Ruben Tejada returned to the Mets' starting lineup Saturday night and made several nice plays at second base to help the Mets beat the Phillies, 1-0. The Mets are now 55-55. When Tejada starts at second, they are 15-5. When Luis Castillo or former Met Alex Cora started at second, the Mets are 40-50.
It's not that the Mets only win with Tejada in the lineup. He has also started thirteen games at short, and the Mets are just 6-7 in those games. But when Tejada plays short, he's replacing an All-Star-caliber player. When Tejada plays second, he's replacing Castillo.
Castillo is a better hitter than Tejada, who only hit .108 in July, going just 4 for 37, before being sent down. Castillo has even perked up at the plate so far in August, going 5-for-12, a .417 batting average. But Castillo overall is hitting just .246 with a .628 OPS.
Castillo is a liability both in the field and at the plate. At least Tejada is a good fielder. And if this Met team is going to win, they are going to need to do it with pitching and defense.
Time will tell if Fernando Martinez deserves his promotion, but platooning Jeff Francoeur is long overdue. Before tonight's game, Francoeur was hitting .317 against lefties with an .819 OPS as opposed to .218 and .626 vs. righties.
But Francoeur remains an important part of the team, with his second game-winning homer on the road trip as well as a key shot against the Cardinals last week. Francoeur's three homers have come off of three top pitchers - Adam Wainwright, Billy Wagner and Cole Hamels.
The Mets beat the Phillies, Johan Santana pitched a gem and Francisco Rodriguez came through with a five-out save to make sure Santana got his well-deserved win. And off the field, the Mets made some smart moves. Putting Castillo on the bench could also be the first step toward eating his contract. A great night all around.