Featured Post: The High Price Of Mediocrity

An article by posted on May 15, 2013

It must have been fate that I happened to be in my car at 1:00 pm yesterday. After listening to WFAN’s Mike Francesa, I see the other side to this Valdespin issue – in fact it goes beyond Valdespin.

I only was in the car long enough to hear his opening monologue, but you know what? He was dead on.

Look, Valdespin is a jerk – he’s an immature bench player who constantly finds himself on the wrong side of the headlines. But he’s our immature bench player.

It’s not about race, it’s not about having it out for a kid who doesn’t deserve it – it’s about the entire team being an utter disaster. If somebody wants to inject race into this issue, they are missing the point and doing a disservice to anybody who has ever dealt with real race issues.

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You know, everybody wants to pin the failure on Sandy. That’s fine, everybody who hates him will always hate him. But the truth is, Sandy Alderson cannot magically turn Ike Davis, Jon Niese and Lucas Duda into the players we all thought they’d be. He cannot turn Ruben Tejada into a kid who can handle big league pitching when pre-Jose Reyes, Tejada was pegged as the future 2B. So you cannot even use the Reyes dismissal as an excuse. The players have to perform.

I’m sorry but guys like them mean more to the failure of the Mets than guys like Collin Cowgill or Anthony Recker.

The “plan” was that next year could be a big turning point, but that can’t be true when the guys you are counting on are playing in various level of mediocrity. Ike Davis is an embarrassment. He’s not a star 1B, he’s barely a big league 1B and that changes everything. Spare me this idea that come June he’s going to show up again. Too little too late.

Jon Niese is proving he’s a #2 on a bad team, #3 on a good one – and Duda is proving he truly is one dimensional.

You pair that with the fact Terry Collins who I do like mind you, is more of a minor league instructor than a big league manager. His handling of Valdespin was a “teaching moment.” At this level, the education should be complete. The best example of this is – when David Wright would have gotten beaned last year, Collins wouldn’t let him go out there. He said he knew he’d get hit and so he took him out. He did the reverse with Valdespin. Not because Valdespin is Dominican – because he thinks its his job in the major leagues to educate Valdespin and he forgot that this is a big league club and not a collection of kids.

I think Valdespin is an over hyped bench player, but it’s my job as a fan to think that and shake my head at his antics. It’s not the Manager’s or his teammates job.

Who is the most liked Met player in the clubhouse? I truly don’t know – but lets just say it’s Justin Turner. What if the Pirates decided rather than plunk Valdespin, they were going to hit Turner? What would the Mets players have done? Turn and wag a finger at Valdespin or react to the Pirates? In the major leagues when you want to get your point across to a player, you bench him and talk to him. You don’t air your dirty laundry and you certainly don’t send him out to get beaned.

Is it time for some Wally Ball at Citi Field?

The screams are becoming louder than Wally Backman needs to be the Manager. I love Wally Backman – he’s my favorite all time player because he was my first favorite player. But he is not the guy for this team. The Mets need an outsider. They need somebody who hasn’t been here, who hasn’t been a part of this dark cloud that has hung over the franchise for the last 7 years. I do not know who that is yet. Part of me is hoping that Mike Scioscia is the guy, and the other has me imagining what would happen if Don Mattingly became available.

This team is barely watchable right now. Every fifth day there is interest to watch the Mets, and even on those electric days – we usually leave frustrated. I can’t go back and forth with the people who want to make this all about Sandy Alderson. It goes beyond him. His job next year is to get players in here that can compete and bring the best out of the current collection of players. Anybody who supports Alderson has already submitted to the fact he needed to get through 2013 before we judge certain aspects of his tenure. Those who dislike him, already decided a long time ago that it doesn’t matter what he does.

I can’t go back and forth with the people who want to make this about David Wright being a captain either. Being named a captain by a baseball team is a formality and the truth is, there should be more than one leader in the clubhouse. It’s more than just his responsibility to lead. Don’t believe me? Name the most famous baseball captain in the last 20 years. His name is Derek Jeter, and the year he was named “Captain,” players like Jorge Posada, Bernie Williams, Robin Ventura, Todd Zeile were on the roster. You think they stayed quiet all day and didn’t do any “leading” of their own?

This is about the players and coaches in uniform as a collective unit. It’s about Valdespin growing up, it’s about the team showing they are an actual team and have their teammates back, it’s about the talent proving they belong in the majors leagues and it’s about the coaches and manager to get the best effort possible every single night out of the players.

None of that is happening, and none of that will happen any time soon.

The truth of the matter is, the Mets need at minimum an upgrade at Manager, C, 1B, RF, CF, LF, 3 SP slots, and about 3 Bullpen spots before anybody can get excited about 2014 and beyond. There’s no financial excuses going into 2014 either. You don’t have to go sign players to 6 year deals, but if you’re good at your job, you can go find players who can contribute and help get the best out of your existing talent. The problem Alderson now faces is he may have thought he didn’t need a 1B, LF, and possibly a 2B/SS – but he may have a bigger shopping list than he expected.

Zack Wheeler and Travis d’Arnaud can’t do it all. Frankly, I’ve come to the point where I do not want to see Wheeler come up this year now. Let him stay in the minors and avoid being surrounded by mediocrity. Mediocrity is contagious, and God forbid Wheeler doesn’t come right out and prove he’s the second coming of Matt Harvey – it could end up crushing the kid with the way this season has gone.

I leave you with the following quote from Bill Veeck, “It isn’t the high price of stars that is expensive, it’s the high price of mediocrity.”

About the Author ()

Michael Branda grew up a Mets fan watching the mid 1980's teams and his favorite Met of all-time is (and was) Wally Backman. When it comes to sabermetrics versus old school thinking, he's in the middle and believes adopting new ways to get answers is helpful, especially when the old way has not produced results.

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