Other than the guy who carries the "Nuclear Football" for President Obama ("Oh shoot - Did I leave that thing on the bus on my way to work today, again ?") the person who has the most important job in the country is the one who makes out the lineup card for the New York Mets.
Manager Collins takes this very seriously - or at least he says so in his daily press conferences. I understand that he consults with GM Sandy Alderson about whom to play. If JP and/or Paul are around they get to put their 2 cents in. Batting coach Dave Hudgens is known to interrupt his sessions where he is instructing his men how to take strike three looking and discuss lineup choices with the manager. Terry also for home games will have a brief chat with the ball boy down the first base line (the other one is not as "astute".) If worse comes to worse and no answer is in clear sight he can always turn to the Magic Eight-ball that is in his desk drawer. It was left over from the Bobby Valentine administration.
What it normally boils down to is the question of who catches, who plays SS and which Young man is the day's starting leftfielder. A new complication in the mix is Eric "Soupy" Campbell who has played everywhere except pitcher and catcher in the minors. Since he has shown that rare ability to occasionally hit the ball hard he may be finding his way into more and more lineups in the coming weeks.
Collins' catching choices are Anthony Recker and Juan Centeno. What they have in common is that neither can hit. But Recker does his non-hitting righthanded while Centeno does his lefty. Also Recker has been known to run into an occasional pitch and sail it over the wall. This is not a regular enough occurence to mandate extra playing time.
What Centeno is usually not hitting are singles and doubles. Both have live arms and sometimes throw out potential basestealers and sometimes toss balls on one hop to Lagares in center.
In about a week one of those catchers, likely Centeno, will be sent to Las Vegas as Travis d'Arnaud will return. He also doesn't hit but has the shiny "hot prospect" tag still on him so he'll be in there most of the time.
For the crucial position of shortstop it now boils down to Wilmer Flores vs. Ruben Tejada. Tejada, who you might call the incumbent, is an average fielding player who can't hit at all. He has less than zero power if that is even possible. His OPS is in the low 500's which is far lower than the 600 career OPS put up by Rey Ordonez. Rey Rey is usually considered the "Absolute Zero" on the OPS scale so this puts into perspective how laughably bad Tejada's offense is.
Then there is young Wilmer, formerly considered a hitter without a position. But now he has one and it's the toughest one on the field. Wilmer is currently hitting over .300 albeit with no power yet. The chance to have a single or two every game from the shortstop position beckons the manager like a siren's song. It makes him overlook the fact that Wilmer has the lateral range of USPS mailbox. What Wilmer can get to he can catch and he has a decent arm. About the only SS in the game today that Wilmer figures to be better than is Tejada. And - ta da - that's the only one he has to beat out.
So most days Flores will get the nod over Ruben.
And then there is the outfield. Granderson gets to play every day because, like Jason Bay before him, the rule is that if you make $15 million or more and you're not hurt, you play. That's the law - at least in Flushing. Lagares now gets to play CF almost every day because any day he sits Collins gets blasted by the entire press corps and every blogger (and we're a feisty bunch).
So the only decision is who plays left. If you remember the movie "Dumb and Dumber" I like to think of the Youngs, Eric and Chris, as "Sucky and Suckier."
Eric the Junior has one major league skill - he can steal 2B. Of course, as Billy Hamilton will tell you that's not such a great skill if you CAN'T REACH FIRST BASE. He tries bunting and that doesn't work. He strikes out at least once a game. He makes solid contact almost never. And he's no real asset in the field taking circuitous routes towards fly balls and throwing like a below average 2Bman which, by the way, he also is.
His competition for LF is Chris Young. Chris was given a one year free agent deal for a salary of $7.25 million and was promised by the GM that he would get at-bats. At this point the promise may be more of a burden than the money which might have been better spent on a, you know, shortstop. This Young has power and is legitimately a good defensive player. But as I write this he's at .206 with 3 HRs and his OPS is pretty icky at 646.
As Paul Simon wrote in song: "Laugh about it, shout about it, when you've got to choose. Every way you look at it YOU LOSE."
Larry writes a humor column for us at The Real Dirty Mets Blog once or more per week. You can follow Larry on Twitter at https://twitter.com/@dr4sight
There he comments on the teams that drive him crazy: the Mets, both NY football teams, the NY Rangers, and the Knicks.