Interview With Jerry Manuel: Fundamentals & Baserunning

An article by posted on September 9, 2009

This weekend, Jerry Manuel was kind enough to answer a couple of questions that were submitted to Mets Merized Online by one of our readers. Dave Ponte spoke with Jerry and asked him:

MMO - Do you address each and every fundamental mistake you see with each player after/during each game to ensure that it does not happen again, or is it just part of the game learning experience?

JM - They are addressed at some point that we would consider an appropriate time. Sometimes the appropriate time is not right away, sometimes it is right away, but we have to determine what is that right time. But those fundamental mistakes are addressed, no doubt. 

MMO - Why do so many base runners rounding 2nd and 3rd turn their head to look at the ball when they should be picking up their coaches?

JM – What you’re really witnessing is the player maybe being at this level and exposed a lot earlier than what you would have seen in the past. Therefore, you will see a lot of fundamental mistakes unfortunately. But that’s because people are coming to this level at a much quicker rate without the experience of the development systems.

You can also listen to the audio of the interview on our media player below.

I was just discussing this with someone the other day. Jerry Manuel is right. Many of the Mets’ top prospects have either been rushed to the majors, or promoted within the farm system at a much quickened rate.

Because of this, many of these players come up without the benefit of a full learning experience in the minors. The talent and the skills may be Major League ready, but they lack the fundamentals and approach to the game that they could only get by making full use of the minor league developmental system.

Most players first learn basic baseball fundamentals in high school or college, but it’s at the lower levels that these fundamentals become more refined, much of them through mistakes they make that are addressed early on, long before they arrive to the Major Leagues. The coaches and instructors constantly work with these players and teach them about a variety of things including situational hitting, when or when not to steal, who to throw the ball to, how to slide, etc.

Unfortunately, the Mets have been forced to push some of these players quicker than they may have liked due to some unforeseen injuries and circumstances. And while it’s always exciting to see a young player promoted from the minors, the one drawback is how raw and inexperienced they look and act. It goes without saying that you should expect to see more than the usual number of fundamental mistakes, as we have seen from Daniel Murphy, Nick Evans, Fernando Martinez, and Angel Pagan this season.

This past weekend, Nick Evans told Mets Merized Online that he was going to Winter Ball this off season. I would suspect that Murphy, F-Mart (if healthy), and Angel Pagan may join Evans as well. At this point the best thing to do is to continue playing them so that they can further develop their skills, as well as their baseball IQ.

Thanks to Dave and Jerry Manuel, and also Randy aka Bayonne, who submitted both questions.

Finally, to read about Dave’s amazing experience at Citi Field, go to NYsportSpace and read about his excellent adventure. He also took a bunch of great photo’s which you can see there too.

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