It's Mets For Me: Off-Beat, Tangentially Relevant Mets Ruminations

Off Base Since 2005! Mets commentary from the counter-intuitive to the unintuitive and all the intuitives in between. ** "Through the use of humor and gross inaccuracy...a certain truth can be gained." Rob Perri ** (pester me or follow me @itsmetsforme on twitter)

Thursday, October 02, 2008

I am Not Amused
"I’m a gangsta now. You act gangsta on me I’m going to have to get you."

It's taken a while, but finally, somebody puts the time in to tell me why Jerry Manuel is a no-brainer to be retained as manager of the Mets. Guess what, Steve Popper? Not good enough.

As readers of this space will no doubt recall, I am against just giving this job to Manuel without considering other options for the following reasons.

*No one can tell me a single tangible thing Manuel does better than Willie. I am far more convinced that the late first half and early second half "progression" to the mean was due more to an inevitable 80-90 win achievement of the talent on the team than to any magic Jerry produced.
*The team got the same result: failure. So on the face of it, he was not able to motivate this crowd any more than Willie was.
*Manuel, far from burying Aaron Heilman, rubbed him in our face. Over and over again.
*Manuel used the shitpen as an excuse to cover his ass, not as an incitement to creativity. Manuel never showed any creativity in the bullpen. This was particularly apparent in the final doomed game, instead of having an "all hands on deck" mentality and bringing in a starter, someone like Pelfrey (who had yet to EPIC FAIL), he used the pen as an excuse and trotted out the same old same old failures. I want a team that will do anything to win. This team too often does nothing to win.
*I suspect this team needs a disciplinarian, not a players' lil' buddy. They need leadership, not a head excuse maker.
*There are options. Oberkfell is sitting right there on staff. Time for something new, Fred, if you had the guts.

Here's Popper's case for retaining Manuel, in order of presentation, not plausibility:

1) He used the metaphor of "Gangsta" to put Reyes in place when Jose threw an embarrassing hissy fit minutes into Manuel's tenure.

This is just puffery. Puffery which fills up most of the article mind you. I was at that game in Anaheim, and I have a distinctly different interpretation. Was Reyes disciplined for this amazing display of insubordination? Jerry came off looking weak right out of the chute and the media has substituted this idiotic prattle about "cutting" Reyes with a "blade" for analysis. Do "gangstas" miss the playoffs?

2) "He benched Luis Castillo, challenged Carlos Delgado and buried struggling pitchers in the farthest reaches of the bullpen."

There are three claims here:
1) Benching Castillo took managerial stones. Well, Luis Castillo can't hit. If we give JMan points for benching Luis in Omar's face, fine, but this was a pretty easy call. Apparently Castillo came into camp out of shape and I doubt this was lost on his teammates.
2) The idea he "challenged Carlos Delgado" is questionable, and pretty weak journalism. What is a "challenge"? This statement is a just so story which will go "unchallenged" by most because Carlos Delgado suddenly started performing up to expectations after a mostly dreadful first half. But I see no causal mechanism that connects Jerry to Delgado's adjustments at the plate.
3) Buried, as it should be, among more plausible stories in this package of claims is an outright falsehood. Jerry Manuel never "buried struggling pitchers in the farthest reaches of the bullpen." In fact, his continual usage of Aaron Heilman is exhibit A for the case that the Mets should look at their options when it comes to the manager spot. This one is so wrong, even Popper, no idiot, admits it towards the end of the article discussing the infamous usage of Shownblow.

3. "Perhaps the most astounding part of Manuel’s tenure was that even as it ended as disappointingly as Randolph’s had a year earlier, there was not a grumble from any player that they had been wronged."

Aha! You tripped my wire! Jerry Manuel has done astounding work, because after failing again, "there was not a grumble from any player that they had been wronged." So Manuel is popular with the players. Is that the kind of manager you bring in to deal with a bunch of underachievers whose focus tends to wander, and who suffer a huge collective September let down like clockwork?

4. The media likes Jerry: "If there is one thing Manuel clearly did better than Randolph it was handle the media with a manner that was far closer to Joe Torre than Randolph ever got. He was patient, funny and open. And like the best coaches in any game, he also used the media to get his point across."

You can run YOUR team based on this criteria. The media likes Paris Hilton and John McBain too.

5. Omar thinks Jerry did well: "I think Jerry did a very good job coming into a very difficult situation," general manager Omar Minaya said. "I thought he was able to get us playing, I think actually he ended up getting us to play better than I thought our team was, with all the injuries, overcoming the injuries of [Billy] Wagner and [John] Maine. I thought he did a very good job myself."

Well here we have the real problem. Omar already has his deal renewed, so we can't really talk about his issues here. Suffice to say, he has his flaws and the 2008 Mets were a direct projection of his catastrophic oversights. The Mets had two big injuries: Wagner (who had been choking quite a bit) and Maine, this is true. But I almost can't believe that Omar thinks we're going to accept this as an excuse, that the team wasn't good enough to get where they ended up. NO MEMBER OF THE OFFENSIVE CORE WAS EVER INJURED FOR ANY SIGNIFICANT PERIOD OF TIME, AND THIS YEAR'S TRAUMATIC PITCHING LOSSES ARE IN LINE WITH THE PAST TWO YEARS (EL DUQUE AND PEDRO AND SANCHEZ ETC.). Injuries are part of the game, and the Mets were pretty damn lucky this year, considering that Beltran, Wright, Reyes (and Delgado) were healthy as hell. The problem was once Omar's backups went down (Pagan, Wise!!!) he had no plan to save this team. All and all, he got pretty lucky with out of the blue call ups too (Tatis, Murphy, Ramon Martinez etc.). A team has to be planned around the possibility of injuries. Injuries are not a valid excuse for poor design, but once again, Omar is getting away with the BIG lie (see, "without Pedro, Beltran would not have signed with the Mets and the Mets would never have been reborn" when Beltran signed for the $$, money that was not forthcoming from his first choice, the Spankees, and Delgado rejected the Pedro-ful Mets the first time around and had to be traded for. Pedro had nothing to do with Wright or Reyes).

All and all, this is pretty weak pudding. The tone of the beat reporters and blogs suggests that everyone is settling for Manuel because he's a nice guy, because he says fun things in post game, because its the path of least resistance, and because they have no imagination. Even now that Jerry seems to be demanding more than 2 year contract (!!), no one has soured on rehiring a symbol of the continuation of Willie Randolph regime. Is Jerry the worst possible choice? Am I going to attack Mr Met over this? No, this may turn out fine somehow. But it might be a grievous error. In any event, it is symptomatic of the lack of thought Sterling Inc. puts into hiring at key leadership positions, even in the face of 3 years of failure in the clutch. The Wilpons seem to have put more thought into selling off pieces of Shea Stadium. But hey, everyone likes Jerry. He's got a terrific personality. He wears glasses!

Everybody liked Art Howe too.

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  • At 12:43 PM, Blogger Itsmetsforme said…

    Since Metsblog no longer permits me to post, I will post this reply i tried to leave on a comment on Cver's comment over there today.

    From one more fan pissed off at the "THE METS “RESCUE” PLAN!!!"...

    only subpar management accepts that "there are no options." You're welcome to settle for that.

    But I can't. Having a mediocre bullpen didn't stop Jerry from being creative. Rather than be creative, he sent Heilman out over and over again. And then went to Shownblow to flush the season down the toilet. Why weren't starters ready to go in the bullpen on Sunday?

    Why? Because Jerry knew that he could keep the job by using the pen as an excuse. The pen was horrible, but that last game really showed me a lot about Jerry. And Omar's excuse is injuries. Jerry blames Omar's pen, Omar blames 2 injuries. A recipe for continued employment.

    With the talent they have, I see no reason why the Mets wouldn't have finished in exactly the same spot they did under Willie. Unfortunately, bloggers and the media have ascribed the success the Mets had to the Gagsta, without pointing to any causal mechanism. The Mets had already started to play better before Willie left, and ascribing their winning to Jerry is lazy.

    Unfortunately for us, the Mets don't think that we deserve a reasoned thoughtful search for other candidates for manager (or GM). They are counting on us settling for the status quo, even after the catastrophes of the last three years.

  • At 2:42 PM, Anonymous jdon said…

    Metsblog is a pain. My posts stopped going in over there. I figured it was because I was supremely negative and went elsewhere. Very impressive piece. I too wondered why we kept seeing the pathetic Heilman. I would rather have used Stokes and Parnell. But jerry wanted to lose with Omar's guys, I guess. There is an element of job security in that. I do think Jerry was dealt a lesser hand than Willie was. But Obie was my guy from way back.

  • At 3:56 PM, Anonymous Nosh said…

    I loved your comment about Omar using the Pedro signing as "The Rebirth" of the Mets. What a crock of...... The fact that Omar thinks or expects us to believe that Pedro has an influence over us signing latin free agents and latin kids is absurd. This game is about $$$$$$$ and that's it. It's appalling to think that because Omar speaks spanish that he has an advantage in signing free agents. Yes that must be why Johan and Beltran took a huge discount to come play for the mets?

    I'm a huge Mets fan but if the mets are offering 1 Mill and the Yankees are offering 5 guess where I'm going? He is delusional to believe that free agents would sign with the Mets because of the atmosphere. Its always about the $$$$$$$

    The fact of the matter is, Omar's only accomplishment as a GM is getting the Wilpons to open up there check book. It's not as though he has developed any minor league talent.

  • At 5:11 PM, Anonymous jdon said…

    That is exactly what he is. A checkbook GM. Listening to Omar being interviewed is painful and embarassing. Uhm-ing interviewers to death. He has no polish whatsoever. And he has no long range plan of any kind in his hip pocket. Unless signing older players every year for the next 20years can be considered a long-range plan.

  • At 5:40 PM, Blogger Itsmetsforme said…

    Jdon and Nosh, welcome. I have always provided safe harbor for "supremely negative" fans, who after 2006's deluge of new fans, became an endangered species. It takes all kinds to love this *@%!#? team.

    I think Omar owes us a peak at his "long range" plan, if he has one. Even Duquette had one: to get better up the middle defensively and something else i forgot. Muttering about how to get to the next level in public does not inspire confidence, even if he twirls the purse strings around like a master of the universe.

    Omar deserves credit for landing Santana. I always argued the market was structured in his favor since the Sawx and Spanks were just playing each other, but still, history will show that he got his man. I also applauded the Delgado trade. However Omar's obsession with fragile elderly players, his handling of the hard throwing pitching prospects that now fill our opponents' pens, his farting away of a great catching prospect just as the mets needed one, and his utter bumbling of Lastings Milledge and his trade value are black marks that will forever stain him. I don't even count that idiotic Castillo move among his top fuck ups!

  • At 6:08 PM, Anonymous jdon said…

    I don't think omar should be allowed to go out in public. I think Omar once read about how Demosthenes cured his stuttering problem by talking with pebbles in his mouth, only Omar never read the part where he was supposed to remove them I consider the Delgado trade a salary dump by the Marlins, thereby avoiding giving Omar any credit. I attribute the Santana acquisition entirely to Cashman's stupidity. He actually had a long range plan. A very stupid one, but he had one. I blame Omar completely for Castillo. I must admit, I was not fond of Milledge.

  • At 7:03 PM, Blogger katherine said…

    Wait, this is the blog for supremely negative fans? I must be lost! Are there any blogs for supremely positive Mets fans?

    I still love Jerry Manuel. I agree his continued use of Heilman was inexplicable, but I felt he was perfect in every other way.

    And Omar acquired Pedro, both Carloses and Johan! How could he know how it would all turn out? The only criticism I have of him is the Luis Castillo deal. That was so bad, I feel there must be some unknown reason behind it. And anyway, a CHECKBOOK GM is exactly the kind fans want.

    Oh, IMFM, Metsblog banned you? Well, that is their loss. I never read it anyway. It is fun to read when the team is winning, but that hasn't been a problem lately.

  • At 8:26 PM, Anonymous jdon said…

    Yes, he signed Castillo to help lure johan here. Johan had a no trade and he loves Castillo---don't ask me why. At least that is my take on it. I read last year that Johan was very mad when they traded Luis to the mets. Does Jerry Manuel know that you love him, Katherine? I think you should let him know how you feel. Hey these poor cub fans, they remind me of mets fans. come to think of it, the cubs are playing like the mets did.

  • At 8:38 PM, Anonymous Nosh said…

    Yes Omar did sign Beltran and brought in Johan and Delgado via trade. So just looking at that would make you think he's done good work. But the fact is he paid the most money for Beltran. No other team would give Beltran that much money. So i'm supposed to give Omar credit? I could have signed Beltran too if I had the most money to offer. For crying out loud he's a Boras client, they always take the most money.

    And I agree with the other poster, the Delgado trade was a straight salary dump by the Marlins who had no intentions of keeping him after that 1st year. It was a backloaded contract.

    And as for Johan, the only reason we got him was because the Redsox and Yanks said no thanks. Our deal isn't even looked at before those teams dropped out, that and the fact we were the only other team willing to pay him.

    So like I said before, his biggest accomplishment as GM is convincing the Wilpons to spend "big market" money. And hey that's a pretty big accomplishment.

    Steve Phillips Drafted Wright, Kazmir, Milledge, Dan Murphy? Ohh and he was the GM when we signed Jose Reyes.

    Who exactly has Omar drafted? And while I'm not the biggest Milledge fan, Omar sold him for 50 cents on the dollar, and didn't give him the starting job in 07 because the uber talented Shawn Green was in right. I could go on all night about how Omar is the most over rated GM in all of baseball but It's getting late.

  • At 8:45 PM, Anonymous Nosh said…

    I actually don't consider myself a "Negative" fan. I just don't blindly support all of my teams decisions like some fans do.

    It crushed me to not win a world series with Piazza. If we don't win one with Wright and Reyes it will be a tragedy.

  • At 9:01 PM, Blogger Itsmetsforme said…

    My favorite Shawn Green trick was when he'd catch the ball with his face.

    Katherine, we have positive stuff here too. But I think everyone should be able to speak their mind and there are some blogs and chats where any dissent is shouted down and I don't like that. I have no problem with extreme criticism or adulation as long as its reasoned or amuses me.

    "A CHECKBOOK GM is exactly the kind fans want." hmmm. That makes me think a bit. You're probably right in general, but that style--always a temptation for the MEts-- has not worked out historically for them. I want home grown, likable talent and a system that produces exciting players. Of course when I get that i still bitch.

    I don't think Cerrone banned me,I think the screening software just acts up sometimes. I just think that blog has gotten so big that they can't take care of the posters that made it what it is. When I look, I can't find a single one of us from the early years. It was very cool in the beginning. I owe MB a lot as far as inspiration goes and it's frustrating what growth has done.

    Milledge, love or hate for him aside, was a mismanaged asset. No matter if Ryan Church bats 400 next year and decides to play for free, the Mets made an atrocious baseball decision with LM and giving away Flores for nada.

    Jdon i really don't know about the Castillo thing. I doubt GMs and players operate like that.Johan could always meet up with Slappy mc Singleton in the harbor with their yachts, no need to play for the same club. I'm not even sure that Castillo is that bad, but the impression won't go away easily. He needs to get outfield grass power back thats for sure.

    I think we'd all like Omar to stop hemming and hawing when he gets a chance to address us fans, and tell us how he is going to a) put in place a winning system, and b) fix this team so it doesn't give us all a heart attack again next year. First he'd need to own up to his errors, and I haven't heard that at all.

  • At 4:58 AM, Anonymous jdon said…

    Loved the comment by Wilpon today that they were going to be asking Omar "tough questions" at their meetings this week. Duh? You just gave him a 6 year extension, if the options go through. What kind of message is that?

  • At 9:06 AM, Anonymous cver said…

    IMFM, nice that you are reading my comments, even on Metsblog and responding here. I had some trouble with getting on there at one time a while back, but Matthew was very nice about addressing the technical problem and fixing it for me. There system still does have some bugs though, but better than when I couldn't get on at all (long story). But, I am nearly one of the originals on Metsblog and I'm still there. Incidentally, I missed the whole end of that last game (don't remember if I mentioned that), due to MLB.TV messing up - insult to injury. And to answer one question, Omar did draft Pelfrey, so I'll give him that piece of credit, even though I am against Omar remaining as GM.

  • At 11:49 AM, Blogger Itsmetsforme said…

    That's right CVER! Sorry I forgot you!

    Where have you been? Jousting with the Zoo over on the MB comment section? I hope you'll keep me company this winter, since I plan to prattle on and on. Like a good pawn, I am almost over this year's debacle and have distracted myself with dreams of next season.

    That is amazing that the MLB botched the last game! If you have itunes you can buy that last game+ceremony on SNY for 1.99. I bought it for the ceremony which is quite touching to watch, but i suppose you could "re"live the nightmare of the actual game. I skipped that part! Warning though: they invited Traitor Al Leiter!

    Jdon, indeed. "tough questions" like, which model leather executive chair does he want for his new desk?

  • At 5:04 PM, Anonymous cver said…

    Of course, I'll be here, man. I did listen to the ceremonies on and later saw the end of the game on MLB.TV archives and also saw some short clips from the closing ceremonies, although SNY has an 18 minute version that I haven't watched yet. I don't think I'll pay for the whole thing, although it would be nice to see. Considering that I subscribe to the MLB.TV premium, you would think that they'd give it to me, especially considering they messed up me seeing that horrible ending live. Omar and Gagsta - help me, Mr. Met!

  • At 5:06 AM, Blogger Jaap said…

    more Omar, more Jerry. what's next, a four year extension for Luis Aguayo and Pedro?

    I bet El Duque and Moises will rebound from injuries and play at least 10 games each in 2009. Why not re-sign them too?

    And don't forget Cliff Floyd is a free agent! Wouldn't want to miss THAT golden opportunity.

    I don't think we really need to get rid of anyone in the pen. I'll guess Omar is quite satisfied with their collective performance. They were all unnecessarily pressurised by the loss of Wagner. Heilman is certainly going to get better. Why not pencil him in as closer? Surely if he has all winter to prepare...

    And while they're at it, why not double ticket prices? Citi Field must be at least twice as good as Shea.

    As auld Fyodor Dostoevsky once wrote: "Man has such a predilection for systems and abstract deductions that he is ready to distort the truth intentionally, he is ready to deny the evidence of his senses only to justify his logic."

    Go Mets management!

  • At 10:29 AM, Anonymous jdon said…

    I think they did double ticket prices. How in the name of God did they ut Luis Aguayo, who was not a field coach in the organization, at third base ahead of Obie? Murphy swore after ward that he got a third strike bunt sign and judging by Aguayo's overall performance, I believe Murph. Bobby Valentine was the best third base coach I ever saw, in 50+ years of watching baseball. Just think, we could have had Leland but we wqnted him to work overtime for nothing.

  • At 12:05 PM, Blogger katherine said…

    jdon - Interesting point about the Daniel Murphy, third-strike-bunt affair. I really wondered about Jerry's post game explanation that Daniel had defied his order to hit. That seemed out of character. Plus what rookie wouldn't rather hit away??

    The last two seasons we seem to have been cursed with problems of third base coaching. It must require a perfect blend of quick thinking, agressiveness, caution, and ability to read the game situation instantly and act quickly. Sandy Alomar Sr had big problems there, though reportedly he is a wonderful coach in other ways, especially teaching defensive skills.

    jaap - LOVE the Dostoevsky quote - that also explains why non-rich people vote Republican.

  • At 1:53 PM, Anonymous jdon said…

    katherine---I don't know who luis aguayo is. I don't even knpow who he WAS. The fact that they put him ahead of Obie at third tells me what they know about coaching. Obie has been an extremely successful minor league manager for the most part. The only possible explanation for it would be that Obie did not want third base. But how could a guy who wants to manage in the majors turn down third base? I don't care for Alomar, but that is because I hate his son. And he was an awful third base coach, as you say. I could see Jerry unloading Obie and Aguayo and Guy Conti, but he will keep Hojo and Alomar since they have Wright and Reyes ears. And that is a mistake. Wright and Reyes have got to be shown a little tougher form of love. They keep doing the same dumb things and don't seem to realize it.

  • At 2:39 PM, Blogger Itsmetsforme said…

    To me it was a headscratcher when they had Obie on staff at all...why stick Jerry's likely successor right in Jerry's line of view? I still think they should have let Obie have the job rehearsal --if he fails you go looking if he succeeds you have a cheap young manager bred by the mets system that a team still probably paying Art Howe and Willie off covets.

    I guess we should be relieved that Omar didn't hand the manager job to Aguayo, which at this point would not have shocked me.

    I hated Sadly Alomar Jr. and actually thought Acta did an awful job too. Aguayo is trying to in only half a season eclipse their records of boneheaded 3rd base coaching. He was so awful, and if Omar can't see that he's more fucked than I have assumed.

    My theory is that it is a grave mistake to ask a late middle aged to elderly guy to stick a helmet on and go out and perform an occasionally key role where the premium is on reflexes and quick decision making. If any coaching position is better suited for younger guys with their wits about them, it would be 3rd base coach. I forgot who sent Endy twice to his doom in two weeks, but I do remember Delgado getting hung out to dry and Church was dead at the plate without his ballerina routine. Not surprised in the least that Murphy and Manuel got disconnected through Aguaya. That guy could lose the Homerun apple.

  • At 2:55 PM, Anonymous jdon said…

    I forgot about Acta. He really stunk. Just like Sandy and luis, he forever sent guys home with a small chance of success and a cleanup hitter in the on deck circle. Making something happen, I think they like to call it when citing their excuses. I guess you caould call it that.


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