Tag: jerry manuel

2010 Analysis: Fernando Nieve

Nieve isn’t currently on the Mets’ 40-man roster, and he finished the year in AAA Buffalo, and he didn’t pitch for the Mets after July 21, but I felt it necessary to evaluate him anyway.

Despite being on the roster for only 95 games, Nieve found his way into 40 of them. He appeared in 20 of the team’s first 31 games of the year, a pace that had him on course to threaten Mike Marshall’s MLB record of 106 games in one season. Manager Jerry Manuel kept putting Nieve on the mound, seemingly intent on seeing his arm fall off.

Manuel’s argument was that Nieve was his best option out of the bullpen at the time – and to an extent it was true, as Fernando held batters to a .191 average in April. But continually putting Nieve into ballgames was blatantly irresponsible and screamed of desperation by a manager managing for the short-term security of his job rather than for long-term production of a team over the course of a 162-game season.


Will the Sun Come Up On Monday?

According to various sources (first reported by Matt Pignataro on 7 Train to Shea), the Mets will announce that both manager Jerry Manuel and GM Omar Minaya will be fired on Monday.

This in direct opposition to what Fred Wilpon insisted in early August. For those who forgot (or weren’t paying attention), from the NY Post:

… as Wilpon walked away, a Post reporter asked if Minaya would remain the team’s GM beyond this year.

“Is the sun going to come up tomorrow?” Wilpon answered.

Now I’m thinking, maybe it won’t. Perhaps the end of Daylight Savings Time has something to do with the sun not rising, and Wilpon firing Minaya.

If indeed Minaya is fired, and Wilpon believed what he said to that Post reporter, then the Mets are more inept at management evaluation than we ever imagined. Did something change between August 5th and October 5th? In other words, what happened in August and September that would change the Mets’ perception of Omar Minaya’s performance as a General Manager? Did they think that their mediocre MLB roster was good enough to compete with the Phillies and Braves, and simply underperforming? Or, did they think that Minaya would somehow, some way, find a half-dozen gems from the rubble of the waiver wire to rescue the season?

One might consider the fact that Wilpon was lying — that he had considered the possibility of relieving Minaya of his position, and was simply giving Omar a public vote of confidence to prevent a media nightmare of questions and rumors that might affect the final two months of the season.

You know what? That’s an even WORSE consideration — because it means that the Mets have been thinking about fixing their management issues for two months, and have done absolutely nothing. In the meantime, other teams in similarly terrible condition have made steps toward righting the ship. While the Mets sat on their hands wondering what they should do next, strong leadership candidates have found employment elsewhere. More importantly, the team floundered without direction nor meaning under a lame-duck manager and a lame-duck GM — both of whom had motivations other than the Mets’ future in mind.

While it’s true that Jerry Manuel played a number of youngsters in September, what good does that do for the next Mets manager and GM? Those men might have preferred to see Justin Turner at second base instead of Ruben Tejada. Maybe the new management doesn’t see Dillon Gee, Pat Misch, or Raul Valdes as candidates for next year’s pitching staff, and would’ve preferred to see other arms used in September starts.

Who knows, maybe the sun WILL come up today and Omar Minaya will still be the General Manager in 2011. Or maybe Fred Wilpon was lying — again.


HoJo On the Way Out

According to sources close to the situation, Howard Johnson will be relieved of his duties as batting coach for the New York Mets.

You may have read or heard Jon Heyman’s report that “there has been no discussion of Howard Johnson” and that Jerry Manuel’s job is “safe”. Kevin Burkhardt is tweeting similar “news”.

However, our sources are reporting quite the opposite.

For one, Johnson’s role was most definitely discussed and almost surely will change. It is possible that he won’t be fired outright — for example, he could be “reassigned” to another area of the organization. Or maybe the Mets will do something like they did in 2008 with Rickey Henderson. Perhaps they’ll hire Darryl Strawberry to teach the players how to swallow fire — who knows? All we know is that HoJo is moving on and Jerry Manuel is about as “safe” as Toyota gas pedal — though he’ll likely remain the manager for at least a few more days.

My guess is that the Mets are still trying to figure out the best way to break the news without upsetting fans of the ’86 Mets and David Wright, and waiting for the “right moment”. Or, maybe our sources are completely wrong.

Regardless of HoJo’s status, the Mets HAVE TO do something — they’ve forced themselves into making a change for the sake of change, at the very least.

*** UPDATE ***
Just got word that Jerry Manuel’s job IS safe for the time being. Though, the Mets have been on the fence before regarding Manuel, and could change their mind again at the drop of a hat.

HoJo is still the focus of whatever “change” is made, however.


Can the Mets Afford to NOT Make a Change?

According to MetsBlog and other sources, the Mets’ braintrust (and I use that term loosely) is in meetings all day today to discuss the matter of the team’s 2-9 road trip and all-around suckiness.

Additionally — and also reported in various places — Omar Minaya refused to provide any assurances that the current manager and coaching staff would remain intact for the short-term.

Considering that this information is public, can the Mets afford not to make a change of some sort? In other words, at this point, knowing what we know, and feeling how we feel about the team — that it is sinking quickly and could be irrelevant once the NFL begins workouts — would we as fans be OK with the Mets emerging today and doing nothing?

Maybe, just maybe, a blockbuster trade could provide a glimmer of hope (i.e., convince fans to buy tickets in August and September). Unfortunately, Dan Haren and Cliff Lee have been dealt, and Roy Oswalt is unlikely to accept a trade to a New York team not named the Yankees — though, Adam Rubin has said the Mets aren’t interested anyway. As a result, there appear to be no high-impact, well-known All-Stars available on the market. I doubt very highly that Mets fans would be placated by the acquisition of the likes of Kevin Millwood, Ted Lilly, Scott Downs, Fausto Carmona, Jake Westbrook, or any other so-so pitcher — particularly since the problem lately has been the hitting. Unfortunately for the Mets, no big bat appears to be available — unless you think the Nats would consider trading Adam Dunn to an NL East rival.

So, short of coaxing Barry Bonds out of retirement or raising Babe Ruth from the dead, the Mets will have to make some kind of internal change. The question is, will the change they make be enough to convince fans that the team is on the right track, and worth the (hefty) price of a ticket at Citi Field?

Share your opinion in the comments: what can the Mets do to change your view of the team’s chances in 2010? That is, if you think anything CAN be done to save the 2010 season.


Something is Cooking in Metsville

After going 2-9 on their Left Coast trip, the Mets are sinking fast in the standings. They are now 50-49, which may satisfy Omar Minaya’s goal of “being around .500”.

Further, the offense has sputtered and died like a 1974 Ford Pinto, getting shut out an incomprehensible 4 times in 10 days. That would be quite a feat if this were 1979, and the likes of Frank Taveras, Doug Flynn, and Bruce Boisclair were littering the lineup. But to be that anemic in the 21st century is … well, there are no words. Unfortunately for Howard Johnson, someone is going to have to be the scapegoat, and it’s unlikely to be the bullpen coach.

Whether it is HoJo or someone else, heads are guaranteed to roll in the next 24-48 hours. That’s an educated guess based on privately gathered inside information and the following public reports:

From tweets by Andy McCullough of the Star-Ledger:

Omar: “When you have a trip like this, you have to sit down and assess how you’re going to get it right . . . We’re not going to sit back.”

Twice asked if staff would survive by Tuesday, Omar Minaya twice demurred from anything definitive.

From Andy Martino of the NY Daily News:

Minaya passed on two chances to say entire coaching staff would be intact Tuesday.

From Adam Rubin of ESPN-NY:

No one will say Howard Johnson’s job is safe

Omar would not directly state staff would remain intact Tuesday.

From David Lennon of NY Newsday:

Asked twice, Minaya would not say definitively that staff will remain intact on Tuesday when #Mets return to action.

It doesn’t take a genius to realize something is up, and that changes of some sort are coming soon — or sooner. Heck, even a two-bit blogger such as myself can figure that out.

What exactly will happen, no one is sure. HoJo’s job is unteneble right now, and though the pitching has been mostly strong lately, Dan Warthen could be blamed for Mike Pelfrey’s sudden slide. Dave Jauss could be in jeopardy for no other reason than the fact he’s Jerry Manuel’s pal (remember when Willie Randolph’s buddy Rick Down was fired?). Whether Manuel himself is spared the hatchet remains to be seen; Omar Minaya could have a tough time ‘splainin why he chose the wrong manager twice in five years. Indeed, one has to wonder if Minaya himself is on the chopping block.

We don’t know for sure what will occur in the next two days, but we can be sure that SOMETHING will happen.

Fasten your seatbelts …


What Happened to the Chemistry?

It wasn’t that long ago that nearly every New York baseball journalist and blogger was talking about the great “chemistry” of the 2010 Mets — and how the players loved playing for Jerry Manuel. Such comments about the positive vibe in the Mets’ clubhouse continued even through the team’s tough times in mid-May.

But there seems to have been an accident in the lab, because that chemistry has vanished. In the past week, Alex Cora demanded an end to laughter in the clubhouse, Jeff Francoeur said he wouldn’t mind being traded, Jerry Manuel had to call a closed-door team meeting, and now Rod Barajas is clearly unhappy with being unseated by Josh Thole.

From Mike Sielski’s article in The Wall Street Journal:

“To give up on somebody after what they’ve done to help the team, for me, it’s not a good thing,” Mr. Barajas said. “It’s not the way a team wants to see their teammates treated.”

and …

“I don’t want to say it in a bad way, but if you look at the scenario, how we got here and how we got in this situation, whatever we were doing before worked,” he said.

We’ve gotten to where we are because of a certain system we’ve had in place. For me, once you start making drastic changes and changing the landscape of the team, it could go either way.”

Sounds like trouble in Metsville.

On the one hand, there is every reason for Josh Thole to be getting more chances to play, because of his hot bat. On the other hand, the offseason winter mantra from the Mets front office, manager Jerry Manuel, and pitching coach Dan Warthen was that defense and leadership behind the plate was valued as much or more than offensive skills.

In other words, there has been a sudden change in philosophy — a reactionary decision rooted in desperation. That’s fine if the change works. Or is it? Because yes if it leads to success then it’s the right decision but it also proves that the original plan was flawed. The fact that Thole is playing ahead of Barajas can be construed as a lack of confidence in that plan as well.

When leadership lacks confidence in the plan that they put together, the people below can sense it and in turn question the plan and the leaders that put it together.

And suddenly that chemistry breaks down.

While it’s true that “good chemistry” is generally identified when a team is winning, and “bad chemistry” is blamed when a team is losing, you have to think that chemistry — good or bad — may be insignificant and/or ineffectual on its own, but can be a symptom or clue to something much larger that does have an impact on a team’s on-field performance.


Quotes of the Day: Omar on Jerry, Willie

Omar Minaya on Jerry Manuel’s job status:

“Jerry Manuel is our manager. Look, any time you’re going to have a couple of losing streaks, those things are going to pop up. But there’s no discussion at all. Jerry Manuel is our manager, will be our manager. I’m very happy with the job that he’s doing.” (MetsBlog, July 22, 2010)

Omar on Willie Randolph’s job status, just a few weeks before Willie was fired:

“Willie has my support. He has the support of our ownership,” Minaya said. “Willie’s job was never in danger going into this meeting.”

After the two-hour session, Minaya said: “There is no limbo period. Willie is the manager.” (ESPN, May 27, 2008)

For the record, our sources tell us Wally Backman will be the Mets manager on Tuesday, if the Mets lose 3 of 4 in Los Angeles. But it is clear that the Mets front office is in disarray and they’ll probably change their minds fifteen times between now and then.


Midseason Assessment by John Delcos

When pitchers and catchers reported Feb. 18, I posted five key questions the Mets faced heading into the season. Let’s revisit those questions at the All-Star break.

1) Question: What is this team’s attitude?

Assessment: By all accounts, it has been superb. There is a different chemistry in the Mets clubhouse than I have previously seen. The Mets have shown a remarkable resiliency to bounce back from adversity and Sunday’s win is just another example. There have been no issues about a lack of hustle, and no finger pointing. Both Jeff Francoeur and Angel Pagan said the right things about the prospect of reduced playing time as Carlos Beltran is about to be activated from the disabled list. The only sour note was