Reassessing the Offense

Although Fernando Tatis hit only .244 in August, he picked things up these past few weeks, going 10 for his last 31 with a .910 OPS. That kind of offensive production is sorely needed on a team with a precarious bullpen situation — as I’ve been saying all along, the best defense against late-inning relief catastrophes is to score more runs!

Even Jerry Manuel, after yesterday’s game, admitted,

“With the loss of Tatis, we have to reassess where we are offensively.”

Manuel suggested that “the two kids” will handle left field going forward. That would be Daniel Murphy and Nick Evans, if you’ve been living under a rock since the trade deadline (speaking of, Manny Ramirez, Jason Bay, Xavier Nady, Casey Blake, or Adam Dunn would sure look great in orange and blue right now). If Evans can continue to pound lefties to the tune of .338, and Murphy can continue his impression of Wade Boggs, the Mets might be OK. If they can’t, things will be quite difficult.

The main issue is that opposing pitchers will have the option to pitch around the middle of the lineup (which hasn’t done much in the last few days anyway). They may pitch to David Wright, but most certainly will serve up sliders in the dirt to the two Carloses. After the fifth spot in the order, there isn’t much to speak of — unless, as previously mentioned, the kids remain hot.

Most likely, Ryan Church will be moved down in the lineup to #6, which may or may not be a good thing. He has only 6 hits in his last 23 at-bats, but is the only legitimate power source to place after Delgado. Then again, if Church does heat up, and hit like he did in April and May, do you want to bury him so low? Wouldn’t you rather make sure he gets an at-bat in the first inning?

That’s not something to consider, of course, if / until Church gets in a groove. In the meantime, we’ll likely see “the kids” in the two-hole — a rotation of Murphy, Evans, and possibly Argenis Reyes, who despite a .277 OBP is considered an ideal batter behind leadoff man Jose Reyes. Um, yeah. Usually I’m not one to lean on stats to support an argument, but in this case it’s simple logic. I don’t care how many times the SNY announcers say “he’s always in the middle of something” — the reality is, those “somethings” are occurring less than 28% of the time.

Assuming the left fielders bat second, and Church bats sixth, that leaves the seventh and eighth spots for the catcher and second baseman. If Ramon Castro were 100%, he’d be the ideal guy to pick up the bottom of the order — heck, I’d consider him sixth until Church comes around. But he was just removed from the DL a few days ago, and no one’s quite sure how healthy he is. Add in the fact that Brian Schneider’s knee is suddenly an issue, and Damion Easley is also hobbling, and we’re looking at a bottom three of Robinson Cancel, Argenis Reyes / Luis Castillo, and the pitcher. That’s not a championship lineup — unless the year is 1969.

Again, if Wright – Beltran – Delgado are hitting, opposing teams will have the option to pitch around them, which magnifies the importance of everyone else in the lineup. So not only is it necessary for the big three to get back on track immediately, but the Murphy / Evans platoon has to continue producing above their heads, Church has to get going, AND an “unknown” has to come out of nowhere with big hits.

Oh, and then there’s Jose Reyes, who is hitting .216 this month.

Not sure about you, but this “reassessment” hasn’t bolstered my confidence.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.