The word itself makes us think of frogs, and science class in the movies (E.T., anyone?). For my older readers, you actually experienced the dissections. No matter what age and perspective, we all know that the frog gets taken apart in the end. Destroyed.
So is that what I'm going to do to Omar Minaya and Jerry Manuel here? Rip them apart? Destroy them?
I'm sure many Mets fans would love for me to do that. My loyal readers are surely expecting me to do that.
But I'm not sure I will. It's funny how a perspective can change in the face of disaster.
Now this isn't a real disaster, like an earthquake or a terrorist attack, but what has happened to the New York Mets this season is a true baseball disaster. And baseball means an awful lot to millions of people. Passionate Mets fans are steaming right now, throughout New York, and scattered across the country.
And what they all want to do, myself included, is blame. Blame someone. Blame something, for the wheels that have fallen off this once-respectable sports car.
So, the question is...
Who deserves the blame? Is it any one person...is it everyone? Should we blame our parents for steering us in the direction of the Mets?
Maybe we should. But I'm not sure that I can blame Omar Minaya.
Here's the thing about Omar: he's really not that intelligent. If you've ever listened to an interview or press conference of his, you were surely cringing at one point. Now, he's not dumb. Occasionally his responses are articulate and seem to make sense, but other times they are complete and utter babble. Babble reflecting no thought process, no logic. Don't take this the wrong way, but often times when I listen to him I think, "I could do a superior job answering that question. I'd at least sound better."
I wouldn't be surprised if you felt the same way at times.
But, and this is a huge BUT, Omar has collected some serious talent on this Mets roster. The core -- Carlos Beltran, David Wright, Jose Reyes, Carlos Delgado, Johan Santana, and Francisco Rodriguez -- is as strong, or stronger than any other team in the National League.
Everyone seems to be complaining about the Mets' "lack of depth," and subsequently blaming that lack of depth on Minaya, but is that shallowness really there? Look closely...
If the Mets were healthy they'd have Delgado, Castillo, Reyes, Wright, Schneider, Francoeur, Beltran, and Sheffield out there. That's a nice lookin' team. That means the bench would be Daniel Murphy, Alex Cora, Fernando Tatis, Angel Pagan, and Omir Santos.
That's a strong bench. A bench that has youthful players like Murphy, Pagan, and Santos, and flexible veterans in Cora and Tatis.
But with the injuries, these guys have been forced into regular roles. Now they're the starters, and third-string players are on the bench. And when you have bench players starting, it doesn't take long for them to perform to the level of projection. There's a reason why they are bench players in the first place -- often their production suffers over an extended period of play. So when the bench players suffer as starters, then the third-stringers get their opportunity.
And that's exactly what has happened to the Mets this year.
So let me get this straight, the people who are blaming Minaya for the lack of depth, does that mean they are expecting the second-and-third stringers to produce on a regular basis?
Isn't that an unfair expectation?
As I said earlier, Omar Minaya isn't the most intelligent man (in general), but he's made some quality moves as general manager. Yes, a little bit of a pun there. But really, the long-term deals to Wright and Reyes were more than affordable. Great values there. Baseball Prospectus called the Carlos Beltran deal one of the best long-term deals ever negotiated by a GM. He turned Phillip Humber and Carlos Gomez into Johan Santana -- a small miracle.
And what about the quiet pick-ups? The steals, so to speak:
Pedro Feliciano isn't making much, and he's one of the most valuable relief pitchers in all of baseball. A true workhorse, willing to pitch every day, and able to stay off the disabled list. Most left-handed hitters are totally baffled by him.
Then there's Sean Green, who after a slow start, has proven to be a quality right-handed reliever with a unique style. He was a throw-in in the Putz deal, as Aaron Heilman and Endy Chavez went the other way. No worries there.
Livan Hernandez's stuff is gone, but he's given the Mets innings, durability, and little intelligence. A player who actually has to think, to win.
Fernando Nieve became our second-best starting pitcher, coming off the Houston Astros' scrap heap.
Brian Stokes. Omir Santos. Alex Cora. Angel Pagan.
These players would all be useful in the roles that they are supposed to play. Virtually all of them have been forced to play more than expected.
But one thing I've learned about life, is that it's never "all good." And it certainly isn't "all good" for Omar.
Oliver Perez over Derek Lowe. Tim Redding. I like Luis Castillo's attitude and commitment to the game, but the money he received from Minaya is out of this world. Outlandish. Our farm system is far from impressive. And of course...
Re-signing Jerry Manuel to a two-year deal. Oh Jerry. There's a big mistake for Omar.
Or was it?
For the past two seasons I've been dissecting Manuel's every move, and one thing is clear:
He's a terrible in-game manager. Just horrendous. There's really no denying it. Specific decisions of his have spawned so much rage in me that I feverishly posted about them. (Check out those links). I was even motivated to create a Facebook group, simply titled Fire Jerry Manuel!
Funny how it has picked up steam in the past couple weeks. No one was on board at the beginning, when we were actually playing well. I foresaw the disaster, and no one wanted to believe me.
But the funniest thing happened yesterday. I was listening to Jerry interview with Mike Francesa on WFAN radio in New York, and I started to feel bad for him. I texted my friend to let him know that I was feeling bad for Manuel, and he ignored me. Later, when I saw him, he said, "I turned off my phone when I saw that. I'll have none of that."
I guess he wasn't feeling bad for Jerry.
But Jerry keeps his sense of humor. That has nothing to do with baseball, and it doesn't change the fact that he's a pretty awful manager, but that's an amazing thing about Jerry Manuel...the man. Not the manager...the man.
This is why he and Omar are a match made in heaven: Omar's not too bright, but he makes some savvy baseball moves; Jerry, on the other hand, is a pretty intelligent man (thoughtful, at least), but he can't seem to do anything right when it comes to baseball. Put it together, and what do we have?
A mess, I guess.
But if Omar and Jerry had performed differently this season, changed some things, would it really have saved this team from the downward spiral that continues its rapid descent? If we had known Reyes and Delgado would have been out this long before the season, would we still expect playoff-caliber performance?
Now throw Beltran into that mix. Him out too? Would we be expecting much better than the 44-50 record that we currently have?
Should we expect better than that?
Honestly, I don't think so.
And there's another factor: ownership. The Wilpons got involved with Bernie Madoff, and as a result, their organization couldn't make a splash during the offseason. As a result, the organization had to talk up Daniel Murphy as if he were the next Pete Rose. As a result, now, we can't trade for Roy Halladay.
Omar Minaya turned down an offer from J.P. Ricciardi, one that asked for Fernando Martinez, Jon Niese, Bobby Parnell, and a highly-touted 17-year old prospect. Do you really think the Mets would have turned down Roy Halladay, the best pitcher in baseball, for personnel reasons? Because they didn't want to part with Fernando Martinez and Jon Niese? For the best pitcher in baseball?
Well, this time, I'm going to give Omar the benefit of the doubt. I'm going to assume that he realizes that Halladay is exactly what we need, looking ahead to next season. And I'm going to assume that the only reason he didn't pull the trigger, is money. And then we can blame Madoff, and the Wilpons.
Ah. "Blame" -- there's that word again.
So what really happened here? Did I tear Manuel and Minaya apart? How about the Wilpons? What's the answer? What's the solution?
The answer is...
There is no answer. That's always the case in life, and baseball.
(The Red Sox are the new Yankees. How did they make the transition? "JFro," aka John Frascella, is the author of "Theo-logy: How a Boy Wonder Led the Red Sox to the Promised Land." It's the first full-length book centered on Boston Red Sox's popular general manager Theo Epstein. Preview or purchase it online at Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble or Borders. It's currently stocked in Barnes and Noble stores throughout the U.S. Also, check out John on Twitter.)