Jerry Manuel is going to get a contract, and going to manage the Mets next season. Why, I’m not sure, though 99% of those who follow the Mets seem to think he’s some kind of a rainmaker. That said, I’ll speak for that one percent who did not drink the Kool-Aid, and who are seeing clearly.
He’s a Nice Guy
This is the reason Manuel is coming back — because he is a genuinely nice guy, and everyone loves him. He says all the right things, takes the heat off his players, and makes people feel comfortable. That doesn’t mean he knows how to win.
As Leo Durocher once said, nice guys finish last (ironically, he said it about Gil Hodges). Or in Manuel’s case, they finish second. Jerry Manuel has been a manager 7 times — five times he finished second, once third, and once first.
To refresh everyone’s memory, Art Howe was a nice guy, too.
He’s not a very good tactical manager
This has been the crux of my complaint since the beginning of the Jerry Era — this incomprehensible judgment of Manuel as some kind of a managerial genius. He’s not, despite the wild claims by Keith Hernandez and the rest of the pom-pom carrying SNY crew. Manuel made the exact same moves — dreadfully predictable, by-the-book decisions — that Willie Randolph was crucified for.
Manuel isn’t necessarily a bad in-game manager — he’s just not particularly good. A monkey can make the moves he makes — bring in a lefty pitcher to face a lefty batter. Send in Endy Chavez for defense in the late innings. Sacrifice bunt with no outs, man on second, pitcher up. Big deal. Yet if you listen to Keith Hernandez, Manuel invented the hit-and-run. Keith’s notion that Manuel is an overly aggressive manager is particularly alarming, as if anything, he was LESS aggressive than Randolph. The Mets ran the hit-and-run less, and stole significantly less bases, after Jerry Manuel took over — check the stats, and pore over the games again. I’m not making this up.
He cannot manage a bullpen
Bullpen management is grossly misunderstood by most fans and all of the media (not surprising, since few in the media have actually played baseball at a level above little league). Bullpen management does not refer to what a manager does in one particular game. Rather, it refers to how a skipper manages his resources over the course of a 162-game season (and hopefully, beyond).
It was no surprise to me that the bullpen failed in September — yet everyone else was astonished. Manuel was managing every game for his job — pushing every arm he had available to its upper limits and beyond. You can’t use the same five or six guys every single day and expect them to perform at a high level over a full season. They’re human. They break down. They get tired. They get injured. We’ve been through this several times at this blog, so I won’t go into the details.
You can’t have it both ways
I mentioned before on this blog that I’d love to have Jerry Manuel’s job — he gets credit when they win, is devoid of fault when they lose. Manuel has been lauded for the team’s remarkable climb out of mediocrity — suggested by many as the NL Manager of the Year — yet, the players are blamed for blowing a four-game lead over the Phillies as of September 10th. You can’t have it both ways … either it was the players, or it wasn’t the players. Which is it?
And that leads us to the final point …
Something has to change
If Omar Minaya sticks to his proclamation that the “core” team would return, then you CANNOT bring back Jerry Manuel. For the second season in a row, the core team failed mightily at the end of the season, at the most critical period of the year. Is it the horse, or the jockey?
If you claim it’s not the horse, then it must be the jockey. This Mets team grossly underachieved at the beginning of the season, and Willie Randolph was blamed for it. This same team played to its potential from July through September 10th, then underachieved again for the last three weeks of the season. If the manager can be blamed for the early season collapse, why can’t the manager also be blamed for the late season collapse?
After the trade deadline, Brand Manager Omar Minaya explained his
ineptness inertia by telling the media that there wasn’t a match — there wasn’t a deal that could make the team better. He said that the Mets were better off sticking with what they had, and filling holes from within. In other words, he was saying that the organization had the right personnel in place to reach their preseason goal of “going deep into October”. This proclamation came AFTER Manuel was supposedly managing circles around the rest of the NL.
If the Mets had the right mix of athletes to make it into the postseason as of August 1, then they MUST have been mismanaged from that point forward. I don’t want to hear any nonsense about injuries — according to Minaya, the Mets would be able to fill any holes from within. He specifically cited people such as Jonathan Niese, Eddie Kunz, and Bobby Parnell. If Manuel couldn’t get those youngsters to perform, and couldn’t get any of the veterans to step up, then he can’t be commended for a “successful season”. Manuel’s job was take this team into the postseason. He failed.
About the Author
Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers.