Posted on: August 24, 2009 1:01 am

Freedom to be Objective Pt 2

Now, let's look at the one's on the field and in the suites:

1. Luis Castillo - Ironically, he is having the best season of all the Mets regulars, which is a scary thought. Castillo is what he is - a singles hitter with good plate discipline and some speed. At least he has given the Mets that this season - blown pop-up vs. the Yankees notwithstanding.

Prognosis - Sell High! Mets should look to move him in the off-season as his value will likely not be better.

2. Billy Wagner - Came back. Pitched one inning 1-2-3. The Mets proceeded to put him on waivers and apparently the Red Sox have claimed him.

Prognosis - Take the salary savings. Let the Sox have him for a career minor leaguer.

3. Angel Pagan - Many note how great he'd be as a fourth OF. He may be a little better than that. In the right situation, he could/should be a starter and capable leadoff hitter.

Prognosis - Don't let him go. At worst he's a fourth OF, and if Beltran were moved and you had 2 corners with pop, he could start.

4. Jeff Francouer - Frenchy seems to have found new life in Citi Field. Ironically, he says he's felt less pressure playing in NY over his hometown team Atlanta. Brings good defense, a capable bat, and a good attitude to the team. Won't walk alot so is a classic 5-hole hitter.

Prognosis - The "Core" has a new addition.

5. Oliver Perez - Knew this re-signing would backfire when it was made. The elevator doesn't always go to the top floor in Ollie's head. He is the poster boy for Met's salary mismanagement. Randy Wolf was a better - and cheaper - option, which would have left some change to sign a proven OF bat (Bobby Abreu, Pat Burrell, Raul Ibanez). Trading him would be a miracle - like finding a GM dumber than Minaya.

Prognosis - Oh! The Pain! for 2 more seasons.

6. Gary Sheffield - A good signing when the Mets still had a chance. Now Shef is unnecessary. The Mets put him on waivers recently but pulled him back when they couldn't get a "good" offer. The excuse was they're trying to win games. Admirable, but a day late and a dollar short.

Prognosis - Should have let him go for a song and make room for a younger player to get some time. DH in 2010.

7. Daniel Murphy - Played miserably in the OF, but hit well while there. Moved to 1B and played more than adequately there defensively - yet somehow misplaced his bat for a while. Never underestimate the value of having a good glove at first. His bat is coming around lately, although the power is still not there yet. Could be a Youkilis type, where the power comes later, but hasn't drawn the BB's yet.

Prognosis - Unless a powerful 1B option comes available, should be given another chance.

8. Fernando Tatis - Lightning in a bottle in '08, the bottle shattered in '09.

Prognosis - Hasta la vista, baby!

9. Jerry Manuel - It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Manuel was handed a lemon and told to make - orange juice. It's almost unfair to evaluate him because of the injuries, not being able to pick his staff, and having the situation thrust upon him. He did an admirable job turning the Mets around in '08, getting them to the brink of the playoffs. However, the bottom line is that managers are evaluated on wins and losses, and this season is - a loss.

Prognosis - Joined at the hip with Omar Minaya so....

10. Omar Minaya - GM  is the toughest job in sports as you are the top talent evaluator. He has made a few situational moves (i.e - the Core stayed  healthy) in getting Sheffield and Francouer. But Minaya's problems started in the preseason. My theory is that he looks at situations and not the big picture in building a team. The Mets bullpen cost the the playoffs in '08, so he went out and shored up the 'pen admirably. His biggest fault is that he is loyal to "his guys," players/personnel he brought in (like Castillo, Delgado, Perez, Bernazard) and forgets that to build a winner you must remember the MLB is a business  and friendships are tenuous.

Prognosis - Time for a change in culture from the top, but...

11. Fred & Jeff Wilpon - If you ask Fred, Jeff is now running the Mets, and if you ask Jeff, he says...nothing. The Wilpons are the most media-sensitive franchise owners in sports (The Dolans - Knick, Rangers - virtually ignore the media) but make themselves look amateurish in their approach to (mis)managing the Mets. More concerned with reaching out to ethnic cultures they need to reach out to baseball culture. Citi Field seems more a memorial to Ebbets Field than home to the Metropolitans. We get the fact that Fred is a Brooklyn Dodger fan and Sandy Koufax is his buddy, but let's focus on the Mets and their history - and future. Winning - first, last, and always - should be the Wilpons' mission.

Prognosis - "Under New Management" could be the best words Mets fans could hope for.

Category: MLB
Posted on: August 23, 2009 11:39 pm

Freedom to be Objective Pt 1

As a Mets fan who realized that their post-season prospects ended with Carlos Beltran's bad leg, I am freed of any expectation for the rest of the season. Now it's time to take a look at what some of the key players - in the dugout and the executive suites - and give a prognosis for the future:

First, from the 40-man DL:

1. Carlos Beltran/David Wright/Jose Reyes (i.e. - the "Core") - There are some who think the core should be broken up. I'm not against the idea, but DL'ed players are a hard sell for any quality trades. So let's go with the core being healthy and performing premise:

 Beltran's contract limits the trade partners to other big dollar teams. Some would trade him to the Red Sox for Jacoby Ellsbury and others. From a BoSox perspective: why do this? Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia, and Kevin Youkilis are now the core for the Sox. They've acquired Victor Martinez for C/IB duties, plus they'd likely wish to re-sign Jason Bay and they're still (over)paying J.D. Drew. David Ortiz and Mike Lowell have another year on their respective contracts - maybe a condition would be take one off our hands for Beltran. The Yankees would be an option but the Yankees and Mets never do trades of significance. The Angels, Dodgers, or SF Giants might listen, but what would they part with?

Reyes - were he healthy and performing - would be the most tradeable of the three. At least 20 other MLB teams would be interested because of his youth, talent and rather reasonable contract. How many Gold Glove-caliber SS's who are bonafide leadoff hitters are there?

Wright had a strange year before injury - HR's down, SB's up - and he plays a position which is relatively easy to fill, so his trade value is limited. However, he has the maturity to weather the scrutiny of the NY press and Fans. If he can weather this time, the general concensus is he's team Captain of the near future.

Prognosis - Expect Wright/Reyes/Beltran to break camp with the Mets in '10

2. Carlos Delgado - Delgado was a monster after Jerry Manuel took over the Manager's job in '08, but expecting him to hit this year like last season was a bit of a stretch. The Mets would have been better served giving Carlos 4 million to go elsewhere than paying him the 12 million for this year. To be fair, Minaya might have felt a free agent bat may have been too expensive to bring in, but this, and another decision has come back to haunt the Amazins'.

Prognosis - DH in 2010.

3. J.J. Putz - Injury-plagued in '08 led to the Mets picking him up as a set-up man. Pitched like he was still injured and (lo and behold) was. It's hard to evaluate what a healthy Putz would have meant. The idea of bringing a proven closer in to set-up for another proven closer is good insurance.

Prognosis - 50-50 he's back as a Met.

4. Fernando Martinez - F-Mart is hard to evaluate because there is such a small body of work to draw from. His pro career consists of more time on the DL than actually healthy, so his readiness naturally is in question. One can say he is still young so there is time for development.

Prognosis - Incomplete. Needs more seasoning in the minors, but if he can be included in a trade which has immediate impact...

5. John Maine - Has a track record of pitching well for the Mets. Unfortunately, injuries have shortened this year and last, and his lack of presence has contributed to the Mets not being post-season bound in '08 and '09. Starting pitching being the premium that it is, the temptation is to keep him, but the Mets need to make changes when and where they can.

Prognosis - Might be time to part company, not because of him, but to change the team's makeup by opening up a slot for another option.

Category: MLB
Posted on: July 28, 2009 2:13 am

L'affaire Bernazard, Part Deux

Listening to the press conference earlier by Omar Minaya concerning the overdue firing of Tony Bernazard (pronounced: Burn-Hazard), I was initially struck with the thought of giving up my alllegiance to the Mets as my favorite team.

Sports fans can tolerate much during a teams bad times: bad players, bad Mgrs/Head coaches or bad GM's, so long as we are sure that the final arbitors of the tean (the Owners) are firmly sane and in charge.

With the Mets I was/am getting the feeling that the Ownership was getting clueless as to what was going on within the Organization. I still feel Jeff Wilpon is nowhere near ready to run a sports franchise, and that the Wilpons are little more than the baseball version of the Dolans (who are killing the Knicks - which I'm apathetic about - and the Rangers - which I'm glad about)

Omar Minaya is not comfortable in the role of "heavy," that is painfully obvious from the conference of Burn-Hazard's firing. Minaya has numerous flaws, but shoving him out there to do the Wilpons' dirty work should not be part of his job.

Face it, Jeff Wilpon, you are not fooling anyone out there with shoving poor Omar to recite some script you obviously wrote to insulate yourself from criticism. Stop hiding from the public, only to promote Citi Field, and face the music you've composed, which affable Omar is incapable of delivering. Play the heavy, Jeff, you are a billionaire, people expect that. People hate billionaires so revel in it, and stop sending out "stooges" to do YOUR dirty work.
Category: MLB
Posted on: July 25, 2009 1:06 pm
Edited on: July 25, 2009 1:17 pm

L'affaire Bernazard

We've seen this before. As Mets fans of any length of time we've seen foibles compounded by folly, whereby we wonder if the inmates are running the asylum.

In 2002, the Mets celebrated their 40th anniversary of existence by doing their best to impersonate the 1962 Mets. By acquiring washed up players like Marvelous Mo Vaughan, having press conferences denying marijuana usage or being gay, the Mets attempted to entertain through the ineptness of the early daze. Steve Phillips played the role of the All-Wise George Weiss while Bobby Valentine starred as the "Ole-perfessor" Casey Stengel, giving Academy Award worthy performances in trying to put a brave face on a lousy situation.

Fast forward to 2009 (and 2008 and "naught 7"):

While other teams are "investigating" their options for the trade deadline, the Mets are "investigating" the bad behavior of Tony Bernazard (pronounced Burn-Hazard). The stalling is what's galling - what's there to investigate: Burn-Hazard has gone over the deep-end and needs dismissal or confinement to Bellevue.

Most sane, well-run organizations would have made this decision sooner: GM's, Assistant GM's, other front office personnel have been fired for much less. So what's the hold-up?

When Omar Minaya was first hired as GM we were told he would have absolute control over all baseball decisions. Since Bernazard reports directly to Omar (at least according to the organizational flow-chart), the only delay is how quickly Minaya can draw up the papers. Minaya, if nothing else, is very loyal, especially to players he acquired and his personnel. However, he is loyal to a fault: he thinks everyone he's ever shaken hands with is his friend, and forgets to check the other hand for a dagger.

If this is Minaya's call, then he is a fool for not dismissing Bernazard, who appears to covet Minaya's job. We know it is TB's actions which forced Minaya's hand in Willie Randolph's firing, which based upon the foot dragging, was a task O wasn't all for.

It's also possible that O doesn't have all the power we think he has. His performance in the brief news conference, where an obviously uncomfortable Minaya said "We're investigating..." more than a dozen times in about 2 minutes, shows that the decision isn't his.

Why push Omar out to say nothing, if he cannot make the call here?

This decision then rests squarely on the shoulders of the Wilpons, who have been extremely silent throughout this season. In fact, it is this silence which speaks louder than words.

If they pushed Omar out there to face the music in their stead, shame on them. At least Dave Howard or Jay Horowitz should have been available for (no) comment, instead of Minaya.

The fish rots from the head. The head in 2002 and today is the Wilpons, and it is they who are ultimately responsible for this franchise. Their (in)actions since taking sole control from Nelson Doubleday reflect badly upon them. If they don't know what they are doing, turn over operations to those that do. Omar has made missteps and miscalculations going into this season (which I'll blog about later) but he can overcome them. Either give Omar Minaya the power or put him out of his misery.

Category: MLB
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