As bad as the Mets have been going, recently and no-so-recently — really, they’ve been awful since Puerto Rico — I’m convinced another hot streak could start any time now.
The reason is simple — they finally have the lineup they want out there most nights. Nobody cried when he limped off the field with a foot problem a few weeks back, but we’ve missed the modest contributions of Luis Castillo, who returned to the lineup last night in Phoenix. Ruben Tejada showed some good skills in Castillo’s absence, but was overmatched offensively and is back in AAA where he belongs. Jose Reyes in the meantime returned to the lineup and despite two shaky plays contributing to Pelfrey’s disaster, is obviously a huge part of the offense and will get going again.
I’m no fan of Jerry Manuel’s passive game-managing style, but he’s done a bold thing in benching Jeff Francoeur here. I’d have sworn the Mets had invested too much in marketing Francoeur to sit him, but it’s good to see the team recognize that Angel Pagan’s contributions trump good will with the writers. Next on Jerry’s to-do list ought to be the same solution for Rod Barajas: this will be trickier, but the fact that Josh Tholeis still on board with both Barajas and Blanco healthy enough to start again indicates it’s at least under consideration. Ideally Jerry could get by with 6 relievers instead of his customary 7 and use Thole freely.
The impending return of Oliver Perez in the meantime might not be a disaster if it gets Hisanori Takahashi out of the rotation for a while and allows the team to strengthen the bullpen. I’d be surprised if the Mets don’t move to acquire a reliever and a starter in the next few weeks anyway, so the pitching will remain fluid.