Reese Kaplan -- Between a Rock and a Hard Place

As the designated keeper of the lineup card, I think pretty much everyone is in agreement that Terry Collins has a tendency to zig when others would zag.  I won’t go through the entire ponderous litany of questionable decisions he’s made in the past but will instead focus on what’s facing him now.

Remember the “If you don’t hit, you sit” line that was fed to us quite some time ago?  The mirror image of that would be, “If you do hit you don’t sit” yet that’s not been the case.  After clubbing five home runs in less than a week and hitting close to .300 for 6 weeks Wilmer Flores is apparently suffering from some malady that’s rendered him invisible.  Nevermind that the Skipper declared publicly that the promotion of Jose Reyes meant sharing time at 3B.  The last time I looked Jose Reyes was hitting a robust .226, so there’s a certain logic to…ummm…no there is not. 

We will all be experiencing a similar sense of déjà vu but this time starring former Gold Glover Juan Lagares.  Since being inserted into the lineup regularly due to Yoenis Cespedes’ balky calf, he’s hit .333.  That’s a really nice four game run, but bear in mind that even with that surge he’s hitting a paltry .207 for the month of July. 

With the promotion of Michael Conforto and the departure of Brandon Nimmo we will see how the manager chooses to juggle his outfield options. 

Option Number One:
Play Cespedes in LF, shift Curtis Granderson to CF and insert Conforto in RF.  Call this the maximum offense option.  If Conforto has indeed rediscovered his swing and his confidence, he’s surely a middle-of-the-order threat.  The down side would seem to be Granderson’s rag arm.  While the throws from CF are shorter than the across-the-diamond throws from RF, this liability will get exposed more often.  Use Juan Lagares as a late inning defensive replacement, pinch hitter and/or pinch runner.

Option Number Two:
Status quo.  Conforto returns to LF, Cespedes goes back to CF and Granderson remains in RF.  The problem here, of course, is Cespedes vocalizing that he thinks the strain on his calf is greater in CF than in LF.  I don’t foresee this one being implemented since, as Jim Bouton pointed out in Ball Four many years ago, superstar players are higher on the totem pole than are managers. 

Option Number Three:
Shift Cespedes to LF.  Create a weird platoon of sorts with Juan Lagares playing CF against lefties and Curtis Granderson playing it against righties.  Conforto would be in RF against righties and sit against lefties. 

I’m the first to admit and actually empathize that Collins is in a no-win situation in the OF.  People who value defense will want Juan Lagares out there.  People who appreciate small ball will consider his speed and Reyes’ speed to be an essential part of that game. 

Others will say you didn’t promote Conforto to sit.  They will point to the team’s inability to score runs and demand you put the best bats in the lineup.

There is no perfect solution but I’d opt for number one.  I suspect we'll see number three.  What do you think?


TP said...

That's your man, Reese. Sitting there, wondering. Wondering where Scott Rice is nowadays. Wondering why Ruben Tejada only has a .589 OPS this season, wondering what might have been if Murph accepted the QO, and most importantly wondering how to maximize Juan Lagares's innings in CF. His defense is simply a thing of beauty.

Reese Kaplan said...

Well, Skipper ran out of excuses and actually deigned to put Wilmner Flores in the lineup who responded with a home run and a single. His 6 HRs in July leads the league despite almost never playing. That ought to guarantee him a spot on the bench tomorrow.

Reese Kaplan said...

Remember what I said about Collins zigging when others would zag? Word now is that his plan is to play Yoenis Cespedes and his game leg in CF tomorrow and by the weekend put Michael Conforto out there who has never played CF as a pro. That's one we surely didn't see coming...but I never would have expected him to play Bartolo Colon at shortstop either. It's a frustrating exercise trying to outguess the Skipper being handicapped with logic and common sense.

Thomas Brennan said...

Flores should play every day. Loney kicks in 3-4 days a week, Walker 2-3, Reyes 1-2.

Hobie said...

Cespedes in RF is such a no-brainer, except...

Cespedes won't play there? Not"comfortable?" It cannot be the he cannot play the position (l.e. Bartolo at SS). Gotta be something else.

Have a friend now living in Cuba (long story). He says RF is a "dis" - a place to hide a lumbering, powerful, clunk. Could that be it?

Reese Kaplan said...

If that's the case, he ought to watch some footage of guys like Roberto Clemente who owned that position and made it something special.

Robb said...

collins is not exactly, Joe maddon. youd think flores would play more then he has, but collins continues to play reyes everyday, which would be fine if reyes was the 24 year old. it does look like both cabrera and walker could sue a bit more time off then they ahve had, cabera especially. and just cycle, reyes, through 3rd base and the occasional ss.
flores should be playing 1 game out of 5 at 1b, 1 out of five at 2nd, 2 out of 5 at 3rd and off 1 out of those 5.
reyes should be playing, 3 out of 5 at 3rd, 1 out of 5 at ss.
cabera 4/5 at ss.
walker 4/5 at 2nd
and loney depending on matchups but 3 or 4 out of 5 at 1b flores picking up the other game.

honestly its not that complicated to get guys more rest and play everyone 80% of the time.

while Im add it, can rivera catch thor and Degrom, every week. id prefer matz, but now that thor and matz are back to back it seems unnecessary.

as for the outfield. theres no right answer, except, lagares, despedes and granderson vs lefties. as for righties someone has to sit so conforto can play, but someone also has to play cf. matchups i guess

Adam Smith said...

I'm still not sure how much of the lineup construction from day to day is Collins, and how much is handed down from on high. Regardless, this team has been put together with a bunch of mismatched pieces (essentially three LF, to start with). On top of which, I really, really don't think that Collins likes Flores very much, as he's buried the kid numerous times over the past three seasons, often when it looks like he's hitting his groove. How they can't find room to play him at least five games per week among the four IF positions is mind boggling. Aside from the HR, Walker has been just ok, and certainly looks like he would do better with some regular rest. That said, Grandy and Cabrera could use a bunch more off days. And Reyes, at 33, should be getting two days off per week too.

Thomas Brennan said...

Adam, absolutely, they have the IF depth to rest guys a lot. Look, Flores was dreadful early in the year playing sporadically, but this is definitely a game of "what have you done for me lately" and Wilmer has delivered big since June 8: 97 at bats, .299, 4 doubles, 8 homers, 22 RBI. Walker is in a terrible slump - the obvious answer is PLAY WILMER MORE. Reyes could explode at any time, even at his age, but he has hamstring issues historically, so time off is needed (of course, he just got that with the AS break). Duda likely will be back in 2 weeks, so Loney will be relegated to bench - start that now and get Wilmer in.

Or trade Wilmer and figure Amed Rosario will be ready next spring - he might well be.

Reese Kaplan said...

I'd rather trade the Skipper.

Robb said...

Judging be the way the front office seems to evaluate players. Id say 80%+ of the lineup is collins. and 95% the batting order. theres no way the front office thinks cabrera is a 2 hitter, ever.

if for some reason the mets dont make the playoffs I think we will all get our wish for a new manager. though you never know who that might be. (it wont be Wally)!

Reese Kaplan said...

If the manager works for the front office and they are dissatisfied then they have a very persuasive hammer to use. Obviously they are fine with it or give full autonomy to the field manager. You'd think, however, they would care about results.

Reese Kaplan said...

If the manager works for the front office and they are dissatisfied then they have a very persuasive hammer to use. Obviously they are fine with it or give full autonomy to the field manager. You'd think, however, they would care about results.

eraff said...

Yes...Grandy, Walker, Cabrera, Ces need some rest stops...that should provide more rhythm to the lineup and get Lego, Conforto and Flores adequate ab's.

Reyes was force fed with a minimum of MILB ab's--- they're trying to identify whether he's an option or not before trade deadline. He looks reasonably capable, but rusty---certainly NOT the player he once would be, but he adds some elements and flexibility that are useful.

I like Wilmer--managing his exposure offensively and defensively are a major part of keeping him successful. I'd like to see a few more 2b starts, as it benefits both Walker and Wilmer.

Mack's Mets © 2012