John Sickels, You Magnificent Bastard
Between yesterday's Always Amazin' post, John Sickels post on Jose Reyes, and his big news of two meaningless walks in an intersquad game, it seems that Jose Reyes is topic of the day.
In the Mets' first intrasquad game, Reyes had two at-bats, walked both times and scored a run. It was a potentially promising day for Reyes, who had only a .300 on-base percentage last year and walked just 27 times.
In Reyes' opening at-bat, he fought off an 0-2 count from Billy Wagner and fouled off several pitches to draw a walk.
The walks were meaningless since it was only one game, but if it is a continuing trend, then I give permission for everyone to wet their panties. It is, at the very least, encouraging the fashion he came back against Billy Wagner to get the walk. Ryan hit the nail on the head about his assertion that no one claimed Reyes was a superstar. He is far from it at this point. If he fails to progress much by way of improving at the plate, he will be nothing more than a light hitting good fielding shortstop. Anyone that watches him knows he will be more than adequate with the glove. He flashes gold glove potential. I do not care what fielding metrics say. The kid can field.
However, it's at the plate that concerns me but it's not all bad. Reyes has a quick bat and that can help him a lot in getting free passes. If he learns anything this year, he needs to learn the importance of fouling off pitches that he cannot handle and either look for the one he wants or wait for the pitcher to make a mistake. I've said it a million times, but if Roberto Alomar's time as a Met taught us anything, it is how to work a pitcher. He was a guy that could foul off ten pitches in a row until he worked that walk out and with Reyes' bat speed, he should be able to do that too.
When Reyes can work at least two balls, regardless of how many strikes, he is actually rather proficient at drawing walks. Even with at a 2-2 count he has a .053 ISoD since 2003. While that is not great, it certainly would be all we asking for from Jose. His career ISoD is .027 and that just will not cut it. If Jose can hit .290 with an ISoD of .053, he would have a .343 OBP. Just take that in an imagine what he can do with that. The problem? Out of 1190 at-bats, he has gotten to a 3-0 count 11 times, a 3-1 count only 20 times, a 2-0 count only 121 times, a 2-1 count 291 times, a 2-2 count 200 times, and a full count a paltry 88 times.
Since he has entered into the league, he has posted a .297 OBP in 919 at-bats from the leadoff spot. While he profiles the best as a leadoff hitter, he has a long way to go to actually become a leadoff hitter. Physically, he is penciled in the lineup as one, but he needs to approach the game mentally as leadoff hitter. You don't want him thinking too much and take away his aggressiveness, but there has to be a happy medium. There has to be a better approach for him to attack hitting. He simply has to get deeper into counts and recognize when pitchers throw breaking balls in the dirt, which is his kryptonite. Jose Reyes can become a prolific leadoff hitter. He almost had 50 extra base hits and swiped 60 bases last season. The kid oozes talent, but he needs to ooze a bit more patience. Fouling off pitches is certainly easier said than done and is an art form to a certain extent, but Reyes can do it. For me, that alone will translate into more than enough walks for Reyes to quite his critics and more than enough walks for him to become dominant.
Pitchers who looked good included Alay Soler (perfect frame, two strikeouts — one by curveball, one by slider) and Brian Bannister (one hit, one strikeout).
Other highlights included Endy Chavez making a nice catch of a Julio Franco drive, and Anderson Hernandez ripping a two-run triple. Among the notables, Carlos Delgado was 2-for-2 with two singles, David Wright was 1-for-2 and Carlos Beltran was 0-for-1 with a sac fly.
Scheduled to pitch in today's game are Tom Glavine, Mike Pelfrey, Victor Zambrano, Duaner Sanchez, and Lime Time.
Who's No. 2?
The Mets had an intrasquad contest. While the game may mean little, it was the first chance to pick up clues about the lineup that Willie Randolph insisted were not there.
He inserted David Wright into the No. 2 spot in the batting order, a spot that could be his, or could belong to Paul Lo Duca or Carlos Beltran -- or even Kaz Matsui, Randolph speculated.
Billy Wagner (U.S.); Carlos Beltran, Carlos Delgado, Pedro Feliciano and Juan Padilla (Puerto Rico); Duaner Sanchez and Reyes (Dominican Republic); Endy Chavez, Jorge Julio and Victor Zambrano (Venezuela); and Dae-Sung Koo (South Korea).
Ideally, the manager -- who hit second behind Mickey Rivers and Rickey Henderson during some of his 12 seasons as a Yankee -- said that whoever bats second should be patient at the plate, exhibit good bat control, be able to hit from behind in the count and be capable of working out a walk.
"You know where he is? If you can show me I'd like to have him," said Randolph, who said he'd be satisfied with a second-place hitter who had even a few of those traits. "That package is not always there."
I can show you two. Carlos Beltran or David Wright. Take your pick.
After stretching in the training room and riding the exercise bike for 30 minutes — to burn off the extra calories from those last six egg whites, Franco said — he jogged out to Tradition Field to take batting practice. There, he watched José Reyes sock home run after home run beyond the right-field wall, then congratulated him for his power.
But he also advised Reyes to use his hips more in his swing and reminded him of a wager they had made Monday: For every ball that Reyes pulled, he owed Franco a dollar.
"He's helped me so much," Reyes said. "I try not to pay him, but it's a little bit of payment for him helping me."