The Next Scapegoat Is…
Well, here we go again, another year, another collapse. I had no expectations going into this season, but then the team’s invigorated play during May and June, coupled with the wave of sentiment about the geniuses in the Front Office, an improved farm system, the no-hitter, the R.A. Dickey story, the collapse of the Phillies, etc. fooled me into jumping in. Riding the wave was fun, but once again, the crash is brutal.
I think that the Mets’ failure to make a key move in June to shore up the bullpen lead to their demise. They want us to think that they stood pat based on some ill-defined organizational philosophy to build from within, but I suspect more and more that the real organizational philosophy, which is to protect the margins, was the real driver behind this decision.
As I wrote here earlier, the culture fostered by ownership is to evade the truth and to instead cast dispersion on and scapegoat others. As soon as the last pitch of the 2012 season is thrown, they will once again search for a convenient target or two.
To save them some time, here are a few likely candidates:
Ricky Bones: The Mets bullpen has been brutal and the repeated meltdowns right before and after the All-Star break killed the team’s momentum. Here’s a thought: blame the coach. Forget that probably not one Met fan in 20 could identify Bones as the BP coach. I had to Google it to find it out myself. That being said, Bones will likely find himself somewhere else next year.
Dan Warthen: Maybe the blame lies with the Mets “COO of pitching.” His funky glasses and his stumbling/bumbling ambulation towards the mound do make him an easy target. However, rumor has it that he is a “Wilpon Man,” so he very likely gets another stay of execution.
Scott Kazmir/Jim Duquette: The Mets are so dysfunctional that even two men no longer in Major League Baseball get blamed for their current woes. Everybody knows the story by now—back in 2004 (which was two GMs ago), the Mets, believing themselves to be one starting pitcher away from true contention, made a huge blunder by dealing their prized left-handed pitching prospect for Damaged Goods. The fans went nuts, the team collapsed shortly thereafter and the loss of Kazmir was felt for years. The backlash from that deal is felt today, as anytime a deal involving one of the Mets young arms is discussed (see the Michael Fulmer for Huston Street rumors) somebody in the press brings this trade up and the talk quickly dies down.
Jason Bay: Samuel Becket couldn’t have written this any better as the Mets wait, wait, wait for the pre-2009 version of Jason Bay to finally appear at Citi Field. I advocated spinning him off for another contract, but that ship has sailed as well. Instead, Bay likely gets “Ollie Perezed” out of here a few days after the season ends.
Terry Collins: Now it gets dicey. The players like Collins and he seems to get New York. He was smart enough early on to position himself as being familiar with the developing players. When the team played well in the first half, he looked like part of the long-term solution. Now, it is two second half collapses in a row, something that cost both Willie Randolph and Jerry Manuel their jobs as Mets Manager. A noted firebrand, Collins looks like he is ready to explode. One ill-directed tirade at the press corps should be all that is needed to start the inevitable decline. One of the factors in Terry’s favor is that there is no obvious heir apparent. Wally Backman has lost much of his shine and there is no trendy minor league manager or current big league bench coach to pluck from someone else’s system. I guess they could call Terry Francona…
David Wright: The Mets might go for the shock value factor and trade Wright this offseason. They could claim to have been overwhelmed by the offer and that they felt a change in direction is needed. I highly doubt this will happen and instead am bracing for a long goodbye to David during the 2013 season.
Sandy Alderson: It is beginning to appear more and more like Alderson has joined the pantheon of players, managers and front office people whose reputation gets tarnished by his tenure with the Mets. Quite frankly, his track record as Mets GM sucks. OK, he doesn’t have much money to work with, but he also doesn’t have much creativity either. Remember Brad Emaus as the starting second baseman? That was about as out of the box as he has been so far. How about the DJ Carrasco, Ronny Paulino, Miguel Batista, Jon Rauch and Ronny Cedeno signings? Can we wait for Zack Wheeler to pitch a big league inning before we anoint this as The Best Trade Ever? Speaking of which, Wheeler has been bombed in two consecutive outings in Binghamton. While Sandy was killing any chance for contention last year, why didn’t he also move Jose Reyes? Instead, the Mets didn’t even make Jose an offer before he skipped off to Miami. But hey, we got the awesome draft pick of Kevin Plawecki as compensation. While other teams are making some bold moves, Alderson gives us Rob Johnston, Manny Acosta and Matt Harvey for Mike Nickeas, Lucas Duda and Pedro Beato. But then considering how poorly the Angel Pagan for Ramon Ramirez and Andres Torres deal has worked out, perhaps he should just turn his phone off.
On a more positive note, I do remember the vitriol that surrounded GM Frank Cashen after the 1983 season and the loss of Tom Seaver to the White Sox in a compensation draft. By then, Cashen had a four-year track record of moves that either made little sense at the time or just plain flopped. The Mets seemed to be as far away from winning as they did the day he took over. A year later, the team burst into contention and he looked like a genius. I think Alderson gets at least one more year, maybe two before it gets hot for him, after all, the Mets don’t want to embarrass their friend Bud Selig.
The Fans: Not as ridiculous as it may seem at first. There were snippets here and there by some media tools bemoaning the low attendance when the team was overachieving. Plus we’re all way too negative.
Jeff Wilpon: Here’s the problem. But he isn’t going anywhere. I am back to advocating not spending any money on his product.
BTW- I called the whole Miami Marlins fiasco back in January.