Archive for the ‘Jerry Manuel’ Category

Jerry Manuel is a liar

Friday, February 18th, 2011

Manuel responded on television, saying,  “We allowed the fewest baserunners and then threw out the most base runners. So there you go, Ozzie. But what you got to do Ozzie, you got to teach me how to tweet so I can get back to you. You don’t have to put me on blast.’’

David Lennon, Newsday

Leave it to Jerry Manuel to pull this website out of retirement.

Let’s start with the obvious: if the New York Mets had allowed the fewest baserunners in baseball AND threw out the most base runners, I don’t think Jerry Manuel would currently be an analyst for MLB Network. It’s also safe to assume that Sandy Alderson would still be working in the MLB front offices, the Mets would be the defending World Series champions, and would be generating so much money, Fred Wilpon wouldn’t have to explore selling the team because he’d be making a mint off of ticket sales and merchandise right now. Right off the bat, this one doesn’t come close to passing the smell test.

And of course, Jerry Manuel is wrong. The Mets did not, in fact, allow the fewest baserunners in baseball last year, or any year in which he was the manager. Take a look at the tables below. First, we’ll start with the 2008 Mets.

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Tangents

Monday, July 26th, 2010

I have no coherent thoughts about the team these days, so here is a collection of incoherent thoughts.

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Why is Gary Matthews Jr playing over Angel Pagan?

Friday, April 9th, 2010

I have made no secret of my dislike of the current Mets management team.  Omar Minaya and his front office did not make the necessary bright moves to make this team better for the upcoming season.  By giving an epic dumbass like Jerry Manuel so little help before the season starts, Omar is basically daring Jerry to make horrible decisions that result in poor results.  In order for Jerry to be good at his job, he needs stability; open competitions in spring training will almost guarantee that Jerry makes the worst possible decision that negatively affects the Mets’ short-term and long-term goals of playing meaningful games in September.  It’s like giving a monkey a gun; sure, you blame the monkey when he kills innocent bystanders, but the man who gave the monkey the gun deserves some blame too, right?

Much has been said about the Mets’ opening day lineup.  Here is a table of the top 10 worst position players in baseball last season by WAR, minimum 300 plate appearances:

Player WAR
Yuniesky Betancourt -2.2
Jose Guillen -1.9
Delmon Young -1.3
Aubrey Huff -1.0
Garrett Anderson -0.9
Gary Matthews Jr -0.8
Alfonso Soriano -0.7
Ronny Cedeno -0.6
Chris Davis -0.6
Mike Jacobs -0.6

Yes, two of the top ten worst players in baseball last year were players identified by Omar Minaya as players he should acquire to help bolster the 2010 New York Mets.  That’s pretty remarkable.  Even on a scouting level, I can’t imagine anybody watched Jacobs and Matthews last year and identified them as players worth acquiring, let alone starting, for the 2010 season.  Give Omar some sort anti-award for blatantly ignoring even the most basic of statistics and going with his gut and acquiring two of the very worst players in baseball from last season anyway.

It’s bad enough to acquire these guys; it’s another matter all together to be starting them over players who out-performed them last year.  Let’s focus on Gary Matthews Jr. for now, I’ll get to the Mike Jacobs/Chris Carter disaster another time.  Angel Pagan threw up a .306/.350/.487/.837 slash line last year, good for 2.8 WAR, or 3.7 more WAR than Gary Matthews Jr produced last season.  Is Pagan likely to repeat that sort of production?  Probably not, but he would have to regress pretty heavily to come close to being as bad as Matthews was last year.  Add in that he’s a younger player, and a much better defensive player, and the choice should be pretty obvious; Pagan should be starting, Matthews should be on the bench.

Yet after three games, Matthews has earned two starts and will likely earn more in the future.  The reasoning is stupid; Jerry believes Pagan is a top of the order player, and thus is utterly incapable of batting lower in the lineup when Alex Cora bats leadoff*.  Of course, Angel Pagan’s isolated slugging last year was .181, and Gary Matthews Jr’s was .111, and Pagan had two more homers, three more doubles, and eight more triples than Matthews last year, so I’m not really sure what Manuel’s point is here, other than “I don’t understand the game of baseball or how to identify a good player from a very, very bad one.”

* Which is crazy enough as it is; Cora’s career OBP is .313, his OBP last year was .320, and he’s not typically known as a fast player, so by any reasonable idea of what a leadoff hitter should be, Cora fails .

This problem figures to be worsened by the return of Jose Reyes in the lineup.  Reyes is, of course, a much, much, much better player than Alex Cora (who would rank 26th on that list above of “Worst Players in Baseball by WAR in 2009″), so overall, the lineup itself will be better.  But it will still be far from optimal, as Pagan will be sitting in favor of Matthews, with Reyes and Castillo holding down the top of the order.  Without an open position at the top of the lineup, Manuel will likely continue to sit Pagan, and the team will suffer for it.

This is why Jerry Manuel cannot be trusted to make any decisions.  This isn’t even a tough decision; Pagan was one of the Mets’ pleasant surprises last season, a player who by the end of the season, was one of the team’s most valuable position players.  Gary Matthews Jr was one of the worst players in all of baseball.  Yet Matthews has a name, and he was good enough at one point in his career to become grossly, grossly overpaid, and he made that one catch at an All Star Game, so he must be better than ordinary ol’ Angel Pagan!  It’s this type of decision-making, that starts at the front office level and permeates into the field manager level, that will doom Mets fans from seeing playoff calibre baseball in Queens as long as guys like Minaya and Manuel run the ballclub.

The Mets Didn’t Figure

Thursday, April 8th, 2010

Carried away with Nelson Figueora’s background story and his desire to play for a team he rooted for, Mets fans and bloggers have been quick to overstate the impact of his DFA. Heath Bell 2.0, he’s not. Rather, Nelson is a fringe-average starter, who mixes an assortment of off-speed pitches with an 87 mile per hour fastball. Simply put a finesse pitcher who’s had more stops than the local ‘7’ train is hardly indispensable.

One could reasonably argue – though completely in vain – that Figueroa would be the third best pitcher on the Mets. Reality is that John Maine and Ollie Perez are making over $15 million this season to start games. Ryota Igarashi possesses a good splitter, Hisa Takahashi is left-handed and throws strikes and Fernando Nieve is younger and equipped with better stuff. The Mets preferring these pitchers is understandable, albeit a bit misguided.

What’s difficult to understand is how the Mets made it possible for Figueroa to go to a team they have designs on competing with – the Philadelphia Phillies. It’s clear that the Mets brain trust never intended to carry him on the 25-man roster, as evidenced by his inclusion in minor league spring games and various beat writer accounts throughout March. Management was content to place Nelson on waivers in hopes he’d slip through; however, his intentions were made clear: he would play in Japan before suffering another season in Buffalo.

So, why not attempt to deal him some place far away? With pitching attrition and uncertainty abound, Figueroa would’ve garnered interest from other clubs (he didn’t even make it out of NL waivers amidst roster crunch time). Hell, the Royals claimed Luis Mendoza and he’s barely AAA caliber.

This isn’t a replacement level pitcher. Figueroa’s average projection (see below) is a 4.45 FIP, which extrapolated over 150 innings, is worth 1.6 wins above replacement. Compare that with ~5.00 FIP projection for Phillies fifth starter  Jamie Moyer. Figgy supplanting Jamie Moyer would be a +1 win improvement (and +0.5 over Kyle Kendrick). In other words, Omar Minaya and Jerry Manuel have done more to improve to Phillies than the Mets in 2010.

This brand of slipshod roster management is a patent of this regime. It’s the only intellectual property they own.

Nelson Figueroa IP FIP
2009 Season 70.1 4.31
2010 Bill James 53 4.42
2010 CHONE 155 4.38
2010 Marcel 83 4.47
2010 ZIPS 131.7 4.54
Average Projection   4.45
Jamie Moyer IP FIP
2009 Season 162 5.06
2010 Bill James 154 4.75
2010 CHONE 165 5.14
2010 Marcel 158 4.93
2010 ZIPS 173 4.98
Average Projection   4.95
Kyle Kendrick IP FIP
2009 Season 26.1 3.59
2010 Bill James 47 4.8
2010 CHONE 167 4.96
2010 Marcel 81 4.71
2010 ZIPS 173 4.82
Average Projection   4.77

Jerry Manuel’s short-term future should not outweigh the Mets’ long-term future

Friday, March 19th, 2010

In a word: desperation.  We are seeing it right now.  Both of them know that the Mets can’t have another year like they had last year, or else they are both gone.  At the same time, ownership did not give Minaya the keys to go out and drastically overspend on the free agent market.  In many ways, that was a good thing; it prevented the team from signing Bengie Molina, for one, and the team did not go crazy trading prospects for short-term solutions.  In many ways, it was also a bad thing; the starting rotation is perilously thin, and it led to the team bringing back Alex Cora as “the devil they know” rather than pursuing a better middle infield reserve like Felipe Lopez and Adam Everett, both of whom signed with teams for less money than the Mets will pay Cora.  It seems silly that the team would not pursue a better reserve shortstop with Jose Reyes coming off of injury, but that’s the New York Mets for you; such incompetence is sadly expected at this point, and will remain that way until Minaya and Manuel are gone.

Ironically, one area of the team where the Mets are not particularly undermanned is the bullpen.  Between Frankie, Feliciano, Igarashi, Calero, Parnell, Green, Nieve (assuming Niese wins the 5th starter job), Takahashi, and Figueroa, somewhere in there is a pretty good seven man bullpen.  They have enough internal candidates already to where a young, promising arm like Jenrry Mejia should only be concerned with going to Double-A (not even Triple-A) to master control of his secondary pitches, work on command, and keep stretched out as a starter to hopefully benefit the big league Mets, at the earliest, in the second half of 2011.

The middle infield is an area of a little bit more concern, though no thanks to the fools in charge.  Thanks to Alex Cora being retained as the middle infield reserve due to his great leadership abilities, (another good reason to fire Manuel; they value his leadership so little that they employ a player to help lead the team) the team doesn’t have a backup shortstop that they actually trust to start everyday should their starter, the great Jose Reyes, find himself injured.  Considering that Reyes was coming off of a severe hamstring injury in 2009, you would think that they would make it a priority to have a middle infield reserve that they trust should he miss time.  As it turns out, the hamstring isn’t a problem, but Reyes is suffering from a thyroid condition that will keep him out of action for the first month or two of the season. 

Since the team doesn’t actually trust Alex Cora, 20 year old prospect Ruben Tejada now seems likely to make the team.  While Tejada will almost surely be a huge defensive improvement over Alex Cora at shortstop, he will give a lot of that improvement back with his inability to handle major league pitching.  This is a guy who is only a year removed from a .229/.293/.296 line in Single-A, and while that may be an improvement over some of the reserve shortstops we saw with Reyes out last year, that is still in no way major league-ready.  It would be nice to see Tejada master the International League before being promoted to the major leagues, just to make sure that 2009 wasn’t a BABIP-inflated fluke.

Yet because Omar Minaya and Jerry Manuel need to save their jobs, they need a success story or two, to hide their many failures.  That is what Mejia and Tejada represent; a chance for them to show that the farm system is producing players, that they can work within the restrictions that the Wilpon family has put on them.  They have nothing to lose; if Mejia and Tejada succeed, Minaya and Manuel look like geniuses for a minute or two.  If they fail, hey, Minaya and Manuel are likely getting fired at some point before October of 2010 anyway, so what do they lose?

It’s not as grievous a mistake with Tejada as it is with Mejia.  At least with Tejada, we can assume his stay in the majors will be short, only long enough for Reyes to return from the disabled list, assuming Cora doesn’t suffer some grizzly thumb-related injury before that can happen.  Whenever Reyes is back from injury, Tejada will be sent back to Buffalo after finding himself completely and totally overmatched offensively in the majors, even if he represents a huge upgrade defensively from Cora.  It’s still an ill-advised decision, and proof that this team has absolutely no idea how to build organizational depth (Russ Adams is 4th on the organizational depth chart solely as a token ex-major leaguer to appease the Bisons front office, not because he’s somebody the major league team would ever consider bringing up), but somewhat justifiable.  Playing in the majors for 2-4 weeks shouldn’t hinder his development.

Bringing Mejia to the majors as a reliever this soon, however, that is borderline malpractice.  Mejia can probably hold his own for a little while in the majors.  He may even be preferable to keep around over players like Bobby Parnell or Sean Green.  I don’t need to go into too much detail as to why, as dozens have done so before me.  The key point is, Mejia’s ceiling is too high to waste in a role where he won’t be forced to work on his secondary offerings, and he should only be used in the bullpen when he proves completely incapable of becoming a starting pitcher.  We may not know what he will become, but limiting his ceiling this early in his development is the work of desperate men.

And that’s the problem with keeping Manuel and Minaya around when management has a pretty good idea that they probably aren’t long-term solutions for the role.  Much like Omar Minaya has proven unable to handle sunk costs like Luis Castillo, so too have the Wilpons shown an inability to handle sunk costs like Jerry Manuel and Omar Minaya.  Clearly, by the restrictions Omar had in free agency this offseason, they don’t view him as a long-term solution, so limiting his ability to do long-term harm in free agency was a wise move.  But he can still do long-term harm without making a single move by being trusted with minor league promotions when, in reality, the progression of minor leaguers are only important to him if the team wins and he can retain his job. 

The problem is even worse with Manuel; he keeps pushing for the team to promote Mejia because if Mejia’s ETA isn’t until mid-2011 at the earliest, Mejia can’t help him if the team sucks again this year.  But he sees that electric fastball, which is definitely major league ready, and that he can get batters out in a relief role once or twice around the league.  Considering that the bullpen has remained an issue for this team dating back to before Manuel was even the manager, Manuel needs every advantage he can find to retain his job.  The problem has become that, in the case of Mejia, Manuel’s short-term job security should not outweigh Mejia’s long-term potential, without even factoring in how much better this team would be if Manuel did get fired.  Yet that seems to be what’s happening.

The outside forces, the same outside forces that told Omar Minaya “Thou shalt not offer Bengie Molina a two year contract” need to step in here.  They need to recognize that Mejia is not ready for the majors, and that he needs far more developmental time than he is being given.  They need to see that Minaya and Manuel are only promoting him in a last-ditch effort to save their jobs, that the team’s future outweighs theirs, and they need to put a halt to the overpromotion game.  Supposedly, Tony Bernazard’s firing meant the end of prospects being promoted well before they were ready, but clearly, that’s not the case.  The 2010 Mets are a team built on desperation, but for once, can they show some caution here?

The 2009 New York Mets – It Was All Luis Alicea’s Fault!

Monday, October 5th, 2009

That’s the message sent by Omar Minaya and Jerry Manuel today, as the team will fire Alicea and Sandy Alomar Sr, while the rest of the team’s coaching staff will return.  Razor Shines and Sandy Alomar Jr will likely inherit the first base coach and bench coach jobs and the team will likely look to find new men to fill the third base coach and catching instructor roles.

It should come as no surprise that the team is going to retain Jerry Manuel for another year.  While he is neither a good instructor, nor a good in-game tactician, nor is he good at relating to his players (as Ryan Church can attest), nor is he good at keeping the team from quitting on him, and nor does he make a substantial sum of money…actually, I don’t know why the Mets are retaining Manuel.  I guess it’s just easier to keep him than have to fire him and go through the trouble of finding somebody else?  Especially when somebody else (like Mets blogosphere favorite Bobby Valentine) could command up to $4 million.

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I am sick and tired of Jerry Manuel, part 2

Monday, September 28th, 2009

I have probably complained about Jerry Manuel enough this season.  Anybody who reads this blog should already know I don’t like him, and think he’s a terrible manager.  I probably should move on.  But here’s an example of why I don’t, involving one of my other causes since the All Star break:

You’re Jerry Manuel.  You are manager of the New York Mets, and you probably aren’t feeling too much pressure to win at this point.  After all, the team has clinched 4th place, it is one loss away from 90 for the season, and next year’s first round draft pick will be protected from free agency.  These last few games, there is literally nothing to play for, other than development of players for next year and perhaps a few moral victories from players who have struggled in some way, be it with a lack of power (David Wright) or injuries (Carlos Beltran).  Plus, you can assume that management will not fire you because they will not want to pay two managers in 2010.

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I am sick and tired of Jerry Manuel

Friday, September 25th, 2009

Coming into the 2009 season, I felt pretty good about Jerry Manuel as manager of the Mets.  He had an impossible job to handle at the end of 2008, handling the disastrous Mets bullpen, and seemed to do as good a job as one man can do handling that pit.  He tried to minimize platoon situations as much as possible.  He went with the hot hand at closer.  He tried to piece together the best with what he was given, and he seemed to do as good a job as anybody could do in that situation.

I would also be lying if I didn’t say that the man was an engaging post-game interview.  Following the days of Willie Randolph monotonously saying one tired cliche after another, Jerry seemed like a welcome change, with his infectious chuckle and animated, lively presence in trying to piece together what went wrong that night.  He also proved himself to be a leader who wouldn’t be bullied, when he benched Jose Reyes during his first day in the job after Reyes came up lame running out a grounder.  He seemed to be the answer the Mets were looking for, and I was actually happy to have him around.

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Enough of the bunting!

Wednesday, May 6th, 2009

I have never really hidden my dislike of Willie Randolph here on this site.  I was not a fan of his moves, particularly his bullpen decisions, which often seemed ill thought out and not creative.  He was also an amazingly dull postgame press conference, with one tired cliche after another, contempt for anybody who dare question his questionable baseball decisions, and an undeserved arrogance.  He hated playing rookies, and probably deserves a lion’s share of the blame that led to Heath Bell being given away after the 2006 season.  I thought he should have been fired after 2007, and was vindicated when he struggled so mightily to start the 2008 season, with the team taking off immediately after he was fired.  Good riddance. 

I welcomed the change to Jerry Manuel.  His postgame press conferences were entertaining, and he rarely seemed to make the wrong decision in games.  Sure, the bullpen didn’t work any better for him than it did for Willie, but he did the best with what he had, and he had nothing.  Daniel Murphy and Nick Evans were given the chance to shine, where they would have been buried by Willie.  It was a looser atmosphere, a better atmosphere, and I felt that a presense like Jerry Manuel made Mets games more fun to watch in a purely non-baseball sense.

That said, the American Gangsta has been making decisions that have been driving me crazy as of late.  The most egregious example is his love of the bunt.  Despite what you have been taught to believe, bunting is bad baseball.  Sure, it makes sense for pitchers to sacrifice; they probably aren’t going to get on base anyway, so the sacrifice bunt sort of makes sense.  And sacrificing as the home team in the 9th inning or later of tie games also makes sense, since you’re only playing for one run; moving the runner to second base and hoping one of your next two hitters can get a single is good baseball.

But sacrificing with position players in the top of the ninth of a one run game?  That is not good baseball.  If you play to score one run, you will only score one run.  Last night was a perfect example.  In the 9th inning, on the road, the Mets had a one run lead and Jose Reyes was on first with a single, with Murphy coming up to bat.  What sense does it make to take the bat out of the hands of Daniel Murphy, a guy who is pretty clearly only on the major league team right now because of his ability to hit?  Wouldn’t you rather try to have him advance the runner on a single, or even score Reyes from first with a nicely placed double?  Even a walk puts two on and nobody out.  Why give up the out there?  Outs are the most precious commodity in baseball; as long as you have outs, you have a chance to score.  To give up an out in that spot makes no sense.

And don’t let the outcome fool you into thinking it was the right decision.  If anything, the outcome proves my point.  Chipper Jones had Jose Reyes dead to rights at second base; the sacrifice attempt had failed.  The Mets were bailed out by Chipper throwing the ball away, and then by Yunel Escobar deciding not to cover second after the throw sailed into the outfield.  The outcome was Murphy and Reyes standing on second and third with nobody out, the same outcome that could have been achieved by not taking the bat out of Murphy’s hand and letting him hit there.  Nine times out of ten, the fielder makes that play cleanly and the batter is out.  It was pure luck that Reyes and Murphy were both safe on that play, and it turned out to be doubly lucky for the Mets, as they needed both Reyes and Murphy to score in order to win the ballgame.

My problem with bunting with position players in this spot (and I’m not harping on something that has only happened one time; Manuel has called for the bunt with every position player not named Wright, Beltran, and Delgado this year) is run expectation.  Take a look at this run expectation chart.  Looking at 2008 stats, a team with a runner on first and no outs would be expected to score roughly 0.90024 runs in that inning.  A runner on second and one out would be expected to score roughly 0.69465.  A sacrifice bunt COSTS teams runs, because the fewer outs a team has, the more likely a team is to score.  By giving away an out, a team is making it less likely to score, even with the runner being 180 feet from home plate instead of 270 feet.  A runner on first with no outs is more valuable than a runner on second with one out; teams should be looking for ways to not make outs in that spot, rather than giving them away.

The Mets were ready, willing, and able to give away their chances of having a big inning in the top of the ninth so that they could maybe score one run.  After the disaster that was the bottom of the ninth, this could have cost the Mets the game.  Mets fans may not particularly like Chipper Jones, but they should make sure to thank him for winning this game for the Mets with his error (although, it doesn’t make up for the dozens of times he has beaten them). 

As for Jerry Manuel, the bunting is starting to sour me on him.  He’s still an engaging personality, and he seems to get the bullpen better than Willie, but as long as he’s bunting with position players who should be allowed to handle the bat, that is going to drive me crazy.  Daniel Murphy is in the major leagues literally for no other reason than his bat.  If you are relegating him to a pitcher in that instance, what purpose does he serve?  Let these guys hit!