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 at:email@example.com or follow me @itsmetsforme on twitter)
Monday, October 27, 2008
Some Video Distractions
Take a trip around you tube to distract yourself from this awful world series.
Phillie Phanatic Dresses Down David Wright
Game Six 1986, NLCS Mets vs. Astros, End of the 16th inning
Highlights: Kevin Bass swinging over Orosco's breaking ball, absolutely atrocious Astro uniforms, Tim McCarver playing with his hair, Len Dykstra in his more articulate days swigging champagne.
Gary Carter pretends to read
Highlights: Gary's acting, socks.
Post Season NY fan infestation
Highlights: This one's made the rounds already, but if you missed it. Yankee fan ticket scalper in the bedroom:"but if you're buying..."
We should be getting good at this, rooting for some other team in the post season to try to limit the emotional damage done by our own team during the season ("beat the Yankees," "destroy the Br*ves, etc.). But it always seems to take a little effort to bone up on the opponent of the evil-must-be-destroyed-enemies of Metsdom. This year it's worth it. Totally. The Philmes must be destroyed, and not by some polite dispatching, but in an orge of annihilation, a ball of fire that takes out most of Pennsylvania preferably. It looks like the youngsters from Tampa Bay are our only shot. So we need to know just enough about the D-Rays to be a solid source of support. If you're short on time, check out this helpful post, "So you want to be a Devil Rays Fan."
Uncle Cliffy, out bowling with Tom Gl*vine in happier times.
The Mets tricked the Rays into giving up Stokes, who went 2-7 with a 7.07 ERA in 62.1 innings for the Rays last season, for mere cash!! And yet the Rays still got to the World Series!
My own contribution is to point out, as Cver has suggested, the amazin' similarities between Ray manager Joe Maddon and some of the Mets' former skippers in order to help the Met fan really get into the Rays.
The resemblance with Gil Hodges is uncanny.
Spitting image of Bobby V!
Other than rooting against the Philmes, it looks like we just have to hunker down and wait for Omarpallooza to begin.
Bobby Valentine, NOT the Mets next manager, alienates yet another social group at some point in the 1990s.
Omar will bring in some new faces, but will we like those either?
The Rays deserve to win this World Series, particularly if you take into account Stephen Colbert's point that they are the only team to renounce the Devil before going all the way. Not some tired old franchise from a third tier Eastern city. So root hard for a Rays (or Red Sox) sweep. Hey, it's the only way we're going to get to root Scott K*zmir on to World Series glory.
Every year the Philmes have a new MVP, while the Mets seem to have a bunch of guys competing for MIP, Most Invisible Player, every Autumn. I expect Ryan Howard to win this year. Other than a burning desire to see the Phils go down in shame and collapse, I don't have much to offer. And I'm not above the sort of lazy, sometimes irritating, staccato postings of my "ideas" in brief.
The more I think of it, the more I hope Omar can work a trade for a closer (or two). K-Rod is a disaster waiting to happen. And Fuentes is not worth $11 million a year.
I will believe a big Yankees spending spree when I see it. Ca$hman would be reversing course entirely and I just don't see it. They have more pressing needs than the Mets, and I'd expect them to go for Sabathia, Teixiera and Ramirez in that order. They still have a pretty impressive offense. But who knows?
Rafael Furcal. It is mindblowing for anyone who lives in Los Angeles and is familiar with Furcal's injuries to read Rosenthal on the Dodgers estimation of this guy: "Furcal made three errors in one inning when the Dodgers were eliminated by the Phillies in Game 5 of the National League Championship Series, but he is one of manager Joe Torre's favorites, a leader who excels in every aspect of his game." If this is true it just goes to show how fast a players fortunes can turn; when Torre was hired, there was even speculation that he was hired because he had the clout to bench players like Juan Pierre and Furcal!
No one is crediting my earlier diatribes against baseball journalists in particular as the worst of sports commentators, but at least some people are starting to get the idea.
Top Ten Scenarios Under Which Mets fans could Root for the Phillies
A poster Ian B at Amazin Avenue made a list of the circumstances which cheering for the Phillies would be thinkable, including the immortal "Phillies vs. Sheryl Crow." I would add my own as follows:
10. Phillies vs. Derek Jeter 9. Phillies vs. Small, yappy dogs 8. Phillies vs. Premature Ejaculation 7. Phillies vs. Sarah Palin 6. Phillies vs. Black Death 5. Phillies vs. Phillies 2007 4. Phillies vs. Marlins broadcasters 3. Phillies vs. US Postal Service 2. Phillies vs. Sadness 1. Phillies vs. Joe Buck
2009: Wally Matthews, that great friend of the truth, thinks the Mets were just not good enough. Fair enough, how do the Mets get better? How do we wipe away the taste of this season? Are there any among the 191 agents of freedom that might contribute to the answer? Before each and every one of these free agents utters the immortal sentence "I'd like to come to NY," lets check out a preliminary look at the realistic possibilities people are focusing on so far:
**Cash Pit(Pick one) Big Market clubs need at least one big gamble. That's just the way they are.
Manny Ramirez pro-man: me, uh other cool people. con-man: Lupica, Borden, Wally (though it's not clear why, since by his logic Manny would destroy the Mets--precisely Wally's fondest dream--which would leave less work for Wally?).
Stick with Daniel Murphy and his expensive valet Luis Castillo: probably closest to happening.
**Pitching Palooza (pick two?)
D. Lowe is magic. I haven't heard a good reason not to throw some change at this dude. But can the Mets buy Lowe, sell high?
Ok, I clearly have nothing here, nothing but the conviction that adding two top five starters and a couple AAA guys would be a good idea. If not CC, then Lowe and who else?
**Bullpen Bonanza (pick five?) Is there anything anywhere that needs something more than the NY Mets need a bullpen? The Mets must get rid of Aaron Heilman if they ever want to look in the mirror again, and those who choose to ignore the obvious, well they are wrong. Someone can only truly be called a "scapegoat" if they haven't done the thing they're being blamed for. Aaron, you ain't got to go home, but you can't stay here. I'd like to see the pen get different and hard throwing in that order. Here are a couple of names people are throwing around:
J.J. Putz,Joakim Soria and Huston Street (Metsblog)
Filter all these choices through length of contract, insurance, and draft pick concerns (though not money concerns since the Wilpons and their price hikes can go !$?%# themselves %#@$), and I think we have ourselves a plan.
I know people want to continue to discuss the hotstove, but I need to take a moment to address a matter of grave importance. I suppose should be thankful for not having to suffer through Joe Buck's annual October prattle in the first round of playoffs. But I'm not. Why?
There is no debate over how fucking pathetic the MLB's new ad campaign, featuring a skeezy looking, White Sox cap wearing, guy with a laptop and strange accent who they call "October Gonzo, the best blogger in the world." It is as pleasant as this.
The debate is really about whether this is more insulting than last year's insultathon, featuring one of the most hated public figures of our time, Dane Cook. I think it is. We are supposed to believe that with all the loot it gets from us fans, MLB can't get anyone with a shred of creditably to hock the playoffs to casual fans or people not clear on the broadcast schedule? David Blane? George W. Bush? Rob Schneider? (oops they've got that one covered).
Last year, the geniuses at MLB strained credulity by offering up Alyssa Milano as a baseball blogger. Although she never responded to attempts to offer her my warm embrace of blogger creditability (or rips on her clothing line), it turns out Milano knows some baseball, and she is actually a Dodger fan (Alyssa if you're reading...call me!).
But it seems that I am the only one offended by this latest transgression. Buzz Bisinger got even some of the interwebs' most self-possessed and ironic denizens of mom's basement up in arms, storming to the barricades to defend blogging's honor against crusty old sports hacks with names like "Buzz," "Murray" or "Red." But no one is pissed about this?
There is only one October, you greedy motherfuckers. And everytime you let Faux Network broadcast it, another true fan dies a little bit inside. Oh and by the way, MLB Hall of Fame, fuck you too.
This is the time of the season when it all starts for me. The race to October. Sure, I have my own home team but I’m really thinking about who’s going to make the amazing plays, the runs, the hits to get into October. Who will break out? Who will have a career season? Will a dark horse crash the party? That’s what it’s all about for me. Interests: Baseball, October
October Gonzo, everybody!
They didn't even assign the ghostwriting of this stupid ad to a teenage intern, or some pimply Hofstra undergrad. No, they just handed the job to a robot, albeit one primed with the concepts of "keyboard" "crazy," and "blogging" to give its output that authentic feeling:
If you told me in April that CC Sabathia would be leading Milwaukee's rotation on a serious Postseason run, I would have flat-out spilled coffee all over my keyboard in a fit of laughter. But, again, here's CC, dealing for the Brew Crew when it counts the most.
And that's the point. As the calendar inches ever closer to October, you gotta get ready for crazy, because once the Postseason starts, it just gets crazier.
Wow. What else can you say? There was so much going on that you could write a whole blog about this game alone. This series just got a lot more interesting, too.
Almost too much to blog about, but I want to hear your thoughts. What was the best moment of the first day of October baseball in 2008?
Corporate America hasn't had this persuasive a spokesman since penis faced Joe Camel. I was a little gratified to find "Gonzo's" latest entry had no comments when I checked, though plenty of jackasses have left comments trying to engage a fake electronic diariest in baseball chat. But the bigger issue is, what does this tell us about Major League Baseball's assessment of its customers, or blogging?
Now, I don't have the high opinion of bloggyness that many of my comrades do. My attitude is that blogs are like assholes. Everyone's got one. But I am perpetually disgusted by Bud Selig's insulting attitude towards fans--"pay for a new 6 screen MLB.tv even though the old single game version doesn't work" or "cancel your cable and go out and get a dish because we're yanking Extra innings off cable."
Maybe MLB is just going with the flow. "Insulting the public's intelligence" is shaping up to be the new post-Bush Madison Ave. strategy. No one charged with bilking America's consumers could fail to grasp the message of the 2004 General Election. This is a dumb fucking country. So here we go...McBain is a maverick, Palin is a reformer from the heartland. They're just like you and me.
Just like Gonzo!
Here's the point: it's one thing to sell laser-shooting robots, paeans to pointless violence, and exploding graphics to football fans. That's America's least common denominator and football fans have no interest in being respected on an intellectual level. But MLB's attitude towards baseball fans is the equivalent of slapping Mom's face before shitting in her apple pie. Basically, instead of respecting us for the knowledgeable, relatively non-violent sports fans we are, the MLB thinks baseball fans are asshats like Bud Selig or Joe Buck. They think because we'll pay anything, listen to any broadcaster, and suffer any indignities to support America's past time. To them, we are stooges and dopes.
If you've finally been sleeping soundly or lost yourself in some other hobby, get a load of this Met-terror, courtesy of Newsweek's Ken Davidoff:
On the Mets' side, meanwhile, the front office would like to bring back everyone besides bullpen coach Guy Conti, who will probably be reassigned to the front office as the Mets cut ties with Pedro Martinez. It's just a matter of Jerry Manuel, now the full-time manager, signing off on bench coach Sandy Alomar, pitching coach Dan Warthen, first-base coach Ken Oberkfell and third-base coach Luis Augayo.
All this is tucked in an article claiming that the bad economy will lead CC Sabathia right into the Yankers arms...which is nothing compared to the last 5 words.
It's a travesty if the Mets put that guy back in a position to do significant damage. This is a team that missed the playoffs by a mere game or so two years in a row; they can't afford to have guys thrown out at home so often.
A spirited defense of Manny Ramirez. Or, I guess its really more of an attack on Tim McCarver. I'd still rather have Manny “refusing to play” in rightfield, than some mash up of out-of-position rookies "refusing to not play."
Also wearing a White Sox hat...
I wonder what Brian Bannister is doing right now. I bet Omar does too. As for the guy Omar traded for Bannister, well, the Amburgler is behind bars. And not for driving an environmentally unfriendly Hummer. Burgos was involved in a hit and run that killed two women, including one woman surnamed Minaya. Who knows what really happened down there in the Dominican? But this international pile up of crimes does not look to good for Ambiorix Burgos, and I have been urged by some of my most ardent fans to bring this up. Apparently, Burgos likes to run people down in his car. He also is approaching Marlin levels of depravity, assaulting women as though he were a Philadelphia Phillie. He seems to be trying to pin the Dominican incident on his cousin. And apparently, through all this, his conscience is clear:
“I am going to come out of this fine because my conscience is clear, and I’m not worried this will affect my career because I haven’t done anything … I’ll get out of here soon ,and I’ll also clear up what happened in New York.”
What have we learned from the post-season thus far?
1) Nobody really knows what the hell it takes to have October success.
From the shitty Cardinals and Rockies teams of the past to the Dodgers surprising sweep of the best club in the NL, this stuff is unpredictable. I mean, you can still usually predict the Red Sox will go deep, and at least destroy the Angels on their way. But I'm thinking that I don't know what to think. When does a team start playing good baseball and how the hell can you plan for it? Exhibit A, the Cubs: with Dempster, Carlos Zambrano, Harden and Lilly in their rotation? Are you kidding me? I though pitching won playoff games. But a team that tends to go ice cold like the Mets would be a very fragile playoff team indeed.
Jerry has one thing right so far, execution and comfortable players in established roles helps. "You don't see a lot of guys that have statistical numbers play well in these championship series," Manuel said. "What you see is usually the little second baseman or somebody like that carries off the MVP trophy that nobody expected him to do. That's because he's comfortable in playing that form of baseball, so therefore when the stage comes, it's not a struggle for him."
2) Midseason moves CAN sure as shit put a team in the playoffs, Omar.
Jim Hendry got Harden for his rotation. But Ned Colletti added Manny Ramirez and Casey Blake to his team.
Who knows what it would taken to have gotten into the Manny sweepstakes, but the Dodgers sure didn't give up much. Conventional wisdom is that the Mets just didn't have what it took. But that was also the conventional wisdom about Johan, and the thing about trades is that they are also unpredictable and to a certain extent, depend on a GMs tenacity and creativity. They can't be predicted, not by the media or fans, who just don't know the parameters or pressures that GMs are dealing with. We can only guess. Who wouldn't give up F-Mart right now if it meant getting in on these playoffs?
On his first full day as the Mets' long-term manager, Manuel forcefully attacked the SABR-type mathematical analysis some have fixated on in recent years.
"You get so many statistical people together, they put so many stats on paper, and they say, well, if you do this and you score this many runs, you do that many times, you'll be in the playoffs," he said.
"That's not really how it works, and that's what we have to get away from. And that's going to have to be a different mind-set of the team in going forward. We must win and we must know how to win rather than win because we have statistical people. We have to win because we have baseball players that know and can understand the game."
There are many snide things one could say about how looking at some numbers might help Jerry manage. But I think these guys have it covered.
*** Time killers
If you're bored, and your tastes run towards the juvenile, come play the nickname game with me on the "relaunched" MetsNicknames site.
One of the most dismaying effects of this season was the extent to which Wallace Matthew's hate-filled attacks on the Mets and bitter and often asinine rants started making sense. Well, it might be a sign of good things to come that he has put an end to that. Wally writes that the Mets would be crazy to sign such a: "head case, a sometime malcontent, an all-day flake. You know, everything's going along fine, then one day he decides to strangle the traveling secretary. Just Manny being Manny."
I'm not too worried about the traveling secretary, but I am worried that the Mets would be crazy not to tend to their offensive chemistry. I think Manny's tires need to be kicked. They need a guy out of sync with Wright, Beltran and Reyes, who often go cold at the same time. Is that guy Manny? At the right number of years, yes. We will just have to see how that market shapes up.
*Signing Moises Alou, resigning him. *El &$#@! Duque. I never liked that move, not the first time or the second. *Jason Vargas and Adam Bostick *Trading Lastings Milledge, after holding him out of trades that could have made the Mets better, for a fourth outfielder and an expensive no-hit catcher when Omar had just let Jesus Flores, who started for the Nationals in place of Brian Schneider, slip away in the rule 5 draft. *Not moving Mike Cameron when requested a trade in January of 2005 before the collision (all he got for him afterwards was Xavier Nady, who, before Metsfans elected him Mayor of Happytown, was just a utility outfielder and infielder). *Ruben Gotay from the Royals for Jeff Keppinger *Heath Bell and Royce Ring to the Padres for Ben Johnson and Jon Adkins *Ambiorix Burgos from the Royals for starter Brian Bannister (to be fair, this has raised the Mets visibility in the Dominican Republic).
Yeah, I know he's made a few good ones too. But spare me the "player X begat player Y who years later was traded for player Z" rationalizations. Those are merely creative excuses. I evaluate trades based on the GMs maneuvering in the environment before and during the trade. I evaluate trades against the possibilities at the time. For instance, if Omar turns around and trades Brian Church for Jason Bay tomorrow, that doesn't make the Lastings Milledge trade any less of a mind-blowing disappointment.
Of Omar's known skillsets--wooing elderly players to Flushing, leveraging the Wilpon's cash for big ticket free agents, and identifying future powerhitting juicers-- the purse strings seem to be most relevant now. But after watching the Sawx and the Dodgers this off-season, I would like to see him try his hand at building a winning organization at the lower levels, so the Mets have more arms to plug in when AARP Omar strikes again. Omar has shown the ability to stand pat at the trade deadline rather than make any foolish moves, and up until the Mets repeated their failures this year, I found that somewhat comforting. All and all, I don't think he's going to trade this team to health.
Re-upping Delgado takes the Mets out of the running for this talented defensively skilled first baseman. Or does it?
It's HOT STOVE fantasy time for Mets fans. And it's "make-up any shit we want to and publish it" time for the beat and national mainstream sports reporters. This winter, to me, already has a Steve Phillips era, irresponsible fantasy feeling to it. It is clear that Omar has no responsible plan or grand strategy for the club, so fuck it, let's roll the crazy dice.
What Omar does have is stability. After some dubious contract renewals, the Mets may have endorsed mediocrity and unaccountability, but at least we now know who is running the show this winter. Omar has job security. And Jerry Manuel has the useless NY media eating out of his hand. Manuel thinks the the Angels “are a good model for what needs to be done”, which would be more inspiring if the Halos weren't getting their asses swept out of the playoffs by a team they seem unable to beat. So unbelievably (and thanks largely to the smokescreen of excuse cover provided by the Wilpons), the Mets decision-makers are working from a position of professional strength.
The good news is that the Mets more often than not, win the off-season! Yay! And the failures of the last 3 years should mean everyone outside 4 core players is totally expendable. The bad news, well there is quite a bit. There ain't too much out there for the pen, which could force Omar to spend a lot of his (mental and financial) resources on one part of the team (ala last year's Santana quest) while potentially ignoring other vital parts (hello bullpen and useless aged bench). Many of the potential Met targets are represented by Scott Bora$$. We don't know exactly how the structure of the hot stove market will play out, but we already know the wealthy Yankees will be a factor: they have also been humiliated, resigned their GM, have rotation holes, and opened a new stadium. Some of the Mets potential targets are playing in the playoffs, for teams in nice climates with big budgets: these factors don't make it easier to snag such players. Finally, no one is talking about it, but how will the financial crisis play out here? Already insuring these gargantuan contracts has been a major concern of teams trying to sign big ticket items. How will problems in the insurance industry affect this year's hot stove?
First things first. Aguayo needs to go!!
The Mets must fill their rotation, not with more elderly has-beens, but with innings-eaters in the Jerry style. They also need to improve the bottom of their order. They have to supplement the core offensive players with a righty bat. Without much thought, I'd endorse tire kicking on Derek Lowe, C.C. Sabathia, Manny Ramirez, and Mark Teixeira. But this season, Omar really needs to make intelligent, creative moves, or find someone who can do this for him. So he needs to do the opposite of signing Moises Alou, Luis Castillo, Orlando Hernandez, trading all the club's fire throwing relievers, etc. All GMs make mistakes, but whether or not Omar can admit them or doubles down on them will determine the Mets future.
Above all, although arrest warrants have only been issued for one of their relief pitchers, the Mets need an entirely new bullpen if they want the team to inspire a shred of confidence. Bullpens in an easy year are a total crap shoot, but after the last two years, this pen needs an enema. Omar has had mixed success with the pen, if you want to be charitable. Signing Scott Schoeneweis at all, not moving Heilman when it was possible, thinking Matt Wise would fix the 2007 bunch of bums for 2008...it'd take all day to list Omar's sins.
Francisco Rodriguez is a tough one to call. The Mets are a club skilled in giving out big contracts and need a closer. K-Rod wants a big contract and is a closer. The guy saved 62 games for the Angels, and he is 26. How close he gets to the five years at $15 million K-Rod is said to be seeking will tell us something about the sanity of the GMs this winter. At least five years at $75 million seems to be what it will take, since the Angels have offered 3 and $34 last winter, and seem to be dangling a four year with 5th year option already. Can the Mets afford the lack of flexibilty of another Billy Wagner-like signing? Can they find a downmarket solution? Can they develop their own candidates? It is clear to anyone watching the Red Sawx-Angels series that K-Rod is no Paplebon. And with K-Rod's storied dip in velocity, Wagner's inability to finish his contract, and the over-ratedness of the "save" statistic, the Mets stance on KRod may be a referendum on whether this club can learn from their mistakes at all. Right now, I'd prefer that the Mets not invest a lot of money in the "closer" position. The situation demands thoughtfulness, problem-solving, and ingenuity, and I am not convinced Omar and his crew have it.
For the rotation, there are many ways to go. I have come around to valuing the type A draft picks the Mets could get more than I value seeing Ollie "By Golly" Perez walk a tightrope and win another 11-15 games next year. So I'd say that Santana and Pelfrey are the only two you can count on seeing next year. You can't count on Maine. The Mets need at least 2 guys and a backup plan. Among the interesting free agents: C.C. Sabathia. He likes to eat, and NY has plenty of great restaurants. A two-ace team in NY? Consider. Ben Sheets shouldn't be trusted to sign a new contract without hurting himself. Pass. Derek Lowe is 35. He likes to bone local sports casters. We have those. Consider.
On to Mark Teixeira. Why discuss him when the press is already reporting the Mets bit on Delgado's option? Well, because I think the Mets need a guy like him. Although I don't know what kind of no-trade provisions are built in to Delgado's contract, I would say the option of trading him to the AL and blowing the $20 million a year for at least $200 million total on Teixeira would be the best solution obviously available to improve the team and build for the future. Delgado? Well, I like the guy personally, and I'm glad the horror show that is his decline was temporarily put on hold, but there is no way he is going to produce anywhere near the level he did this year. The Mets took his option based on what he did last year and how his contract was structured, neither striking me as terribly sound baseball reasons.
On to Manny Ramirez. The Mets should pursue him because this sort of thing is not only Omar's best skill, but also his off season hobby, if you believe the media. Omar is very good at persuading weirdos (Pedro) and the best available free agent of any given year (Beltran, Wagner) to join the Mets. I don't know how he does it, but I suspect at some point he shows them his magic pen with which he will transfer untold riches into given star's bank account. Where are the Mets now if Omar had pulled the trigger to trade Lastings Milledge for Manny a few years back? To answer this question, first ask yourself where they are after he allowed the Thrilledge asset to erode until it was worth a fourth outfielder on a last place team and a $10 million defensive catcher. Got the answer yet? "A much better place." Manny is a offensive force of nature who lives on Planet Crazy where no NY media can hurt him. No matter what they think of themselves, the Mets are indeed in "just so crazy it might work" territory. Three successive early exits for a team built to go deep into October. Time for desperate measures. And defensively, if the Mets are ever going to be able to contain Manny's occasional outfield adventures, it will be when he is pinned in by Beltran, Wright and Reyes. Sure, he might like LA, but like all players, he likes to be "respected" (PAID CA$H MONEY). Hey the Mets already have the posters printed.
What other changes are possible?
The list of free agent left fielders is pathetic. And trades? No Matt Holiday. Just stop it people. As for catcher, lots of old guys available, but let's just say that I would rather see the 37 yr old Jason Varitek be carved out of the ass of Red Sox nation and installed at Citifield than live through another Schneider Castro filled year. Second base. Besides my ingenious plan to move Wright there, I'd beg out of the talk of Orlando Hudson (31), and look to either give Murphy a shot there, or get creative. Basically, I am not satisfied anywhere other than shortstop, CF, and third base.
"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!
This blog is meant completely and entirely in jest, unless you count the angst, and is not meant to offend anyone, unless you are a Br*ves fan. It's not affiliated with Sterling, the Mets, common sense, good taste, or anything really.