Friday, March 12, 2010

The Only Option To Start If Jose Isn't Back For Opening Day

In an article in the Newark Star-Ledger, Andy McCullough, talks about a possible replacement for Jose Reyes until he is cleared to return to action.  McCullough points the finger at Alex Cora as the likely candidate, but does mention Ruben Tejada as someone who Jerry Manuel called, "an interesting name."  In the article McCullough says, "While forecasting replacements for Reyes, general manager Omar Minaya mentioned a 20-year-old Panamanian prospect, Ruben Tejada. Cora was an afterthought."  McCullough quotes Omar as saying, "The good thing is Ruben Tejada's playing pretty well...I know Jerry's been playing him."

At this point considering how well Tejada has been playing this spring, to me he's the only option.  McCullough shares some interesting Tejada stats in the article.  According to McCullough, "Tejada swiped 19 bags last year in Double-A Binghamton and he's hitting .364 in six games this spring."  The kid is showing he can hit, and is learning in the field.  Regardless of his age, and lack of experience, Tejada should be the obvious choice here for a few reasons...

First off, we've seen what Cora can do as an everyday player, and it wasn't pretty.  I like Alex Cora off the bench, but he's not a starting player in the majors.  Now, I understand neither is Tejada...yet.  But the interesting part about Tejada is that he CAN be an everyday player at some point.  And while Cora is past that point in his career, Tejada is still trying to figure out what he is all about.  Tejada very well may be the Mets 2011 opening day second baseman if he lives up to potential (and the Mets lose some dead weight- Castillo).  So, I say give him a shot, and see what he can do...

Secondly, the line-up looks really bad with Cora in it.  Now we're talking a line-up that looks something like this:

Pagan, Castillo, Wright, Bay, Francouer, Murphy, Barajas, Cora, Pitcher's spot.

That is not an overly exciting line-up to me.  The 6-9 hitters would most likely be posting a batting average of .250, at the most.  Not quite good enough to compete.

However, if you through Tejada in the mix, and slot him in instead of Cora, there is a bit more excitement in the line-up.  An unknown entity in the majors, who has been hitting pretty well in the minors, .289 in double-A last season with a .351 OBP.  Cora, meanwhile, put up these numbers last season, .251 average with a .320 OBP.  Although I understand Cora was hurt, Mets fans who watched the games saw an inferior player who was worn down by day-to-day action.  He's just not a starter.

It seems like Jerry only has one option to start the season at short, should Jose not be ready, and it's the 20 year old option.  If it comes down to starting someone who isn't Jose Reyes on Opening Day, it really should be Tejada...

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