won't get on base, his power is good. I was petitioning for the Mets to go after Miguel Olivo, another power hitting catcher who can't get on base but Barajas has so far done a respectable guy. I really hope he has some luck this season.
Jeff Francoeur has really impressed me. After ragging on him for months in frustration because his plate discipline is awful but it seems as though he has changed his approach. He's hitting well and actually taking walks. If he can continue this trend he may actually become a good, if not great, player. He's got all the talent in the world and could develop into something special. It's too bad Gary Matthews Jr. is an offensive vacuum or else Francoeur could have scored some runs.
Once again, though, it comes down to the players who shouldn't be playing. Having Reyes back is fantastic (he is a little rusty, however) so Cora won't be in the lineup as much. Jacobs and Matthews, Jr. should not be on this team, or at least not starting.
So how could the Mets solve this problem? The Matthews, Jr. solution is easy -- simply put Pagan in there. The Jacobs situation is less easy. Ike Davis is hitting well in the minors but I don't believe that he should be up at the show yet. Fernando Tatis is awful so he's not a solution. The player I wanted the Mets to get was Jack Cust, recently DFA'd by the Oakland A's. He's only played 17 games at 1B over his entire career (and those games were played in A and rookie ball) but his offensive production is a huge improvement over Jacobs and Murphy as well. A career .823 OPS hitter, Cust hit 94 home runs from 2007 until 2009. I know I decried Jacobs' defensive value and yet I'm wishing for Jack Cust to be on my team but Cust is such a vastly better offensive player that it would make up for his defensive woes. Jacobs does not have that luxury.
I also wish the team would sign Jarrod Washburn. He's not a good pitcher by any stretch of the imagination (a 4.58 xFIP last year in arguably his best year since 2002) but he would be a better solution to the pitching than Oliver Perez. Perez is terrible and should be relegated to the bullpen (although it'll never happen). Washburn would be a decent starter and could definitely be helpful.
This was a tough week. Next week, the Mets take on the Rockies and Cardinals. It's going to be a tough week. Just keep in mind that it's still early in the season. A slow start isn't going to kill this team. Most importantly, let's go Mets.