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I’m not writing this with a clear head, but that mental state should be par for the course with anything Mets-related. This is an organization that has repeatedly compared itself to the Yankees, yet can’t positively compare itself to the Marlins or Nationals. Am I being rash? Doubtful. And here’s why.
Omar Minaya is the General Manager, Jerry Manual is the Manager, and Jeff Wilpon and Fred Wilpon are calling the shots from up above.
Until the majority, or preferably all, of those things change, the Mets will continue to flounder between being mediocre and being terrible. Their peak over the last five years came in 2006, yet even that season ended horribly. The Mets won the division and had an easy path to glory in front of them: beat the Cardinals for the pennant, and beat the Tigers in the Series. That wasn’t exactly a tall task, but the Mets couldn’t pull it off. The bend of Adam Wainwright’s curveball that night is still sending shock waves through the Mets fan base and organization to this day.
The 2007 and 2008 seasons were lost to players without heart and managers without a clue. The 2009 season was lost to fragile bodies, fragile egos, and an organizational decision to turn every injury into an absolute P.R. nightmare and public display of incompetence.
This year? This season stands out for its own ineptitude. Johan Santana, David Wright, Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran, Jason Bay, and Francisco Rodriguez have all proven that they cannot be relied upon to be a core of a championship team.
Santana: A #1, but not an ace. There’s a difference.
Wright: Nice rebound season from 2009, but there are a variety of reasons why he’s called Captain Unclutch.
Jose Reyes/Carlos Beltran: Their injury histories are once again catching up with them. Credit to them for doing their best to get back on the field, but how can you rely on heavily paid stars who can’t play 162 games for you?
Jason Bay: I fear writing a sentence that includes more words than 2010 Jason Bay homers. Oops, too late.
And that brings us to K-Rod. K-Rod’s latest dustup is probably, when properly analyzed, a breakdown of what this Mets team truly is: an overrated talent that can’t handle the heat of New York, and is self-destructive due to the fragility of the ego and character. K-Rod’s physical altercation with his father-in-law led to his arrest at Citi Field on Wednesday night. The best part? K-Rod had to stay in a Citi Field jail. Spending more time than you need to in Citi Field is the perfect punishment for any Mets supporter, and more so for a Mets player nowadays, so good job by the police on that decision.
K-Rod’s act has worn thin, and so have the actions (or inactions) of the Mets organization. K-Rod goes about his business throwing subpar fastballs, jawing at umpires, pitching coaches, and Mets officials as soon as something doesn’t go his way. And looking at his numbers as a Met, that has happened pretty often. He doesn’t deserve the salary he has, and doesn’t deserve to wear a Mets uniform again. Harsh and unrealistic? Of course, but it’s a stand that Mets management needs to make.
To put it simply, it’s time to clean house. Since the close of the ’08 season, I’ve said it to anyone who will listen that this team needs to be overhauled. David Wright and Jose Reyes are very good complimentary players who are being shoved into leadership-type roles. Jason Bay’s game is so anti-Citi Field that it takes an entire article to expound upon the terrible signing that this was. I even said so when the Mets signed him. The team still lacks a #2 pitcher and has a terrible bench and bullpen.
And who put this team together? Omar Minaya. He deserves some credit for bringing in cheap contributors like R.A. Dickey and Takahashi, and to a lesser extent Rod Barajas and Chris Carter, but he doesn’t deserve that much credit. Scouts are the ones who do the legwork on the cheap signings. The GMs gain notoriety and build their reputations upon big trades and big signings.
Santana trade? Excellent. K-Rod signing? Jason Bay signing? Luis Castillo? Alex Cora? And going for Bay and ignoring the numerous other holes on the roster? Atrocious.
And now, Jerry Manuel. Ever listen to a Jerry Manuel interview or press conference? He sounds like he just woke up from a 20-minute nap. Still groggy, still out of it, and unsure what he’s saying because he’s still half asleep. His words lack meaning and conviction. His leadership skills are sorely lacking, and his game management skills are even worse. How he has made millions as a manager of this game, I’ll never know.
The worst of it is that this team is pretty much in place to repeat in 2011. Not many significant contracts are coming off of the books until after next year, and who knows what types of moves Omar will be allowed to make this winter. And the ones that he’s allowed to make? What amount of confidence do Mets fans have that they’ll be smart decisions? Little to none.
Time for the Wilpons to wake up and get a plan in place to bring this team back to respectability, and that means tearing the structure down. Eat 2011 and, if necessary, 2012. Lower ticket prices, admit what you’re doing, bring up some kids, trade who you can, and start over. Hell, the Florida Marlins have done it twice and both times it led to a championship.
Just keep telling yourself that your team doesn’t play in the Bronx, your last name is not Steinbrenner, and you’ll see the light: this team is beyond patchwork fixes, and needs to be blown up.
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