Friday, October 29, 2004

 

"Outside-the-Box"

A story in today’s issue of Newsday discusses the possibility of the Mets going after Sammy Sosa and Manny Ramirez. As I have addressed in an earlier post, going after Sosa is the worst thing they could possibly do based solely on this.

In Sosa's case, the main impediment is his high salary and sticky contract; a clause triggers another guaranteed year at $18 million if he's dealt. Counting buyout money, an acquiring team would be on the hook for $39.5 million over two years, a high figure for a slugger in decline.

Instead of rehashing my arguments against Sosa, I wanted to point out a fascinating excerpt from the story.

The conventional wisdom was that the Mets would target Magglio Ordoñez to bolster their limp lineup. But Mets people tout new general manager Omar Minaya's "outside-the- box" thinking, and a potential blockbuster involving either Ramirez, from Washington Heights, or Sosa could be the first prime example. In yet another example of outside-the-box thinking, the Mets are for the first time willing to entertain offers for prized young shortstop Jose Reyes. There has been speculation regarding a Reyes-for-Alfonso Soriano deal, but the Mets won't consider that because Soriano will make $8 million in arbitration.

I’m not sure what to make of this “outside-the-box thinking.” If it involves acquiring high priced aging players than I am confused because as I see it, we have been suffocating inside that box for the last three years. By branding his thinking “outside-the-box,” does that give Minaya license for stupidity? If his “outside-the-box thinking” involved trying to find bargain free agents while our younger players developed than that would be great, but apparently it is to do the exact same thing the Mets have been doing for years.


I thought Minaya was brought in to change the way the Mets run the organization, but apparently the Wilpons were just looking for another lap dog because Duquette just wasn’t doing the trick. I cannot think of a worse idea than acquiring Sosa, and while I am down on Reyes right now because of his poor OBP, give the kid a chance. He was not so long ago considered one of the best prospects in baseball and he is younger than David Wright. As for Manny Ramirez, he grew up in Washington Heights like I did and has been my favorite non-Met for years so I can’t say I hate the site of him in orange and blue; however, I don’t realistically envision the Red Sox putting him on waivers again but if they did, he might actually be worth his outrageous salary because at least you would get one of the best hitters in the league who has been remarkably consistent and wouldn’t be earning much more than “Not So Slammin’ Anymore” Sammy. Let’s hope this is all just talk, but the early reports on Minaya are not positive.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

 

Omar Epstein?

For a season in which the Mets were out of it, this was as good as it gets. Not only did I enjoy rooting for the Red Sox as the Yankees’ nemesis, I just enjoyed rooting for them because they an easy team to root for. They are run by a GM whose philosophy I agree with, and they are filled with strong players who have personality. Obviously I’m biased, but they are the most entertaining team since the ’86 Mets.

What disheartened me as the Red Sox closed it out last night was something my friend said to me, a friend that is a fellow passionate Mets fan. He said, “This is what the Mets could be if they were at all smart.” It’s true. If the Mets had a smarter front office with a commitment to a philosophy, they could be a 90 win team for years with the amount of money they have.

As a fan, it is hard not to look at free agents on the market and not want to sign them, particularly when the Mets have the resources to do so. What the Mets need to make a higher priority than that is getting rid of some of their older players who are just placeholders and will not be around the next time the Mets are contenders. Glavine and Floyd? If anyone is willing to take them, let them have them. We don’t need much in return, the Mets can do better on the cheap. For example, Eric Valent was more productive than Cliff Floyd last year based on Baseball Prospectus’ Marginal Lineup Value Rate. For those not as sabermetrically inclined, he had a higher slugging, OPS and batting average, just don’t start him against lefties. There are others like Eric Valent out there, guys who will give you bang for your buck and allow you to spend on big money free agents when the time is right, not just because you can.

The housecleaning of 2003 is a perfect example of what the Mets should do. They traded away a bunch of guys (Alomar, Burnitz et al.) and ate a lot of salary, but they acquired a slew of minor leaguers and ended up with Victor Diaz who could be a contributor for a long time. They could’ve done that again this July by trying to find takers for Floyd, Glavine and Leiter, but instead they did the opposite. No point rehashing that now, but the Mets should look to the Red Sox as an example of what they could be.

Don’t get me wrong, the Sox were not perfect in their maneuvers, they had a lot of luck as well. For example, they got outbid for Jose Contreras, they wanted to trade for Javier Vazquez but the Expos said they didn’t have enough so they “settled” for Curt Schilling, they almost traded Derek Lowe for Esteban Loaiza! While these went there way, they were still in the position to succeed with big money stars like Manny and Pedro and surrounding them with great investments like Bellhorn, Mueller, Nixon, Damon and Ortiz. The Mets try and use the Yankees model (keep buying big) and fail, they should look to the 2004 Red Sox instead. We have Omar Minaya who I have faith, but I hope he mixes in a little Theo Epstein. Omar Epps(tein)?

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

 

Big News!

This was at the bottom of the story about Willie Randolph’s interview in The New York Times today.

Reliever ORBER MORENO had surgery on his right shoulder Thursday. ... Pitchers VICTOR ZAMBRANO and MIKE DeJEAN were activated from the disabled list yesterday.

Great news Mets fans! Victor Zambrano is off the disabled list! Finally, we can get back in the race and show everyone that the Scott Kazmir trade was worth it! I don’t know what is sillier, that the Mets actually announced this or that the Times reported it. Who knew they kept track of the DL in the off-season? Well, the Mets certainly do and now they can get Zambrano in the capable hands of Rick Peterson so he can work his magic. I actually believe that Zambrano will be an effective starter for the Mets, but still not worth Scott Kazmir with the state of the Mets future.

In other news…As reported over at The Metropolitans, Kaz Matsui’s old team, the Seibu Lions won the Japanese World Series. Although I don’t believe in it, this is a perfect example of Bill Simmons’ Ewing Theory…As you can imagine, I am excited that the Mets are granting Wally Backman an interview, but it looks like Willie Randolph would have to get caught at a strip club with Mike Price while triple kissing a college girl with Larry Eustachy to not get the job.

Monday, October 25, 2004

 

Jose Can You See, The Ball Out of the Stike Zone?

Things are a little cold on the onld "Hot Stove" as free agents can't be signed until after the World Series. Yes, the Mets are about to hire a manager, but how much of a difference can that make? There is no Bill Parcells out there who can take a team with 70 win talent and take them to 90 wins. Right now, the Mets are a 75-80 team at best and the players on the field are for more important than the manager. Since things are slow, I wanted to talk about something Mets fans should keep an eye out for and that is the performance of Jose Reyes.

When most people talk about Reyes, it is often prefaced with, "if he can stay healthy..." because as we know, he has had serious hamstring problems. To watch Reyes on the field is a joy, he has amazing speed, a cannon for an arm and has some pop. When he came up as a rookie in 2003, he struggled at first but came on strong before a hamstring injury ended his season. In August 2003 he had 110 AB and hit 4 HR with 10 BB while putting up a line of .355/.408/.509. Mets fans were salivating for a full season of this after his season ended prematurely. Obviously, he was hot and it is hard to expect this from him for a season, but there was reason to believe he was going to be the star everyone predicted he thought he would become. Unfortunately, the numbers for the rest of his career are far less impressive. In his other 384 AB he has only 3 HR, 8 BB and a line of .263/.277/.378. If you are thinking I replaced Neifi Perez's numbers for Reyes', I didn't.

If you want to chalk up some of his poor 2004 because of injury, I can accept that. But beyond getting over his hamstring problems, he needs work on one important aspect of hitting, plate discipline. For Reyes to reach his utmost value, he needs to be on base as much as possible to utilize his speed on the bases. Not only is he a burner, but he also is a fantastic base stealer who is 32 for 37 for his career. If he continues to walk once every 28.5 PA, the Mets are in serious trouble because that career .307 OBP is not going to get it done. For him to be a real star, he needs to be getting on base at .375 clip while providing some pop.

Reyes has never drawn a lot of walks, even in the minors; however, it was never this bad. If he can walk close to once ever 10 AB, that would acceptable as long as he was hitting in the .300 range and providing some power. Reyes has not walked at this frequency since his stint at St. Lucie in 2002 and his walk rate has been getting worse ever since. He does not need to walk to be successful, but if he doesn't, he needs to hit for a much higher average. Ichiro, for example, does not walk a lot, but he hits over .330 consistently so his lack of walk is not an issue since he has a career OBP of .384. Note, even he walks once every 15.9 PA.

The biggest bright spot for the Mets right now is David Wright, he was everything he was advertised to be in his time with the Mets. If the Mets want to have an infield for the ages, they need to address Reyes lack of plate discipline ASAP, because Neifi Perez is nothing to get excited about, and even Neifi would play better defense.


Wednesday, October 20, 2004

 

Let My Cameron Go?

Watching Carlos Beltran this post-season has made one thing abundantly clear: he is worth about as much as any free agent you will see. He is a good defensive centerfielder with excellent on base skills, a lot of pop and a 90% base stealer. Unfortunately, he will most likely not end up with the Mets.

Mets fans can fantasize all they want about signing Beltran and moving either he or Cameron to right or left, but I don’t see it happening. The Mets signed Cameron last season to play center field knowing full well that Beltran would hit the market this offseason. They could’ve come up with a short-term solution, but they chose not to, instead, signing Cameron to sensible a three year $19.5 million deal. This deal, along with the acquisition of Eric Valent, was the best move the Mets made last winter.

One has to figure that Beltran wants to stay a centerfielder, so he is not going to go anywhere he can’t play the position. That said we know Cameron was acquired mainly for his defense and despite his poor zone rating this season, his main value lies in his ability to catch balls in center. Moving him to right or left completely undermines his value. The Mets don’t need another corner outfielder who posts a sub .800 OPS, they had Roger Cedeno for that. The only option would be to trade Cameron and try and sign Beltran, which is a very risky proposition because if the Mets don’t get Beltran, they lose one of their best players when you consider what he brings as a centerfielder and his salary.

Also, with his performance this postseason, Beltran’s asking price tag will certainly be going up. As good as Beltran is, he is not as good as he has played in the last two weeks and no team should allow that to inflate the value of an already great player. I don’t know what his asking price is going to be, but I could see a few million being tacked on based on this October. Any team that pays more because of his October heroics are suckers. Unfortunately, the Yankees are probably willing to pay the sucker fee and it won’t hurt them but the Mets have a more limited budget and must resist the temptation to make moves based on what the Yankees are doing.

Also, let us not forget that the Mets actually have a good centerfield prospect! Lastings Milledge had a fantastic year in the Sally League (.337 AVG/.399 OBP/.579 SLG) and although he struggled a bit in his short stint at St. Lucie, his plate discipline showed some improvement and that appears to be his biggest shortcoming as a player from what I have read. He is a few years away, but he could be ready by 2007, when Cameron’s contract is up. If not, the Mets have an option for Cameron for 2007. It seems to me that the Mets were thinking of Milledge when they signed Cameron.




Monday, October 18, 2004

 

It's Willie's Turn

I think I am officially a Willie Randolph advocate. This may change if a new candidate comes, but if the choice is between Randolph and Rudy Jaramillo, I am going with Randolph and this has more to do with Jaramillo than it has to do with Randolph. Jaramillo has gotten a lot of good press recently for being a fantastic hitting coach, but I’m not sure his track record is as impressive as it is being made out to be.

As we know, Texas plays in one of the best hitters parks in the majors and last season the Rangers were third in the majors in home scoring putting up a line of .285 AVG/.350 OBP/.486 SLG as a team at home. Conversely, they were 21st in the league in road scoring with a line of .246/.309/.425. While a hitting coach can only work with what he has, the Rangers road numbers are very bad, they were one of the worst teams in the leagues at drawing walks (20th in the league, one spot behind our beloved Mets) and that .309 OBP on the road is particularly paltry.

When you look at individual players on the Rangers, there are certain questions that arise as well. For example, Alfonso Soriano. After being traded to the Rangers, one would expect his production to rise considering he was moving from a park tough on right handed power hitters to a renowned hitters park. Instead, he had his worst year since 2001. Laynce Nix, a somewhat promising young hitter posted an OBP of .293. In Jaramillo’s defense, Michael Young had a breakout year and Hank Blalock showed an improvement in hitting lefties, but it is not as if the Rangers have suddenly become an offensive juggernaut because of Jaramillo. It also seems that a lot of their offensive numbers are inflated because of their park and that many of these players are not as good as their numbers indicate.

In 2004 the Rangers won 89 games and just missed out on the Wild Card. In 2003 the won 71 games and the difference is almost entirely in the pitching. This season they scored 860 runs and surrendered 794, in 2003 it was 826 and 969. They gave 175 fewer runs, that is why they were so much better! All the credit goes to the pitching, 34 more runs is nothing to write home about. The point is that Jaramillo looks good like an exciting candidate because the Rangers success, but the Rangers did nothing differently offensively than they had last season, or the year before that and no one was talking about Jaramillo as a candidate back then.

Yes, Jaramillo still might make a good manager, but the reason the Mets are talking about bringing him in as manager is because he is some sort of hitting guru, but that doesn’t appear to be true regardless of what A-Rod says. The Mets need a guy who will preach OBP, particularly with Jose Reyes whose lack of patience makes him look more and more like a young Christian Guzman as opposed to a young Rafael Furcal without the jail time. Similarly, Victor Diaz also lacks patience and like Reyes, he is still in his formative years and those years are running out. The Rangers poor OBP is a huge strike against Jaramillo as far as I’m concerned. One thing I know about
Willie Randolph is that he was a fantastic OBP guy as a player who for his career averaged 91 walks per 162 games. He is also coming from the Yankees, an organization that stresses OBP.

Neither of these guys has managed in the majors so it is a draw there. What I like about Randolph is that he has worked for a meddling ownership in the past, which is invaluable. As I have said, Joe Torre’s greatest strength is his ability to tune out Steinbrenner and manage the way he wants to, I think Randolph will be able to do that too having dealt with Steinbrenner as a player and coach. Fred and Jeff are child’s play compared to the Boss. Randolph has sat and waited for a chance at a manager job and he probably deserved one before Lee Mazzilli, I hope the Mets give him a chance.




Saturday, October 16, 2004

 

I'll Take Ignorant Comments for $400 Alex

When Joe Torre was asked about the Mets interviewing Willie Randolph for their managerial position, his response was, "I just hope to hell it's more than just, 'We have to interview minorities and stuff and he's right across the river, so let's do it." I respect Torre as a manager, but comments like this are imbecilic. He clearly knows nothing about the inner workings of the Mets front office. They may be stupid, but they do not discriminate based on race. They just hired Omar Minaya as GM and have interviewed Carlos Tosca and Rudy Jaramillo for their managerial position, Randolph is by no means a token candidate. I am dismayed that none of the reporters present when Torre made this comment did not point this out.

In other news, the Mets were apparently waiting to see how the Tigers negotiation went with #2 pick Justin Verlander before moving forward with Phillip Humber. In this story, Humber seems optimistic a deal is going to get done which is positive, but the fact that the Tigers have broken off negotiations with Justin Verlander is not, nor is the Devil Rays willingness to give their pick, Jeff Niemann, a major league contract. These pitchers demanding major league contracts is absurd, and I applaud the teams that refuse to relent. These guys are no Mark Prior, and with his injuries, now it isn't clear if even Mark Prior is Mark Prior so even if you have Mark Prior it doesn't seem worth it. It is foolish for these pitchers to pass up these huge bonuses. I understand negotiating, but refusing to sign is dumb, particularly for a pitcher when one injury can ruin your career. Also, if you do turn out to be a major league star, you are delaying the time before you become a free agent and thus you will be one year older and less valuable when you do. I hope the Mets stand strong with the Humber negotiations, let him be the next Matt Harrington for all I care.


Thursday, October 14, 2004

 

At Least We Didn't Trade Kazmir, Right?

I’m nauseous, really, really nauseous. I may actually vomit. You know those moves that get made during the middle of the season where some mediocre starter and a bullpen arm are shipped for another bullpen arm with a couples of nameless minor leaguers thrown in? Well the Mets made one of those two years ago that probably went unnoticed by everyone except neurotic agate page readers and obsessed Mets fans like myself who are reading this blog. Actually, it did go unnoticed by me because one of two "nameless minor leaguers" included by the Mets was not considered a top prospect, but apparently had some potential.

On July 31st 2003, the Mets acquired Steve Reed and Jason Middlebrook from the Padres for Bobby M. Jones, Josh Reynolds and Jason Bay. That’s right, Jason Bay. The same Jason Bay who was then traded along with Oliver Perez to the Pirates for Brian Giles. The same Jason Bay who in 411 AB put up the following line: 26 HR, .282 AVG/.358 OBP/.507 SLG. The same Jason Bay who could and should win National League Rookie of the Year.

I discovered this while leafing through Baseball Prospectus 2004 to see which players they had correctly predicted to have breakout seasons and I saw that Jason Bay had played at St. Lucie and Binghamton. Am I the only one who was not aware of this? To acquire Steve Reed and Jason Middlebrook most likely in support of some ill-fated and delusional post-season run, the Mets gave up a potential long-term solution in the outfield?

While Bay was not a top prospect as determined by Baseball America, they grade prospects based mostly on tools and although Bay is not an astounding physical specimen, he had put up decent enough numbers to keep around. In 261 AB at St. Lucie in 2002 he hit 9 HR and .272/.363/.437. While not fantastic, the organization thought enough of him to promote him to Binghamton where in 107 AB he hit 4 HR and .290/.383/.477. He showed improvement while moving up! Not to mention the fact that at high A-ball in 2001 in the Expos system he had an OPS 1021 with 13 HR in 318 AB. As soon as the Mets traded him, Bay began raking at Double and Triple-A for the Padres where he was considered good enough to help acquire Brian Giles. Bay was drafted by the Expos and the Mets acquired him and RHP Jim Serrrano for SS Lou Collier. The Mets had just fleeced the Expos and acquired a gem, and then didn’t realize it and got fleeced by the Padres. Also, the day the Mets made this trade they were 55-51 and 13.5 games behind the Braves. They would lose 18 of their next 21. Does this sound familiar? It's okay, at least we still have Kazmir.

As Bill Simmons would say, “I will now light myself on fire.”


Tuesday, October 12, 2004

 

Still No Love For the Vet

Not to kick a guy while he is down, but when I heard that Chipper Jones named his son Shea, I had to investigate. Jones claims the reason that he chose to name his son Shea is because of how well he plays at Shea Stadium. Said Jones, “I love playing there, check the numbers.” So I did. Below is a chart of Jones’ performance at the other NL East Stadiums. I am only using the NL East because those are the only other stadiums other than his own where he has more than 200 AB and even that is a relatively small sample size. Conveniently, all the parks in the NL East play as modest pitchers parks so even though they are not the same, they are pretty close which allows for an easy comparison. I also did not include the Phillies’ new Citizens Bank Park because he has had so few AB there.

Shea
AB 255
HR 17
AVG .310
OBP .400
SLG .565
OPS .965
Olympic
AB 252
HR 8
AVG .341
OBP .448
SLG .544
OPS .992
Veterans
AB 220
HR 13
AVG .350
OBP .471
SLG .618
OPS 1.089
Pro Player
AB 239
HR 8
AVG .285
OBP .378
SLG .444
OPS .822
Turner
AB 2218
HR 138
AVG .317
OBP .415
SLG .572
OBP .987
Career
AB 5616
HR 310
AVG .304
OBP .401
SLG .537
OPS .938

When it comes to home runs, Chipper knows what he is talking about. He hits a home run for every 15 AB at Shea while at Veterans (his closest competition) he hits one ever 16.9. For comparison sake, he hits one ever 16.1 AB at Turner Field and one every 18.1 for his carrer. Beyond homers, it looks like Chipper should’ve considered some other names for his son because his rate stats are better at both Olympic and Veterans Stadium, not to mention his own Turner Field. His average, OBP and SLG are higher at Veterans Stadium than at Shea. Although he hits more homers at Shea than Veterans, he makes up for that with 71 more points of OBP and 53 points of slugging at the Phormer Phillies’ park.

Let’s be honest, shouldn’t he have considered naming his son Veterans? Beyond having better numbers there than at Shea, it would’ve been a living tribute to a beautiful park that no longer exists much like
George Constanza wanting to name his son or daughter Seven in honor of Mickey Mantle. Veterans Jones has a pretty nice ring to it, everyone could call him V.J.

Friday, October 08, 2004

 

Say It Ain't Sosa

The latest filthy rumor being tossed around New York is that the Mets are interested in acquiring Sammy Sosa. Hopefully this will not be the way Omar Minaya introduces himself as the Mets GM. Minaya signed Sosa when he was working for the Rangers so they have a history. What is troubling about Minaya so far is that between Sosa and the managerial candidates, every single one seems to be friends with or associated with Minaya. We do not need our GM stacking the organization with his buddies. That is no better than Fred Wilpon asking the Expos to draft Jeff as a favor reported in The New York Times recently.

First off, Sosa’s contract is ridiculous. He will make $17 million next season and has an $18 million option for 2006 with a $4.5 million buyout. If Sosa is traded, his 2006 contract becomes guaranteed and a 2007 team option is added at $19 million with a $4.5 million buyout. I realize that if he is acquired the Mets would be giving up salary and the Cubs would hopefully be paying some of his, but Sosa to the Mets is a bad idea. You want more proof? Here goes.

1.174, .993, .911, .849. That is Sosa’s OPS each year from 2001-2004. 64, 49, 40, 35. Those are his home runs each year from 2001-2004. He missed 36 games this year and 25 last year. He is 35 and moves like it. Will he sell some tickets? Maybe in April and May, but teams come to see winners, not aging stars. Does anyone remember Mo Vaughn? Even if they traded Cliff Floyd for Sosa, that is not progress for the organization because they are basically the same player. They are often hurt, they don’t move well, they make a lot of money and they aren’t getting any better or younger. Sosa is still better, but he is older so a sharp decline is more likely. Acquiring Sosa would be more of the same for the Mets, leaving one to wonder why they hired Minaya in the first place.


Thursday, October 07, 2004

 

Vlad the (L)impaler

This may be blasphemous , but as I watch Vlad Guerrero limp around the outfield for the Angels this postseason, I'm starting to think the Mets made the right choice in not signing him which was the way I felt at the time but was somewhat swayed with his phenomenal performance.

Obviously, he had a monster season and looks like a lock to do so for at least a couple of more years. The question is, come the fourth and fifth year of his deal with the Angels, is that contract still going to be looking good or will he be dragging his feet around right at the Big A? Will Carroll, injury guru at Baseball Prospectus, says that the limp is caused by the back brace he wears and not by the injury itself. Whatever it is, it doesn't look good and if the Mets signed Guerrero to a five-year deal, they would need him to be worth it for all five years. Sure he would've been this past season, but what difference would've it have really made? Five wins? Certainly not enough to put the Mets in the playoffs.

The whole "rule" of not signing anyone for more than three years is a silly one and I am assuming it will be scrapped. I like the idea of being cautious with big free agent signings, but there shouldn't be a steadfast rule, some players are bigger risks than others. For example, this offseason Magglio Ordonez and Carlos Delgado are big risks based on age and injury and if the Mets do want to sign them (and I am not necessarily endorsing that) they should not sign them for more than three years. Conversely, Carlos Beltran is entering his prime and has no history of injury so he would be worth more than a three year deal. Will or should that happen? That is for another day.

The real problem is that when they didn't sign Vlad the Mets said it was part of their long term plan. They then went out and destroyed that plan with their two trades this season. Signing Vlad and not trading for Benson and Zambrano would've been a better move than the opposite, which is what they did. If it were up to me, I would've done neither.



 

New Manager? A.B.F. (Anybody But Fregosi)

With the season over and Mr. Minaya in place, the question on everyone’s mind is who is going to manage the Mets next season. A lot of names are being tossed around, and Wilpon Sr. claims this is Minaya’s decision so this is his chance to make his mark.

The pattern most teams use (and certainly the Mets) in choosing managers is alternating between hard-asses and nice guys. Art Howe obviously falls into the nice guy category so it seems they are due for a hard-ass. This is where you start hearing names like Jim Fregosi, the sound of it makes me my ears bleed. Do we need another retread? Someone whose only visible qualification is that we have heard of him before? Not only that, for most Mets fans the only reason they have heard of Fregosi is because that is who the Mets received in the infamous Nolan Ryan trade. It could be convenient though, he would get to work with Victor Zambrano and the two of them should get to know each other as they are the answer to Mets fans future favorite trivia question, “Who did the Mets receive for Nolan Ryan and Scott Kazmir respectively?”

It’s not about getting a tough guy, it is about getting a guy that will not put up with the Wilpon’s crap. Howe was easily controllable, he was in Oakland and he was with the Mets. The Mets need a guy who will do it his own way and not let management meddle. While I hate to praise the Yankees, this is what Joe Torre is able to do so effectively, he is no tough guy, but he certainly doesn’t respond when Steinbrenner starts yapping to the press in mid-August about why Kenny Lofton is playing right field. The Mets need someone who can do that.
One name that is being tossed around is Willie Randolph. Randolph has said he wants to wait until after the Yankees are eliminated (notice I say “eliminated,” and not “when the season is over”) before interviewing for any positions. I think he is certainly worth the wait. There is no one out there who is so good that they need to grab him now without talking to a variety of candidates. He has dealt with the New York media as a player and coach, and we can presume that he has learned a lot about dealing with egos and management from Torre. He deserves a shot at a job and he inspires more confidence than some boring retread.

That brings us to candidate number two, Carlos Tosca, the first man being interviewed for the job. Fired by the Blue Jays earlier this year when the team was 47-64, Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi said that the players had stopped playing for him. In his defense, Toronto was bitten hard by the injury bug (Roy Halladay) while getting inadequate performances from Carlos Delgado, Vernon Wells and Eric Hinske. Him and Minaya go way back, and I would hate to think that he has a leg up because he is friends with the GM, then again, if it helps in fighting off those pesky Wilpons, maybe that wouldn’t be such a bad thing. The Mets had a GM and manager who didn’t get along for years (Valentine and Phillips) and that led to some success, but obviously some failures.

Speaking of Valentine, his name has also come up for the position and there are certainly worse options. The Mets hiring Valentine is like eating McDonald’s in a foreign country, sure the local food might be better, but at least you know what you are getting. In Valentine, you are getting a shrewd game manager who will make keep the media on their toes and manage the way he sees fit. He has also worked with Minaya and during the Mets stretch of success in the late 90’s, so that has to be a point in his favor. I don’t consider him a retread in the same way as Fregosi or Tosca because he has a history of success with the Mets and he was not fired for good reasons two seasons ago In fact, he probably still should be the manager because he was never the reason the Mets went downhill.

Other names being thrown around are Rudy Jaramillo, hitting coach for the Rangers as well as Joey Cora, third base coach for the White Sox. Jaramillo and Minaya worked together in the Rangers system while Cora once managed in the Mets system. I don’t know much about Jaramillo, but The Eddie Kranepool Society does a good job of breaking down his credentials. Based on that, he sounds intriguing. Cora worries me because former punch and judy hitters who made their career by playing “the right way” (i.e. smallball) tend to manage the same way. There was early talk about Wally Backman who as you can probably figure out from my nom de plume was my favorite choice, but his name no longer seems to be part of the conversation.

Basically it boils town to two things. First and foremost, the Mets need someone who will manage his own and not bow to the pressure of Los Wilpones. Second, A.B.F.


Wednesday, October 06, 2004

 

The Playoffs are going on...

...and once again, the Mets are not in them. More on this in the coming months!

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