[WARNING: This is an extremely long post, and is only intended for die-hard Mets fans who are soul-searching after this debacle of a year.]
...Anyone can look back at a disastrous season and say they would have changed this, that, and the other thing. But it's a horse of a different color when you can predict disasters before they happen...kind of like Nostradamus.
Well, it seems that I was the Nostradamus of the New York Mets' 2009 season. I'm not afraid to say that I know more about the current state of Major League Baseball than both Omar Minaya and Jerry Manuel, so maybe I should be the general manager/on-field manager of the Mets.
Similar to the opening, anyone can boast without substantiation. I won't take the easy way out. This post will be the equivalent of talking $hit and backing it up. Check out these quotes from my blog posts, and the corresponding dates:
(1) About Jerry Manuel, from September 28, 2008. Source:
"I was at Shea today, and as soon as I looked up and saw that Schoeneweis was in the game, I told everyone I was with that our season was over. I meant it. Completely. The funny thing is, I'm 100% positive that I was far from the only Mets fan thinking that. Don't we all know that Schoeneweis is a piece of garbage??? Jerry doesn't. I'm going to throw up when he gets his contract extension. The hits just keep on comin'...OK let's get away from the most clueless manager in the game now."
Wouldn't most of us want to take back Manuel's contract extension at this point? I took it back before it was even offered to him.
(2) About Ryan Church, from September 28, 2008. Source:
"RYAN CHURCH. Is this guy kidding me?? I've never seen a "professional hitter" strike out on three consecutive pitches so often in my entire life. He doesn't even put together quality at bats; it's a combination of a lack of adjustments and a heart as big as an olive. Ryan Church is a gutless loser disguised as a ballplayer. An absolute disgrace to clutch hitters everywhere. I wouldn't mind if he was bagging groceries at Stop and Shop next year. Get him out of my face."
I gave up on Church long before the 2009 season, but it took the front office a little too long. We had to suffer through him missing third base and costing us a victory when we were still in the thick of the standings, and stranding runners in scoring position as if that were his sole purpose on this planet. The Mets' front office lucked out and got Jeff Francoeur in his place, but they never should've shown so much faith in Church to begin with. Notice that Bobby Cox barely uses him in Atlanta. He knows baseball.
(3) About our starting pitching, from January 7, 2009. Source:
"I'm afraid we've scared Derek Lowe away, and that in itself is a tragedy. On this market, Lowe is exactly what we needed: durable, consistent, a legitimate No. 2 starter on a NL team, and unshakable in the clutch. Now it appears we may be left with Oliver Perez again...My hope is that we find a way to reconnect with Lowe, and then sign Jon Garland as well. 1-Santana, 2- Lowe, 3-Pelfrey, 4-Garland, 5-Maine = much better."
Garland was dangling out there for months, yet he was seemingly never in the discussion for the Mets. Omar Minaya never mentioned him, in spite of the fact that his asking price dipped with time. I said Derek Lowe and Jon Garland, the Mets' front office said Oliver Perez and Tim Redding. Let's go to the stats...
Lowe: 15-9, 4.55 ERA, 33 games started, 190 IP, 1.48 WHIP
Perez: 3-4, 6.82 ERA, 14 games started, 66 IP, 1.92 WHIP
Hmm...I wonder who won there. Moving on...
Garland: 11-13, 4.01 ERA, 33 games started, 204 IP, 1.43 WHIP
Redding: 3-6, 5.10 ERA, 17 games started, 120 IP, 1.43 WHIP
They tied in WHIP, but it's obvious as to who won overall. In short, the Mets needed durability and consistency from their free agent pitchers, and that's what they would have had with Lowe and Garland. Hey front office...I told you so.
(4) About our outfield, from January 7, 2009. Source:
"In the outfield, I'd still love to see an upgrade over the Murphy-Tatis-Church trio in right and left field. Church in particular, really bothers me. I don't mind the platoon in left but I'd like to see a more dangerous hitter like Manny Ramirez or Adam Dunn in the other corner."
The front office thought we could get by with what we had. Opposing teams had over 100 more home runs at Citi Field than we did in 2009. Mr. Minaya, still think we have enough pop in the outfield?
(5) This part is crazy. About our incumbent starting pitchers, from March 25, 2009. Source:
"I have little-to-no faith in the middle of the Mets' starting rotation. That's Mike Pelfrey, Oliver Perez, and John Maine. People in this area (Long Island) have been talking about Pelfrey like he's the second coming of Nolan Ryan, or someone of that caliber. Can we be realistic, for once? Pelfrey has a good sinking fastball. It runs consistently in the 92-95 MPH range. Every once in awhile, he touches 97 MPH. However, when local fans and analysts talk about Pelfrey they say he's a "power arm" that "throws 98 MPH." Someone that hits 98 MPH on a faulty radar gun once every five appearances, is not a pitcher that "throws 98 MPH." He throws 93. That's his average sinking fastball velocity. In addition, Pelfrey is still essentially a one-pitch pitcher. Sure we're told by the Mets organization that he has a curve and change-up, but his curve is a disaster and he rarely ever throws his change-up. What Pelfrey truly is, is a sinkerballer whose fastball doesn't always sink. Some outings he has strictly horizontal tail on his fastball. Pelfrey has a propensity for free passes, too. Never a good habit for a pitcher that relies heavily upon a single pitch. Fall behind in the count, and they know what's coming. And yet, in spite of Pelfrey's shortcomings, he can still win 12-15 games because of the weaker nature of National League lineups. Weaker, of course, in comparison to the American League lineups. Yes Pelfrey's capable of 15 wins, but I'm thinking more like an 11-13 record with a 4.45 ERA. Just because a pitcher is young doesn't mean that they automatically improve each year."
Pelfrey's actual stats: 10-12 with a 5.03 ERA.
"The Mets will need 15-9 from Perez, and 13-10 from Maine. 16-7 would be great from Pelfrey, but I don't think we'll get any of the three. There's an immense amount of pressure upon Santana this season, at least, in my opinion."
Didn't get any of the three...did we?
(6) About Manuel and Castillo, from March 25, 2009. Source:
"Jerry Manuel is an idiot, and he has Luis Castillo penciled into the 8-spot. You can't have Brian Schneider, Castillo, and the pitcher batting 7-8-9 at the bottom of the order!!! Luis has to bat second because at least he can bunt, and hit-and-run there. That's what he does. He's a bat control offensive player."
It took Manuel wayyy too long to figure this out. He buried Castillo at the bottom of the order last year, something that takes away his strengths as an offensive player. Manuel even had Daniel Murphy in the 2-hole to begin the season, once again burying Luis in the lineup. I'm sure you're all aware of that stat SNY always shows -- it shows that the Mets are significantly more successful with Castillo batting second, and yet Manuel started us off in a rut with Luis batting eighth. And oh yea, Jerry, you idiot...Luis is your leading hitter (batting .309) this season amongst those who qualify. Suck on that.
(7) About Castillo, from April 12, 2009. Source:
"Elsewhere in tonight's contest, Luis Castillo exploded for four hits, three runs scored, and his first RBI of the season...Good for Luis. I've never been on the Castillo-bashing bandwagon in New York; instead, as the overly obnoxious Met fans scream incessant obscenities at our diminuative second baseman, I merely root harder for him to succeed. He's been a true professional throughout his lengthy and successful major league career, and it's never been his fault that his agent suckered Omar Minaya for four years and $32 million. That's simply good business on the part of Castillo's camp. My expectations for Luis have always been realistic. This is a player who is nearing the back end of his career (if he isn't already immersed in it), and his legs -- particularly his knees -- aren't what they used to be. Take away Luis' legs and you're taking 30-50 points off his batting average. If he remains in the 8-hole throughout the season (though I prefer him in the 2-hole, so Murphy can be placed in a position to drive in runs), I'll take .270 from Luis, with an OBP nearing .360. Defensively, he'll play his position to the best of his remaining physical ability. Routine plays and double-play turns should never be a problem."
See, I knew that we'd have to lower our expectations for Luis if he batted 8th, but Manuel didn't know that? He's the friggin' manager! How come I knew that months and months in advance, but it was a month into the 2009 season before Manuel made the switch? Well, it's because he has no clue what he's doing.
(8) About Dan Warthen, Ollie, and Pelf, from April 14, 2009. Source:
"Warthen's job isn't to help those guys. What the Mets' pitching coach needs to have an effect on, is the development of Mike Pelfrey, John Maine, Oliver Perez, and Bobby Parnell. Beginning with Pelfrey, he doesn't appear to be improving at all. In fact, there's little to stop me from saying that he's regressing. His numbers are unattractive after his first two starts this year, and the most alarming aspect of his struggles is his inability to think while he's pitching. Pelfrey remains a "thrower," and not a "pitcher." I blame Pelfrey himself, Warthen, and tentative catcher Brian Schneider. Schneider calls predominantly fastballs to lighten his workload behind the dish, but it's Pelfrey's responsibility to shake him off and mix in more breaking balls. Above that, it's Warthen's responsibility to make sure that Pelfrey understands what is expected of him. What should be expected of him, is to throw something other than a sinker, more than once in a blue moon. Pelfrey is so predictable it's becoming absolutely painful to watch. I don't know if he'll ever be anything more than average, unless he makes a commitment to pitching with his brain, and not solely his size and strength. Ollie Perez is regressing as well. He was an absolute train wreck in the preseason, and he followed up his embarrassing unofficial campaign with a terrible performance in his first start of the regular season. The Mets' offense provided plenty of support for Perez, who proceeded to blow two decent leads in a short period of time. He's still wild, he's still erratic, and he's still dumb. What exactly are you teaching him, Mr. Warthen? Well, I can answer that: probably less than I could teach Ollie. For starters, Ollie needs to focus primarily on first pitch strikes, and he needs to stop hanging sliders when the batter in the box hasn't proven that he can catch up to his fastball. A pitcher should never help an opposing hitter out by voluntarily pitching to his bat speed. If a guy is clearly behind your fastball then you need to pound him with it until he's proven that he can effectively time it. Obviously, Perez doesn't do that. And Warthen, Schneider and Ramon Castro aren't helping him -- not even remotely, it seems."
Umm, yea. What I said.
(9) About Daniel Murphy, from April 21, 2009. Source:
"Murphy has a decent eye, and we can all tell that he takes the game seriously and desperately wants to succeed, but he's overmatched against the better starting pitchers. Maybe his youth is the explanation, but my theory is that he's just a borderline major league player. He has a professional approach, but limited power and there's nowhere to play him defensively. Specifically, he needs to avoid getting tied up on up-and-in fastballs. Despite a supposedly keen knowledge of the strikezone, Murphy consistently hacks at (and misses) four-seam fastballs up-and-in, off the plate."
Murphy's 2009 stats: .263, 11 HRs, 61 RBI in 546 plate appearances, and 498 official at bats. Sounds like a borderline major league player to me...
(10) About David Wright, and Manuel, from April 21, 2009. Source:
"Like Reyes, Wright is out of position in "his" spot in the order. As I continue saying this, I'm reminded that Jerry Manuel -- because of his incorrectly structured batting order -- is to blame for some of the offensive struggles, too. Anyway, Wright should be fifth, behind Carlos Delgado. David was very comfortable in the 5-hole early in his career, and I think he could use a metaphorical change of scenery right now. Mechanically, Wright's an absolute mess. He needs to do all of the following: (1) Get closer to the plate because pitchers are pounding him away with backdoor two-seam fastballs and teaser sliders. (2) Keep his front shoulder closed a split second longer, so he can drive those outside pitches to the opposite field, like he used to when he first came up. (3) Shorten up his swing with two strikes and stop pretending like striking out doesn't matter, and (4) Get his bat head out quicker on fastballs early in the count. He's been late, fouling meatballs off, way too often."
Once again I was ten steps ahead of Jerry Manuel. Prior to the season I wanted Castillo second and Beltran third, and Manuel had Murphy 2 and Wright 3 instead. Only after a month of failure did he make the switch to MY lineup. Could have told him that from the outset. As for Wright, looks like he didn't make many adjustments to the mechanical flaws I noted.
I'll be honest with you --- I'm getting a headache going back through these old posts. It's sad how little Minaya and Manuel know about baseball. I can't extract quotes anymore, because my head is going to explode. I'm so upset. But PLEASE, go back and read these posts:
If you made it to this point in the post, you deserve a medal or something. Spread the word! Help me get a job in the Mets' front office, haha. Let's at least run Jerry Manuel out of town. Many, many thanks for reading.
("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.)