Amazin’ Speed: Intentional or Accidental?

Andy Martino of the Daily News says the Mets were built for Citi Field:

Buried underneath the Mets offensive explosion Tuesday night was a possible reason for their home dominance this season: “We didn’t hit any home runs yesterday, and we scored 14 runs,” observed Jose Reyes, a few hours before hitting a home run, the hypocrite.

In that blowout, and last night save for Reyes’ blast, the Mets wore down the Tigers with an assault of singles, doubles, triples and stolen bases, the perfect skill set for cavernous Citi Field, where the Mets are 26-10 before last night’s game. The Mets are 21-7 in their last 28 games at home, the top record in baseball during that span.

“We know what it takes to be a successful team here,” said David Wright. “Our team is built around winning in a big ballpark. We’ve got speed, and guys who know how to run the bases.” (Daily News)

It’s hard to argue with the win-loss record. The Mets are certainly running and winning at home – ALOT. And it’s a good thing.

But were the Mets really built around speed? Does Omar Minaya deserve credit for recognizing the opportunities created by Citi Field and building a team based around speed? Or did it just kind of happen that way?

Let’s break it down!

Here is last night’s lineup:

1. Jose Reyes SS
2. Angel Pagan CF
3. David Wright 3B
4. Ike Davis 1B
5. Jason Bay LF
6. Jeff Francoeur RF
7. Henry Blanco C
8. Ruben Tejada 2B

1, 2, 3 – Reyes, Pagan, Wright

Obviously, much of the team’s speed is coming from the top three spots in the order. But Reyes and Wright have been a big part of the team’s overall offensive strategy for years, so you can’t really point to the presence of either to prove the Mets built this team around speed. Pagan’s presence in the lineup is a double accident – he was initially slated to play behind Gary Matthews Jr. until Carlos Beltran came back. Even now, MetsBlog is reporting the Mets are considering dealing Pagan to the Mariners for Cliff Lee. In other words, the Mets didn’t have plans for Pagan and still don’t seem to value his presence in the lineup for the long-term.

4, 5, 6 – Davis, Bay, Francoeur

Here’s where it gets interesting. Davis started the season in AAA and may not have seen MLB action for months if Mike Jacobs had performed. Jacobs of course, is a dead pull power hitter with no speed whatsoever. Davis doesn’t have much speed either, but he’s a cleanup hitter…

Bay was the big name that Omar Minaya went after this winter. He has flashed some speed in his career and he usually can be counted on in the 10-15 SB range. To his credit, Jerry Manuel has been sending Bay often this season, as he already has 10 steals on the year. But as far as giving Omar credit for bringing in Bay for his speed, it’s not accurate.

Francoeur is not a speed threat, but he already has a career-high 7 stolen bases this season. Again, if anyone deserves credit for this, it is Jerry Manuel.

7, 8 – Blanco, Tejada

Henry Blanco was filling in for Rod Barajas. Both were brought in this offseason and neither is a threat on the basepaths, but, then again, they are catchers.

Ruben Tejada stole 19 bases in AA last season, but he has yet to steal a base this season. It should also be noted that despite his natural speed, Tejada probably would have spent the year in the minors if Luis Castillo was healthy.

Conclusion

The way I see it, Omar didn’t bring in any speed this season and should not be given credit here. The only speed in this Mets lineup is here for one of three reasons:

  1. Existing Speed (Reyes/Wright)
  2. SB Created by Jerry Manuel (Francoeur/Bay)
  3. Accidental Speed Brought on By Injury (Pagan/Tejada)
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