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Impact of Reyes Injury

By: Bryan Zarpentine

The debate on where Jose Reyes will bat in the lineup can officially be put on hold. With news this week that Reyes may not partake in any physical activity for 2-8 weeks almost guarantees he will begin the season on the disabled list. Like his injury last year, this one has a vague timetable and leaves the team short-handed, and forced to carry on without its most dynamic player.

With Reyes out for an unknown period of time, there will be even more pressure on the Mets pitching staff to perform at a high level, especially the starting rotation. With the offense depleted, the performance of Mets pitchers will be the primary factor in the early season success of the team. If the Mets are to win enough games in April and May to stay in contention they will need to rely on their pitchers to win those games for them. It will not be enough to simply keep the Mets in the game and give their offense a chance; the starters must be able to carry the team on their back until Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran can return.

Besides the added emphasis on pitching, the injury to Jose Reyes creates an equally intriguing question regarding who will replace Reyes at shortstop. The obvious choice to replace Reyes is veteran Alex Cora, but an option that perhaps makes more sense is 20 year-old Ruben Tejada. The main argument between the two is a preference of offense vs. defense. Tejada hit an impressive .289 at AA Binghamton last year, but there is no telling how that will translate to the big league level after skipping AAA completely. Cora on the other hand is an experienced major league hitter and should be more adept at helping to produce runs than Tejada. However, Cora does not have as much range or arm strength at shortstop that as Tejada; and a combination of Cora and Luis Castillo would leave the middle infield defensively vulnerable. With the added necessity on quality pitching, it’s imperative that the Mets put their best defensive lineup on the field, which would leave no doubt that Ruben Tejada should be the Mets opening day shortstop.

With Jose Reyes once again sidelined for an undetermined amount of time, the Mets must put added emphasis on their pitching and defense to help them win games. Ruben Tejada is the best bet to fill the void at shortstop, providing the defensive support Mets pitchers will need to succeed. The Mets will need those pitchers to perform beyond expectations if they are to compete in 2010. They have one guy in Johan Santana they know they can depend on, but until Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran come back, they are going to need the rest, now more than ever.

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