Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Mets lack Razor's edge

With what passes for a lineup these days, the Mets know that runs will be hard to come by. But does that mean that every runner must automatically be sent home?

In the third inning, with one out and Jeremy Reed on second, Luis Castillo singled to center. As Reed rounded third, third base coach Razor Shines, who had been furiously waving Reed home, suddenly stopped waving and briefly held up his hand.

Reed kept going. The throw was up the line, but arrived when Reed was still a good distance from the plate. Reed tried to go around the catcher, but was out.

Had Shines successfully held Reed at third, the Mets would have had one out, men on second and third, and Fernando Martinez coming up, followed by the heart of the order, David Wright and Gary Sheffield. Instead, it was two outs, man on first, potential rally killed.

Shines can change his mind as the play develops, but once he does, he's got to sell it a lot better. How about at least using both hands? Instead, Shines seemed uncertain that he really wanted Reed to stop.

But this sort of thing happens so often with the Mets these days that one wonders if Shines is under orders always to wave the runner home if there is even the slightest chance. The hit was to shallow center, directly to center fielder Nate McLouth. McClouth got to the ball and threw home. The play did not develop in an unexpected way. Yet there was Shines frantically waving Reed home, and seemingly ambivalent about holding him up.

The current Met team cannot afford to have runners thrown about by a substantial margin in just about every game. Maybe if it's two outs and the bottom of the order is coming up, and these days, the bottom of the order is pretty much the bottom half.

But if the third-base coach is too aggressive, those instructions ultimately come from the manager. Has Jerry Manuel told Shines, send them no matter what?

I hope that is not the case. But Manuel does make some odd moves. Tonight he started Ramon Martinez at short over Wilson Valdez, even though Valdez has been the better fielder and hitter. It was reported on the game broadcast that Manuel did so because he wanted them both to get a shot at staying on the roster.

Just because it is a spring training lineup does not mean it should be played like a spring training game. Just play the one you think is better.

Besides, with Alex Cora back, once Jose Reyes returns, won't the Mets get rid of both Valdez and R. Martinez? Let Triple A figure out which one is best.

The way things are with the Mets these days, it should be no surprise that R. Martinez decided the issue by dislocating his finger.

But before that, he came up with two outs and a man on third in the second inning and grounded out. While there's no assurance that Valdez would have done any better, Manuel's lineup experimentation meant that, in one of the few times the Mets had a runner on third, the batter was six for his last 40.

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