Ever since the departure of Carlos Delgado and injury problems to Carlos Beltran, the Mets haven’t been able to find the perfect lineup. In 2006, when the Mets won 97 games en route to the NLCS, they had the deepest lineup in the entire National League. It looked like this day-in and day-out:

1. Jose Reyes

2. Paul Lo Duca

3. Carlos Beltran

4. Carlos Delgado

5. David Wright

6. Cliff Floyd

7. Shawn Green

8. Jose Valentin

Now, the Mets are impatiently waiting for their star center fielder Carlos Beltran to return, just so that they can place him in the third spot. That’s not a good sign.

Reason being, they have plenty of guys who should be able to take that spot in the interim. David Wright, who was batting third earlier in the season, should be the perfect fit. His problem is, when he hits at Citi Field, his slugging percentage drops 25%. In his Shea Stadium days, he’d fit third perfectly. He’d hit home runs, drive in a bunch of runs and score a ton of runs, all of what a third place hitter should do.

Jason Bay would be the worst third hole candidate on this team. Why? He’s a strike out machine and seems psyched out by Citi Field as well. He hit a ball on Sunday to left field that he thought should have been a grand slam. The ball barely got past shortstop. 

A lot of people are clamoring for rookie Ike Davis to fill in at that spot. That can’t happen because he’s a rookie. Maybe next season, but in 2010, that would present him with too much pressure.

How about the guy that’s there right now? Well, that’s been a total disaster. Jose Reyes doesn’t know whether he’s a leadoff hitter batting third or a three hitter batting third. As a leadoff hitter, sometimes you’re called upon to bunt. That’s exactly what Reyes attempted to do in Wednesday’s loss to the Nationals. He couldn’t even do that. So now, you’ve got Reyes, trying to play role of leadoff man, not getting the job done as a third place hitter. That experiment has been a bust, and if Jerry Manuel were smart, he’d think of moving Reyes back to leadoff beginning with the upcoming road trip to Florida, Atlanta, and Washington.

The problem with this lineup is not just the lack of a three hitter. It’s the lack of production out of Jason Bay and David Wright. So far, Bay has done absolutely nothing to prove he’s worth the Mets’ money. Every time he comes up with anything going on, he kills it with a strike out. His swing is too long, and he hasn’t lived up to the Mets’ thought that he was a pull hitter and home run machine.

Jeff Francoeur after a hot start has cooled off so badly, you start to think maybe the Braves new what they were doing when they got rid of him for Ryan Church last summer.

Now, what do the Mets do to score consistently? Do you flip Reyes and Pagan? Do you make the move with Ike Davis to the three hole? Do you lower Bay in the order? Below, is the lineup that I would put out there starting Thursday night in Miami.

1. Jose Reyes

2. Luis Castillo

3. David Wright

4. Jason Bay

5. Ike Davis

6. Jeff Francoeur

7. Rod Barajas

8. Angel Pagan

How would you configure the Mets starting lineup? Leave a comment or tweet me @SammyMakki.

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