Monday, May 24, 2010

The Revolution Has Not Been Televised

It began with a drip here.

And a drop there.

Then another, and another.

And then there are so many drops that maybe you start to take notice. Suddenly, the deluge is so heavy that it demands your attention.

The Mets have been making some excellent personnel decisions this year. I mean, really good. Really smart. Excellent. I'm thrilled.

The news today that the Mets plan to have Daniel Murphy play multiple positions in Triple-A was that moment for me when the evidence became too much to ignore.
The Mets also announced Monday that they have reinstated infielder Daniel Murphy from the 15-day disabled list and optioned him to Triple-A Buffalo. There, the Mets plan on exposing Murphy to first base, second base, third base and both corner outfield positions in an effort to increase his versatility.

…i can see Murph getting a lot of time at second base, especially in the short term, due to the durability problems with Luis Castillo...

Sure, you can complain that this move came too late, or that with Ike Davis at first it wasan obvious necessity rather than a smart idea. But really, would the Mets of the past ever have been a slam-dunk to perform the smart, necessary, and timely move?

Having Daniel Murphy practice at multiple positions in Triple-A is a great thing for this team. Whether he plays the utility role and supplants a guy like Tatis, or parlays himself into a valuable trade commodity, or replaces Castillo at second, this is all good. And it's even better that he's being given time to do this all in the minor leagues.

But the Daniel Murphy move was not the only smart move out Mets have made this year. They've made tons of them. And here at Fonzie Forever, we give credit where credit is due (and we're also ferocious when they do something stupid... have to be fair).

Let's take a look at some of the very bright moves the Mets have made this year, in chronological order.

December 4, 2009: Named Wayne Krivsky special assistant to general manager.

January 22, 2010: Acquired OF Gary Matthews Jr. and cash from the L.A. Angels for RHP Brian Stokes. I know people don't like this deal, but it made perfect sense for the Mets at the time. Going into the season you'd want Angel Pagan to seize the starting role but he had very little track record to fall back on. The Mets needed some kind of known quantity in-house in case Pagan faltered. Yes, there were cheaper options. And yes, GMJ sucks. But the move is decidedly low risk and are we missing Brian Stokes (who currently is on the DL and has a 7.31 ERA?) Get a grip people.

March 4, 2010: Agreed to terms with RHP Kiko Calero on a minor league contract.

March 30, 2010: Did NOT option SS Ruben Tejada to Triple-A. They let the kid stay in the majors and play - showing confidence and foresight, and prioritizing defense. All good.

April 18, 2010: Designated INF Mike Jacobs for assignment. The Mets acknowledged defeat. They cut ties with Jacobs, who wasn't working out, mercifully early in the year.

April 19, 2010: Selected the contract of 1B Ike Davis from Buffalo (IL).

May 10, 2010: Recalled C Josh Thole and OF Chris Carter from Buffalo (IL). Designated OF Frank Catalanotto for assignment. Once again, the Mets bit the bullet and admitted that Catalanotto wasn't working out. So Catalanotto is gone, and "The Animal" Chris Carter is called up to replace him. In addition, Josh Thole was called up to back up Barajas while Blanco was on bereavement instead of some minor league stiff. They acknowledge that Thole is the potential catcher of the future despite his troubles so far this year.

May 22, 2010: Placed RHP John Maine on the 15-day DL. Sorry, John. Someone had to stop you from going out there and continuing to stink while injuring yourself further. Sorry if it hurt your ego. Another good move by the Mets.

So to summarize, the Mets have cut their losses on their worst offseason moves by releasing Jacobs and Catalanotto and relegating Gary Matthews Jr. almost entirely to the bench. They have given every youngster who has deserved it, a chance to play in the major leagues (Carter, Tejada, Thole, Davis). They have been smart though conservative in using the Disabled List, which may be the right move, with guys like Jose Reyes, Jon Niese, and John Maine.

Nothing is ever going to be perfect, but the Mets have made a lot of very deft moves this year. Add to this the fact that they acquired Raul Valdez and Hisanori Takahashi as international free agents and have given the two of them the opportunity to fill in for our injured starters, and you have a series of truly excellent manuevers.

They have taken intelligent risks. They have acknowledged failures. They are willing to let Daniel Murphy try to re-establish his value somewhere other than first base. They have let performance win the day over reputation (Pagan over Matthews).

This is no longer a pattern that we can ignore. I know that the blogging community loves to be snarky and demonstrate how much more that we know than the front office types do -- but it might be time to give them a hand.

Despite the major league club hovering around .500, the first two months of this season have given me new hope. I hope it continues, because if it does, when Carlos Beltran comes back he might be returning to a team that is only one piece away from making a run at the playoffs.


ChrisKelsey said...

Well, yes, they have admitted a few mistakes and corrected them--Catalanotto and Jacobs, for instance. But those are easily offset by the original bonehead decisions that gave us Ike in Buffalo, Jacobs batting clean-up to start the year, Matthews starting the season as the lead CF, and the inclusion of Catalanotto over Carter on the opening day roster in the first place. Add the dumping of Figgy, the presence and use of Matthews (who must certainly be the worst offensive player in MLB, and is still aboard because the Wilpons won't eat the $2 mil--making his acquisition a net disaster, BTW); the continued reliance on Castillo over Tejada; the criminally negligent use of Mejia as a middle-reliever; the wish-upon-a-falling-star decision to include Maine and Perez as essential parts of the rotation, to name a just few idiocies.

The Calero signing was a good move only in that it didn't cost anything and didn't hurt anyone, which I guess in MetsWorld can pass for a net positive.

Granted, the Takahashi and Valdes signings were good, but overall they've made far more bad decisions than good.

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with the previous commenter. Most of the great moves you've cited are things that should have been done to begin with in spring training. It was an absolute travesty that Mike Jacobs even made the roster, let alone batted FOURTH!! for as many games as he did. As for Tejada and Thole, the only reason they were called up was due to injuries to other players, its not as if the mets were making insightful roster moves, Minaya had nothing else to do.

On top of everything else, it is just an absolute waste that Mejia is not being stretched out and developing secondary pitches in the minors right now. There is absolutely no excuse for it. I was thinking he would go down when Igarashi came back, but apparently not.

Brian Mangan said...

Thanks for reading you guys! I appreciate the feedback. I think that you might be dwelling on some very minor moves here and overlooking the major ones.

Fact is, Jacobs, Catalanotto, and GMJ are all gone. Should it have happened sooner? Maybe... not definitely. Who is to say that Jacobs might not have hit like he did in 2008 instead of 2009?

@ChrisKelsey: GMJ is NOT an example of a sunk cost problem. He's costing us $1 million a year, which is barely more than a rookie making the league minimum would make.

Sunk cost is when you make the wrong decision simply because you've already invested money into it. That's probably not the rationale behind GMJ... it's that GMJ is the best guy we have currently who can back up Pagan in center (or so they legitimately believe)

Everyone makes this mistake when referring to GMJ. It is a mistake. Sunk cost is not the correct concept.

@Anonymous: Batting Jacobs fourth was stupid, but that was a Manuel decision. This post is about decisions by the organization, which in general, have been superlative.

You could argue that Mejia should be in the minors as a starter, but that's a difference in opinion. The slam dunks, the smart moves, the Mets are making without hesitation.

Francis said...

So, great, the Mets are improving on this front.

They've made so many good moves that two months into the season, the roster's almost where it would be if this team were run by any other GM in the league (non-Ed Wade/-Dayton Moore category).

GMJ's $1M salary is more than double the major-league minimum. If-- as he has been so far-- he's below replacement-level, then this is the very definition of "sunk cost."

And how are Mejia's curve and changeup coming along?

Brian Mangan said...

I think that Mets fans are slightly disillusioned.

If you think that the $.5 million we're paying to GMJ over the major league minimum is killing us, I challenge you to find a major league roster where that isn't happening.

If you think the 24 at bats he's had in May are killing us, fine. Considering we'll play 30 games in May, spanning 270 innings, and 810 outs... and you're upset about 20 outs... then your expectations are far beyond mine.