Tuesday, June 26, 2012
Double play: Rank the 'pen; bench Murphy?
By Matt Meyers and Mark Simon
Rank the Mets relievers in terms of importance.
Meyers: Starting from the top, I’ll go Bobby Parnell, Frank Francisco,
Ramon Ramirez, Tim Byrdak, Jon Rauch. Call me crazy, but I think Parnell, who has always had bad luck on balls in play, is the best reliever the Mets have, and Terry Collins should use him as much as possible. Ramirez is also key because of his changeup, and when he’s on (like he was in 2011), he can shut down righties and lefties. I’m of the mind that the Mets bullpen is better than it appears, but the team really needs Ramirez to come around.
Simon: I’ll disagree with the first half of your last sentence, and tweak your ranking slightly. I’m good with rating Parnell and Francisco one-two, but I’d rate Byrdak third-most important, and newcomer Justin Hampson fourth, ahead of Rauch and Ramirez.
I think what you saw in the Yankees series was the value that one team got from having two effective lefty relievers and the value another team (the Mets) lost by having only one.
Would you bench Daniel Murphy?
Meyers: I’m inclined to preach patience with Murphy, as he had a .784 OPS from 2008 through 2011, but when you watch him swing he doesn’t look right. He appears very defensive and does not seem to drive the ball at all. I’m not sure what the solution is for his swing, but the Mets’ defense is bad enough as it is, and if Murphy’s bat doesn’t start showing signs of life by the All-Star break it might be time for more Ronny Cedeno.
Simon: I’m surprised Murphy has gotten as few at-bats as he has the last couple weeks. I’m inclined to give him until at least the All-Star break to see if he can get back to hitting the kinds of ropes on which he thrives.
If Murphy continues to crater, I wouldn’t sit him in favor of Cedeno, but instead take a shot with Jordany Valdespin, who hit better at the end of his tenure and looked surprisingly comfortable at second base. Valdespin handled all 31 chances he fielded cleanly in 53 innings at the position, and successfully converted eight of 11 double play opportunities (by comparison, Murphy converts at about a 51 percent rate).
Make a prediction for the coming week.
Meyers: I said it last week, but I mean it this week: Ike Davis is going to get that batting average above .200. I know he made the last out on Sunday night as a pinch-hitter, but the fact that he came in and squared the ball up bodes well for his swing/approach right now. He’s getting back into the groove.
Simon: Josh Thole will snap one of the uglier stats of the season and get a runner in from third base with less than two outs. He’s 0-for-7 at trying so far. I’ll also take him for a four-RBI week. He’s due, with just one RBI in 65 June at-bats.