The Mets’ Edge
Shame on Omar Minaya for backtracking on what his gut tells him and toeing the company line. He’s right when he says:
“We have good guys, solid professionals,” Minaya says. “There is a smile on David Wright’s face, a smile on Jose Reyes’s face. But there is not an edge to them. Some people see edge as leadership. Sometimes, you need a little meanness to your game. Some people perceive leadership as meanness. I couldn’t tell you that we have that type of guy.”
Indeed, before Gary Sheffield came on board, you didn’t have “that type of guy”.
Minaya describes Wright and Reyes perfectly, and there’s nothing wrong with them not having a mean streak. Same with Carlos Beltran — would you ever expect Beltran to barrel over a catcher? How about Carlos Delgado? He’s a large man who can look fierce but is an obvious pussycat. Brian Schneider seems like a really nice guy, too. Ramon Castro has a better chance of neutralizing an opponent with a funny joke than his fists. No one fears Luis Castillo. And Danny Murphy may look “serious”, but I doubt any middle infielders are worried about him sliding in with his spikes high.
The pitching staff is similarly cordial. Johan Santana is spectacular but isn’t going to dust anyone. Neither will Mike Pelfrey, Oliver Perez, or Livan Hernandez. John Maine and J.J. Putz look like they might, but I haven’t seen it yet. K-Rod? His stuff is intimidating, his demeanor isn’t. The rest of the staff seems like a bunch of guys you’d hope to have on the opposing side of a brawl.
This Mets team is devoid of nasty, clawing, scratching, throw-the-gloves-down competitors that marked, for example, the ’86 Champions. No Ray Knights, Lenny Dykstras, Wally Backmans, or Kevin Mitchells here — just a bunch of Rafael Santanas. Good players, some great players, but gentlemen all.
At this blog, I’ve been pining for a “gamer” since a month after the Mets blew the 2006 NLCS. I wasn’t asking to overhaul the roster — rather, just suggesting that the Mets pick up a couple scratchers and clawers. Guys such as Mark Loretta, David Eckstein, Craig Counsell, Mark DeRosa, Frank Catalanotto, Darin Erstad, Kevin Millar, Jim Edmonds. They’re out there, they’re not superstars and they’re generally not overly expensive.
You don’t necessarily have to “break up the core”, as some have suggested. You merely need to add a few more spicy ingredients to the mix — Gary Sheffield was a start. You have to not worry about “disrupting the clubhouse”, or bringing someone in who “might not fit”. Quite the contrary — get someone in here who WILL shake things up, who might turn things upside down. Bring in a guy who might upset other members of the team — though for the right reasons. For example, you don’t bring in a perennial loser and selfish personality such as Milton Bradley, but you DO bring in another guy like Sheffield or Keith Hernandez or Ray Knight — a proven winner who will not be afraid to privately call out teammates, or challenge them, if they have a less-than-intense attitude or slack off.
After three years of the same old, same old, it’s time to inject something new. Going with the same overall team attitude that choked three years running and hoping things will work out is simply madness.