Thursday, January 28, 2010

Jerry Manuel Inspires Confidence for The New York Mets

Okay, I have to admit something to you, the reader—the title of my article is a complete lie. I was skimming Mets news yesterday, trying to glean any interesting little nuggets that might brighten my day (on a personal note - I found nothing in the Mets news to brighten my day other than Oliver got rid of the mohawk). When I came across this interesting little piece of praise for Daniel Murphy (Emphasis Mine);

""I think Daniel Murphy can do enough that we can survive," manager Jerry Manuel said."

Holy Freakin' Cow!  Thank you so much, Coach!  You think he can do enough so we can survive?!? If that is not a vote of confidence from the Big Man, I don't know what is! (Sarcasm also mine) 

Then there is this interesting tidbit...(again emphasis mine): "He has some range at first base," Manuel said. "There are some things he can do, but I think the other pieces we have in place are going to have to perform to their offensive capabilities for us to get away with not relying solely on say what a Carlos Delgado would have brought." So if the other guys don't perform, we're screwed?  Sounds like our esteemed leader is none too excited about his offense to start the season. 

Don't get too down though, Mets fans, because our indomitable GM, Mr. Omar Minaya, is about to complete the deal of the century. The New York Mets are preparing to announce that they have signed...(drumroll please)...Fernando Tatis to platoon at 1st Base with Daniel Murphy. This signing no doubt puts to rest all of Jerry's concerns about having Murphy at first base. 

Maybe I am too much of a "Debbie Downer," and maybe I am reading way too much into his comments but this does not inspire confidence.


* Here is some positive Daniel Murphy stuff; HoJo thinks he could hit 24 Bombs this year.

* Johan is happy, Ollie is not spinning... hopefully.

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Mets need to re-tool.

In Kansas City it is often referred to as "the process," a term Dayton Moore seems to have pilfered from the scrap heap of baseball in the 2000s or as others call it...Moneyball. In most places "the process" simply refers to the implementation of strategy that a baseball team's management is using to hopefully build a winner.


It is generally accepted that there are three possible outcomes to such a situation: First, the process works and the team wins. Second, the process does not work and the team is forced to restrategize (generally the new strategy is built by a new strategizer or new GM and begins with the firing of old personnel). The third and final possibility, the front office blows right past the platform where the process begins, derails, and rides the train (of your team) into the desert night never to be heard from again. Okay, so the third possibility is mostly hyperbole—but it doesn't make it wrong (Proof? See Isaiah Thomas and Jimmy Dolan's New York Knicks).

The New York Mets have become that reckless, careening train barreling into the long good night. They are led by their fearless (or feckless) leader Omar Minaya. For, Omar to carry all of the blame for the Titanic adventure that the Mets have recently become, is not fair. Some of the blame should be shifted to the Wilpon family who have given Omar so much rope with which to hang himself. Also, can Omar be blamed for the job that Jerry Manuel has done (or not done) with the culture of this "team?" I'm not saying that this team doesn't have grit or spirit as was claimed quite often over the last three seasons...but where there is smoke...?

During his tenure as General Manager, Omar Minaya has often cited that it was his goal to build a team based on three factors: pitching, defense, and speed. This must be why the Mets pitching staff has not really changed over the last four seasons (other than the brilliant insertion of Tim Redding into the rotation), even though it has been less than stellar over the same period of time. How about that defense, Omar? About the only the Mets that have been consistent with over the past four seasons is their defense, which has been bad. David Wright has two Gold Gloves at third Base, and while I feel they were deserved, many in the baseball industry think they are a product of Wright's personality and offense. Other than Wright the only bright spot on defense has been Carlos Beltran (and occasionally Jose Reyes). The rest of the defense ranges from average to far below average, and Omar continued that trend this off-season with the pickup of Jason Bay and now Gary Matthews, Jr.

The only place that Omar has been able to back up his rhetoric is with speed, the Mets have generally been the class of base stealing in the MLB over the last four years. So Omar is batting 1 for 3—a.333 batting average, which while a good percentage at the plate, not so much in the front office.

It is clear from the team's recent history that Omar and his staff have lost sight of "the plan," and have been driving this train by the seat of their pants. The problem is that the MLB and the NY Mets are not a video game, and there is no "reset" button...a team that does not stick to the plan ends up falling apart. Pitching, speed, and defense may very well be the way to win but that is not the kind of team the Mets are currently fielding.  The "process"...the "plan", has been forgotten, and Omar Minaya is now Moses leading Mets Nation through a desert without a map.

It is my belief that the time has come to retool the New York Mets. It means biting the bullet and planning for a down year or two, with a bright eye to the near future of our beloved franchise. I think the Mets could be competitive this year, but to what avail? I don't see this team being able to compete with this lack of planning over the next five to 10 years. The re-tooling has to start in the front office. Omar Minaya and his staff must be terminated. The coaching staff must also be purged—the only member of the staff that should stay on, is the one who has been the most productive, Howard Johnson. Other than HoJo every coach must go. After this, the team itself must be broken up. The only safe names should be Wright, Reyes, Beltran, Johan, Escobar, and K-Rod. This is a spectacular core and a great place for any GM,whose name is not Omar Minaya, to build from , a couple of key additions could make this team an immediate contender, but that plan is for another day. 


Is it time for Jeter to move to the OF?

The idea of moving Jeter to the outfield is a sore subject for many Yankees fans.

For those outside of Yankee fandom, the idea was in vogue going into the 2009 season—but in 2009 Captain Jeter proved most of us (his defensive naysayers) wrong. He had a stellar defensive season and, much to my chagrin, proved to still be the class of shortstop world. 

I submit that the addition of Mark Teixeira improved Jeter's defensive standing—first by the distance from the first base line that Tex plays allowing everyone in the infield to shift, and secondly by the Gold Glove standards at which Tex fields throws from his infield mates. 

Neither of these things, whether taken together or separately however, fully explain the captain's defensive renaissance. Hard work, pure talent, and a drive that does not exist in most normal mortals have to be added to the many reasons that Jeter's defense saw such vast improvement in 2009. 

All of this being said, I think now more than ever it is time to move the captain into the OF. The Yankees have cut themselves loose of Matsui and most likely Damon, and are now facing a gap in LF.

The orthodox plan is to allow Brett Gardner to fill that roster spot, likely hitting ninth and playing above average defense in LF. This is a fine inside the box option. 

But let's step outside the box for a moment. The likelihood of Jeter repeating his stellar defensive year from 2009 in 2010 is low. Also, the captain continues to age (like the rest of us), and as he ages, his skills will diminish exponentially.

The SS position is one that does not treat aging bodies well, while many of our aging greats can continue to excel playing in a less strenuous position (like LF or first base).  So why not move Jeter to LF now, while there is a semblance of an opening on the Yankees' roster at the position?

Why not move him now that the ridiculously talented Curtis Granderson is roaming CF and can cover up some of the deficiencies the captain will likely have in his first full year as an outfielder? 

Who will fill his spot at SS, you ask? Why, any number of players may be made available to the Yankees as the year progresses.

Orlando Cabrera is still a free agent, and Ramiro Pena sits on the Yankee bench. Neither player is an upgrade from Brett Gardner, but might Gardner's best role for the club not be as a roaming OF covering for Swisher, Granderson, and Jeter, as each needs the rest? 

Is the Jeter to LF idea a perfect solution? Probably not...but if Yankees fans want to keep the captain around as long as possible, he will have to make the move to LF sooner or later—and sooner may make the transition easier.