No Glove Will Mean No Love for the Mets

Tighter defense is a must in Queens

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    Getty Images

    Ruben Tejada needs to be the Mets shortstop on Opening Day.

    That conclusion was certainly a possibility when Jose Reyes's health problems first came to light, but it only coalesced into a strong feeling after a pair of articles clicked to turn on the light bulb of an idea on Wednesday afternoon. The first is from Ted Berg of SNY, who posits that a good deal of Mike Pelfrey's regression in 2009 can be blamed on the mediocre infield defense behind the groundball pitcher. The other is an examination of Jeff Francoeur's throwing arm from Marty Noble of MLB.com.

    Berg's article directly addresses the need to put the onus on defense at shortstop until Reyes returns to action. Alex Cora logged a lot of innings at short last season and that's a losing bet for the Mets if they are hoping to prop up a questionable rotation long enough to stay in the race. The pitchers are going to need a lot of help.

    If the article about Pelfrey was the nudge, it was the Francoeur piece that made it totally obvious that Tejada is the right man for the job. Francoeur's arm really is special. While it is hard to quantify just how many runs Frenchy might save, it's obvious that every baserunner thinking about an extra base is going to have to make a tough decision about whether or not to test him. That might wind up creating more at-bats with runners on for the pitching staff or more double play chances or any number of other situations where the starting pitcher can escape without a big inning and create less stress on the bullpen.

    Having a defense capable of taking advantage of those opportunities, then, is of paramount importance. Tejada is better than Cora on that front and that's worth whatever offensive loss the Mets might face by making that decision.

    Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City and is a contributor to FanHouse.com and ProFootballTalk.com in addition to his duties for NBCNewYork.com.