Archive: September 16th, 2010

Mets Game 147: Win Over Pirates

Mets Pirates

If the Mets played the Pirates all the time, they’d have clinched the pennant by now.

OK, that’s a little silly … but imagine how the season might have gone if only the Mets played the Pirates in a 15-game series right after the All-Star exhibition?

Back to reality: the Mets swept the Pirates in a four-game series for the first time since June, 1997, and improved their record to 73-72. That’s one game over .500, folks … woo hoo !

Game Notes

I want to be excited about a four-game sweep — I really do. But this Pirates team is so awful, it’s hard to be happy. Jerry Manuel talked about the Mets “playing good baseball” but it’s mostly nonsense — the Pirates beat themselves in all four contests. Beat the crap out of themselves, in fact. We now know why the Bucs have won only 15 games on the road this year. FIFTEEN. Dear lord.

Mike Pelfrey won his 15th game of the year after allowing only 2 runs on 6 hits and 4 walks in 7 innings and 111 pitches; he struck out 4. He also knocked in the winning run with a single, driving home Lucas Duda.

Speaking of Duda, he broke out of his 1-for-33 slump by going 2-for-4 with 2 doubles, 2 RBI, and that run scored. The Camptown ladies sing this song …

Angel Pagan also had a big day, going 3-for-5 with his 30th double, a run, and 2 RBI. He also stole his 34th base and made a spectacular, sliding, diving catch in centerfield to rob John Bowker of an extra-base hit and double-up Pedro Alvarez in the fourth. Had he not caught that ball, Pelfrey might not have made it out of the inning and I’d be writing a much different post.

Chris Carter had a pinch-hit, which wasn’t a big deal on its own, but it was his birthday. So, happy birthday, Animal!

I can see why the Braves gave up on Charlie Morton despite a 95+ MPH fastball, and why Morton is 1-12 with an ERA so high it can’t legally be published here. His mechanics are inconsistent and a disaster, leading to release points that are all over the map. Watching his delivery was similar to watching the lightning striking outside my window before the game — dangerous, all over the place, and occasionally followed by a loud “crack”.

Next Mets Game

The Mets return to Major League play on Friday, hosting the Braves at the Field at Shea Bridge. Jonathon Niese faces Tommy Hanson. Game time is 7:10 PM.


Will the Manager Be the Big Acquisition?

Ken Davidoff reports that the Mets are already discussing names for various leadership roles, including the on-field manager:

It doesn’t sound as though Bobby V. is the favorite, however. The Mets will be hesitant to pay Valentine the “star manager” money (think about $3 million annually) that he deserves, and although Valentine and the Wilpons have maintained good relations the past eight years, there might be hesitance to re-enter into a working agreement.

Nevertheless, given that public relations and ticket sales will factor heavily into this decision – there are no new star players coming through that door, so the manager will be it – we can’t discount Valentine II.

Davidoff also suggests that Omar Minaya will be replaced by another GM, but I don’t know how much a General Manager directly affects ticket sales — the average fan (i.e., those that don’t read Mets blogs every day) tends to have more of a connection to the manager in the dugout than the one in the front office.

One must wonder if the hiring of the next Mets manager will be the “big” acquisition of the offseason.

Every winter the Mets make a big splash of some sort to improve the club generate ticket sales. For 2005 it was Pedro Martinez / Carlos Beltran; 2006 it was Carlos Delgado / Billy Wagner; 2007 was Moises Alou; 2008, Johan Santana; 2009, K-Rod / Putz; 2010, Jason Bay. Considering that the Mets are unlikely to shell out the money for a huge free-agent such as Cliff Lee, and don’t have the trading chips to acquire a similarly big name, their “big splash” could well be the naming of a new manager.

Ironically, Davidoff could be right when he states that Bobby Valentine’s salary could be too rich for the Wilpons’ taste. It’s funny that the owners wouldn’t blink at approving $36M for Oliver Perez or $25M for Luis Castillo, yet have serious reservations about spending $3M on Bobby Valentine. Makes one wonder.

But three million dollars for a manager beloved by fans is a heckuva lot less than $85-$100M+ for a 32-year-old pitcher whose presence may have less impact on putting fannies in the seats. This point is especially important when you consider that on his own, Cliff Lee is unlikely to be the “last piece” of the puzzle that sends the Mets into the postseason. The Mets have several issues to address — the health of Johan Santana and Carlos Beltran, the closer role, Jason Bay’s return to form, for example — and one big-name player can’t fix them all. However, a new manager with a track record of success in Flushing and ability to entertain the press will give the franchise a new face to look at, and promote the image of good things to come. Even if the Mets struggle through another losing record in 2011, the combination of new leadership in the dugout and home-grown youngsters on the field will be enough to sell tickets through 2012. Who knows it might even result in a playoff appearance by 2013.

From a business perspective, making a manager the “big” acquisition makes good sense — it’s a low-risk, low-cost proposition that is likely to result in positive returns. We’ll soon see if that’s the “splash” the Mets make this winter.