Manuel Mystery Tour
Matthew Artus of Always Amazin called the Mets’ multiple press appearances a “curious epilogue to 2009” and included a graphic resembling the cover from the old Beatles’ album “Magical Mystery Tour”. Fitting, and well done, Mr. Artus. (Kids, an “album” was what music was once played on, and “The Beatles” were a popular rock band from the 1960s.)
Artus summed up the mystery with,
“At the end of the day, we know as much now as we did at the beginning of the day.
Which is to say, we know nothing.”
True. But there were some thought-provoking head-scratchers from the various figureheads. We’ll start with manager Jerry Manuel. Swiping from Brian Costa’s rundown of yesterday’s press conference, let’s examine some of the Mets’ manager’s quotes.
Why fire Alicea and remove Shines as third-base coach?“The traffic that we had on the bases probably to a large degree was not managed as well as we would liked to have seen. That was probably the biggest issue with us was the issue of baserunning. We didn’t seem to have that perform at the level we thought we need to to be a championship club.”
Yeah, that was it. The Mets ran themselves into 92 losses. I’ll agree that the Mets were at times atrocious on the bases, and Shines was one of the key reasons the Mets had more than 20 baserunners thrown out at the plate. But the “biggest” issue? How about the terrible defense, poor fundamentals, inability to drive runners home, and the pitching — to start?
Why keep Warthen as pitching coach, considering the high walks total?“I was more concerned with the evolution of Mike Pelfrey, John Maine and Oliver Perez. I think at their best — when I’ve seen them in the time that I’ve been here at their best — they’ve been under Dan Warthen. And I think we have to get back to them being their best. I think again, you can be optimistic that Dan and Nemo can handle that because they have done it before.”
Help me with this explanation, because I was under the impression that Pelfrey, Maine, and Perez all took a step BACKWARD this season — their first full season under Warthen. Further, Perez and Maine had their best full MLB seasons under Rick Peterson. And Pelfrey’s transformation in 2008 began on May 31st with a dominating 7-inning win over the Dodgers that began a streak of five outstanding starts. Peterson was fired on June 18th, two days after the fifth start of that streak. He went on to have a brilliant second half, but it seemed he was on his way to doing that regardless of whether Warthen was the pitching coach. In hindsight, it looks more like good timing for Warthen — in the right place at the right time to reap the benefits of the previous coach’s work.
Could Shines become bench coach?“Could be. He could be a consideration for that as well. I just haven’t decided that yet.”
So, after a man does so poorly as third-base coach that you have to remove him from the role, you REWARD him with a promotion to bench coach? Is it me or is there something backward about that thinking?
How would you grade the job you did this year?
“Uh, we as a team, and I’m responsible for the team, we were 70-92, so for the most part it was a failure. For the most part. I mean this is not what’s accepted at this level. You could go back and make arguments for what did you expect from a team of this caliber coming out of spring training to do. Expectations were very high. We anticipated a tremendous year. Yes, we were hit with a lot of different things, we thought we were making the adjustments, it didn’t happen. But the bottom line is, we were 70-92, and you’ve got to take your own clues from that. Depending on how you feel that the mix that we had, some might say 70-92, I should be the manager of the year. (laughs) Just joking, just joking. Don’t mean nothing by that. No, it was a failure. We didn’t live up to expectations, period, and that’s my responsibility.”
By the way, check out FireJerryManuel, where similar conclusions are gleaned from the Manuel Mystery Tour.