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.
Tonight, the Mets are playing the Washington Nationals, the worst team in baseball. The Nationals are starting Ross Detwiler, a 23 year old left handed pitcher making only his 13th career start. On the bench, you have a young player named “Nasty” Nick Evans. Evans probably isn’t a prospect, but there is one thing he does extremely well, and that’s hit left-handed pitching. At all levels of baseball, the one thing he has done consistently is hit left-handed pitching.
On top of that, Evans hasn’t started a game in two and a half weeks, and in that time period Evans has had exactly three plate appearances, all as a pinch hitter. Plus, you want to give Daniel Murphy, the regular first baseman, a day off. He hasn’t had one in a while and he struggles against lefties. Hey, Evans plays first base! This is as good a time as any to get the guy in the game, right?
Of course, Evans didn’t start. He didn’t get into the game at all, not as a pinch hitter, nothing. Fernando Tatis, who is likely auditioning for a minor league contract somewhere next year, got the start and played well, going 2 for 4 and drove in the only run in a 2-1 Mets loss with a double in the 6th inning that scored Carlos Beltran.
But who cares? This season is no longer about wins and losses. Would starting Evans have given the Mets a better chance to win? Probably not, but at least he wouldn’t be rotting on the bench. I’m not saying Evans is going to be a superstar. But he’s going to be a useful major league player. He is capable of giving you Fernando Tatis’ production in 2010 at a fraction of the cost. Barring a Heath Bell-esque trade, he’s going to be here next year. Fernando Tatis isn’t, or at least he shouldn’t be. Why is getting Tatis at-bats taking precedence over developing players who are going to be here beyond this week?