Mets Merized Online » Willie Randolph http://metsmerizedonline.com Sat, 03 Dec 2016 18:57:37 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.16 Bridging the Minority Manager Gap http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/01/bridging-the-minority-manager-gap.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/01/bridging-the-minority-manager-gap.html/#comments Sat, 02 Jan 2016 14:00:21 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=203100 fredi gonzalezMajor League Baseball currently has four minority GMs – Dave Stewart of the Arizona Diamondbacks, Farhan Zaidi of the Dodgers, Al Avila of the Detroit Tigers and Michael Hill of the Miami Marlins. Ken Williams of the Chicago White Sox is the only minority vice president of baseball operations and Fredi Gonzalez of the Atlanta Braves and Dusty Baker are the lone minority managers.

To many, this might not seem important at all. But with 41.2 percent of players in 2015 being people of color according to Sports Business News, it should be. It’s something that’s clearly gotten the attention of the commissioner.

“You’re going to have peaks and valleys in terms of representation within what’s a very small sample; there’s only 30 of them out there,” said MLB commissioner Rob Manfred to the Associated Press back in October. “Having said that, we are focused on the need to promote diversity, not just African-American, but Latino, as well, in the managerial ranks.”

Prior to Terry Collins, the Mets had two ‘African-American’ managers: Willie Randolph and Jerry Manuel. Randolph spent the final days of an illustrious playing career with the Mets in 1992, when then-GM Al Harazin won the winter meetings by acquiring Randolph, Bobby Bonilla, Eddie Murray and Bret Saberhagen.

He would only play in 90 games that season, opening the door for a young infielder named Jeff Kent, acquired in a trade with Toronto for David Cone. A six-time All-Star raised in Brooklyn, he was on Joe Torre’s staff for 11 seasons as the Yankees won four World Series champions. He had never managed before at any level, but brought the same calm self-assurance seen from Torre to the Blue and Orange and for as much deserved criticism for the 2007 collapse, the Mets were a winning franchise under Randolph.

  • 2005 – 83-79
  • 2006 – 97-65
  • 2007 – 88-74
  • 2008 – 34-35

He was replaced by Jerry Manuel, who was known as a communicator and great leader. On the staff since 2005, he was a bench coach for Jim Leyland in 1997 when the Florida Marlins won the World Series. He was tapped to take over the Chicago White Sox the following year and won the AL Central Division title and Manager of the Year in 2000. But three years later, Manuel was out in favor of Ozzie Guillen.

Despite going 55-38 after taking over the Mets for Randolph, the team lost two of the final three games including the final game at Shea to miss the postseason once again. The following year started well enough before a sorry 9-18 June paved the way to meaningless games in September and a 70-92 season.

Manuel lost his job along with Omar Minaya in 2010. Sandy Alderson took over, waited for many of Minaya’s draft picks to blossom instead of trading them and hired a manager within the organization to lead them in Terry Collins.

pedro lopezIf Collins sticks with his claim to walk away from the dugout in a couple of years, the Mets could have his replacement already within the ranks in Pedro Lopez. Currently the Mets Binghamton manager, Lopez was twice named the best manager prospect in the Eastern League by Baseball America in 2014.

He’s been in the Mets organization since 2008, working his way up from the Rookie League affiliate in Kingsport. B-Mets President and co-owner Mike Urda says Lopez’s even-keeled nature and knack for motivating players stands out.

“The most impressive thing I could say about Pedro is the players produce for him,” said Urda. “They like playing for him.”

Lopez managed Zack Wheeler, Juan Lagares, Jacob deGrom, Rafael Montero, Wilmer Flores and Dilson Herrera just to name a few and seems to have the mindset that protecting his players is essential.

“I’ve always said that the one thing I bring to the table is that I’m trying to keep an environment to work and have fun every year,” said Lopez. “I try to keep them relaxed, tell them that even if it’s a bad outing—or if it’s a positon player that has a bad day—it’s okay. It’s going to get better.”

Is he going to be the next manager in Queens? I think it’s important for our next manager to speak Spanish. He (or she) doesn’t have to be fluent, but with the number of Latin players in the League they should be able to directly connect with the entire team. Many on Jon Heyman’s list of possible candidates would fall into that category.

  • Sandy Alomar Jr.: Excellent persona, and fine playing and coaching resumes. Would be miscarriage of justice if he never had the chance.
  • Hensley Meulens: The hard-working hitting coach of the Giants has learned from the best in Bruce Bochy and speaks several languages.
  • Jose Oquendo: Long-time Cardinals coach obviously has been around winning, but he has been passed over so much now he seems almost ingrained as a coach.
  • Delino DeShields: Managed the last five years in the Cincinnati Reds’ organization

All of these minority candidates are seemingly hurt by the industry’s move towards analytic-loving, college educated and front-office friendly managers instead of actual managing experience. Lloyd McClendon wasn’t given much in Seattle and in two seasons is just two games over .500, but the new GM Jerry Dipoto has turned over the reins to Scot Servais, a former player and minor league scouting director.

If this trend continues, with the numbers of Hispanic players signing at 16 and the 8% black population in the major leagues and just 2.6% playing Division I college baseball, it’s clear that the future doesn’t look bright for minority managers.

Is this a trend that will eventually turn back to the past or one that’s here to stay? Should Manfred institute something like the NLF’s Rooney Rule or should the best person get the job regardless of their race?

we are original 280 footer

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Reflections on Willie Randolph http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/04/reflections-on-willie-randolph.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/04/reflections-on-willie-randolph.html/#comments Sat, 12 Apr 2014 17:32:44 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=153136 willie randolph 2

At 3:28 AM on June 17, 2008 I got a call from one of my writers. My first instinct was to hang up on him.

“Joe, get up, Willie Randolph just got fired!”

I still remember how those words made me jump out of bed, rush to my desktop, and 20 minutes later I posted this:

The Mets have fired manager Willie Randolph, as well as pitching coach Rick Peterson and first base coach Tom Nieto. The team announced it shortly after 3 A.M. EST on Tuesday.

How nice of them…

The announcement came despite the Mets’ 9-6 victory against the Angels only hours earlier. The Mets upped their record to 34-35, but it wasn’t enough to save Willie.

Randolph’s career as manager of the Mets ends with a 302-253 record, the second-highest winning percentage in franchise history, trailing only Davey Johnson.

Randolph becomes the first manager to be fired in MLB this season.

This was handled terribly by the New York Mets. I believed the team needed a shake-up, but why did they let him fly to California when the decision could have been made after Sundays game? It was just another of the many disrespectful ways that Willie was treated during his time as Mets manager.

Willie was never given the luxury of choosing his own staff, and had a general manager who was too chummy in the clubhouse with his players. But having him work without ever getting an assurance that he had a job the next day was the ultimate insult for a guy who gave it his all.

To do this in the dark of night while the fans slept only further illustrates how unprofessional this organization is. The Mets have failed to show any class and it is moves like this one that give everyone the perception that they are a second rate franchise in this city. You are what your actions say you are.

The “Willie Watch” is officially over. We wish him luck in the future.

I laugh when I read that now… I was kind of pissed off, still very tired, and basically ranting as I began to understand the complexities of what just happened…

As more details kept coming in, I was kind of shocked by it all… And you could certainly sense that my animosity toward Mets ownership was very much alive and well six years ago…

There wren’t that many Mets sites around back then, and beat writers weren’t blogging and tweeting in those days, so MMO was one of the first sites to post the news.

On the bright side, it got me quoted in AM New York, WFAN and Newsday. At the time, that was a big thrill for me… I felt famous for about five minutes I’d guess. :-)

I was always a big fan of Willie, and last season he was kind enough to answer a few questions for us. When we wondered if he still followed the team, his eyes widened as he said, “Oh yeah, I definitely do.”

David Wright is one of my favorite people, and I got to coach him in the WBC, which was great. And I’ve been looking at some of the talent they have — they’ve got some good young talent coming up.”

“I love Matt Harvey and guys like Jeremy Hefner who are coming into form, they’re really enjoyable to watch. I’m really looking forward to seeing what Zack Wheeler can do as he starts to develop, and I think they have a nice core coming together very soon.”

Willie wasn’t kidding, he really was keeping tabs on the Mets, and it was clear he had a high regard for the Mets captain.

“I was lucky enough to build a relationship with a guy like David, who I think can nurture some of these young players along.”

When asked what he thought about the Mets future, Willie was very optimistic. “I think they’re headed in the right direction, but from year to year, you have be willing to make adjustments to your situation.”

“Right now, their offense is lacking, and they could really do with a power hitting outfielder. Outside of that, the shortstop situation is something that needs to be remedied, and the catching situation could use a little clarity.”

“But you know, you make small steps towards the future. It’s not always the best way to get things done, but that’s what they have to do right now.”

Willie is a good guy and a class act… To me he’ll always be a part of the fabric of New York sports.

Presented By Diehards

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Willie Randolph Says Better Days Are Coming for the Mets http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/03/willie-randolph-says-better-days-are-coming-for-the-mets.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/03/willie-randolph-says-better-days-are-coming-for-the-mets.html/#comments Sat, 08 Mar 2014 12:00:39 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=149870 willie randolph 2

Twenty men have sat in the Met managerial hot seat. Some have served as momentary stopgaps, Mike Cubbage for only seven games. None survived long enough to rival the longest surviving managers of the modern game, guys like Bobby Cox and Tony LaRussa. In fact, none wore the Met orange and blue for more than seven seasons. And, only five of the twenty; Davey Johnson, Gil Hodges, Bobby Valentine, Willie Randolph and Bud Harrelson won more games than they lost commandeering the Mets.

On Friday afternoon, Willie Randolph was a radio guest on WFAN. Randolph is working at the Yankee camp in Tampa and shared his perspectives about the changing face of the team in pinstripes, a team and franchise in transition.

Invariably, the discussion turned to whether or not Willie would like to manage again some day. Of course, that meant the subject included Randolph’s time as manager of the Mets.

The radio team tossed Randolph a gopher ball providing Willie the opportunity to slam his former team when it was suggested that the Mets certainly haven’t found a winning stride since management forced his departure. Willie was too classy to take the bait.

Randolph spoke fondly of his opportunity to manage the Mets. He voiced pride in the work he and his staff accomplished in changing the culture around the Mets, and felt the Mets were taking strides forward when he was at the helm.

Willie reported he follows the Mets each and every day to keep tabs on the performance of ‘his boy,’ David Wright. Like everyone else, Randolph is impressed with the stable of young Met pitchers and predicts if his former team can keep those young power pitchers healthy there will be better days ahead for his former team.

Randolph is hoping to get another shot to lead a major league baseball team from the dugout. Willie took time to discuss the importance of sabermetrics in a modern day baseball manager’s approach. He worried that some might have a perception that he’s an old school guy who doesn’t understand or appreciate the value of sabermetrics in modern baseball noting that’s simply not the case.

Here’s hoping Willie gets the chance he’s looking for. I always appreciated the class Willie brought to the Mets during his short stay as our skipper and his understanding of what it takes for a franchise to win. Willie’s departure and the way it was handled were an embarrassment at the time. Against that backdrop it was reassuring to hear Willie talking with excitement about the positive possibilities of our current Met team and it’s future.

Winningest Met Managers

Manager           Won - Lost  Pct.
Davey Johnson     595 - 417   .588
Gil Hodges        339 - 279   .549
Willie Randolph   302 - 253   .544
Bobby Valentine   536 - 467   .534
Bud Harrelson     145 - 129   .529
Yogi Berra        292 - 296   .497
Roy McMillan       26 - 27    .491
Jerry Manuel      204 - 213   .489
Joe Frazier       101 - 106   .488

Presented By Diehards

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David Wright: Curtis Instantly Makes Us A Better Team http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/12/david-wright-curtis-instantly-makes-us-a-better-team.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/12/david-wright-curtis-instantly-makes-us-a-better-team.html/#comments Thu, 12 Dec 2013 19:38:37 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=135211 curtis granderson]

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Where Curtis Granderson will fit in with the New York Mets outfield is still to be determined, David Wright has no doubt he does fit with his team.

Granderson is penciled in to hit fourth behind Wright, giving him the protection he hasn’t had since Carlos Beltran and Carlos Delgado were here. Manager Terry Collins doesn’t know which of the three outfield positions Granderson will play, but Wright said wherever he plays, he provides an immediate upgrade.

“Curtis instantly makes us a better team both offensively and defensively,’’ Wright said in an email.

Offensively, Granderson hit 40 homers with the Yankees, but even with Citi Field’s spacious dimensions, he should be good for at least 25.

Defensively, he’s a natural centerfielder. Collins hasn’t decided his outfield rotation, but speculation is it will be – from left to right – Granderson, Juan Lagares and Chris Young.

terry collins winter meetingsCollins said Granderson should also take pressure off Wright in the batting order.

“I think, number one, they’ve got Curtis hitting behind him now, they’ve got to make a decision,’’ Collins said of opposing pitcher’s plans against the Mets.

“David’s patient enough to take the base on balls, especially if he knows the guy can bat behind him,” Collins said. “He’ll get better pitches to hit each at-bat.  And if David gets pitches to hit, he does damage.’’

Granderson is GM Sandy Alderson’s highest-profile free agent signing, but if things work out as hoped, Wright said it would not be his last. If the Mets get better, other players will notice.

“I think it paves the way for other elite players to want to play for us,’’ wrote Wright, whom Granderson said was influential in him signing with the Mets.

From his perspective, Granderson said one of the reasons he wanted four years was to be around when the Mets’ building plan reached fruition, and that includes signing future free agents.

While Granderson provides Wright protection in the order, he’ll also give him a respite in the clubhouse. Even prior to his appointment to team captain last season, Wright was the clubhouse voice, commenting on an array of issues, ranging from Willie Randolph’s firing in 2008 to the Wilpon’s financial situation toIke Davis’ plate troubles to Jordany Valdespin’s emotional meltdowns.

Quite simply, he has been the go-to guy for all issues on the Mets.

By all accounts, Granderson will be a positive presence, and Wright echoed what Alderson said on Tuesday.

“He’s a true professional and great guy to have in the clubhouse,’’ wrote Wright. “He has a confidence about him that I think will rub off on other players.’’

(Photo: US Presswire)

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This Day In Mets Infamy With Rusty: The All Time Infamy Team http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/09/this-day-in-mets-infamy-with-rusty-the-all-time-infamy-team.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/09/this-day-in-mets-infamy-with-rusty-the-all-time-infamy-team.html/#comments Sun, 22 Sep 2013 13:55:40 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=129794 Infamy: The state of being well known for some bad quality or deed.

I have seen a lot of Mets baseball in my 41 years on this planet. I have seen the Mets win one World Series while losing in their other two appearances to the A’s and Yankees. I’ve also seen them appear in a handful of playoff appearances where they just fell a little short… Yeah I’m, looking at you ’88 and ’99 and ’06!!!

I have seen players come and go. Some were stars, others were nondescript journeymen, and many were solid everyday players that may not have that good, but us fans we clutched on to them because they were the best we had.

But there is also another category of players that have had donned the orange and blue. These are the players that we loved to hate. The players that had various scrapes with either the front office, the manager, the game itself, or even off the field scuffles with the law, child services etc. So without further ado here is a short list of some of the most infamous Mets.

jordany valdespin

1. Jordany Valdespin : Valdespin may have only spent about a year and a half with the Mets but his antics are legendary. While in the minors he was not very well liked by his teammates – but I guess when you steal their equipment you won’t be making many friends. He is currently serving a 50 game suspension for being named in the Biogenesis scandal. He also cursed out his manager Terry Collins in front of GM Sandy Alderson when told he was being demoted to Triple-A Las Vegas earlier this season. Soon after, he ignited a bench clearing brawl after his demotion because he showboated after a homer (again) – something he actually excels at since he doesn’t field well, run well or hit for average.

2. Ambiorix Burgos: Amby was obtained by then GM, Omar Minaya, to be the Mets future closer. He could top 100 mph on the radar gun. In a fit of rage, Borgos used his SUV as a weapon when he struck and killed his ex-girlfriend and as well as another woman in his native Dominican Republic. He was also picked up by NYPD officers for beating his then girlfriend .

3. Vince Coleman: “Vincent Van D’OH” will not only be remembered for his speed on the field with the Cardinals and to a lesser extent the Mets, but also for throwing lit fire crackers into a crowd after a game in Los Angeles, severely injuring a 2-year old girl. He also accidentally injured Dwight Gooden when he was swinging a golf club in the clubhouse.

4. Francisco Rodriguez: Who could forget back in the summer of 2010 when after blowing a save Francisco “K-Rod” Rodriguez was involved in a shouting match with his “father in law”  which spiraled into K-Rod using the man as his very own punching bag. To be honest if somebody made disparaging remarks about my mother I would probably do the same. Rodriguez was arrested and put on the restricted list for 2 days. He then was placed on the disqualified list for the remainder of the season after it was revealed that he tore a ligament in his thumb during his punching fit which required surgery.

5. Lance Broadway: Broadway, a hard throwing prospect that the Mets obtained  from the White Sox for catcher, Ramon Castro. Lance didn’t light it up in his brief time with the Mets – even though he had the right last name for the team. After the Mets released him he signed with Toronto , where he brutally beat up a man at a night club.

6. Carl Everett: Carl’s temper was well known. He once head-butted umpire Ron Kulpa when he ruled that Carl was using an illegal stance in the batter’s box. He is best known for having his children taken away by Child Protective Services after a Mets employee saw welts and bruises on one of his children. He has been arrested since then for weapons possession, as well as assault.  He is outspoken against gay marriage, feels that the Apollo 11 moon landing was a hoax, and is infamous for saying  that

“God created the sun, the stars, the heavens and the Earth, and then he made Adam and Eve. The Bible never says anything about dinosaurs. You can’t say there were dinosaurs when you never saw them. Somebody actually saw Adam and Eve. No one ever saw a Tyrannosaurus Rex.!”

He also believes that dinosaur bones are man made fakes.

So here is my list for some of the most infamous players ever to wear a Mets uniform. who would you add to this list ? Let me know in the comment section below.

And with that said….. HERE COMES THE INFAMY !!!!!!

Mets alumni celebrating a birthday today includes:

One of the most popular Mets of all time, second baseman from ’80-’88,  Wally Backman is 54 (1959). Backman has been managing in the Mets minor league system for the past several years. He is well liked by his players, and is still a lightening rod for controversy which is why I do not believe we will see him as the Mets manager in the near future.

One of the worst free agent signings the Mets ever made, outfielder Vince Coleman is 52 (1961).

Current Mets bench coach ( and possible Collins replacement) , Bob Geren  is 52 (1961).

Middle reliever from the ’02 season, Mark Guthrie is 48 (1965).

Reserve outfielder from the ’95 season, Jeff Barry is 44 (1969).

Current starting pitcher for the Mets AAA Las Vegas affiliate,  Chris Schwinden is 27 (1986).

Mo Vaughn is infamous for eating the entire team post game spread before his teammates could finish changing after the game !!!

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Fortuitous Fred, Or How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Shake Shack At Citi Field http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/07/fortuitous-fred-or-how-i-learned-to-stop-worrying-and-love-the-shake-shack-at-citi-field.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/07/fortuitous-fred-or-how-i-learned-to-stop-worrying-and-love-the-shake-shack-at-citi-field.html/#comments Thu, 18 Jul 2013 16:48:35 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=125281 IMG_6600

An MMO Fan Shot by Costa Michalakis

Tuesday night’s game at Citi Field marked the first time the New York Mets organization has hosted the Midsummer Classic in nearly 50 years.  The last one was at Shea in it’s inaugural season of 1964.

While this year’s game couldn’t match the on-field drama of that contest which ended when the Phillies’ Johnny Callison hit a walk-off homerun (long before anyone ever used the word “walk-off”) to give the NL a 7-4 victory it did provide plenty of theater in a karmic sense.

Granted the American League’s 3-0 blanking of the National League broke a three game losing streak for the AL in the Classic and awarded them home-field advantage in the World Series, the game was relatively uneventful as far as All Star games go.  The NL managed only 3 hits in the game and the AL scored their runs on a sacrifice fly, fielder’s choice and a ball that was misplayed by Domonic Brown on Jason Kipnis’s double into the left field corner in the top of the 8th.  Not exactly thrilling stuff.

Until the bottom of the 8th ….

You knew something was amiss when the AL players were late to take the field to start the inning.  Then Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” (haven’t heard the argument about it being Billy Wagner’s song in quite some time) began to blare out of the Citi Field speakers and something that’s been more automatic than anything in professional sports over the last 17 years (or maybe all time for that matter) happened. That’s when the revered Mariano Rivera trotted out to the mound to take the ball for the 8th inning. The only thing strange about this scene was that Mo was coming out to pitch the 8th and not close the game in the ninth. AL manager Jim Leyland later explained that he did this because he wanted to make sure Rivera had a chance to pitch with the lead.

Mariano received a long-standing ovation as both teams and the largest crowd ever at Citi Field showered him with well-deserved applause.

Mo then proceeded to steal the show by pitching a 1-2-3 inning and taking home MVP honors for the game in the process. The first time ever that a reliever has won the award and maybe the only honor that had eluded living legend to this point in his incomparable career.

The fact that a Yankee immortal stole the show at this year’s game takes on a special significance when you consider it was supposed to be a turning point for the Mets franchise, a symbol of things turning around after a miserable 5 year stretch. Rivera dominated in the house we were forced to build for Fred Wilpon, stealing the spotlight from Fred’s most cherished new asset (Matt Harvey) who started the game for the NL.

The irony could not have been greater but having been a die-hard and long-suffering Mets fan for 36 years I assure you, ain’t a damn thing changed.  What happened in the game on Tuesday was a microcosm of the Mets existence. No matter what we do, the Yankees are right there to eclipse any of our accomplishments, no matter how small.  We are forever the red-headed stepchild in orange in blue.

So while I’m sure it was a huge victory in the coffers, I think it ultimately reestablished the pecking order in NY baseball. I hope Fred Wilpon and the rest of Mets ownership grabbed plenty of napkins while they were picking up their fine Japanese cuisine over at Daruma of Tokyo, because they certainly had a lot of egg on their face by the end of the game.

At this point you might be confused.  If this guy is a Mets fan why does he get such pleasure and sound so giddy about the Mets getting overshadowed on a night that was supposed to be their own?

First off Rivera is one of the few athletes that genuinely transcends allegiance to any team.  His graciousness and humility while abusing hitters over the years has made him nearly impossible to hate.  Even in a rivalry with as much bad blood historically as Mets/Yankees you can’t help but be inspired by his greatness.  The second reason is much more complicated and to really understand it you have to be well acquainted with my tempestuous relationship with the Mets.

For some deranged reason, I just can’t quit them.

I promised myself I wouldn’t watch the All Star game this year because of my contempt for all things Wilpon. There’s no way I could bring myself to contribute to all the pat-on-the-back bullshit going on in the weeks and days leading up to the game.

But as much as I dislike the Wilpons, I LOVE baseball.

As the game approached, I paced back and forth in my living room gripped by temptation.  “Ok, maybe I’ll peek in for the first few innings to watch my boy Matt Harvey pitch, but I’ll do it defiantly, silently protesting every pitch and I’ll obviously turn it off after Harvey exits the game.”

But there I was at 11 pm EST glued to the TV when the Rivera farewell tour took over the game.

I know, “old habits die hard”, “can’t live with ‘em, can’t live without ‘em” and all that other bullshit….

I must be a glutton for punishment, a 9-inning masochist of sorts because I just couldn’t look away and I have to admit, part of me actually enjoyed it.  Any joy I derived from it was strictly because it meant that Fred Wilpon’s Amazin’ high came to an abrupt end.  Even if it was only for a moment, you know the thought of a Yankee legend stealing the spotlight on HIS night, in his precious monolith to Ebbets Field had to twist his balls a bit.

I sound sick right?  I sound sick?

It wasn’t always a poisonous relationship.

To really grasp why my bitterness and disappointment goes so deep when it comes to the Mets, it’s imperative I chronicle my love affair with the team over 36 years.

Like any REAL love affair, the highs have been spectacular but quickly followed by deep periods of melancholy and nostalgia.  They’ve left me with plenty of psychic scars, but I keep coming back for more.

When it’s good, there’s nothing else like it.

I started following the Mets and could name every single player in the team photo by the time I was 4. This was mostly due to my older brother’s fanaticism, but it was my father who was the first true Mets fan in my family.

He followed the path of countless Dodgers fans after Walter O’ Malley packed up and moved the team to LA and decided to take up with the city’s newest franchise in 1962.  Even though the team’s roster that inaugural season was composed of other teams castoffs, the Mets represented a fresh start for my father, something original to counteract that business as usual approach favored by that team in the Bronx.

The Yankees were steeped in old-school tradition and the players were such fixtures, such deities in cleats that they didn’t even need names on the back of their uniforms.

Once they stepped out on the field everyone immediately knew Whitey, Yogi, The Mick and Maris, and could trace a clear line between them and the immortals of the past that wore those pinstriped uniforms.

The Mets were the renegade AFL to the Yankees’ Establishment NFL, the Afros, dunks & multicolored balls used in the ABA as opposed to the crew cuts, layups and boring, brown, leather balls used in the NBA.

They were trying to claim their little corner of the NY baseball universe left vacant when the Dodgers and Giants bailed for Cali’ in ’57.  The city was left a one-team town, but for many of New York’s diehard baseball fans the thought of rooting for the Yankees was abhorrent.

1962 mets

The Mets stumbled and bumbled their way into baseball existence.  It was hard to imagine that anyone would ever come to refer to “Marvelous” Marv Throneberry as #2 or Richie Ashburn as #1, there were no Ruths or Gehrigs or Riveras in this crew.

In fact, it’s not a stretch to say that the players on the 1962 Mets would have preferred their names weren’t on the backs of their uniforms so they could have remained anonymous on their way to amassing 120 losses (still an MLB record).

Despite the atrocious product on the field, for my father and the rest of a huge immigrant population planting their roots in Brooklyn, the Mets were a scrappy upstart, his mirror image and he would be there from their inception, the chance to be part of something from the ground up.

What else could someone new to this great country and city ask for? He would never become a Yankee fan. It was too easy.

For all of these people that were struggling to make ends meet in their new surroundings, they needed a team that could share appreciate their daily grind.  It was of great comfort to have a group of players who reflected their growing pains & struggles with language, customs and homesickness on the base paths and in the batter’s box.

His boss at the machine shop took him to his first game Dodger’s game at Ebbets Field in1952 and he was totally hooked. Baseball was his introduction into any sort of neighborhood or community in America, a way to assimilate with his buddies at work and fit into his new country.

The sins of the father shall be visited upon the son and my big brother saw that firsthand being a devotee of the late 70’s Mets. He had to navigate the hopelessness of the squads with Joe Torre as a player/coach (this was 20 years before Torre would reinvent himself in NY as the beloved skipper who would guide the Yankee dynasty to 4 World Series titles in 5 years) when the only reason to stay tuned was to find out whether or not Dave ‘King Kong’ Kingman would hit a 500 ft home run or whiff for the 200th time. For all you New Jacks, Kingman was Ike Davis before Ike was swimming in his daddy’s nuts.

Sure, there were some great moments sprinkled in (Seaver & ‘the Amazins’ shocking the world in ’69 by taking home the franchise’s 1st World Series, that 82 win 1973 ‘Gotta Believe’ bunch that would upset the pre-Big Red Machine Reds on their surprise run to the World Series only to come up short in 7 games to the Oakland) but not much else to cheer for over the first 20 plus seasons of the Mets existence. Because there was no ‘wild card’ in those days you either won your division over 162 games or you went home.

I caught the tail end of the Pat Zachary and Joel Youngblood teams in the early 80′s. Teams so brutal the only reasons to watch were to see how dirty Mookie’s uniform would be by the end of the game or if you had a thing for those silly little bullpen cars they used to drive the relievers to the mound in.

Things started to change around ’83-’84 when some of those young players you heard about in the minor league system (Straw, Doc) started to show up on the big team and straight up BALL.

frank cashen davey johnson

GM Frank Cashen accelerated the shift to respectability by pulling off a couple of blockbuster trades bagging us two of our hated rivals’ best players and career ‘Met-killers’. That Sammy Hagar-looking backstop from Montreal Gary Carter (RIP Kid) & the smooth-fielding cocaine Keith Hernandez came over & proved to be the final pieces of the puzzle.

I remember being excited about both of these trades, especially the one that landed Hernandez because the Cardinals always seemed to be standing in the way of us finally reaching the mountain top and now we would get an opportunity to stick it to that smug flat-headed prick Whitey Herzog and his pussy style of baseball with Keith at 1st.

Then, in 1986 at the age of nine, I watched the first team I rooted for in any of the four major professional sports and my first true love win a championship.

It was their first World Series title since 1969.  Not only did they win it all after wiping their asses with the rest of the league (winning 108 games during the regular season, still an NL record) but they did it in what is still considered one of the most revered and dramatic comebacks in sports history.

Trailing by two runs and down to their last strike multiple times in Game 6 against Boston they rallied to score 3 in the bottom of the 10th and ruin Bill Buckner’s life in the process.  I was convinced that because the team was stacked with so much young talent (Straw, Doc, Sid, Darling, Nails, Strawberry, Mitchell, etc…) we would contend for another 5-10 years, then Mike Scioscia & Orel Hershiser happened and well….that’s another article. In the 27 years since then…. I have seen exactly ONE title from my 4 teams (that means you Rangers, Knicks & Jets) once again proving that you should never entertain visions of a dynasty because the sports gods are a fickle bunch indeed.

And where does Fred Wilpon fit into this whole story? Let me start off by saying that I would love nothing more than to root for & believe in Fred Wilpon.

He grew up in Bensonhurst Brooklyn and I’m a Bay Ridge kid, he played baseball at Lafayette High School where his best friend and teammate was none other than baseball god Sandy Koufax.

He’s obsessed with the Brooklyn Dodgers (an obsession he admitted went a little overboard after he designed Citi Field to look identical to Ebbets Field and dedicated all of the shrines inside the park to the Dodgers completely ignoring the history of the team that actually plays there) just like my father.

And he’s the principal owner, for better or worse, of my baseball team.

Wilpon is an incredibly savvy, businessman who has accumulated great wealth by building a real estate empire (Sterling Equities) from the ground up.   He is undoubtedly a self-made man and there is a lot to admire about Fred Wilpon & his story. He bought a minority stake in the team in 1980 (owning 1% of the team originally) and watched the team grow from a laughingstock to World Champions.

In that magical year of 1986 him and Nelson Doubleday become equal partners in the organization. Fred Wilpon’s timing was fortuitous as it has been time and time again in his countless successful endeavors.

It was always his dream to own the Mets and despite his enormous wealth he had always portrayed himself as a fan that made good on his lifelong dream, one of us, never as a cut-throat, bottom dollar narcissist who would use any means to get what he wants.

Never until now!

I would never question Mr. Wilpon’s intelligence or business acumen, what I AM questioning is his honesty and integrity.

Maybe I sound naive and I should know better than to make any distinction between the former and the latter. But from the beginning (his purchase in full stake of the team from Doubleday in 2002) Wilpon has been duplicitous in his negotiations and what he sells to his ever-diminishing ticket-buying fan base.

During the tense negotiations between Doubleday and Wilpon over the buyout, MLB commissioner Bud Selig’s preferential treatment and the great pains he would go to protect his old chum Fred Wilpon rear they’re ugly head and prove a foreshadowing of things to come.

In this instance, it was recommended by Selig that Robert Starkey – “an independent appraiser” – valuate what the team was worth hence determining what Wilpon should pay Doubleday for his half of the Mets.  After Starkey’s valuation came back suspiciously low it was discovered by Doubleday that Starkey had in fact previously been under contract to MLB and worked for several franchises including the Milwaukee Brewers, a team owned by? You guessed it, none other than Bud Selig.  So the transaction by which Wilpon attains majority stake of the team is shrouded in nepotism and deceit.  An inauspicious beginning.

If only Mo Vaughn's batting average had been higher than his weight, things could have turned out differently for the 2002 Mets.  Or not.

These affairs went largely unnoticed by Mets’ fans because we were still riding high off the 2000 Subway Series and the fact that our team had just added established superstars Roberto Alomar and Mo Vaughn to Bobby V’s ensemble of feel-good overachievers like Benny Agbayani and Joe McEwing.

The Vaughn and Alomar signings turned out to be unmitigated disasters and the Mets had a couple of down years, but the arrival of homegrown talents like Jose Reyes and David Wright had us dreaming of a parade down the Canyon of Heroes sometime in the not so distant future.

There are phases entered in every man’s life that he can trace back to a single momentum-changing event.

You might not consciously recognize the significance of them when they happen, but years later after all of the debris is swept away you can look back and say with certainty “Yup, that’s when everything started to suck…”.

For the Mets franchise, a moment that will live in infamy is when the unholiest of knee-buckling hooks left the hand of Adam Wainwright and put an end to the 2006 NLCS.

The promise of that season was followed by two historic September collapses in ’07 & ’08 that eventually cost Willie Randolph his job.

Randolph’s firing could not have been more mishandled by the team hierarchy.

Flying the man out to the West Coast and watching his team take two of three games from the Angels only to fire him in the middle of the night and send him back on a plane alone is inexcusable and gross.

GM Omar Minaya caught most of the heat for the bungling of that situation but I think the blame should start right at the top.

To make things even worse, Randolph was treated with this amount of disrespect after he posted the second-best winning percentage by any manager in team history.

But as you’ll see, sometimes the Wilpons reserve the same level of disdain for their employees in uniform as they do for their devoted fans. What was to follow the hatchet job on Willie is where Fred and Jeff Wilpon REALLY lose me.

Since 2008, there has been a steady stream of lies and indignities hurled at Mets fans by ownership. Jason Bay, Oliver Perez, Jerry Manuel – a total shill sellout if there ever was one – that patsy Omar Minaya getting beaten daily like a piñata by fans and media and let’s not forget the Met faithfuls’ favorite scapegoat Luis fucking Castillo.

Granted all of the aforementioned tenures in NY were spotty, some of the venom and vitriol aimed at them should have been saved for the owners and what was to come.

No shitty signings or pennant-costing chokes could have prepared the Mets’ fans for what was to follow.

Late 2008 saw the Bernie Madoff Ponzi Scheme rear it’s grotesque head and dominate the headlines.

A large part of the story, especially here in NY, was Fred Wilpon’s close personal relationship and business dealings with Madoff.

It naturally left us all wondering how things would look when the dust from the fallout had settled.

Fred and his son, COO Jeff Wilpon, jumped right into damage control/spin-doctoring mode by telling anyone and everyone who would listen that the financial hit they were taking at the hands of their pal’s shady antics was totally separate from the Mets and that it in no way would effect the teams’ operations.

He insisted that the estimated $700 million loss he had taken was being greatly exaggerated by the media.  All this was set against the backdrop of the finishing touches being put on ownership’s new $1.6 billion dream stadium which was slated to open the Mets’ 2009 season.  It could not have come at a worse time. Mayor Rudolph Giuliani was nice enough to decide that we should foot half the bill for this stadium (approx 800 million) on his way out of office in 2001.

Add to this something so preposterously vindictive and mean-spirited that you would swear it was straight out of the movie Hostel, the naming rights to the stadium were sold to….You guessed it Citibank!!! for a cool 20 million a year over the next 20 years.

It’s a good thing we gave them that loan to get them back on their feet again.

You think Fred Wilpon was worried about having tons of empty seats in Citi Field’s debut season?

You think this worry might have caused him to get out in front of this financial crisis and reassure (lie to) the fans about the team’s ability to hold onto the best players currently on the roster or sign other top free agents to keep the team competitive in the near future?

Wilpons 2

Not only would the 1 billion dollar lawsuit filed against the Wilpons by Irving Picard on behalf of the trustees in the Bernie Madoff case have a great impact on the Mets’ ability to spend, but you started hearing extremely misinformed Mets fans refer to the Wilpons’ “situation” in almost sympathetic hushed tones on sports talk radio.

It was a mass case of Stockholm Syndrome in full effect.

I like to call these fans ‘Wilpon apologists’.  Gibberish like “I know we have to cut payroll because of this Madoff thing but maybe we can sign an outfielder in 2015” became commonplace out of the mouths of these walking dead.

If Fred and Jeff Wilpon knew how tied up with Madoff the teams finances were why did they straight up lie to the fans every chance they got?

Is it a coincidence that they haven’t signed a big name free agent since Johan Santana in February of 2008?

Or that they let Jose Reyes walk without ever making him an offer after he won the franchise’s first batting title?

What about RA Dickey coming off a Cy Young?  Let’s trade him for a young catcher with knee problems and a stud pitcher in Single A ball and sell it to the Mets fans as getting younger and ‘restocking the system’ – code for slashing salary.

The Mets are currently 22nd in salary among the 30 teams in MLB. Their payroll this season is just under 74 million, down from $138 million in 2008 when they were ranked 3rd in MLB.

They have essentially sliced their payroll in half since the Madoff scandal broke in 2008 and Citi Field opened in 2009. The players on the New York Mets make less money than the ones playing for the Milwaukee Brewers, Kansas City Royals and Minnesota Twins.

Do these moves seem like a gracious way to thank the loyal fans still coming to the games?

The same fans that essentially paid for their state-of-the-art new ballpark are being forced to watch a minor league team while they enjoy their Sausage and Rapini Orecchiette Pasta and a glass of Merlot.

Aaaah, nothing says Americana like a day at the ballpark.

So now that it’s been well established that this business with Bernie did effect their bottom line and they’re possible on the hook for 1 billion dollars they have to consider selling the team right?  Wrong!

To help raise money due to the financial uncertainty caused by this nightmare, the Wilpons were looking to sell minority stakes in the team in 2011.

They found a willing buyer in aggressive, young, hedge-fund manager David Einhorn who was willing to put up $200 million. After Einhorn suggested something as ridiculous as actually being able to exercise an agreed upon option to buy a majority of the team if he wasn’t paid back in full 5-6 years down the line the deal fell through and Einhorn backed out.

Don’t fret though, Uncle Bud is coming to help out his old pal once again.

SAY CHEESE: Looks like Fred and Bud are holding Mr. Met and the rest of the franchise hostage. (Photo by Newsday)

After helping swindle Nelson Doubleday close to 10 years ago, Selig found it in his heart to lend his buddies $25 million to help get them back on their feet, compliments of MLB.

Mr. Selig has shown an unwavering faith in his longtime friend to right the ship and lead the franchise out of these dark days. Why wasn’t this same courtesy extended to Dodger’s owner Frank McCourt? Instead Selig helped him out by nullifying a TV contract McCourt had in place with Fox to broadcast his team’s games, effectively ending any chance McCourt had of holding on to the Dodgers.

The Commissioner then took it a step further by criticizing McCourt in every form of media imaginable for his messy divorce proceedings and ridiculing him for the mismanagement of his team.

The Wilpons have spoken out of both sides of their mouths so many times over the last 5 years that they should seriously consider battling Biz Markie in a beatboxing contest.

It’s become almost impossible to keep track of their disinformation.

They were “blindsided” by what Bernie Madoff was doing? How could a tycoon as brilliant as Fred Wilpon not know what one of his best friends, a man that was like an uncle to his children was doing with billions of dollars, millions of it his own money? If you have even a basic understanding of how a Ponzi Scheme works you know that one this big (estimated at $65 billion) could not possibly be the work of a single person. All of the other guys at the top must be complicit at some level for it to work.

Why would the interest-free $54 million dollar loan the Madoff family gave the Wilpons in 2004 in the form of a “gift” from Madoff’s wife Ruth to help acquire the Mets’ broadcasting rights from Cablevision for their new network SNY raise any red flags for Fred or partner Saul Katz? I think it’s only fair to conclude that because of their friendship Madoff would have given his friend Wilpon a prime seat at the head of the table and that Wilpon probably knew a lot more than he’ll ever let on.

To make sure we know just how “betrayed” and in the dark they were about Madoff’s dealings the Wilpons & Saul Katz got involved in another Ponzi scheme with Samuel Israel III, another crooked hedge fund manager.  In this case they withdrew 30 million dollars from Israel’s hedge fund Bayou just months before it collapsed. They were eventually ordered to pay back $13 million of that money.  So much for lightning never striking the same place twice.

It’s estimated that the Wilpons saw an outlandish 10% return on their investment with Madoff for 15 straight years!  A consistent return of this size is practically unheard of and a titan of business as experienced as Fred Wilpon should have definitely found it a bit fishy.

Turns out the Mets were able to dole out ridiculous contracts like Bobby Bonilla’s because of the can’t miss system they had going with Bernie. Rather than pay Bobby Bo $5.9 million in the final year of his contract they opted to pay him $1.2 million annually from 2011 to 2035, even though he retired back in 2001!!  By agreeing to defer money to players they could invest what they had with Madoff, let him work his magic and then compensate the players from there.

As luck would have it, the trustees in the Madoff case settled for a lot less than the 1 billion they were originally seeking.  In March of 2012, right before the trial was set to begin the Wilpons & Saul Katz agreed to pay the trustees $162 million.  It’s possible that after all is said and done and Irving Picard has recouped as much as he can from other Madoff clients the owners of the Mets will be on the hook for far less than $162 million, they might end up owing nothing at all.

Going on the premise that they had to slash salary so dramatically because of the lawsuit, you would think now that’s it’s settled and they ended up with the most favorable possible outcome imaginable they would sink that reclaimed money back into the team again. Instead the payroll dropped about $20 million from 2012 to 2013.  It doesn’t take an accountant to realize that none of this adds up.

Is it really that far-fetched to think that the Wilpons and Saul Katz ended up making tremendous profits off of Madoff’s scheme while he rots in jail and others involved have lost everything?  Fortuitous Fred strikes again.

Shake_shack

Since the stadium opened in 2009, my refusal to go to the-team-blows-and-the-owner-is-stealing-my-money-but-they-have-a-Shake-Shack-Field!!! has led to me being chided by some of my closest friends.

I’ve heard an endless stream of preposterous shit like “don’t be a front-runner” or “you’ll go back when the team is good again”, but what they don’t realize is that my love for team or uniform has never wavered because of the record.

If that were the case I would have jumped ship a LONG time ago.

I stay away because it’s the only way I can make my displeasure known.  Sure, I still have cable and I watch games here and there on SNY so I guess the Wilpons still get my money. But I don’t ride the 7 train or sit in traffic for two hours anymore and I sure as fuck don’t spend $100 on parking and concessions, not to mention the price of tickets.  I haven’t bought any Mets merchandise since I bought a David Wright jersey when he first came up in 2005.

Some might think I’m absurd or that I should be worrying about things bigger than baseball but that’s precisely what I’m trying to say.

This is no longer about baseball to me.

It’s about the Wilpons with an assist from the powers that be at MLB, a.k.a., Bud Selig, the Pontius Pilate of sports commissioners (see his nauseating hypocrisy as he sits up on his pedestal and brings down the gavel on players abusing PEDS in the ‘steroid era’ that him and the owners made money hand over fist in), spinning bullshit to the fans for the last 5-10 years.

For me, Mets ownership, Bud Selig and MLB’s treatment of the Mets fans emulates how shitty we’re being treated by our bosses and elected officials everyday.

The greed and lying has grown to such audacious levels that it’s not enough to shake us down for our hard-earned money anymore, they have to embarrass us in a public forum while doing it.

The media must also bear some of the blame for not holding Wilpon & Selig’s feet to the fire, they’re more interested in A-Rod.

Who has greater power and the ability to affect more people in a negative way, Bud Selig? Fred Wilpon or A-Rod?

The answer is pretty obvious yet we spend all of our time criticizing the egomaniac ballplayer’s every move.  If Alex Rodriguez wants to risk his own life to break the home run record that’s his business, it doesn’t mean a thing to me.

These other men have been and continue to lie to us on a colossal scale and we willingly give them our time and money.  They insult our intelligence and from the looks of it they have every reason to.

Not only has Selig put his damage-control-handling android Sandy Alderson in place to feed us bullshit once a week on TV, in the papers and on the radio (this cyborg has perfected the art of talking loud and at length and saying absolutely nothing).

But he makes it his mission to personally soothe us about his homeboy Fred Wilpon’s ability to restore our franchise to it’s glory days.  He’s probably right about that too because every time Fred Wilpon has found himself in a mess due to his hubris and avarice, he finds a way to make us pay for his way out of it.

Before the 2013 season started the Mets hierarchy provided the fans at Citi Field with another great amenity.  We no longer have to look for an Amway office before getting to the game.  An Amway office has opened in ballpark just a few feet from the bullpen gate.  For those that don’t know, Amway is a company that’s been synonymous with pyramid schemes for years. Nobody in Mets upper management thought this was in poor taste in light of recent developments?  It’s become like the movie Brazil, absurd beyond comprehension.

I really hope everyone enjoyed the Midsummer Classic this year at Citi Field, I know I did.

While the game was dull compared to slugfests of the past, it was a gripping game in a karmic sense. A vague sense of penance hangs in the air, even if undetected by most Mets fans.

But enough of the negativity, it was also a reminder to the hardcore Mets fans, the ones whose unyielding passion for the team kept them buying tickets, merchandise, etc through thick and thin that the days of the Mets operating like a small market team playing in the biggest city in the world are almost over.

To all of these fans, the ones who took every last put-down in stride and looked past every falsehood they were fed, Fred, Jeff and Saul would like to personally thank you and reward your faith by cutting season ticket holders a break on their ticket prices until their team contends again…oh wait….

* * * * * * * *

This Fan Shot was contributed by MMO reader Costa Michalakis. Have something you want to say about the Mets? Share your opinions with over 18,000 Mets fans who read this site daily. Send your Fan Shot to GetMetsmerized@aol.com. Or ask us about becoming a regular contributor.

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MMO Exclusive: Willie Randolph Likes What He Sees With Mets http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/07/mmo-exclusive-willie-randolph-likes-what-he-sees-with-mets.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/07/mmo-exclusive-willie-randolph-likes-what-he-sees-with-mets.html/#comments Wed, 17 Jul 2013 12:00:45 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=125108 Baseball all-star Willie Randolph, right, and Jared "The SUBWAY Guy"  ride the 7 train while giving out the new limited edition SUBWAY bag that encourages healthier lifestyles on Tuesday, July 16, 2013 in New York. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision for SUBWAY/AP Images)

Baseball all-star Willie Randolph, right, and Jared “The SUBWAY Guy” ride the 7 train while giving out the new limited edition SUBWAY bag(Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision for SUBWAY/AP Images)

The guys over at IMG and Subway were kind enough to allow me to attend a Media Event through MetsMerized, where I got to meet Jared (“The Subway Guy”) and our former manager, Willie Randolph. Right off the bat, I took one look at Randolph and realized that he doesn’t seem to have aged at all — slap a Mets cap on the man and he looks the same as he did when we let him go ever so unceremoniously. Randolph presided over what was the most enjoyable time period of my Mets fandom to date, so I was very excited to meet him and talk to him a little.

CAM00371The whole event was coordinated to promote Subway’s new sandwich bag, which has an insulated pocket to ensure the ultimate sandwich quality… I could be a company man, huh? Randolph and Jared were working together to promote said creation, so they made any sandwiches that the media requested and stuck around for interviews. So yeah, I was lucky enough to get a sandwich made by Jared and Willie Randolph, who proceeded to sign my new Subway Bag. At this point, I was already pretty happy.

But luckily for me, my afternoon wasn’t over. I had the chance to talk to Randolph for a few minutes, and wouldn’t you know — he still follows the Mets religiously. There was a rush of people looking for interview time and photos, so I didn’t get to ask him too much, but I loved the answers he gave me.

SR: Mr. Randolph, it’s a pleasure to be able to talk to you. I think I speak for a lot of people, myself included, when I say that we really do miss you around the Mets. Do you still keep track of the Mets in any way?

WR: Oh yeah, I definitely do. David Wright is one of my favorite people, and I got to coach him in the WBC, which was great. And I’ve been looking at some of the talent they have — they’ve got some good young talent coming up. I love Matt Harvey and guys like Hefner who are coming into form, they’re really enjoyable to watch. I’m looking forward to seeing what Wheeler can do as he starts to develop, and I think they have a nice core coming together very soon. I was lucky enough to build a relationship with a guy like David, who I think can nurture some of these young players along.

SR: I’m really glad to hear that you still keep tabs on the Mets — can you tell me what you think about their future and what direction they’re headed in?

WR: Well, I think they’re headed in the right direction, but from year to year, you have be willing to make adjustments to your situation. Right now, their offense is lacking, and they could really do with a power hitting outfielder. Outside of that, the shortstop situation is something that needs to be remedied, and the catching situation could use a little clarity. You know, you make small steps towards the future. It’s not always the best way to get things done, but that’s what they have to do right now.

SR: Thanks a lot for your time, Mr. Randolph. Before I step away, outside of Yankee Stadium, what was your favorite ballpark to play in?

WR: Actually, I used to love the old ballpark in Baltimore — Memorial Stadium. It was an old-school stadium, but for some reason, I always felt like I hit really well when I played there.

Willie was absolutely a gentleman throughout the entire event — and it shocked me to hear how aware he was of our situation. That’s a real New Yorker right there… It’s also refreshing to hear a baseball man that I trust say that we’re headed in the right direction — and saying word-for-word that we need a power hitting outfielder should be a wake-up call to Alderson. Hell, Alex Rios maybe?

We could always use a guy like Willie Randolph around our team to help create a culture of winning again. I want to thank IMG, Subway, and Willie Randolph and Jared themselves for their time and the opportunity. 

Willie  Randolph, Jared Fogle

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Is Collins The Blame For Team’s Poor Performance, Or Is He Just The Patsy? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/05/is-collins-the-blame-for-teams-poor-performance-or-is-he-just-the-patsy.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/05/is-collins-the-blame-for-teams-poor-performance-or-is-he-just-the-patsy.html/#comments Sun, 19 May 2013 14:21:30 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=119316 Terry CollinsWhile all the talk lately has been about whether or not it’s time to end the Terry Collins era as manager of the Mets, how much of the blame for the team’s poor performance should be equally shared with the architect and general manager, Sandy Alderson?

Joel Sherman of the New York Post, pops the question and defends Collins, saying:

“It is relatively easy to argue his second-year team had worse talent than his first and this, his third team, has worse talent than his second…That is why I have no idea if Collins is a good manager or not. Showalter would lose big with this team, and so would Tony La Russa and Joe McCarthy and Casey Stengel. Or some cloned combo of all of them.”

Sherman draws a comparison between what Collins has been given to work with as compared to the last Mets manager to succeed, Willie Randolph.

“He was given Pedro Martinez, Carlos Beltran, Carlos Delgado and Billy Wagner to team with the young Jose Reyes and David Wright and the still-succeeding Tom Glavine. Collins has had the opposite, pretty much — the removal of anything approaching veteran talent from this roster and a bunch of booby prizes put in their place.”

This is about lack of talent, not Collins, he goes onto write. And as I’ve been maintaining since the offseason, Collins will indeed be the sacrificial lamb – that much was true when he was allowed to go into this season as a lame duck manager.

But as Sherman concludes, no Mets manager ever will get a truly fair judgment if Sandy Alderson never figures out how to enrich the talent level of the 25-man roster.

Last week, I wrote how the most frustrating thing about Alderson’s first three years as the Mets’ GM, is that there is not one keeper he brought in on the MLB squad – not one major league player in three seasons.

While we hope the farm is as good and improved as we think it is, ultimately those determinations are only made in the major leagues and not from a prospect ranking list. That’s how it’s always been in the ol’ ball game…

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The MMO Grind: Terry Collins Is Safe At Home, But His Foot Missed The Plate http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/05/the-mmo-grind-terry-collins-is-safe-at-home-but-his-foot-missed-the-plate.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/05/the-mmo-grind-terry-collins-is-safe-at-home-but-his-foot-missed-the-plate.html/#comments Sat, 04 May 2013 13:55:20 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=117451 terry collinsAs of now, Terry Collins’ job is safe and deservedly so. Based on getting the most out of what he has been given and basic fairness, there’s nothing justifying Collins’ job being in question.

However, fairness is irrelevant in sports. A manager’s job security always becomes an issue when he has lame duck contractual status and his team has lost six straight games.Losing streaks get everybody edgy, with questions directed to management, in this case, GM Sandy Alderson, who was asked the inevitable by The New York Post.

“That’s not something that has entered my mind or any mind within the organization,’’ Alderson said. “Has it entered the minds of others in the media or what have you? Yes.’’

Well, of course it has. It’s been on the back burner since pitchers-and-catchers in February. And, I don’t think for a second it hasn’t crossed Alderson’s mind, either.

Walter Alston used to work on one-year contracts, but he was Walter Alston and his Dodgers teams were perennial winners. They were an organization that believed in consistency. They were the exception to the rule.

By contrast, Collins manages the Mets, a franchise that last went to the World Series in 2000. Thirteen years later, and they are on their fifth manager. That’s not even three years each, and that’s no stability. While this trend doesn’t suggest good things for Collins, it might work in his favor for at least this summer. If the Mets aren’t going anywhere, there’s no reason to make a change and have owner Fred Wilpon pay two managers.

Bobby Valentine managed that World Series team, but frequently clashed with then GM Steve Phillips – one of four since 2000 – and with his personality wore out his welcome. Art Howe was the polar opposite of Valentine, and that didn’t work, either. I thought Willie Randolph had a chance, but he was hamstrung from the beginning when he wasn’t given full reign to hire his coaches and had to deal with clubhouse spyTony Bernazard, who usurped his authority. Jerry Manuel was overmatched, but that’s what you get when you sack a manager after midnight.

Now there’s Collins, who was brought in by Alderson to clean up the mess. However, Alderson doesn’t have free economic authority to spend, and consequently Collins doesn’t have the pieces. He’s basically a custodian; here to keep things clean.

The pieces he’s been given don’t fit, but here’s the rub, Collins is judged on what he does with those pieces, much like on those cooking shows where the contestants have to make something out of a basket of random ingredients.

“He came into the season without a contract for next year and may not have one for next year through this season,’’ said Alderson, meaning don’t expect an in-season extension. “But as I’ve told him and said before: This isn’t just about wins and losses. It’s about how we approach the game and fully taking into account what he has to work with.

“We talk from time to time and the [job status] subject comes up. I’m not trying to avoid the topic. It’s status quo. You go through a tough week and people like to immediately jump to conclusions and start discussing a doomsday scenario. A good first week isn’t necessarily any more of an indication than a bad fourth week.’’

So, there you have it: Collins is the care taker for 2013.

Alderson wants to know more if his roster can work and play nice with each other rather than if it has any talent. He’s telling us – again – that it doesn’t matter if you win or lose, but how you play the game.

Unfortunately, they keep score and results do matter. Major League Baseball isn’t new wave, liberal physical education where everybody gets a prize for showing up.

Winning does matter on this level. Teams pay big money to get players capable of winning and fans pay big money to watch those players.

If the losing continues, attendance will eventually drop as it has every year since Citi Field opened. But, the players will get their money. And, Collins could be out of a job. Not fair, but that’s how they play the game. It is also something Alderson needs to think about concerning his own job status.

Thoughts from Joe D.

While I don’t think any manager can get more out of this team than Terry Collins is — and that is mostly because he’s been dealt a rotten hand by GM Sandy Alderson — I see too many flaws in Collins for me to defend him.

As an in-game strategist I disagree with more than half of the decisions he makes. No manager is perfect, but Collins makes too many bad decisions, many of which have negatively impacted the results of a game.

I thought it was a bad idea to let Collins play this season out as a lame-duck manager. Any of my regular readers know that. I wasn’t worried as much about his status becoming a distraction as much as I was concerned over the impact it would have on Collins as the manager and his decision-making process.

He’s making far too many bad decisions now than at any other time since taking over for Jerry Manuel. I think it’s a result of managing with a monkey on your back or your boss constantly hovering over your shoulder.

I don’t believe Sandy Alderson wants Terry back and that’s fine by me. But it should have been delineated that way before the season began. They could have handled it differently and just announce that this would be Terry’s last season as manager before assuming a new role in the front office. That would have made more sense, avoided all the constant questions, and let Tery and the players breathe a little easier throughout the season.

I got the sense from something David Wright said last week, that he and the team need to perform well because they like Terry and don’t want to let him down. ERRRRRRGGGHHHH. Wrong answer.

Collins has had to manage a team that is unworthy of being called a big market team and attendance has never been worse than this recent three-year run. As bad as the results have been, I doubt Gil Hodges or Davey Johnson could have done better with the same bad outfield, bullpen and backend of the rotation. This isn’t Terry’s mess, it’s Sandy’s mess – and he should be the one responsible for any of the bad results as well as cleaning it up.

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Nice Guys Finish Last: David Wright’s Decision To Stay http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/05/nice-guys-finish-last-david-wrights-decision-to-stay.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/05/nice-guys-finish-last-david-wrights-decision-to-stay.html/#comments Wed, 01 May 2013 12:20:45 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=116989 david-wright-300The street I live on is a fairly quiet residential one lane road. Three miles to the south it meanders up into the foothills that look down on the valley. It gives way to an expansive residence, the proverbial mansion on the hill. At night, the home is illuminated in a sea of blackness. There’s nothing close by and the property seems big enough to warrant its own zip code. On many Saturday nights, I will catch a glimpse of stretch limos and even vans taking guests to the manor. Last year, as Barack Obama and Mitt Romney frequented my hometown, on two occasions I saw armor plated limos heading ‘up the hill.’

The owner is obviously wealthy, a multi-millionaire probably hundreds of times over. One thing I can say is that I don’t feel sorry for the guy.

Therefore, why do I feel sorry for another multi-millionaire named David Wright?

This year David will earn $16 million. If he plays every game this season, he will earn in one afternoon more than most of us earn in an entire year: $98,765. If he plays every single inning of every single game, David will make $10,974 per inning! But yet, I actually feel bad for the man.

David’s a stand-up guy. He’s been the face of the franchise for almost a decade now and will continue to be. He’s a clean cut athlete who stays out of trouble and is never caught up in scandalous headlines or PED rumors. He’s the type of ballplayer you can have your kids look up to. After a tough loss, it’s David who sits in front of his locker and patiently answers all the repetitive questions hurled at him from reporters. While most of his teammates head off to the showers and refuse to talk to the media, David does his job by helping the media do theirs.

He has all the similar traits of another much loved and revered Met by the name of Tom Seaver.

David Wright is only 30 and has already solidified his spot as the best all-around hitter in team history. Safe to say, he will break every team record by the time he leaves. He may also surpass Ed Kranepool as the longest tenured Met.

And this past winter, Sandy Alderson, to his credit, did lock up #5 for the long term. While I do applaud Alderson’s decision and thank David for his loyalty to the blue and orange, I still find myself feeling a bit sorry for him. I feel sorry that he drank Alderson’s Kool-Aid.

Athletes, like the rest of us, want to earn as much money as possible. Unlike Mike Hampton, who accepted an exorbitant salary from the Rockies and claimed his reason for going to Colorado was for the better school system, David is a class act.

mets-marlins-baseball - Copy

The Mets GM tells us we are rebuilding. That it will take 3-5 years. By that time, David will be in his mid 30’s, his most productive years behind him. Yes, money is important, but to a professional athlete winning is more important than money. You cant buy a World Series ring.

Ty Cobb, the greatest hitter ever, never got to win a World Series. Ted Williams would have probably given up that .406 in 1941 for even the opportunity to appear in the Fall Classic.

While I applaud David’s loyalty (I never thought he’d stay), I wonder if he regrets his decision. Let’s be honest. No one is expecting a World Series flag flying over Citi Field anytime soon. Hell, no one’s even expecting us to be competitive in the foreseeable future.

I’m reminded of a little known pitcher named Ed Lynch. Lynch was mostly a spot-starter for the hapless Mets in the early 80’s. From 81-85, Lynch tossed 708 IP and posted a respectable 3.74 era. He was a workhorse who was 38-40 for a team that was far under .500. He was here as the Mets rebuilt. He was teammates with the likes of Lee Mazzilli, Hubie Brooks and John Pacella. Lynch was injured coming into the 1986 season and on June 30, after 6 years of service and just 4 months before the Mets won it all, Lynch was traded to the Cubs for the unforgettable Dave Liddell and Dave Lenderman. (who???) Ed Lynch missed all the fun.

Will this same fate meet David Wright? By the time the Mets are competitive, Wright may very well be expendable, his best days behind him.

I also fret about the boo birds. In spite of David’s stellar career and now being named Captain even he has not been without his critics. It’s been implied that he needs to be a leader on the field as well. I, too, would like to see him assume that leadership role, a la Keith Hernandez. But simply, some guys are not made that way. They don’t have that genetic makeup. And that’s not a slam on him. Cooperstown is filled with players who were not ‘team leaders.’ But yet, now that David is making $98,765 per game, will he be unfairly expected to assume that role?

His stats over the last 4 years (09-12)  are still respectable. But they do fall short of the numbers he put up the previous 4 seasons (05-08.)

zzz - CopyAs the Mets “rebuild,” one can’t help but wonder if David’s numbers will continue to suffer. It’s very likely there won’t be anyone at the top of the batting order he can bring home. And very little protection behind him. In 2012, David’s line was 307-21-93. Solid stats. But even if he manages to repeat those respectable numbers, are those the type of stats that, along with not being a team leader, warrant $16 million?

David is a much loved Met. No doubt about that. But as we will stumble our way through another season, as the dog days of summer drag on, as attendance drops and our big battle will be beating Miami to stay out of the cellar, I wonder if Wright may unfairly be booed. It seems like there’s always a fall guy, someone to blame, be it Willie Randolph, Aaron Heilman, coaches, even trainers.

So, to David Wright, I thank you. Thanks for being a stand-up guy. Thanks for remaining loyal to the blue and orange. Thanks for not being all about the money and giving Alderson a chance.

He may wind up like Cobb and never win a World Series. Or Williams and never get to play in one. But hey, think of the bright side. Maybe 20 years from now the #5 will be in a circle on the outfield wall alongside #41.

Maybe…

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How It All Went Wrong For Lastings Milledge http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/04/how-it-all-went-wrong-for-lastings-milledge.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/04/how-it-all-went-wrong-for-lastings-milledge.html/#comments Sun, 07 Apr 2013 12:53:41 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=113354 lastings milledge 2I will remember it as if I saw it yesterday for the first time.

A sheet of notebook paper, with the words, “Know your place, Rook … signed, your teammates,” was taped over Lastings Milledge’s locker in the Mets’ clubhouse in old RFK Stadium. This, in the late summer in 2006.

The Mets were en route to the playoffs and a veteran laden team was rubbed the wrong way by Milledge’s brashness and arrogance. Then-manager Willie Randolph – who reprimanded Milledge several times that summer – ripped down the sign, but knew he hadn’t ripped away the problem.

The Mets labeled it a misunderstanding, and Randolph called Lastings Milledge “a good kid,’’ but this clearly was not a misunderstanding with a teammate. It was the accumulation of several incidents that rankled several teammates.

Milledge burst upon the Mets, hitting over .300, was dazzling on the bases and showed a strong arm. He was going to be the next “fill in the blank.’’ Willie Mays? Roberto Clemente?

However, things quickly cooled after his first career homer, when on his way to the outfield he high-fived fans down the right field line in Shea Stadium. Randolph sensed how the Giants seethed in their dugout, especially since he saw some of his own players do the same.

Randolph reprimanded Milledge on the unwritten laws in baseball, but it didn’t take. There were ground balls he didn’t run out and times he didn’t hustle in the outfield. He was flash with the jewelry swinging wildly on the field, but in the clubhouse he often sat buried in his locker wearing headphones or playing a video game.

milledge 3He came off as sullen and angry and clearly couldn’t be bothered by getting to know his teammates. Or, a baseball legend for that matter. During spring training then-GM Omar Minaya brought Milledge to the Nationals dugout to meet Frank Robinson, but Milledge was came off as being in-different.

Finally, he arrived in the clubhouse in Philadelphia an hour before a day game. Although it was early, the veterans made it in on time. David Wright had enough when Milledge strolled in with sunglasses and an iPod as if he owned the place and told him this wasn’t acceptable.

Wright wouldn’t belabor the issue Opening Day, only managing to say “seniority is big in this game,’’ which is the politically-correct translation for Milledge hadn’t earned his stripes.

Milledge popped into my consciousness today when I learned it was his 28th birthday, an age when he should be in the prime of his career. Instead, Milledge is one of hundreds of baseball prospects given the label of “can’t miss, but eventually did.’’

Seven years ago – the career lifetime of a select few – the Mets had three prized outfield prospects in Milledge, Carlos Gomez and Fernando Martinez. One by one they arrived, fizzled to the point of exasperation and were traded. Not one of them hustled like journeyman outfielder Collin Cowgill.

After turning down several proposals for Manny Ramirez, the Mets eventually traded Milledge to Washington as part of a trade that brought Ryan Church – he of the concussion fiasco – and catcher Brian Schneider. Milledge had his coffee to go with Washington, then Pittsburgh and finally the White Sox before heading to Japan. Milledge had his head-scratching moments in each place, but basically stopped hitting.

At 28, Milledge is still young. It’s about discipline in Japan and if Milledge comes back with a changed attitude perhaps he’ll get another chance. It’s a long way to Japan, and perhaps an even longer route back to the major leagues.

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The Correlation Between Mets Organizational Depth and Late Season Collapses http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/04/the-correlation-between-mets-organizational-depth-and-late-season-collapses.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/04/the-correlation-between-mets-organizational-depth-and-late-season-collapses.html/#comments Sat, 06 Apr 2013 20:00:36 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=112852 Since 2006 the Mets have been plagued by a recurrent theme, the second half collapse. The extent to which organizational depth, or a lack thereof, has contributed to these collapses has been the subject of more than a few discussions in Met circles. I would argue, however, that the problem goes back even before the disastrous 2007 stretch run.

2005 was a pivotal year because at it’s conclusion the focus of management shifted to obtaining those perceived few pieces that they needed to become a championship team, but the 2005 team was already showing the effects of a broader organizational depth problem. Willie Randolph, then manager, said of that team:

“We’ve matured and grown, and we’ve learned a lot of things about ourselves as a team, and the bottom line is we played hard all year. We didn’t stop playing, and that’s something I’m most proud of. When you have young players who are some of the core of your team, you can look to the future. When you add some pieces, that can be really special.”

The 2005 Mets were by most accounts contenders and stayed in the thick of the playoff picture until a second half stretch from August  27th to September 17th when they lost 16 of 20. In spite of a wealth of talent, the bullpen wore down, lacking the depth to sustain a playoff drive. 2006 saw the addition of Carlos Delgado and Billy Wagner instantly bolstering expectations, but even that team slumped in September, having lost a key bullpen cog to a taxi-cab accident, and then saw both it’s ace and his replacement go down to calf injuries in the run-up to the playoffs. While they were able to steamroll the Dodgers in the opening round, they were beaten in the NLCS by a Cardinal team that came in with a bullpen that hadn’t allowed a run in 13 1/3 post-season innings and which featured a young Adam Wainwright.

The pattern of the late season fade was already in place by 2007 when it became clear that the penny-wise pound-foolish approach to building a contender created a top heavy roster that neglected to address the dearth of quality replacements. To be fair, the 2006 Mets were a different team, a team that was tantalizingly close, so the temptation to focus on select free agent acquisitions rather than fortifying the minor leagues was not without precedent, it is the standard approach when you are on the brink of the post season. What went unnoticed however was that like a great boulder eroding at it’s foundation from the repeated crashing of waves, the  2006 and 2007 Mets were aging and eventually crumbled not just from the weight of their veteran presence, but from the organization’s failure to develop supplemental, even league average replacements, particularly in the bullpen.

As recently as 2012 the Mets were still featuring a version of their late season collapse with their second half record looking about as gruesome as day-old roadkill on a desert highway. Remarkably they were still in the pennant race leading up to the All-Star break, which is half a season of good baseball, so you can’t really argue sample size … no, the Mets in actuality were pretty darned competitive up until that point. The popular perception was that they stopped scoring runs, but initially in July this was not the case at all — it was the pitching that went south with a whopping 5.25 team ERA for the month, and as in every previous collapse, it was the bullpen that shouldered a hefty portion of the blame. The failure to stock and restock an effective bullpen has plagued this organization for almost a decade now.

Fast forward to 2013 with the Mets trouncing the Padres on opening day. The Mets look like the better team, but the 2012 Padres didn’t suffer a second half collapse. Quite the contrary they were 2 wins better on the season and enjoyed something of a second half surge going 42 and 33. Now there are two things that come to mind when you think Padres, their farm system and their bullpen. The Braves? Again, terrific farm, excellent bullpen. Oakland? Tampa Bay? Arizona? Do we see a pattern? Below is a chart detailing bullpen ranking by ERA, Minor League System Rankings, and win totals.

bullpen era

In looking at the above, the positive correlation between bullpen era and minor league system rankings (MLSR) stands out — 6 of the top 11 teams in bullpen ERA also feature minor league systems ranked in the top third. Clearly teams with strong farm systems seem to have a better shot at building strong bullpens. There also appears to be a broader correlation between MLSR and bullpen performance in general. Lower quadrant teams (the Cubs, Rockies and Astros) more or less track a parallel trajectory across bullpen ERA and MLSR (and win totals for that matter).

There are a few exceptions, the Orioles had a relatively depleted farm system yet were able to construct an upper echelon bullpen, while the Cardinals and the Blue Jays, with relatively strong farm systems, featured ineffective relief pitching in 2012. But notably, no team that placed in the top ten for wins appeared in the bottom third for either bullpen ERA or MLSR. The takeaway?  There is indeed a correlation between a good farm system and an effective bullpen, and there is a very strong negative correlation between placing in the bottom third for bullpen ERA or MLSR and a winning record. In simpler terms, if you want to win you need a good bullpen, and if you want a good bullpen you need a good farm.

chart

The positive slope of the spread in the above graph demonstrates the aforementioned correlation between MLSR and Bullpen ERA. The data points are the intersections of bullpen ERA and MLSR for all 30 MLB teams. Of the outliers, Toronto (the lone data point in the bottom left corner) was perhaps the biggest with the second best farm system in baseball for 2012 and one of the worst Bullpen ERA’s. The Mets themselves were an outlier, next to last in bullpen ERA with a farm system ranked 16th … based on the above, the Mets should have had a better bullpen in 2012. Nevertheless it is clear that as your farm system improves, your bullpen’s ERA declines.

If there was one constant in the “collapse” years, it was the propensity to focus on the 25 man roster without making provisions for the naturally occurring attrition that unfolds over a 162 game schedule. Below are three organizational depth charts for the 2013 Mets showing position players, bullpen, and starting rotation. There is some solid infield depth with Justin Turner, Jordany Valdespin, Zach Lutz, and Omar Quintanilla  and passable outfield depth — largely the result of a somewhat successful cattle-call of outfield candidates during spring training. Mike Baxter, Valdespin, Nieuwenhuis,  Den Dekker, and Brown, can certainly step up in a pinch. I particularly like Lutz and Brown who look like they can hold their own with the bat. The bullpen looks improved as well with three home grown relievers (four when Mejia returns) which is an encouraging indicator in light of  the notable correlation above.

Depth on the other hand, for both the Met bullpen the rotation is worrisome. Outside of Carson and a (hopefully) healthy Mejia there isn’t much else in reserve. The Met rotation, already down to four starters with Santana gone and Marcum suffering another setback, is also thin. After Wheeler, the Mets are looking at Laffey, McHugh and Schwinden. Granted, by mid season Wheeler, Harvey, and Niese may be enough to keep the ship afloat, but bullpen depth is another story — one that has historically been far more horrific.

This lack of depth may be the unfortunate artifact of a minor league farm that is not yet up to the task of acting as a true feeder system. The 2013 Mets will need some luck, and a good dose of health. They are better to be sure, they are generally deeper and more balanced than they’ve been in a while, and they are poised to bolster their roster with two prospects that have the look of impact players in D’Arnaud and Wheeler, but the Mets have yet to establish the sort of organizational pitching depth that a top 5 farm system might provide.

It is a tall and expensive order to rebuild a bullpen from free agency alone. Relievers are notoriously fickle and good ones are increasingly more scarce. The bulk of Met pitching talent — the capybara moving through the python — will begin reaching AA Binghampton sometime this season. That perk is at least another year away. The Mets may surprise if things break right, but until the critical mass of pitching talent they’ve been carefully accumulating reaches maturity they will continue to be vulnerable to the second half fade.

stats

*Players in bold are on the 40 man roster.

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Featured Post: The Mets Needed To Make Wright Captain http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/03/featured-post-the-mets-needed-to-make-wright-captain.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/03/featured-post-the-mets-needed-to-make-wright-captain.html/#comments Sun, 24 Mar 2013 13:00:55 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=111680 MLB: New York Mets at Philadelphia Phillies

There is a conspiracy theory everywhere you look. I read one suggesting the Mets made David Wright captain to divert attention away from the field, where they are projected to be bad. Very bad.

Smokescreens like that never work. Besides, Mets fans are like children and dogs in a way, after awhile, they know when they’re getting duped.C’mon. Are you serious? How long do you think that will last? With virtually no hope given to the Mets this year, they’ll be coming out to see Wright and the young players such as Matt HarveyIke Davis, Travis d’Arnaud and Zack Wheeler. The last two you’ll probably see sometime in June.

Besides, if taking the fan’s attention away from the team is the goal, they should have done this three years ago as the attendance at Citi Field has consistently dwindled.

Wright is simply the best player the Mets have, and arguably the best player – outside of Tom Seaver – they ever produced. And best, I mean both on and off the field.

As Major League Baseball goes after Ryan Braun and others in a witch hunt over PED’s, Wright has publicly stood up against drug users. A long time ago, when I asked Derek Jeter about steroids, he said: “I don’t use them, so it’s none of my business.”

Guess again. It is every player’s business for their sport to be clean and Wright, whether or not it comes from his father who is in law enforcement, has always stood for that goal. He should be commended for that alone.

I know some don’t feel Wright is clutch enough, but that’s nonsense. Baseball is about failing three out every ten at-bats just to be good, and Wright is the best the Mets have in that regard. Who else would you rather see at the plate in the ninth inning of a close game?

Jeff Wilpon said the appointment was for all Wright has done, and will do, for the organization in the future. The Mets have been awful on the field since 2008, and even worse off it with the Ponzi scandal, numerous bad signings and public relations fiascos. With all those around him losing their heads, Wright kept his, to paraphrase Rudyard Kipling.

When it was clear the Mets were about to sack Willie Randolph, Wright spoke out for his manager – and against management – because it was the right thing to do. He blamed himself and the players, not the manager whom management had spied on with Tony Bernazard.

A leader sometimes deals with uncomfortable things, and yes, Wright spoke against Lastings Milledge coming in late. He downplays it now, but it had to be done. Players often take their lead from other players, and when somebody doesn’t hustle, Wright lets him know it in a low-key, yet effective manner.

He doesn’t get in their faces, just their minds. And, that’s what leaders, and captains, do.

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Why Do Mets Pitchers March To The Beat Of Their Own Drums? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/03/why-do-mets-pitchers-march-to-the-beat-of-their-own-drums.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/03/why-do-mets-pitchers-march-to-the-beat-of-their-own-drums.html/#comments Fri, 22 Mar 2013 13:22:41 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=111508 shaun marcumWhat is it with the Mets and their starting pitchers? Giving them near total control hasn’t worked. It didn’t for Willie Randolph and Jerry Manuel, and it isn’t for Terry Collins.

The impression is the tail is wagging the dog when it comes to Mets’ starters, and this isn’t new. Pitchers tend to be divas by nature, but it has gone to another level with the Mets.

Clearly, free-agent Shaun Marcum did not report to spring training ready to go by telling Collins and GM Sandy Alderson he only needed four starts to get ready. He was allowed to set his own pace, but obviously didn’t have the track record to deserve it.

Marcum received cortisone injections in each of the last three years, and last spring was down for nearly three weeks. Without question, this is a guy who should not be setting his own program.

Marcum vows 200 innings, a level he’s only reached once since 2005. His lifetime 57-36 record was why Alderson gave him the benefit of doubt, but his 124 innings last year should have accounted for something.

Wasn’t Marcum’s history and workout program discussed? If it was, then why agree to this?

Santana does have the resume to set his own program, but abused it when he threw off the mound without Collins’ knowledge the first week of March.

johan santana mets dodgers 072012The Mets said they monitored Santana in the off-season, and told him to go easy since he rehabbed the previous two winters. Something was lost in the communication as Santana wasn’t ready when spring training began and will open the season on the disabled list.

Collins said Santana knows his own body, but here’s a guy who hasn’t worked an inning all spring and at the beginning wanted to pitch in the World Baseball Classic. Had he done so, the results could have been career threatening.

Early in camp, after Alderson questioned Santana’s conditioning, the lefthander, angry with the Mets and media, threw off the mound without his manager’s knowledge. Collins wasn’t happy then and now must be fuming because Santana has done little since and has no set timetable. One must wonder how much that stunt set him back.

There are other examples of how the Mets let their starting pitches get away with setting their own routine that ended badly.

In 2009, Mike Pelfrey refused to go on the disabled list and miss a start and insisted on the start being pushed back. To placate him, the Mets brought up a starter from the minors, but to make room released reliever Darren O’Day, who only proved to be a key in the Rangers getting to the World Series twice.

O’Day has worked 247.2 innings in his five-year career with 217 strikeouts, 63 walks, a 2.73 ERA and 1.058 WHIP. The Mets don’t have anybody with that production in their current bullpen.

The Mets also let Pedro Martinez march to his own tune with mixed results for several years. Is Pedro pitching today? What’s going on with Pedro? It was like that every spring.

The Mets did everything they could, including alienating a future Hall of Famer, Tom Glavine, to placate Martinez and his whims.Of course, don’t forget Oliver Perez, whom former GM Omar Minaya signed to a disastrous three-year contract. The height of the absurdity is when Perez refused a minor league assignment – as was his contractual right – to work on his mechanics.

Consequently, the Mets carried him the rest of the season rather than release him and eat his contract, which they eventually did the following spring.

Funny, the Mets once had the stones – but no brains – and traded Tom Seaver, who wasn’t happy with his contract. Now it seems they don’t have either, as the trend is obvious, from Alderson to Minaya, and with each of the managers, to let some starters dictate to them how things would be and it turned out for the worse.

Will it be that way in 2013 with Marcum and Santana?

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The New York Mets – On The Fringe Of History http://metsmerizedonline.com/2012/02/the-new-york-mets-on-the-fringe-of-history.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2012/02/the-new-york-mets-on-the-fringe-of-history.html/#comments Mon, 20 Feb 2012 15:00:45 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=72746 Thursday – October 19th – 2006

Top of the 9th and the score is 3 to 1 in favor of the St. Louis Cardinals. The Mets are one loss away from post-season elimination. The St. Louis Cardinals are one win away from the World Series. Cliff Floyd has struck out with runners on first and second. Jose Reyes has just lined out to Jim Edmonds in center.  Hope is rapidly fading when Carlos Beltran makes his way to the plate to face Adam Wainwright in front of a standing room only crowd of 56,357 screaming Shea fans – yearning desperately for a return to the fall classic.

Wainwright scans the signs from Yadier Molina. Beltran, the 2006 Mets team leader in homeruns and RBI, focuses every ounce of the baseball knowledge he has on Wainwright. He’s prepared. This is the moment every child who’s ever taken a baseball field has dreamt of. The season, the city, everything is now in his hands. The intensity flowing from fan to players to concession stand operators becomes palpable.  The drumbeat of “Lets Go Mets”, reminiscent of glory days gone by, echo through Shea’s centerfield speakers. The stands begin to shake rhythmically in anticipation. Wainwright delivers his 1st pitch. Beltran swings…driving a Wainwright curveball high down the right field line.

Time grinds to standstill as the crowd instinctively and collectively holds their breath. Beltran however is far less concerned. He flips his bat with the same exuberance of a Little Leaguer – channeling every emotion into one fluid motion. He knows. Gary Cohen begins to scream “A LOOONG HIGH FLY TO DEEEP RIGHT WILL IT STAY FAIR…IT HIT THE FOUL POLE…IT”S OUTTA HERE, IT’S OUTTA HERE, IT’S OUTTA HERE, IT’S OUTTA HERE…

Present Day – 2012

Of course that never happened, as we know all too well. No we never did get to hear Gary Cohen cement himself into Met history with THAT particular call. Instead we were subjected to Joe Buck’s monotone droning, “And the 0 and 2 pitch; strike 3. The Cardinals are going to the World Series.” Scintillating I know. But somewhere, in some universe, Carlos Beltran and Mets went to the World Series.

How do I know this happened? Simple, Walter Bishop said so. Who the hell is Walter Bishop right? Well to those of us who gather around the flat screens every Friday night at 9pm, you know that Walter Bishop is father to Peter Bishop on the FOX television series Fringe.  Walter Bishop is a scientist du-jour, capable of explaining Quantum Mechanics to a 6 year old to whipping up the perfect strawberry milk shake from his genetically engineered cow, Gene, who by the way in one episode, had transferred into him, the “soul” of his friend and fellow scientist William Bell, played by Leonard Nimoy. Fascinating.

 

I know it sounds crazy but the show’s main premise is that there are “multiverses”; multiple universes that exist just as our very own universe exists with doubles of you and I and everyone in them, all going in there own different directions simultaneously. In the world opposite of Walter Bishop and our universe, many differences exist.  Everything from President Kennedy marking his 97th birthday – safe from our timeline’s morbid fate – to the Statue of Liberty representing the Department of Defense, stand out as obvious differences. There’s even the somber notion that in the alternate universe, the White House was the main target and destroyed on 9-11, sparing the World Trade Center.

This theory of multiple universes isn’t all that Hollywood-esque. In fact Albert Einstein while formulating his Theory of Relativity postulated the existence of parallel universes as has physicist Stephen Hawking. So if those guys say it’s possible, well hot damn somewhere someone in a parallel universe is celebrating Felix Millan’s induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. 

So it got me thinking; what if? What if in some topsy-turvy world, the woes we have felt as Mets fans never existed? Imagine it. Darryl and Doc went on to win another World Series, avoiding their personal demons. What if the Midnight Massacre never took place?  It’s such a tempting and seductive thought considering where the team and we as fans stand today. Hell, imagine no Bernie Madoff. Or perhaps imagine a Bernie Madoff that was perhaps legit?

Yes, it’s admittedly hyper-nostalgic if bordering on sad to have these “what if” type dreams. Considering that every so-called expert has the Mets barely outplaying the Chula Vista Little League champs this year, a little harmless indulgence never hurt anyone.  Every now and again, we need to realize that as fans, this is just a game and hardly life or death issues. The exception of course – the desire many have to see Bernie Madoff strung up by his soap on a rope in prison. Even the Almighty would probably turn a blind eye to that.

Let us dream shall we?

February 22nd 2007 – Port St. Lucie, Florida

Pedro Martinez arrived at Thomas J. White stadium slim, trim and poised to return to form. After the Mets lost the 2006 World Series to the Detroit Tigers in seven games, Martinez whose season was cut short due to a calf strain and a minor rotator cuff pull walked into manager Willie Randolph’s office with a clean bill of health. He was determined to reclaim his status as staff ace.  General Manager Omar Minaya, emboldened by his teams’ World Series appearance and his brand new 3 year $15 million dollar extension, making him the highest paid GM in all of baseball, was given more than just wider latitude by team owner Fred Wilpon. He was also given an additional $40 million in payroll, topping out at a league high $141 million.  Minaya spent $15 million of that on Alfonso Soriano who will take his potent bat, but suspect glove to second base at Shea. Also coming into the fold will be 6 time All-Star Kenny Lofton. The 40 year old will shift over to left field to accommodate Beltran and according to Minaya will provide speed at the top of the lineup along with Reyes.

Joining them would be former Houston Astro and Yankee Andy Pettite, who signed a 2-year contract with the Mets. Minaya was quoted by ESPN’s Peter Gammons saying, ‘We needed to add depth and protection to our rotation. Not having Pedro for us during the World Series was definitely a liability. Adding a player like Andy Pettite addresses our needs both during and post season. So with that said, signing Andy was necessary.”  The well-seasoned trio of Martinez, Glavine and Pettite proved father time wrong in 2007 as all three went on to pitch over 200 innings each and winning 46 games.

Another anachronism to the aging process was Shawn Green, who was acquired late last year from Arizona. Nary a fan in his right mind expected Shawn Green to revert to his borderline superstar self yet in 2007, Green did just that. Leading the team in RBI with 110, Green along with Wright, Beltran and Delgado, provided more than enough punch as the team scored an unprecedented 980 runs.

July 4th 2007 – 6 days until the All-Star game in San Francisco

As the 2007 season moved along the team announced that the naming rights negotiations to the new stadium being constructed directly across from Shea Stadium had been finalized. The final decision on naming rights came down to offers given by Citigroup and Apple Incorporated, with Apple winning the rights with an offer to pay the team $40 million per year for the next 20 years.  Apple co-founder and CEO Steve Jobs along with New York Mets owner and CEO Fred Wilpon and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg spoke to members of the press in front of the partially constructed stadium which is being dubbed “The Big Apple”. Construction should be completed by 2010.

By the All-Star break the Mets were comfortably 12 games ahead of the drifting Atlanta Braves. The Braves having lost 3rd baseman Chipper Jones for the remainder of the season with a torn hamstring found themselves the main topic of more than just Baseball news.  Braves team owner Ted Turner, along with thousands of others, were found to be victims of a vast Ponzi scheme orchestrated by Wall Street financier Bernard Madoff, who bilked hundreds of millions from his unsuspecting clients.

The misfortune of the Braves along with the success of the Mets, helped to bring about a 2 year extension for manager Willie Randolph, through to the 2010 season. And by seasons end, the Mets were sitting once again on top of the NL East, winning 99 games, 17 games ahead of the Atlanta Braves.

October 15th 2007 – The 2007 Postseason begins

Having run rough shot through the Colorado Rockies and the Arizona Diamondbacks, sweeping both teams in the Divisional and National League Championship series, the Mets were led by the starting pitching of Martinez, Glavine and Pettite. The three combined for 5 of the 7 wins with Martinez and Pettite winning 2 games each.

“What was even more impressive was their focus under pressure and their ability to give us strong innings. The fact that they (Martinez, Glavine and Pettite) all went deep into the games (each averaged 7 innings per start) was huge, absolutely huge. Well beyond what any of us expected or hoped especially from Pedro.” said a champagne soaked Mets pitching coach Ron Darling as he made room for Commissioner Selig who presented Martinez with the NLCS MVP. Martinez pitched 14 innings allowing only 1 run in his two winning starts.

Leading the team offensively came from two truly unlikely sources. 40 year old veteran Kenny Lofton hit .428 with 2 homeruns and 2 stolen bases, both coming in game 4 of the NLCS and Jose Reyes, who hit .447 with an NLCS record 10 stolen bases. On the downside, Reyes pulled his right hamstring in game 4 after recording his 10th stolen base and had to be carried off the field with the help of manager Willie Randolph and David Wright.  The Shea crowd, swelled in the energy of a World Series birth, sat stunned as their catalyst’s season and World Series was now in jeopardy. But would that include the 2007 Amazin’s?

To be continued…

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The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same For Mets http://metsmerizedonline.com/2011/02/more-things-change-the-more-they-stay-the-same-for-the-mets.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2011/02/more-things-change-the-more-they-stay-the-same-for-the-mets.html/#comments Tue, 22 Feb 2011 22:00:01 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=44925 “The more things change, the more they stay the same” seems to apply for the Mets after the last few days.  On Friday I posted here that Terry Collins told reporters that it would be up to Carlos Beltran on whether or not he would move from center-field and start playing right-field.  Yesterday Brandon Butler posted that Oliver Perez has already been guaranteed a roster spot by Sandy Alderson and Terry Collins.  I was hoping with a new regime things would be different but at least in these two instances that doesn’t seem to be the case.

Willie Randolph and Jerry Manuel, the last 2 managers of the Mets ran their teams much like this. They would let the player decide things instead of managing the player and doing what was best for the team. I’m surprised that he would let a player decide where he would play. Everything we’ve heard about Collins is that he’s a take charge manager, the opposite of Willie and Jerry. In a perfect world it would be nice if Beltran would go to Collins and admit his days in center are done but we don’t live in a perfect world. Collins needs to do the job he was hired to do and manage the team. We’ve seen what happens when the manager does not have the control to do this.

What doesn’t surprise me is that Oliver Perez might have been given a guarantee that he’ll make the team regardless of his performance this Spring.  I knew Alderson would never allow a player making that much money to be released, regardless if his performance is not going to help the team. I understand wanting to get some value from Perez who is making 12 million dollars this season but this makes no sense. Sometimes you have to go against your “moneyball” philosophies and realize a player is just a lost cause.  I don’t understand the logic of having Perez occupy a roster spot again this year.  It’s not like the Mets are a team that can win with a 24 man roster, they need all the able players they can get to be productive.  I would much rather see a young pitcher like Gee who is hungry and wants to help this team win, make the team instead of Perez who twice refused to accept a minor league deal so he can rack up service time.

I understand Alderson and Collins inherited an aging Beltran and an awful Perez but they could do things differently than the past regimes.  The whole reason the Mets got rid of Omar and Jerry was because the way they were running the team was not working.  I don’t understand why Collins and Alderson are doing the same thing.  Hopefully they’ll learn from history otherwise we’re doomed to repeat it.

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John Franco: Terry Is A Good Fit, But Players Better Be On Their Toes http://metsmerizedonline.com/2011/01/john-franco-terry-is-a-good-fit-but-players-better-be-on-their-toes.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2011/01/john-franco-terry-is-a-good-fit-but-players-better-be-on-their-toes.html/#comments Tue, 25 Jan 2011 04:20:16 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=43298 In this video produced by SNY, John Franco speaks highly of Terry Collins who he worked with when he played for him in the Dodger organization.

Franco calls him a straight shooter, a stickler for fundamentals and very focused on speed and defense which is exactly what the Mets need right now. He also added that Collins will not put up with any lackadaisical play and that those players better be on their toes. 

It’s going to be interesting to observe how all the players react after several years of laid back managers like Jerry Manuel and Willie Randolph.

There’s no doubt that this team has needed a heavy dose of discipline for quite some time, and I’m glad that they will get plenty of it with Collins. Although he wasn’t one of my top choices for manager, the more I hear from him with regard to his managing style, the more there is to like.

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The Song Remains The Same http://metsmerizedonline.com/2010/02/the-song-remains-the-same.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2010/02/the-song-remains-the-same.html/#comments Sun, 21 Feb 2010 16:45:37 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=21201 Yesterday, Mets owner Fred Wilpon met with reporters and responded to some questions. I was intrigued, but not surprised to this particular line of questioning:

Q: An author said you were selling the team because of the Madoff scandal (Bernie Madoff pleaded guilty to 11 felonies involving a Ponzi scheme). Were those claims off-base?

Wilpon: I’ve always said, if it’s up to me, my family will be involved for the next generations. That’s all I can tell you. I can’t say that about any other asset we own.

Q: But are there external factors that would compel you to sell?

Wilpon: No.

This offseason, what we heard more than anything else on this site was not so much about how we should have signed John Lackey or Matt Holliday, but just a longing for the Wilpons to sell the team.

Many Mets fans firmly believe that the Mets are incapable of putting together a string of good years under present ownership, and in a way I agree with them. Oh sure, there will be years when the Mets can get it together for one year and win it all, heck we’ve seen that before, but what we’ve never seen was a decade long run of championship caliber baseball or just playing meaningful baseball in September.

It’s been a history of peaks and valleys… Agony (most of the time) and ecstasy (not enough)…

You can’t blame the Wilpons for not spending money because indeed they have, and lot’s of it. But there’s this culture that surrounds the Mets that just makes it difficult for the organization to operate as one cohesive unit. There was the friction between Davey Johnson and the Wilpons in 1986, but Cashen loved him so he wasn’t going anywhere. The rift between Bobby Valentine, Steve Phillips and the front office was legendary. Buddy Harrelson and Jeff Torborg both felt they were scapegoats and felt they were managing the team with their hands tied behind their backs. Willie Randolph felt he was being undermined every step of the way after his honeymoon period was over. It’s stuff like that which makes it difficult to run and manage a team for a GM or manager. This year will be no different as both Manuel and Omar will be operating while sitting in the proverbial hot-seats.

That stress and tension can have a carry-over effect with the players who sometimes feel as if they have to perform to save their GM or managers job. Both David Wright and Billy Wagner said as much shortly before the team axed Willie Randolph. And don’t think this derisive culture had nothing to do with both collapses in 2007 and 2008. The tension had become so thick in the clubhouse you could cut it with a knife, that’s what some of the Mets beat reporters were saying at the time.

The culture of the Wilpons almost takes the fun out of the game for the players. The pastime becomes a grind instead of a game. The expectations of playing in the sports mecca and media capital of the world is harrowing enough for these players. What they need most from the ownership is a calm atmosphere, a clear vision, a general manager with full autonomy that has a solid track record and the confidence to hold down the position, and a manager who can communicate all of that to his players and doesn’t have to keep looking over his shoulder.

As longs as the Wilpons stay in control, the names may change at the GM and manager positions, but the truth is that the song remains the same.

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Omar, Any Respect I Had For You Is Gone! http://metsmerizedonline.com/2009/07/omar-must-go.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2009/07/omar-must-go.html/#comments Tue, 28 Jul 2009 12:47:47 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=9399 Before you read any further I just want to make it clear that I have never, I repeat never inquired about getting a job with Player Development for the New York Mets.

Yesterday Omar Minaya after what I am sure was an exhausting investigation into the Tony Bernazard situation finally announced that the Mets fired Tony Bernazard.  In his press conference yesterday afternoon Omar claimed that the Mets human resources department was already looking into Tony Bernazard’s behavior and an investigation was already being conducted quietly within the organization. Omar then said that Daily News beat writer Adam Rubin, the reporter who last week broke the story about Bernazard taking his shirt off and threatening 17 and 18 year old kids in the minors to a fight had been lobbying for the last few years for a job in player development.  Rubin was shocked and rightly so.

Omar Minaya is a liar, pure and simple.  Last week when Omar Minaya held his news conference to tell reporters that the Mets were “investigating” Tony Bernazard he gave no indication once so ever that the organization was conducting any sort of investigation into Tony Bernazard before then.  Let’s face it, there is no way that the Mets did not know what Tony Bernazard did in Binghamton.  Omar and the Mets were trying to sweep this situation under the rug until Adam Rubin dug it up and reported it in the Daily News.  Omar knew full well that a few weeks ago Tony Bernazard cursed out an employee at Citi Field in front of people and children because he wanted a seat behind homeplate that was being occupied by a scout for the Arizona Diamondbacks.  The public did not know of these unprofessional acts by Bernazard until Adam Rubin broke the story last week.  Later in the week the Post reported that Bernazard was in a verbal argument with K-Rod, which in my mind should have been the final nail in his coffin.

Omar said in his press conference yesterday afternoon that he stumbled a little bit when he read Adam Rubin’s column on what happened in Binghamton because Rubin over the years has lobbied for a job in Player Development with the Mets.  Rubin denied these charges, saying that he has asked team officials from different teams over the years how to break into that part of the business, Jeff Wilpon according to Rubin even offered more than once to sit down with him and talk to him about breaking into the business as well as a job with SNY but Rubin turned him down everytime.

Yesterday’s press conference should have been a slam dunk, Omar should have told the press that the Mets have decided to part ways with Tony Bernazard, field some questions and wish everyone a good afternoon.  This was the perfect chance to wash our hands of this, build on some momentum from the weekend and go out and play baseball in perhaps the most important series so far this season.  Unfortunately Omar as usual could not complete an easy task.  Much like last year when he fired Willie Randolph at 3AM EST on the road this firing turned into another circus.  Attacking Adam Rubin who admittedly has written some tough pieces on Omar and his job performance is like what Adam said “despicable.”  It seems to be nothing more than an attempt at getting some payback.  Payback for what you ask?  It’s no secret that Omar and Tony Bernazard are friends outside of baseball.  Bernazard was hired in December of 2004, 3 months after Omar was named the General Manager of the Mets.  Had Rubin never reported in what happened in Binghamton, Tony Bernerzard would still be employed by the Mets, taking his shirt off, threatening to beat up kids who are away from the families and in a different part of the world for the 1st time in their lives.

Omar decided to try and ruin Adam Rubin’s credibility, pure and simple by putting this out in the universe.  Last week Omar used the word investigate about 100 times during his news conference, I wonder if Omar was investigating Adam Rubin’s past?  Did Omar call around the major’s asking for any dirt on Adam Rubin?  I think what Omar set out to do was to try and get Rubin off the Mets beat.  2Omar was not being professional, he was being personal.  You cannot attack a beat writer because he wrote an article that forced you to fire your best friend.

I think it’s no secret that I have been calling for Omar’s head for months now.  I have not agreed with most of his free agent signings the last couple of years, the lack of trades and the horrible way he has built up the farm system.  That dislike was against Omar Minaya the General Manager of the New York Mets, the public figure, not Omar the person.  I’ve never met Omar Minaya, I don’t know anybody who knows him personally so I had no reason to dislike Omar Minaya the person until yesterday afternoon.  Omar showed his true colors yesterday afternoon by attacking Adam Rubin without producing any shred of evidence to support his claims.  If Adam Rubin has been lobbying for a job the last few years produce emails of inquiry, text messages or a resume from Rubin to the New York Mets. While Omar has not yet shown any evidence that backup his claims, Omar has showed that as a “man” he’s petty and in my opinion despicable.  There is no other word to describe him after yesterday.  I wanted Omar fired because I felt he wasn’t doing a good job, it was nothing personal until now.  I will smile and maybe even dance a little much like Tony Bernazard did in Anaheim when the Mets fired Willie Randolph.

The attack on Adam Rubin shows that with this organization if you say and/or write something negative about the Mets they will fire you and/or try to discredit you.  Anybody think it was a coincidence that Matt Yaloff and Lee Mazzilli were very critical last year of the Mets on SNY and are no longer with the channel?  It came out during this whole mess with Bernazard that he would threaten the younger kids, telling them that if they didn’t do what he liked he would get them.   Adam Rubin said that he has received letter from parents of minor leaguers confirming this and I hope after yesterday and the permission of the parents he will publish those letter in his column.  Fear and bullying seems to be something Omar approves of to run this organization.

You have to admire Adam Rubin.  He’s not a columnists, he’s a beat writer, he has to be with the team day in and day out.  To write a column like he did 2 weeks ago in the Daily News knowing that he would have to see Omar and the rest of the organization on a daily basis he still went ahead and wrote what he felt was wrong with the Mets and Omar.

Last night Omar held yet another press conference, this time with Jeff Wilpon by his side.  Omar did not really apologize, he just said basically that he shouldn’t have made the comments he made about Adam in a public forum.  In fact Omar seemed angrier than he was in the afternoon.  Jeff Wilpon by the way stood next to Omar, basically nodding, sipping a bottle of water.  He did say that he gets a lot of phone calls on a weekly basis seeking career advice. The Mets and Omar had a chance to clear the air, to apologize but instead looked worse than before.

Omar Minaya I don’t like you as a GM and now I like you even less as a person and I cannot wait to see you on the unemployment line!  Omar showed that he has no class, while Adam Rubin showed a lot of class yesterday, he could have said a lot of things about Omar but decided to not too stoop to that level.  I wouldn’t mind having someone like that in the organization working with our younger guys compared to “men” like Tony Bernazard and Omar Minaya.  Mets fans it’s obvious that Omar Must Go!

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‘The Bronx Zoo’ Moves To Queens http://metsmerizedonline.com/2009/07/the-bronx-zoo-moves-to-queens.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2009/07/the-bronx-zoo-moves-to-queens.html/#comments Tue, 28 Jul 2009 07:05:26 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=9457 Just a few short seasons ago we seemed on the edge of something great. We were preparing ourselves for several years of NL dominance unprecedented in Mets history. We locked up young studs David Wright and Jose Reyes to long term contracts, added 5-tool superstar Carlos Beltran and mixed in veteran presences like Pedro Martinez and Carlos Delgado. However, after coming up one base hit short of a trip to the World Series, the Mets have accomplished nothing other than 2 historical collapses. Now we continue to crumble. Our Mets resemble a poorly written soap opera. What happened? 

In the late 70s no team typified ‘soap opera’ more than the team in The Bronx. The Yankees created so much drama during those times they came to be known as ‘The Bronx Zoo.’ Reggie Jackson arrived in NY via Free Agency and with the first really huge contract in history claimed himself to be ‘The straw that stirs the drink.’ He was sarcastically given the nickname ‘Mr. October’ by catcher Thurman Munson. Munson and Jackson battled for control, for leadership, of the Yankees. Manager Billy Martin repeatedly chided Jackson, rode him without mercy. In 1977, Martin and Jackson nearly came to blows in the dugout at Fenway. The game was on national TV and Martin mocked Jackson for not chasing down a line drive. Although the Yankees skipper was nearly 20 years older and about 50 pounds lighter, he attempted to get to his star RFer. Martin had to be restrained by coaches Elston Howard and Yogi Berra. Jackson discounted Martin’s actions to the press by accusing the Yankee manager of ‘having his judgment impaired’ because of his alcoholism. Martin also frequently waged a war of words in the media against Jackson and Yankee owner George Steinbrenner. Martin once said, “They (Jackson and Steinbrenner) are made for each other. One’s a born liar, the other’s a convicted liar.” Steinbrenner was no angel either. He constantly tinkered with team chemistry, hiring, firing and re-hiring managers with reckless abandon. The Yankees had 8 managers in 6 years.

However, despite the melodrama that became ‘The Bronx Zoo,’ the Yankees managed to win. And win big. In a 6 year period from 1976-1981, the Yankees won 5 division crowns, 4 pennants and 2 World Series.

This brings me to ‘The Queens Zoo.’ What exactly happened? When did it happen? How did it happen? Our team, our organization seems to be in an uncontrollable nose dive. A dysfunctional mess. We have the drama. But we don’t have the pennants.

Losing the NLCS Game 7 on a HR by Yadier Molina was awful. Back to back September collapses tested our team loyalty. But now it seems like what happens off the field is more newsworthy then what happens on the field.

We never get straight answers on injuries. And even the players themselves don’t seem to either. Case in point: Carlos Beltran’s decision to see a specialist and get a second opinion. Our farm system has become decimated. None of us can point to the next Gooden or Strawberry or Seaver. In March, we heard rumors that Citi Field was going to be a hitters park. It’s anything but. And seems more cavernous then Shea. This was the same time that manager Jerry Manuel was in Florida considering moving one of the top leadoff hitters in the game, Jose Reyes, down to the #3 spot. The season began and Manuel was constantly on Ryan Church until finally Church was sent packing. Icon Doc Gooden was roundly criticized by Mets management earlier this season when he had the audacity to sign his name on a wall inside the Wilpon’s stadium. We have the highest payroll in the National League. Yet we are struggling to get to .500. The players who remain healthy seem to play ‘Hot Potato’ with the leadership role. Last year, Omar Minaya stooped to a new low in the classless and heartless way he fired Willie Randolph in the wee hours of the morning. Yesterday, Omar stooped even lower. He turned a routine press conference announcing the departure of Tony Bernazard into a backhanded attack on Daily News reporter Adam Rubin.

This backstabbing behind the scenes gossip is better suited to a high school locker room then a supposedly professional baseball club. Losing is hard enough. But this persistent blaming someone else is ludicrous: Blame Willie Randolph. Blame Manuel. Blame Omar. Blame the Wilpon’s. Blame Bernazard. Blame the team doctor. Blame Rick Peterson. Blame Howard Johnson. Blame the fans for booing. Blame the new stadium.

 Remember when we all blamed Aaron Heilman for all our problems? The point is that none of us really care about the childish finger pointing. We all want one thing and that’s a winner. Or at least a team we can be proud of. We Mets fans don’t give a damn about what goes on behind-the-scenes. We care about what goes on in the batters box, not the press box.

I’ve been a Mets fan a long time. I’ve cheered for everyone from Jose and David to Keith and Gary to Cleon and Rusty. We’ve all bled blue and orange for years. The owners, the managers and the GM’s come and go. I’ve been wearing Mets hats long before Omar and Fred were around and will continue to long after they are gone. What the powers-that-be must realize is that this is not their team. It’s our team. This is not their stadium. It’s our stadium.

At one time or another, all of us lost our innocence and we were forced to admit the painful truth that Baseball is a business and not a game. However, in the deep recesses of our heart, we still like to think of it as a game. Regrettably, the actions of certain executives lately have shown otherwise. It’s apparently more important to C-Y-A then to provide a winner. Thanks to Omar and the Wilpon’s for returning us to reality and proving that Baseball is a business. Innocence has been lost again.

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Jerry Manuel, I’m Just Not That Into Right Now! http://metsmerizedonline.com/2009/06/jerry-manuel-im-just-not-that-into-you-anymore.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2009/06/jerry-manuel-im-just-not-that-into-you-anymore.html/#comments Tue, 02 Jun 2009 13:00:03 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=6017 This is not a knee jerk reaction after last night’s horrible defeat.  Last season after Willie Randolph was fired and Jerry Manuel took over I thought it was the right decision.  As the Mets tried to make the playoffs last season I was really impressed with Jerry Manuel.  When the Mets lost on the last day of the season I was hoping that Jerry would have been given a new contract for this season and was happy once it was announced that Jerry would be coming back to manage the Mets.

The Jerry Manuel we saw last year is not the same we have seen this season.  One of the things I looked forward to was his press conference following the game.  They were full of life, his comments were interesting.  This year not so much.  He reminds a lot of Willie Randolph now during his press conferences.  He looks disinterested, he repeats himself from the previous day.  SNY could air the press conference from a week ago and it would sound the same as tonight’s.

This season Manuel is really messing with his players’ heads and put them in the doghouse, even though according to Jerry he doesn’t have one.  Ryan Church is an ideal player.  He plays hard in the field, he was hitting at the plate and he runs out balls that are hit in play.  Jerry Manuel for some unknown reason did not like those traits in Ryan Church.  It started in Spring Training when Manuel let Church know that he was going to possibly platoon with Fernando Tatis. Earlier this season so while Church was hitting everything thrown at him Jerry Manuel benches him for a couple of games.  Then Church comes back, continues hitting and for some reason Manuel again will sit him down but when it’s time to put Church back in the lineup he bats him 8th.  Former Met Ramon Castro was another guy who Manuel liked to mess with.  Who can forget Jerry having Omir Santos come out of the bullpen while Castro was walking to the plate and pinch hit for him in the bottom of the 9th inning, guys on base and the Mets trailing with 2 outs?

Daniel Murphy is also a guy who Manuel has put in his doghouse.  Murphy playing the outfield was a mistake.  An utter failure.  Jerry Manuel in Spring Training decided to make Murphy his everyday left fielder even though that was not his natural position.  All through Spring Training Manuel praised Murphy’s ability to hit, citing how patient he was the plate and his ability to hit against left handed pitchers.  Murphy’s play in the outfield caused the Mets several games but Jerry refused to take him out of the lineup.  Carlos Delgado gets hurt, Murphy gets worse in the outfield and Jerry finally sees the light and admits the experiment with Murphy was a failure.  Daniel Murphy was going to be moved to 1st base and you know what?  He’s been pretty impressive at 1st base.  He’s made some good plays.  Unfortunately his bat isn’t what we all thought it would be.  Murphy is no longer hurting us with his defense but Jerry decides to take him out of games now when everyone else is banged up.  Murphy last week had a big homerun, the next day Jerry takes him out.  It seems to me that Jerry is a little angry at Murphy after Murphy failed in the outfield.  Jerry stuck his neck out for Murphy and Murphy couldn’t play the outfield so Jerry decided to punish him.

Last week Fernando Martinez made is much awaited major league debut.  This was a game when he hit a weak pop up to the catcher and didn’t run the ball out.  The catcher dropped the ball but still had time to recover and throw F-Mart out at first.  Jerry decided to leave Martinez in the game.  In his post game he said it was a big mistake and that he would talk to F-Mart later.  That was the end of it he said.  Next game F-Mart is for some reason sitting on the bench but it’s not because of the previous game.  I think that Jerry should have taken F-Mart out of that game as a punishment and that would have been the end of it.  F-Mart needs to play everyday while he’s up from the minors.  To start messing with a 20 year old’s head is wrong Jerry, it’s wrong!

Last season when Jerry took over Jose Reyes challenged him on his first night as manager when Jerry wanted to take Jose out after he came up lame running to 1st base.  Jerry got in his face, told Reyes to get off the field and go sit down on the bench.  The players seemed to respond to Jerry after this.  They also played hard for him all last season.  This season that’s not the case.  I mentioned the F-Mart incident already but last night once again it happened.  For some reason these guys refuse to run out ground balls.  They refuse to slide when they obviously should.  They are not running out of the box hard enough and instead of getting a triple they’re on second in a game they trail.

Now it’s too early to call for Jerry’s job.  The Mets are still good in the standings.  I just feel that Jerry needs to change the way he’s managing this team.  He’s playing with a banged up team and they have done a good job.  Jerry needs to be the same Jerry we saw last year, not this Jerry.  He needs to get in these guys faces and tell them the gangsta is back and will not take this kind of lazy play.  He needs to reward guys who play well and not pick his favorites.  Only then will the Mets be a winning team.  Right now if the Mets did fire Jerry I wouldn’t mind it all the much even though I would be worried who would take his place.  I doubt that the Mets will fire another manager mid season after the way everything went down with Willie Randolph.  If Jerry continues to manage this way I wouldn’t mind it if he doesn’t come back next year.  Jerry please bring the gangsta back!

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