It must be very difficult being Jerry Manuel these days, or even any manager stuck in the same predicament as he is.
Given the current state of the Mets, it’s abundantly clear that the season is over and that the manager can either play it one of two ways, and no matter which option he chooses, he will get hammered just the same.
Option #1 – Forget Wins and Losses
This first option is to forget about focusing on the win and instead concentrate all your efforts on the 2011 season. If you have some younger players that you need to evaluate at this level, let them play and see whether they will be a good fit next season. If you have key players battling through pain, consider shutting them down for the season so that they are 100% ready for the spring. Don’t give your young pitchers more innings than necessary, there’s no need to burn them out, shut them as well or at the very least limit their pitch counts if you have to. Stop wasting at-bats on players who will not be back next season even if they give you a better chance to win now.
What happens when the manager goes with option one is a full broadside attack on his desire to win. His lineups will be mocked by the Mets blogosphere with titles and tweets that look like this:
- Jerry Manuel Mailed It In Last Night
- The Believe It Or Not Lineup Card
- Mets Have No Heart, What A Bunch Of Losers
Logging into your Twitter account 90 minutes before game time or shortly after the lineup is posted is not for the squeamish.
Option #2 – Winning Is Everything
Play hard no matter what. Post the lineup that gives your team the best chance to win for every game. Don’t ever roll over. Instead, play your asses off like the Marlins did when they kept us from the post season in 2007 and 2008. This means always playing your best players regardless if they are coming back or not. It adopts the philosophy share by most that every game counts and that no game is more important than the game you are playing that day.
Unfortunately, if Jerry Manuel leans this way he still gets attacked again for wasting at-bats and acting incompetently. If he says that until his team is mathematically eliminated he will continue to battle, he gets mocked, and usually by the same people who mocked him in my first example.
Is it fair to paid ticket holders to go to a game at Citi Field and see David Wright being rested and Hessman at third base? Or Mike Nickeas catching instead of Henry Blanco or Josh Thole?
Let me put it another way. Lets assume that Jerry Manuel was fired back in August, and Wally Backman was named interim manager and the team finishes with a woeful 7-25 record to end the season, the worst mark in baseball.
He was just giving at-bats to the kids and throwing a few starts to the youngsters and focusing on the 2011 season, right? But yet you can’t get that bad taste out of your mouth and start to wonder if he truly is the right manager for the job. You’re certainly not as enthusiastic as you were on the day he replaced Manuel. Not after a 7-25 record…
It’s not easy managing the Mets these days. It really is the ultimate double edged sword.
We have a fanbase that lacks patience, and a few hundred Mets blogs that will call the manager out no matter who it is on a daily basis regardless of what decisions that manager makes.
- We all want to keep our best prospects while trading for the best available established players.
- We want to play our younger inexperienced players over the aging veterans, but also want to win every game at the same time.
- We should always play to win, but we have to do it in a way that still gets players ready for the following season. (Whatever that means.)
- We want the best free agents, but then complain about how we overpaid them if they don’t meet expectations.
I don’t know if all these things are limited to just the Mets fan base, but it certainly does seem that way at times. Much of it has to do with playing in the same market as the New York Yankees who just always seem to be doing everything right in comparison to the Mets. At least that’s the perception.
Regardless of who ends up managing the Mets, I can assure you of two things:
1. The honeymoon period won’t last more than a month.
2. The pressure to produce a winner will be immediate and intense.