The last couple of days in New York have brought Florida weather, the Florida Marlins and a lineup straight out of the Grapefruit League. How else to explain Gary Sheffield batting cleanup? Were the Mets' top hitters suddenly called back to the WBC?
Sheffield came into the game batting .136, 3 for 23 with one homer and one RBI. It was bad enough to have him in the lineup at all, much less replacing the injured Carlos Delgado in the cleanup spot.
David Wright has been slumping and was just moved down in the order, so one can understand why Manuel might not wanted to move him back up just yet. But Ryan Church was hitting .357 going into the game, with six hits in his last 12 at-bats, including one homer and five RBI.
Moreover, Church is a lefty and Marlins' pitcher Anibal Sanchez is a righty.
Sheffield did single in the first run and was later robbed of an extra-base hit. Maybe he is starting to come around. But he does not belong anywhere near the cleanup spot until he DOES come around, if he ever does. With that hit tonight, Sheffield is up to .154.
Meanwhile, Daniel Murphy pinch-hit a single to raise his average to .312. Yet the lefty Murphy was on the bench so the righty Sheffield could play.
Sheffield also made a horrendous error in the first inning when the ball glanced off his glove, but Murphy has made several horrible plays recently. Still, if the Mets are worried about Murphy's defense and willing to sacrifice his bat in a given game, they should give Jeremy Reed a start.
It should have been a good night for the Mets, winning 7-1 behind a strong performance by John Maine. Two out of the three starters after Johan Santana have now turned in good, winning performances. At least this week, the rotation is looking less like Johan and the Pips.
But Luis Castillo went down after Carlos Delgado got hurt the previous day, reminding us how many older players are on Omar Minaya's roster. Even if Sheffield greatly exceeds my low expectations, increased playing time will bring increased likelihood of injury. Did Omar learn anything from trying to make Moises Alou a cornerstone of the offense?