Shake It Up

An article by posted on April 17, 2011

At Aerys Sports, there is a fine conglomerate of baseball bloggers, headed up and written by women.  Their resident Mets blogger, Kelly Lake who is the author of “The Curious Case of Sidd Finch,” raised an interesting question about the Mets a few days ago.  She asked: When will the players be held accountable?

It’s an incredibly fair question, and one I wanted to address myself.  Lake’s raised a point about the blame game.  Media and especially fans are incredibly reactive to scapegoat a “person,” such as recent whipping boy Mike Pelfrey by booing him during the introductions on Opening Day and annihilating him on Twitter; Jason Bay who is injured and not even around to get booed; or even the new management team including Sandy Alderson who some fans believe he did not do enough to complement the previous construct of the team or Terry Collins who some believe may not have been qualified to begin with to be the New York Mets manager.

Perhaps the blame lies in the team itself, that has gone through so much turnover IN the upper ranks, perhaps there needs to be not just a culture change (which does not happen overnight but in small steps) but a change physically WITH the team.

MMO blogger Jessep brought up a similar thought in his post yesterday on “Realizing It’s Time To Rebuild.”  We can wax intellectual about who needs to step up and how, or how the manager and coaches need to change but the fact is, the only person who can shake things up in the current construct is Sandy Alderson. Unfortunately, he was handed a team with a middle of the road farm system (a little too middle of the road, as he stated once) and one whose players (aka commodities or trade chips) were at its lowest value.  Players he could theoretically trade could set the team back a few years and be truly in rebuild mode.

Take for example David Wright.  Wright has been on this team since 2004 and has lived under four different managers in that time.  His position has not changed, but going through so much turnover on the team must take its toll on a player.  It’s become obvious that while fans and media want him to be the “face of the franchise,” the team hasn’t necessarily gone that extra leap to be just an okay team as constructed to being a force to plow into town and pillage the local opponent.

Jose Reyes has been in New York since 2003, and while he has gone through the same leadership changes as Wright has, perhaps the stress is a little off him.  However, with his vibrant personality, he remains a fan favorite but the audible whispers are that he will be traded (as his contract is up after this season).

Mike Pelfrey was rushed to further the agenda of a previous regime because the Mets were caught unprepared without a true fifth starter in their breakout season in 2006 (Jose Lima, anyone?).  What I see is someone who has potential but has been unfulfilled because of, again, pressures out of his control to perform on a team that needed a jolt but he simply was not ready for it.

I hate making excuses for grown men who get millions of dollars to play a game for a living.  I’d like to put things IN perspective.

For those who wanted Sandy Alderson to “do more,” I have to say he did his best this offseason, but he did more with less.  This has nothing to do with “small marketism” which he’s been accused of more than once.  The New York Mets have had one of the highest payrolls in the sports in the last few years and have absolutely nothing to show for it except lots of debt and clogged payrolls.  in a sense they’ve become a laughingstock by constantly underachieving and being caught unawares that things CAN actually not go as planned.

For those who want more from Terry Collins, I happened to meet him and thought he was the right guy for the job after I met him.  He’s exactly the type of personality we’d want in the clubhouse.  I was pro-Wally Backman, but came to the conclusion that Backman would be set up to fail (I doubt he would get more out of this construct than Collins is now).  That said, if we want Collins to get fired up or throw watercoolers around, I don’t necessarily think that will help the team operate at a higher level or change things or be good in any way.

So now what?  What is Alderson & Co supposed to do – trade Wright, Reyes, Pelfrey and Santana for that matter when he returns and just burn the whole process down, then start anew?  No, but I think a shake-up may be necessary to break free from the chains that harness this team.

While management has changed and has had consistently more turnover than your local McDonald’s, the players have in effect remained the same.  If we want to do something besides have Collins throw around a water cooler or Alderson turn back the clock and spend millions on Cliff Lee and Carl Crawford, I believe it’s too early to even orchestrate it…but perhaps the Curious Case of Sidd Finch had a point in bringing up that the players ultimately need to be held accountable.

Why are we holding on to a team formula that clearly hasn’t worked in several years?

Is it too early to discuss a trade that will shake-up and wake-up the team?  Unfortunately, it looks like Alderson would be damned if he does (trade guys with value) and damned if he doesn’t (does nothing and the team only wins four games this season).

I’d like to hear your thoughts on it.  Someone suggested trading a package of David Wright and Mike Pelfrey to me.  To obtain value, you’ve got to trade value.  I even suggested that Mets should have traded Angel Pagan in the offseason, and I was reamed for it.  Joe Janish at Mets Today suggested that perhaps the Chicago White Sox might be interested in Francisco Rodriguez since their closer situation is precarious. There are pluses and minuses to each scenario but they have to be weighed.  Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither will Flushing’s team. There have got to better days, but we may need to be patient in figuring that journey.

We’re not going to like any potential trade scenarios.  But it’s time to come out of the comfort zone and be realistic.  The Mets are holding onto a virtual reality of a team that has not done much to prove that they are worthy of winning, just a lot of what ifs and what could-be’s.

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