Yet More Thoughts On Mike Jacobs
Hard to believe that before the team has played 7 games, we have discussed Mike Jacobs three or four times already.
But I have to again harp on the Mike Jacobs decision, as Ed from MetsFever was able to convey succinctly in a few sentences what took me an entire post:
It’s now being reported that Jake has mechanical issues at the plate that he needs to work out. Why would you anoint a guy to a roster spot who’s on a minor league deal to a major league spot if he has mechanical issues.
Here’s what should have happened, Omar tells Jake he’s not letting him out of his contract. Go down to AAA and work things out, once your mashing the ball we’ll reconsider your situation. If Carter looks awful in the majors, we’ll use his option and call you up, if he looks good we’ll let you go to catch on with another team.
Why continue to harp on this? Because after Sunday’s debacle, Jerry Manuel’s response to the loss was that the team was “not prepared” for the contest, and he went so far as to take the blame for that lack of preparation.
Some took that to mean that Manuel chose to shoulder the blame as some kind of twisted message to the players. Or perhaps he’s looking to play the good guy know, so that when the hammer comes down, this singular act will be referred to when beat writers play the violin and cast Manuel as the unfortunate “fall guy”.
I have a hard time understanding how the Mets could possibly have been unprepared to face Livan Hernandez. They watched him pitch — for them — two dozen times in 2009. They intimately know and understand his repertoire, style, and strategy. Hernandez did nothing different on Sunday from what he’s done pretty much his entire career: throw a running sinker at various speeds to the corners of the plate, randomly mix in 2-3 Bugs Bunny curveballs, hope for ground balls, pray the wind knocks down long flies. You beat him by being patient and forcing him to lay a meatball near the center of the plate. Easier said than done, yes. But we have been told the Mets have professional hitters and a great hitting coach, so deciphering Livan and scoring AT LEAST ONE RUN off of him should have been within their reach.
But despite all this, Livan Hernandez shut out the Mets for seven innings. We heard things like “he pitched a gem”. We heard similar things about similarly inept pitchers last year when the Mets were stymied by what could only be explained by voo-doo. But then Manuel mentioned preparation, and a light bulb went off in my head.
By preparation, could he have been alluding to the way the Mets prepared themselves in spring training for the upcoming season? Could he have meant that the team made mistakes inasfar as the choice of personnel, and the way the 25-man roster was “prepared”? Or the way he “prepared” the lineup during the first week of the season? If so, then the explanation holds water, because had the Mets prepared WELL for the first two series, the preparations would not have included Mike Jacobs at 1B — likely, not on the roster at all — and it WOULD have included Angel Pagan coming to the plate more than 14 times. Further, it would have had Jason Bay in the cleanup spot from Opening Day, rather than a player who struggled so badly last year that he was released by the Royals, struggled badly in the spring, and had noticeable “mechanical issues”.
The ultimate goal of a manager is to put players into positions where they can succeed, and minimize failure. By continuing to write down Mike Jacobs’ name in the #4 hole — in the lineup at all — the manager was doing the exact opposite. How can you blame the player, then, for failing? Shouldn’t the blame go on the person who put him in the position to fail, despite seeing multiple signs that failure was imminent?
Finally, doesn’t the public admission that one doesn’t “look too much into the stats” scream of ill preparation? Anyone who reads this blog knows I lean toward the old-school ways, and tend to shun the intensely geeky stats. But even I acknowledge that many stats can and should be considered when determining whether a player should be in the lineup. Isn’t the fact that Jerry Manuel eschews statistics completely — going only on what he “sees” in batting practice, and what he “feels” on a particular day — an indication of lack of full preparation? You would think that someone making seven figures under the hot spotlight of NYC would at least consider and exhaust all methods of evaluation — both historic and modern.
Not to do so is, well, a lack of preparation.