Counting Down to the End of Jerry and Other Thoughts
Last night was one of those rare moments in my long life as a Mets fan when I was actually torn about wanting them to win the game. At the same time I was hoping that Oliver Perez would get out of that 2AM New York time jam, I was also rooting for a total implosion which would help kill two birds with one baseball–perhaps getting both Ollie and Jerry out of town.
As I wrote in a previous post after the all-star break, the upside to this predictable west coast trip debacle may be realized. I would be shocked–SHOCKED!–if Manuel is the Mets manager come Monday and, for me, it won’t come a moment too soon. Omar is reportedly on his way to LA and while this won’t be a Willie Randolph Firing 2, the GM needs to get this out of the way as soon as possible so he can concentrate on deals up until next Saturday’s deadline. Look, Willie Randolph shouldn’t have come back for the 2009 season and Jerry shouldn’t have been brought back for this year. I am just sick and tired of the Wilpons settling for second, third and fourth best. Think about it: Art Howe, Randolph, Manuel. We would have been better off with Moe, Larry and Curly.
So who will take over on Monday? I’ve long in been in favor of bringing back Bobby V but he has said in a recent interview that he would rather not take over a team during the season. But given that this is the Mets and he still says he’s a “fan” of the team, I think he could get up to speed on the roster pretty quickly. If not Bobby then who? There’s nobody on the current coaching staff worthy of promotion (in fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if Dan Warthen and Howard Johnson are throw out with the bath water), but the talk all year has been that scout Bob Melvin–the former D’Backs’ skipper–has been waiting in the wings for precisely this possibility. If Jerry had been jettisoned before June, Melvin would have been an okay choice, but now the Wilpons are looking at an August and September of empty Citi Field seats, which is the last thing they need given the well-documented financial issues with the team. Since there likely won’t be a star pitcher coming to the rescue at the deadline, the only way the Skill Sets can create some buzz is by bringing in Bobby V or Wally Backman. I’m going to the Cyclones game this afternoon so I’ll stop by the dugout and tell Wally to start saying his Brooklyn good-byes, since he could be in Queens by Monday. So cheer up Mets fans: if we have a new manager next week, this horrendous road trip was a very good thing. Now on to the other thoughts:
Jeff Francoeur Trade Rumors: I have to admit that I was pleasantly surprised when I heard about this. In my post the other day about wanting the Mets to be buyers and sellers at the deadline, I didn’t include Frenchy frankly because I didn’t think he was tradeable right now and I actually wanted to keep him for the time being and focus on trading Beltran. But if Omar can get a prospect or a serviceable player for this guy, I say go for it. It’s a shame about Francoeur. He’s a good guy, obviously great in the clubhouse, but he doesn’t have a clue–nor does he appear to work on–about how to approach hitting in general and a given at-bat in particular. We have too many guys already with holes in their swing so having one less in that category will be a step in the right direction.
The Anemic Offense: A lot of people look at the names on this roster and scratch their heads about how they could come up with a 12-game stretch of 4 runs or less. Have you been watching this team there last few years? When have they not been streaky? When have they shown a propensity for consistency? When have they had a lineup where there weren’t at least five guys who struck out too much? How long have they been a lineup that couldn’t hit with runners in scoring position? Last night, Wright, Bay and Davis combined for an 0-for 15 and 10 strikeouts against Dan Haren and a nothing bullpen. Now there’s a recipe for success. On any given night you can look at the stats and see at least three guys with ofers and they are usually a different three guys on different days. There is no consistency throughout the lineup, I don’t care what the baseball card stats say. Look, can we all finally agree that Howard Johnson is not a very good hitting instructor and stop with this romance because he was a 1986 Met guy? Name one hitter who has improved with HoJo as hitting coach. I would even make the case that David Wright actually regressed under Hojo given how much he strikes out now. Sometimes I think the only guy on this team with a real plan at the plate is Alex Cora and he shouldn’t even be on the team!
The 25-Man Roster: The best players in the organization who are major-league ready should be playing in Citi Field right now. If that means sucking it up and eating Perez’s contract so be it. If that means cutting John Maine and Rod Barajas, get it done. If that means Pat Misch should up here instead of Elmer Fudd, bring him in. Enough with catering to guys because of their contracts and their reputations.
The Starting Rotation: Omar, we need a number two pitcher behind Johan. Repeat, we need a number two pitcher. Did you hear me? Omar, are you getting this message.
The Bullpen: If there is one reason to fire Jerry it’s the way he has handled or mishandled part of the job. While we don’t have a bunch of lights out middle men out there (does any team these days?) or a real 8th inning guy or a reliable closer, a good manager and pitching coach should be getting more out of what we have (I see Bobby Cox doing it). Manuel absolutely destroyed Nieve (who I still believe should have made the rotation out of spring training instead of Maine) when he showed some 8th inning guy potential. Jerry doesn’t have a clue about how to use Feliciano (who I believe should be traded) and he misjudges the talents of guys like Dessens and Valdes just because they happen to have a couple of good outings in a row. We need a manager and pitching coach who are strong at identifying a guy’s strengths and playing to those strengths. The current guys are constantly going by the seats of their pants and trying to put round pegs into square holes.
David Wright: Make him the captain if he deserves the job or don’t complain about not having leadership (which, by the way, this team hasn’t had for eons, except possibly for when Cliff Floyd and Mike Cameron were on the team).
I guess that’s my rant for now. Just in case the Mets are still on the fence about firing Jerry: LET’S GO DODGERS!
About the Author: Stephen Hanks
Stephen Hanks (Tom Terrific) is a magazine editor and writer based in Brooklyn, NY, who has been the publisher and editorial director of publications ranging in subjects from sports to health to archaeology. Hanks began his career at the late, great SPORT Magazine in 1977 and in 1983, he co-founded NEW YORK SPORTS Magazine (which ceased publication in 1985). He has written and edited coffee table books on baseball history, penned unauthorized biographies of Bo Jackson and Wayne Gretzky, and in 1990 authored "The Game That Changed Pro Football," an oral history of the 1969 New York Jets Super Bowl Season. Stephen has also played baseball for 45 years and currently plays in an Over-40 hardball league based in Northern New Jersey. Even though he grew up near Yankee Stadium, he loathes the team from the Bronx and has been a die-hard Mets fan since attending his first game at the Polo Grounds in 1963.
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