Can’t Have it Both Ways
Depending on who you talk to, the Mets are either underachieving or overachieving, and accomplishing one or the other because of Jerry Manuel or not because of Jerry Manuel.
It’s a fascinating dichotomy. When the Mets are doing poorly, many point to the weaknesses on the roster — and in particular the starting pitching. Yet, when the Mets went on their 10-1 streak, they looked to have enough talent to contend — to be world-beaters, in fact. On paper, their starting pitching and bullpen both appeared outstanding, and if the offensive ever started clicking … look out!
When that same assembly of pitchers and batters went 5-13 in the first 18 days of May — against teams with worse records such as the Reds, Nationals, Marlins, and Braves — the same people who gushed about the Mets suddenly questioned whether they had enough talent to compete in the NL East.
Other than the loss of Jon Niese — and the addition of Ryota Igarashi — not much has changed in terms of personnel since that crazy hot streak at the end of April. And as much as I like the kid, I find it hard to believe that Jon Niese is the lynchpin / difference-maker for the New York Mets.
So either the Mets DO have the talent to contend — and their current record 22-23 shows they are underachieving — or they do NOT have the talent to be more than a .500 team.
In scenario one, Jerry Manuel and his coaching staff can be placed on the hot seat; perhaps they are not getting the most out of the personnel they’ve been given. In scenario two, the field management is mostly blameless, and can only be lauded if the Mets find their way above .500. But you can’t have it both ways. Meaning, you can’t give props to Manuel when the Mets go 10-1 after he puts Jose Reyes into the three hole, but then blame Reyes for not sparking the offense thereafter. Similarly, you can’t credit Manuel for great bullpen management in April, then blame the relievers for crapping the bed in May. The season will be measured over 162 games, and over that time either the Mets have the talent or they don’t, and if they have the talent, the manager can get the most out of it OVER THE LONG TERM or he can’t.
Personally, I’ve thought from the beginning that the Mets didn’t have enough pitching to compete seriously for a playoff spot, and the issues with John Maine, Jon Niese, Ollie Perez, and others have only helped support that belief. However, the Mets just took two of three from the Yankees, and people are starting to talk about how competitive the Mets can be now that Jason Bay is hitting, David Wright is going the other way, Jose Reyes is shaking off the rust, Jennry Mejia is looking like a legit setup man, and Carlos Beltran’s return is on the horizon.
So which is it? Do the Mets have what it takes, or don’t they? And if they have it, is Jerry Manuel the guy to lead them to the postseason?