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.”

Are you really “joking” Jerry? Because many of your previous public remarks suggest that you are quite serious about that “joke”.

By the way, check out FireJerryManuel, where similar conclusions are gleaned from the Manuel Mystery Tour.

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. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. isuzudude October 7, 2009 at 11:38 am
    I’m just loving all the heat on Jerry Manuel these days. Joe, you and I know that we were 2 voices in a very small crowd that denounced Jerry Manuel for being the savior the media protrayed him to be last year, and we astutely acknowledged that Jerry was very much like his predecessor despite 95% of the fanbase saying he was the opposite of Willie and, hence, the reason for the Mets 2008 turnaround. And when last year’s collapse transpired, and the fans and media blamed the bullpen, ill-timed injuries, and inability to hit with RISP for the failure, we were 2 of the few that knew it was Jerry who deserved the majority of the blame, and that his circus act on and off the field would get old fast when 2009 started sliding down the same path of ineptitude as we anticipated. And low and behold, it looks like we were 1000% right, and now it seems like all of the Jerry-lovers who thought the guy walked on water last year are climbing aboard the bandwagon and calling for his dismissal after seeing what Jerry is all about – essentially, blaming all aspects of the team, including his bosses, for failure except himself.

    Joseph, you and I had it right all along. Goes to show that non-comformity has its rewards.