Slamming The Door On Manny

The Manny to the Mets pipe dream is finally over.  It had nightmare written all over it.  GM Omar MInaya officially declared this last Tuesday. Let him go back to the Dodgers, hat in hand (for 25 mill, who wouldn’t grovel at that?).

Whether Omar was parroting what the Wilpons have decreed is irrelevant.  Ramirez never stopped being a handful even as his stock plummeted lower than CitiGroup’s this off-season. 

He was never a good fit for the Mets.  Before Mets fans start tipping over dead, let me expound.


Manny was never available (initially) for less than three-to-four years and maybe Minaya had visions of waiting out the market, ala Johan Santana. Then he could sell the idea to the Wilpons.  It never got that far. 


The fact the Dodgers trimmed their offer to one year speaks volumes about the dwindling market.  Manny’s greedy agent Scott Boras kept waiting for someone to raise the bar, but the ubiquitous “mystery” team never materialized.


Where he plays next season is still a mystery.  He could end sit out the year or end up in Japan.  Anywhere but Flushing is fine by me.  Ramirez’s risk came at the back end of the deal, and would’ve gummed-up the payroll flexibility. 


(If he accepted a one-year deal from the Mets, his next contract would have been discussed and dissected ad nauseam from Day 1-a distraction of epic proportions).


Much like the signing of Pedro Martinez, it would have had juice in the beginning, but reduced to pulp in the end.  Do Mets fans really believe they got their money’s worth from Martinez?  Manny ‘aint getting any younger either.


He’s a soon to be 37-year old outfielder (May 30th) in a DH’s body.  He could hit .300 in his sleep, but in the field he’s asleep.  When starts butchering fly balls and missing the cutoff man (all add up to runs and loses) how favorable will his approval rating be then?


By the way, he’s also a liability on the base paths.


Moreover, he would not enhance team harmony one iota.  The first time he refuses to exit the air-conditioned clubhouse to stretch on a hot and humid day would cause a stir.  He would have to answer to Carlos Delgado, who would not be pleased. 


How about not answering the bell at game time-pick a knee, any knee. 


He’s exactly what the Mets don’t need:  Another player who shuns the media and dances to his own beat.


One of the reasons David Wright wears down is the burden of being the team’s spokesman.  Adding another star that hides in the training room would not improve team dynamics (Delgado and Santana, and several other players rarely speak to reporters already).


The point is humans play the game and it’s not always about numbers.  On paper Manny would have been wonderful, 30 100, at least.  Imagine the outcry when (not if) Manny acts like a fanny and becomes disenchanted with his expiring contract and stages another wildcat strike?


What are the odds that might happen?  It says even money here.


The radio waves will burn up, the newspapers run out of ink.  Mets fans would certainly change their tune and pine for the pre and post-Manny days.


Manny is capable of leading the Mets to the Promised Land or dragging them into the abyss.  Either way he doesn’t care. He proved this with his selfish stance that led to his hasty Boston departure (guess $160 million does not buy much goodwill these days).  I guess he’s not different from a lot of professional athletes. 


(A recent article in a NYC tabloid contained quotes from Ramirez’s former coach at George Washington HS in Upper Manhattan, saying he never has received one nickel of support for the baseball program from him-the same program that allowed Manny to hone his skills and gave him a chance to play ball.  Talk about an ingrate).


But you can keep him.  He would be a disaster in New York with all the scrutiny and bright lights.  Maybe the ends would justify the means to some, but I won’t make that deal with the devil. The roll of this dice eventually will come up craps.


Mets fans that drool over Manny’s prodigious home runs should keep the number 29 in mind.  That is the amount of saves the bullpen blew last year.  Reduce that number by 11 and the Mets are a 100-win club.  Do you think that adding two formable closers could accomplish that?


Minaya cleaned out the rancid pen and it has the potential to be lights out.  The re-signing of Oliver Perez gives the Mets four starters in their prime.  Tim Redding and Freddy Garcia add depth.  According to Minaya, you can’t have enough pitching.


Waiting in the wings is Jon Niese and Bobby Parnell.  The bullpen should be topped off with Pedro Feliciano (lefties hit .210 against the southpaw) who led the league with 86 appearances and a healthier Duaner Sanchez. 


Put Feliciano back into the comfortable role of situational reliever and he should revert to the asset he was in previous years.  Sanchez could become the seventh inning bridge to JJ Putz and Frankie Rodriquez. 


Then sprinkle in some power arms (Minaya loves them) for the back end of the pen, such as, Brian Stokes, Sean Green (acquired in the Aaron Heilman deal), and Brandon Knight, and the frog becomes a prince.


The number one priority in the off-season was re-wire the bullpen and bolster the pitching staff.  Minaya has accomplished both with aplomb.


However, signing a thumper is always sexy for the fans.  Who doesn’t love an all-star at every position but this is not Rotisserie Baseball.  How has that worked out for the Yankees in recent years?  Watching Daniel Murphy develop before our eyes is an enticing argument for passing over Ramirez.  What true fan doesn’t cherish home grown talent? 


Maybe Fernando Martinez, who hit a game winning pinch-hit home run for the Dominican Republic in the Caribbean World Series on Tuesday, comes of age this season.  With Manny in the fold the talented youngster is mired in the minors (maybe not a bad idea for ’09, but the organization has big plans for him).


For the fans who believe the Mets are parsimonious, I say this: “You folks are delusional.”  The Mets payroll will be around $143 million this year.  There is ample offense (the Cubs led the NL in runs scored with 855 and the Mets and Phillies tied for second with 799) to carry them to the post-season.  Your team spends money; don’t feel entitled like the faithful in the Bronx.


Being a Mets fan has always meant relishing the role of the underdog.  It makes the bubbly takes so much better.  This is not your 1993 Mets we are talking a about here.


Pitching wins championships.  As hitting coach Howard Johnson said to me recently, “if we get our pitching straightened out, we’ll be fine.”