9/20/2005 08:34:00 PM
�WHAT�S WITH WILLIE�?
With the Giants playing a Monday Night �road game� (har, har, hardy har har) and the baseball pennant races heating up it�s tough for the Mets to get much ink in the morning papers. One guy who put out a gem today was Ben Shpigel in the NY Times on Carlos Beltran and why he should be batting in the 2 hole. Shpigel makes the case on the subject that Mets fans are just about in unanimous agreement, that Beltran would be a much more productive player batting 2nd instead of 3rd.:
[But there is also the question of where Beltran is best suited to hit in the Mets lineup. Although Beltran says he does not care where he bats, his career average (.292 to .277), on-base percentage (.379 to.344), and slugging percentage (.546 to .475) are better when he hits second in the lineup rather than third.]
It�s one thing to be stubborn it�s another to be ignorant and unfortunatly Willie Randolph is leaning toward the latter when it comes to writing out a lineup.
[�Just because he�s had success in the second slot doesn�t mean a whole lot.� Randolph said of Beltran. �And that could be all it is. Sometimes you�re in a spot in the lineup and you just get hot in that spot�]
The stats of Beltran hitting second is over 857 at bats. That�s more than a hot streak I would say! I�ll tell you this I�ve been all over the map with my feelings for Willie Randolph. When the managerial search was on I threw my support to Rudy Jaramilo as I wondered why Randolph never got the six jobs he previously interviewed for and there was no managerial body of work for Randolph to get a sense of his style or managerial acumen. Even though Jaramillo�s managerial resume was one year in rookie league he did have the rep as a guy who get guys to pay attention and run a tight ship, two areas that was sorely needed in Flushing. Then when Willie got the job I gave him a chance to spell out what his game plan was to make the Mets winners. I was very impressed with his spring training instruction and getting the team through a month in St. Lonesome without any off field incidents. Even though I thought some of his rules were ridiculous and way too Highlander tight ass-ish I liked that there was some form of discipline back into that clubhouse. But after watching his handling of the bullpen, his ridiculous stance on batting David Wright in the bottom third of the lineup, leaving an aging Mike Piazza in the coveted cleanup spot, the Kaz Ishii debacle that led to the misuse of both Jae Seo and Aaron Heilman, and of course his inability to move Beltran up to the two spot. My God even St. Joseph of Torre had enough brain cells to know to let a struggling A-Fraud bat number two to get his groove on.
Randolph wasn�t done with his Professor Irwin Corey rant either:
[It� doesn�t mean that�s where you should be, you know? (batting second)� Randolph added. �When Carlos understands what he is, when he learns what he is, when he learns to make adjustments better, I see him being a third or fourth hitter because he can steal bases, he can hit and he�s going to get bigger and stronger, sort of like Ken Griffey Jr.�]
WOW. Where do I begin to dissect those quotes? By batting second and excelling in that spot down the stretch and in the playoffs last year made Beltran a wealthy man. So I think Carlos has a good understanding of where he is. If anyone needs to learn how to make adjustments it�s you Willie by a mile. How could you ever compare Beltran to a Jr Griffey? Jr. in his prime was a lock hit 40+ homers and knock in 125+ runs, even Scott Boras wouldn�t say that Beltran would put up numbers like that.
I don�t think I have ever seen a coach or manager start as well as Randolph has and finished so badly. All I think about is the what if�s. What if Beltran was moved to the 2 hole and Wright to the 3rd hole. What if Robert Hernandez was moved to the closer spot? What if Randolph had gotten over his obsession of having a lefty reliever no matter how awful a pitcher they were? What if he went with a bullpen of Padilla, Bell, Heilman, Looper and Hernandez his five best guys, would the team be playing out the string or would the Mets be in the thick of this pennant race? Most likely we�d be fighting the Braves for first place.
I�m not advocating caning Willie after one season but I wonder what the Skill Sets will think when Lou Pinnella and the D-Rays part company and Sweet Lou is a free agent?
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