Monday, October 05, 2009

Metsblog and Irresponsible Non-Journalism

We've been over this before, but this instance is so egregious that I feel compelled to comment once again, and this time with the proper panache.

All season I've been complaining that the opinion on, the most widely read baseball blog in the universe, has been irresponsible in the manner in which it pushes the opinion of its writers on its audience. Metsblog is no longer a mom-and-pop operation run by a nobody fan - it is now sponsored by SNY, gets time on the cable television network, and is enormously influential. As such, the writers have a journalistic responsibility to take care with regard to what they write. However, they continually fail to do so.

All year they have re-reported vague rumors, linked to even more extremist blogs spewing vile complaints, and pushed their opinion on their readers. Another example comes this morning.

In "Opinion: The Future of the Mets," Michael Baron goes on an extended rant about the team. I'll let him speak mostly for himself, with my comments interspersed throughout.

I think it was easy to anticipate that wins were going to be scarcer when their key players went down early, but there is absolutely no excuse for the general lack of execution offensively and defensively, the poor base running, and the poor decision making and to me, that is a failure on management’s part to mentally and physically prepare players for the game. Even this group of Mets should have been better in the end and I feel that is a general failure at the heart of the organization from a philosophical level, and that is why I feel that a leadership change is necessary.

Okay. So when the injuries struck, we were excused from being the 95-win juggernaut that everyone expected... but THIS level of play is considered unacceptable? Listen -- I'm not happy with the Mets level of play this season. It's been bad. But the Mets ARE BAD.

Let's face the facts. The majority of the mental mistakes and errors that can be pointed to this season have been committed by guys like Daniel Murphy (who stinks, and was asked to play out of position twice this season), Luis Castillo (who is lazy and prone to those kinds of mistakes anyway), Angel Pagan (who never was supposed to be starting, but DESPITE the mistakes has hit .304 and done a fantastic job) and a few others. What does this blogger seriously expect from these guys?

The leap he takes next - that it was "a failure on management's part to mentally and physically prepare players for the game" - is complete nonsense. Where does that come from? First of all, if this guy (or any others) have some kind of inside information which would indicate that Jerry Manuel has not done a good job preparing his guys to play, then they should TELL US. Otherwise, this is completely made up.

It is the end of a long, ugly, losing season... and this is a universal human response. You pay lip service to the fact that we didn't expect them to win a lot -- but that doesn't stop the fan from wanting his pound of flesh. Someone has to pay. Some phantom must be CREATED so that it can be BLAMED for the failure. Otherwise, without a scapegoat, this fan can't be optimistic about the next season. Unless there is inside information, this is nonsense.

The players like Jerry Manuel. And this is irresponsible blogging. Thousands of people will read this post, and have read dozens of posts just like it, and they don't all have the patience to read them critically. They believe these posts -- or even if they don't, they become organizational talking points.

Second of all, and this is a much easier point to make -- does this guy watch ANY baseball other than the Mets? Teams make tons of mistakes all over baseball. Josh Thole got thrown out at home the other night and it was an ugly play -- but if you pay attention, outfielders all over the league have dozens of outfield assists, and they don't just come against the Mets.

The average MLB team made 95 fielding errors this season. They made scores of other mistakes which don't show up as actual errors. The Mets, with all the injures made only 97 errors. All this hand wringing about preparedness is simply bullcrap.

The difference between today’s 90+ loss team and the 90+ loss team in 2004 to me is that there was still some sort of road map to success in place with David Wright and Jose Reyes developing

This is simply made up. The Mets hit the LOTTERY with Wright and Reyes - two generational talents coming up through the system at the same time. It wasn't an organizational philosophy which created them. The 2001 team missed the playoffs, and Phillips tried to patch things up in 2002 by overhauling the roster. It didn't work. Game over. There was no sea change in Mets organizational thinking. There was no road map. WE SUCKED FOR A COUPLE YEARS AND GOT HIGH DRAFT PICKS. That is baseball.

The team was really close to winning in 2006 and that playoff series against the Cardinals was brutally disappointing, but instead of continuing on the trail that was set by Omar after the 2004 season with “the new Mets”, he deviated and started to plug holes with the wrong players rather than continue to develop and refine the core and today, the Mets lack a road map or a vision in my mind which is evident with the problems with player development, team success in the minor leagues, and the clear lack of depth at the Major League level or coming to the Major League level.
I think that the organization in general, with the players they have acquired in the last couple of winters, have become their own Monday Morning Quarterback’s again and they only seem to address needs that were weak the prior season, losing sight of everything else.

This is something that Metsblog has been harping on literally for MONTHS -- that Omar plugs holes and fixes yesterday's problems. The above statement is absolute garbage as well.(1)

Each offseason, there has been one most-glaring area of weakness... and with LIMITED RESOURCES, you have to do the best you can at addressing them. I'm really not sure what these people would have rather that Minaya done.

The big big offseason acquisition which was pushed by the people at Metsblog was the acquisition of Derek Lowe. Let's face facts: Derek Lowe was better than Oliver Perez this year. But would it have made a difference? Would we have won 30 more games? Hell no. In addition, the acquisition of Derek Lowe cost another year in commitment and MANY million more dollars per year. And for what it's worth, Derek Lowe is showing his age big time -- he is 36 and posted a downright ghastly 4.67 ERA and 1.51 WHIP this season. Congratulations to Atlanta on that contract.

Omar does what he has to do. You look at your teams strengths and weaknesses. You analyze the market. You see what adds the MOST wins to your team. You see what you can buy, in terms of money or players, which provides the greatest return on investment. This offseason we were able to sign the best closer available and flip Aaron Heilman for a worthy gamble in J.J. Putz. There was nothing else to do.

The Mets were Sports Illustrated's preseason pick to win the World Series.

Things went wrong. I thought we needed more starting pitching. But the allegation that Omar is somehow stuck in yesterday is ridiculous. Baseball, and baseball teams, and organizations in general are constantly changing. You constantly fight different challenges. I have no idea what these critics would have preferred -- perhaps instead of getting two closers to fix a faulty bullpen, they would have preferred that he somehow magically acquire a backup all-star shortstop, first baseman, centerfielder, and ace.

I am not saying that bringing in Johan Santana and Francisco Rodriguez were bad moves – in fact I think they were the best moves Minaya could have made to address the needs they fulfill. But he failed to recognize other problems year over year and did not look at his team as a whole.

These sentences make no sense next to each other. And how do you know what Minaya is seeing or not seeing?

I believe that ownership needs to acknowledge the failure and remember past failures at the organizational level and begin a complete rebuild as a result. They must begin to examine their tactics in talent evaluation, and more specifically looking at talent and developing talent in a way for their players to be successful at Citi Field.

Okay -- I want a magical bountiful farm system which produces oodles of talent too. But this has NOTHING to do with Jerry Manuel (who this blog post begins out asking for the firing of). This has nothing to do with playing Monday Morning Quarterback. If the organization needs to do something differently with its farm system and player development, that has nothing to do with the year-to-year acquisitional philosophy that Omar has been taking. It makes no sense to besmirch the organization as a whole.(2)

This blogger is obviously frustrated. And I share his frustration. But I think the opinions he shares with us in the blog are ill-informed, and will be read widely by thousands of fans all over New York. It's irresponsible. It's also just wrong.


(1)2004-2005 Offseason: The 04 Mets were a disaster. The 2004 disaster was really a combination of things --- the end of the Piazza/Leiter Era, injuries to Piazza and Cliff Floyd, and the acquisition of Richard Hidalgo failing to pay dividends. It was a bad year. They won 71 games. They fired Art Howe and Jim Duquette and brought on Omar Minaya. Omar hired Willie Randolph, and began to reform the team in his own image.

What did Omar do? He signed Pedro Martinez and Carlos Beltran. Beltran, one of the best players in the game, signed to a (relatively) under market contract. The rebuilding began.

2005-2006 Offseason: The Mets did decently well in 2005, and then made a shrewd trade for Delgado and signed Billy Wagner. They addressed their need for a slugger and for a closer. No paradigm shift here. The results of these acquisitions, as we know, led to a legendary playoff run.

2006-2007 Offseason: After our tough loss to the Cardinals, the Mets basically stood pat. This, if you ask me, might be the worst mistake.

2007-2008 Offseason: After "the Collapse" and the departure of Tom Glavine, it was acknowledged that the Mets primary need was to get pitching. Omar did us one better than that and went out and got the best in the business in Johan Santana. This was his second masterpiece (after the acquisition of Beltran). That need fulfilled, with a team who missed the playoffs by one game, they entered the 2008 season with promise.

2008-2009 Offseason: A second mini-collapse was enough to send the entire city into a complete frenzy. The injury to Billy Wagner was devastating, so Omar had to use his limited resources to fix the Mets faulty bullpen. We acquired Francisco Rodriguez and J.J. Putz, and looked to have the best bullpen in baseball. The only remaining weakness - the starting rotation - didn't seem to have a simple answer.

(2) All things considered, the Mets farm system has been pretty fruitful over the last few years. In addition to stars like Wright and Reyes, it has produced...

Major league regulars already/role players: Mike Pelfrey, Lastings Milledge (hit .293/.336/.400 with Pittsburgh), Daniel Murphy, Brian Bannister, Heath Bell, Matt Lindstrom, Jesus Flores, Mike Carp, Joe Smith, Jon Niese

Players good enough to trade for established stars: Mike Jacobs and Yusmeiro Petit (for Delgado), Phil Humber, Carlos Gomez, Kevin Mulvey, Deolis Guerra (for Santana)

Useful and young with some upside: Josh Thole, Ike Davis, Brad Holt, Fernando Martinez, Nick Evans, Dillon Gee, Tobi Stoner

Big time but speculative prospects: Wilmer Flores, Jenry Mejia, Jefry Marte,

Sure. I wish our team was stacked with homegrown stars. But I also wish I had a toilet seat made out of solid gold. Sometimes its not in the cards baby. Let's keep our widely-read journalism out of the sky-is-falling department from now on, okay?

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