Before the season started, Joeadig and I had a point/counterpoint on the Mets front office, specifically Omar Minaya. I probably came off as more of an Omar Minaya fan than I truly am, more because I felt that Joeadig was leveling some unfair accusations towards Omar. Signing Carlos Beltran and trading for Johan Santana were both two absolutely huge moves made by Omar, for which he deserves praise, and I felt that Joe was overlooking them while making a larger point that I do agree with, that Omar Minaya has done a pretty terrible job at building a championship baseball team given the great core that the Mets possess, two of which were players directly acquired by Omar himself.
Now we are almost three months into the season, and it’s become clear that for a third straight season, this team is woefully ill-equipped to make the postseason, despite once again having a terrific core of players to build this team around. What’s more, the disease isn’t limited to the front office. The field manager and his staff have done a terrible job running the day to day operations of the team. The medical and training staff appear to be showing a blatant disregard for the players for which they are so handsomely paid to attend. Nothing appears to be running the way a smart baseball team operates.
The most recent, and perhaps the best example, revolves Carlos Beltran. Beltran is having another wonderful season; there is no player, perhaps no two players who could replace his combination of excellent defense and superb offense. With Jose Reyes, Carlos Delgado, John Maine, Oliver Perez, and JJ Putz all on the disabled list, and all players that this team could ill afford to lose to begin with, Beltran ranks as a precious commodity. Without Beltran, this team is royally screwed, even if all of those guys came back tomorrow.
Yet Beltran is hurting. Read this quote from yesterday:
“I don’t feel I can play a lot of games the way it felt today. I’m a little bit worried, to be honest.”
Yet Beltran was allowed to take the field yesterday. Does that sound like a guy who should be allowed to play? I mean, this could be Luis Castillo and I’d still say that is a pretty reckless thing to do. But this is Carlos Beltran; we need Beltran to remain healthy if this team is going to do anything this season. Yet the field manager somehow thought that one game against the Tampa Bay Rays was worth risking the team’s first or second best everyday player, on advice of a training staff that has already proven itself woefully inept at what they do, and nobody from the front office bothered to say “Whoa, wait a minute – this guy is scheduled for an MRI on Monday, maybe we should have him sit this one out.”
The handling of Beltran was just another misstep by this franchise this season. JJ Putz was clearly not his best; Dave Cameron from Fangraphs speculated this back in late-April based on looking at his average fastball and strikeout rates. Yet the team didn’t think then to investigate if Putz was truly injured, kept running him out there for a month, during which he gave the Mets several ineffective innings of relief, and only shut him down a few weeks ago for him to have surgery. Dave Cameron is a baseball writer for a pretty good stats website; he is not a member of the Mets front office, and does not follow the team on a daily basis. If he was able to figure out in late-April that something is wrong with JJ Putz, why did it take the team a full month for them to figure this out?
Then there are the other issues, such as the length of time it took the team to put Carlos Delgado and Jose Reyes on the disabled list, during a West Coast road trip, leaving the bench way too thin. There was the DFA of Darren O’Day, who has since taken his power sinker to Texas, where he has a 1.23 ERA and 0.91 WHIP for the Rangers, while the Mets continue to stretch their bullpen arms too thin. The bench actually looked good until Reyes and Delgado got hurt, where it was exposed that Triple-A Buffalo is secretly a barren wasteland of suck. The team is currently getting below league average production at catcher, first base, second base, and right field on a daily basis, and Alex Cora really isn’t any great shakes at shortstop either.
It has become apparent that the Wilpons made a mistake similar to the one that Omar Minaya seems to make all the time; they gave him about one too many years on his latest contract extension. I agreed that he had probably done enough to deserve an extension, but not a four year extension; they probably should have only extended him 2-3 years. Now they are stuck with Omar for at least another season, probably two, and while they might be willing to eat Jerry’s last year after the season (should they even see fit to fire him, and I’m not convinced that they will be), they will not be willing to eat 3 years of Omar Minaya’s contract as well as one year of Jerry’s.
As we get further and further from 2006, it becomes apparent that Omar Minaya really just got lucky that year with some of his smaller moves, rather than acquiring guys like Chad Bradford, Darren Oliver, and Endy Chavez through a smart process. Minaya just is not capable of building a great baseball team, even given a tremendous core with which to work in the Wright/Reyes/Beltran/Santana nucleus.
What I’d like to see out of the Wilpons after the season is just a wholesale cleansing of this team, from the front office to the training staff to the field management staff. Other than Howard Johnson, I don’t think I can name a single member of those groups whom I would like to see keep their job after this disaster. Let a new front office come in, figure out how to ship Luis Castillo out of town no matter what they have to do to get it done, figure out that Ryan Church is not more than a good platoon player despite a strong arm in right field, figure out what exactly is the best use of Daniel Murphy, and figure out how to build a good championship support group around the core.
They need to figure out that between Oliver Perez, Mike Pelfrey, and John Maine, they really have 3 #4 starters, and that the team needs a stronger pitcher behind Johan Santana. They need figure out that sending Livan Hernandez out to pitch every fifth day is not very smart, even if he has gotten insanely lucky so far. They need to figure out that using Bobby Parnell and Pedro Feliciano every day is not a good way to keep them fresh through the end of the season, let alone the end of June. This is a team that has so much to figure out, and the people making those decisions right now are woefully ill-equipped to make figure these decisions out.