Monday, June 21, 2010

The Revolution Has Not Been Televised, Part 2

A few weeks ago, on May 24th, we at Fonzie Forever pointed out something that came as a pretty big shock to us: the Mets have been making some pretty smart personnel decisions this year.

No, they haven't been perfect. No, not all the moves have come as soon as we may have liked them. And no, they have not yet gone out on a limb with the sabermetric folk and done some of the very outside-the-box things we would like them to.

But the basics? The obvious moves? And even some of the not-so-obvious ones that we simply wish they would make? They've made them. We pointed out some of these moves in the last post:

March 30, 2010: Did NOT option SS Ruben Tejada to Triple-A.
April 18, 2010: Designated INF Mike Jacobs for assignment.
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.
May 22, 2010: Placed RHP John Maine on the 15-day DL.
May 23, 2010: Started working out Daniel Murphy at multiple positions.

Since then? Even better.

June 1, 2010: Banished Oliver Perez to the disabled list.
June 4, 2010: Gary Matthews Jr. designated for assignment
June 8, 2010: Jesus Feliciano called up from Triple-A
June 13, 2010: Sent Luis Castillo to minors for rehabilitation.
June 20, 2010: Sent Jenrry Mejia to Double-A

So, to recap, the Mets have made just about EVERY SINGLE MOVE that the Mets blogging faithful have asked them to make since the outset of the season. Jacobs, Catalanotto, and Matthews Jr. are gone. Mejia is back to the minors to work as a starter. Murphy was given a shot, though ill-fated, to play second. Feliciano, Carter, and Thole have been called up (though Thole temporarily). Pagan has been starting every day. Luis Castillo's replacement at second base has been Ruben Tejada, not Alex Cora.

And the list goes on.

But for some, that is not enough. Sam Page, a writer over at the blog Amazin Avenue, for some reason skewered Mets management today.
The Mets have needed roster-security for the past few years and they've mistaken that time and again with their personal security, bred from familiarity with a given player. And ever since Jeff Wilpon got involved as co-Mayor, it's only gotten worse. I suspect Mike Jacobs, Jason Bay and Gary Matthews Jr. signal the first of many former early-2000's Mets re-acquired under Jeff's leadership. It's as if the Mets are run by two kids whose only qualifications to manage a team is they used to always play each other in MVP Baseball 2003; one would always pick the Expos, the other the Mets. Actually, that might be Jeff Wilpon's only qualification to run a team.

That's a lot to say that the Mets have a hard time conceptualizing what a player is, relative to what he was.
* * *
Release Perez. Release Maine. It's not 2007. Stop wasting the time of minor-league managers with their pointless rehab starts. There's no rehabilitation program for being bad.
Content aside, I disagree with the sentiment expressed by this article. Ordinarily I wouldn't mention it at all, but the timing of it (focusing mostly on John Maine's potential return) seems so peculiar to me.

The fact of the matter is this - we don't know what the Mets intend to do with Maine if and when he returns. Nor do we know what the eventual plan will be with Perez. At this point, we don't even have enough information to determine whether either of those men will ever be able to contribute at the major league level ever again.

What we do know is that the Mets, as an organization, have been making some extraordinarily smart moves (relative to the past) this season. Perhaps I'm setting the bar too low for their performance. Should Mejia have been in the minors all year? Probably. Should Jacobs have ever touched the field of play as a Met? Arguable. But the point is that once those issues were no longer matters of debate, for which there was a defensible position, the Mets bit the bullet and made the correct choice.

I don't expect them to always be as forward-thinking as some of the Mets online communities. But that's simply in the same way that I don't expect these blogs to be as insightful to the day-to-day operations of the team, personalities of players, off-field issues, etc. as the team's management will be. Each group will have it's own strengths and weaknesses, and to me, the Mets have been consistently making the correct choices.

They have been lucky, as well. Ike Davis stepped forward in an enormous way this season, making it unecessary for the Mets to struggle with finding a replacement at first base. Oliver Perez was so awful that they could not even dabble with the idea of keeping him in the rotation. Jose Reyes has returned healthy. Angel Pagan and David Wright are having great seasons. They have gotten ridiculously lucky with Takahashi and Dickey so far. So yes, there has been an element of luck. They have not been forced to make any difficult choices this year like they did last year.

But let's not hold that against them. Let's just be glad that when they HAVE been faced with a decision which they could resolve rightly or wrongly, that they have, for the most part, made the correct choice.

When the Mets take the field on Tuesday with a lineup of Reyes, Pagan, Wright, Davis, Bay, Barajas, Francoeur, and Tejada, pinch yourselves and be happy. The Mets of years past may not have gotten us here. We could very easily still be looking at a lineup of Reyes, Cora, Wright, Bay, Tatis, Matthews Jr, Francoeur, Barajas. That would not have required any organizational malfeasance - only an adherence to policies that we have been complaining about the Mets using for years. You know, like the above criticism from Amazin Avenue, that they were unable to see players' values today.

We're heading in the right direction, and it gives me a lot of hope and reason to believe that this 39-30 start, only two games out of first place, might not be a mirage.

Edited for clarity, 10:40am, 6/21:

Joe Budd from Amazin Avenue dropped us a link over at their site, and he had this to add about what we said:
The problem for Brian is that most of those good moves were only necessary BECAUSE of the mistakes the team made at the beginning. Imagine what the team would have been like had GMJ never been on the roster to begin with or if Oliver Perez had never been given $12 million/year. Credit should be given for remedying mistakes, but that doesn't mean you are free from blame for the underlying problems.
I agree and disagree, and feel like this is the majority opinion on the topic. Yes, we shouldn't be falling over ourselves to praise the Mets for getting themselves out of pickles that they created. But let me ask you this...

1. Was getting GMJ for $1 million, as insurance for Angel Pagan, and then cutting him early in the year really that bad of a move? Was signing Ollie for 3/$36, which was a bad move at the time, really terrible? Or with Derek Lowe getting 4/$52 and the Mets thinking they could contend in 2009, was it sub-optimal but at least justifiable?

2. Find me a team in the majors that NEVER makes a bad move. Sure, the Mets have had clunkers. But even Mike Jacobs was justifiable at the time, as he has had some success, signed cheap, and was intended to be a backup.

So yes, the Mets haven't been perfect. But since the clock turned to 2010, they have been very, very good. Is it Wayne Krivsky? Does Omar Minaya read Fonzie Forever? Who knows... but I like it. And it might be time to start tempering the knee-jerk, critical, blogger discourse.

1 comment:

The Frito Pundito said...

Very, very good? Is the standard for very very good now "realizing after two months you screwed up and remedying it?" You haven't just set the bar low, you've buried it in the ground somewhere. To be very very good, I would expect the Mets management (who, let's not forget, are supposed to be professionals) to d a little better than your average blogger. But, as you admit, just NOW are they making all the moves the majority of bloggers have been screaming at them since March to do. I'm sorry, that's not very very good. It may not even be barely adequate. The Mets have had a nice run, but there are major problems with the team, problems the management created (lack of starting pitching, bench depth) that will severely hamper them. I don't see this team making the playoffs, in large part due to the failures of the front office. And that is NOT very, very good.