By Rich Coutinho
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The first time that I saw Jordany Valdespin was in a Spring Training game in Jupiter, Florida two years ago. I was sitting next to then-Mets general manager Omar Minaya.
He said to me, “You know Rich, this kid has something. I can’t put my finger on it, but it is an ‘It Factor,’ and he will be an incredible big-league player.”
I think about that conversation a lot these days as Valdespin continues to impress with his late-inning power off the bench and the energy he provides his team. That is what makes me think his lightning-quick bat should be in Terry Collins’ lineup card on a regular basis. It may mean sitting Jason Bay, or straight platooning Bay/Lucas Duda and Scott Hairston/Andres Torres, but this kid has earned a shot at playing every day.
The knock on him has always been that he has a swagger that his teammates find irritating, but I honestly have seen a young player who is always on time, works hard and respects veteran players. Now don’t get me wrong — he has a strong personality and that drives him. In fact, that is what I like about him. When the lights turn on, he is ready and brings an energy to the game that all teams need. And more importantly, he is not afraid of being the batter that strides to the plate at the big moment in the game. In fact, he relishes that moment.
Valdespin also brings a dimension to this team that it sorely lacks — speed. And I think he would be an ideal No. 2 hitter behind Ruben Tejada. It might create some traffic on the basepaths for David Wright, who has been an RBI machine this year. More importantly, Valdespin can help a struggling team get some of the mojo back that it has been missing since the All-Star Break.
Jason Bay has struggled mightily, and quite frankly he needs to prove that he deserves playing time. Terry Collins has always said that the best players will play, and one of his best players is sitting on the bench.
And although his thunderous bat has produced four pinch-hit homers, you wonder what he could provide with four at-bats a night.
The Mets have received emotional power surges from unlikely sources this year, but in this case, a power surge is staring them right in the face. They’d be foolish not to take advantage of the free-swinging Valdespin, and they must do it NOW.
Do you think that Valdespin should be in the Mets’ lineup every day? Sound off with your thoughts and comments below…