When you have been a fan of the New York Mets for as long as I have, you begin to get used to certain things.  I am used to losing in agonizing ways, and I am certainly used to the last month of each season having no meaning whatsoever.

However, it is the day after that really is telling about this franchise.  This is true because we get to watch the Wilpons do their song and dance when trying to explain the continued failures of their baseball team.  Consider it “Pass the Buck Day”.  This is their time to convince you and I that they will not stand for the losing any longer.  They are always “very, very disappointed with the results”, and “plan on putting a winning ball-club on the field next year and for years to come.”  You know that you have heard these lines each and every year.  I wish I could see Fred and Jeff do a little jig as they respond to each and every question.

Wilpons at Press Conference Be Gone With Wilpon

It's always a ball at a Wilpon Press Conference

The reporters ask good questions during this press conference every year.  The questions are typically asked the way you would ask your child about his or her poor grades at school.  “What are you planning on doing to improve this situation?”  It is almost scolding in a way.  I wouldn’t be surprised if a reporter  actually asked, “Have you learned from your mistakes, young man?”

This is the normalcy that occurs at the end of each and every failing season for the Mets.  Hey, when you play in New York City and spend the money that the Wilpons have spent over the years, you must have a winning team once in a while.  At the very least by accident.  When you fail over and over again, the media has the right to eat you alive.

One reporter was so on point to ask just how the Wilpons plan on finding the right individual to run their “baseball department”  (gasp, I hate when the Wilpons use that term to describe the Mets…kind of like a hobby).  This obviously implies that they must do something different from what they have done in years past since the process they have used thus far is an obvious failure.  Fred Wilpon even took a reporter’s suggestion under advisement in regards to the GM search.  I don’t know about you, but this does not fill me with much confidence.

One thing is for sure, pushing Omar Minaya and Jerry Manuel out the door just puts a band-aid on this festering wound.  After all, it was the Wilpons that gave Minaya the position in the first place.  Minaya did not hire himself, did he?  I will continue to state what I have always stated since I began this blog.  Until the Wilpons accept the blame for THEIR inept decision-making, this team will continue to be a mess.   Why should we be naive enough to think anything differently?

The harshest truth is that Jeff Wilpon and I are about the same age.  That assures me one undeniable truth.  The Mets will never again win the World Series in my lifetime.  That is, unless Jeff Wilpon decides in his heart of hearts to sell the team that I grew up rooting for.

There are many Met fans who have expressed surprise by the team’s recent shortcomings.  My only response to this is…Why?  The Met roster has obvious shortcomings that have been well documented.  Was anyone really measuring that home winning streak, as impressive as it might have been, as a true barometer of this team’s talent?  Come on now.

Now that reality has truly set in, let’s ponder what the brain trust has in store for the remaining three quarters of the season.  It will then become important to determine whether these decisions will be the proper ones, or yet additional mistakes that will inherently damage this team’s future.

Starting Staff – There are those who believe that the Mets should add an arm to help their “suddenly” depleted staff.  I say shame on anyone for asking the team to act now.  Just three weeks ago the media was as much in love with our rotation as Omar Minaya is, and that is the equivalent of proposing for marriage.

The truth of the matter is that the staff is as unproductive as it comes,  and that is because production is measured by both the talent and health of a group of players.  Like so many other areas of this team, the players that constitute the rotation are lacking in either or both.  Based on this theory, Mike Pelfrey is the number two as this article is being written, and no one else behind him belongs on a major league staff.  Then again, we all knew this BEFORE the season started, but nothing was done to correct this situation.  Oh that’s right, Omar was not aware of this fact, my mistake.

Now that my redundant rant is through, what should the Mets do at this point?  If the Mets go out and bring in another pitcher for example, then shouldn’t they have offered John Lackey a deal in the winter?  That ship has sailed on us.  No sense in crying over spilled milk.  Sorry, I can’t think of any other uselss lines here.

Be Gone With Wilpon, R A Dickey

Don't worry, our prayers are going to be answered with the call up of R A Dickey!

In all seriousness, I am of the opinion that the Mets should do things internally.  Evan Roberts stated today on WFAN that Jenrry Mejia should be sent down to the minors immediately to build up his arm to become what he was always meant to be…a starting pitcher.  In fact, this is an idea shared by many other bloggers, and I could not agree more.  He is about all they have, what with the other top options being none other than R.A. Dickey and Pat Misch.  Unfortunately, there is not much else in the cupboard as far as imminent starting pitching prospects.  Ultimately, Mejia being a member of the bullpen is yet another example of the Mets filling a hole by creating yet another one.  They can fix it, but must act now.

Offense – Angel Pagan was recently moved to the three-hole because no one else was capable of filling that role, including Jose Reyes.  Look, I like Pagan, but he is as much a three hitter as I am a major league player.  Truth be told, the Mets do not have a true three or four hitter on their roster, what with David Wright transforming into an undisciplined pull hitter over the past year.

The point is, you can mix and match this makeshift lineup all you want.  However, the results will inevitably be inconsistent regardless of what combination you throw out there.  The one exception may be bringing Fernando Martinez up to play him in right field should Jeff Franceour continue to struggle.  Unfortunately, Fernando has also struggled in the minors thus far.  It looks as if the Mets will be forced to make do with what they have for now and the unforeseeable future.

Manager- The firing line is preparing their guns for Jerry Manuel’s head, and the order might be given any day now.  Is he really to blame for this mess?   Well, he is certainly not blameless here (Omar).  He is ultimately responsible for the way his players prepare themselves on and off the field, and they certainly do not look as focused as they did two weeks ago.

On the other hand, what manager would get more out of Ollie P. and John Maine?  Sometimes a manager is only as good as his players, and I am afraid Jerry is no exception here.  Blameless?  No way.  The sole person to blame?  Certainly not.  Either way, Jerry should receive his walking papers soon enough.  Once he does, who in the name of all that is holy is qualified to run this ship for the balance of the season?  More importantly, who is going to get more out of this mediocre roster than Jerry has to date?  Your guess is as good as mine.

This position lacks the excitement that most of the other positions have.  That is because it will be occupied by a player who will never appear in an all-star lineup, but  at the same time will not have you scratching your head wondering why this player is your regular right fielder.  Let’s cut to the chase.

Jeff Francoeur – When the Mets parted ways with Ryan Church and acquired Francoeur, it was easy to see why the trade was made…from the Mets’ perspective for a change.  I believe that the trade was one-sided, with the Mets on the positive side.  Yes, I did just say that!  Hey, not EVERY move made by Omar Minaya is horrible.

Church had some ability.  He could field quite well, and handled right-handed pitching just fine.  However, his inability to hit a lick against southpaws was glaring, and this ultimately relegates him to a platoon player at best.  Sprinkle in his propensity to sustain injuries (AKA Met Disease), and you have a guy who could be out of baseball in the next couple of years.  Since the trade, the Atalanta Braves gave up on him after witnessing his lack of production first hand.  He has since been signed by the Pittsburgh Pirates to serve as their fourth outfielder.  I guess the path to baseball non-existence has already begun for Church.

As far as Francouer is concerned, he has suffered a bit of a fall from grace himself.  Here is a guy who was one of the jewels of Atlanta’s farm system.  When he arrived in the big leagues in 2005, he shot out of the cannon like a bat out of hell, looking like he could not miss meeting his high expectations.  He posted stats of .300, 14 and 45 on just 257 at bats.  2006 and 2007 were very productive full seasons for Jeff, posting at least 100 RBI in both seasons, although the rest of the numbers were lower than the scouts anticipated (.260 batting average in 2006 and only 19 HR in 2007 to name a few). It was 2008 that produced the most disturbing numbers for Francoeur.  With a stat line of .239, 11 and 71 in over 650 at bats, coupled with an obvious lack of confidence, it is easy to see why the Braves began to show some significant frustration.  He began to drop lower in the order, and even had a stint in the minor leagues that season to help regain his confidence.  This is not supposed to happen to a one-time blue chip prospect. Finally, after another slow start, the Braves could not hold back their disappointment any longer, and made the trade for Church with the Mets.

It looks like this cover was a bit off with its expectations

Fracnoeur had a decent showing with the Mets after the trade last year, posting numbers of .311, 10, and 41 in 289 at bats.  Not bad.  The ultimate positive with Francoeur is that he looks like a decent player.  The superstar label was trashed years ago now, and that is fine.  He does not take a walk and strikes out plenty, which relegates him to batting a bit lower in the order.  However, with projected numbers of .275, 22 and 95 in a full season, I think any Met fan would take that over what Church could offer as a platoon player.  After all, Francoeur’s splits versus right and left-handed pitching is not that bad.  In fact they are fairly typical of most big league right-handed hitters.  His defense will not stand out as either negative or positive, but with a strong arm in right, I think we’ll take that as well.

What else can I say?  It doesn’t make me nauseous to see him out in right field every day, so that is certainly something.  Isn’t it?

How many of you felt that the opening day depth chart in center field would look the way it does right now?  Come on now.  Well, if you were like me, I would have bet the house on it looking somewhat similar to the way it does today.  Before I get ahead of myself, let’s break it down in an organized way.

Angel Pagan – Angel has some skill.  I truly believe that.  Sometimes you just have to trust your eyes in what they see to be reality.  He can run.  He can field.  He can hit with some real skill.  His hand-eye coordination is quite good.  So what is the problem?  We know that there is no power in that bat, and at Citifield, that makes that point relatively moot.  That is not the problem.  So what is?  Well, he is not a star for one.  He doesn’t do anything extremely well, whether that be because of he is not in fact star caliber, or because he lacks the mind-set to pull it off.  His largest flaw is sporadic mental lapses on the field.  That is the major obstacle that has kept him from being considered a starter in this league.  I believe he has the skills to be a tremendous base runner and defensive outfielder.  He has not shown this with any regularity simply because he shuts down mentally at key moments.  There were many moments where you wished you cold smack him in the head and say, “Hey, stay focused out there.  This game is important to you and the team.”

His mental flaws withstanding, he is the right kind of player to play on a team that calls Citifield home.  One-dimensional power guys are not.  Citifield calls for speed, line drive hitting, and good defense.  It is too bad the Mets do not have more players of his ilk.

Gary Matthews, Jr. – It pains me to place this guy even second on the depth chart, but alas I have no choice in the matter.  He had one good season, 2006 with the Texas Rangers.  I was fortunate to have him on my fantasy team that year.  However, this is not fantasy baseball circa 2006.  Recently, it was uncovered that he was on steroids for that season, and has been nothing like it since.  Not much more to mention here.  Just a terrible trade by the Mets and Omar Minaya in this instance.  I liked Brian Stokes a good deal, and I believe the Mets will miss his presence in the bullpen this year.  Depth is one thing, but sometimes you just have to be smart and stand pat to prevent a silly move.

Carlos Beltran – Now we come to one of the key issues with the Mets.  Nearing the end of last season’s debacle, I was happy that Beltran came back from his injury.  I was rooting for him to succeed, just not for the reasons of most Met fans.  Do not get me wrong, I like Beltran.  I love to watch him play.  However, I was hoping that he would produce in order to prove that he was healthy.  The Mets would then be able to shop him for something, anything, of real value.  I know this will be the most controversial topic that I will cover here in my blogs, and I am ready for the scrutiny if it should follow.

Let me explain.  Carlos Beltran is known around the league to be one of, if not the best, center fielders in the league.  I for one can not argue that point…when he plays. I understand that he may be perceived as soft by some, and a warrior by others because he tries to play through pain.  I do not care which category he falls under.  I only know that he falls under the category of the oft-injured.  To me, I want someone to contribute to the team that will play 150 plus games in the field, or that will make 30 plus starts on the mound.  Even if that player should fall short of superstar caliber, I say the Mets should have traded Beltran for someone else.  Perhaps they should have tried to trade Beltran for a true number two starting pitcher.  I say number two as opposed to number one because I am a realist.  I know no GM is going to trade a staff ace for a guy who gets hurt as often as Beltran does.  However, if another team felt that they were getting the better end of the deal on talent alone, perhaps they make that move.  This was my hope, although I knew that there was about zero percent chance of this being entertained by the Mets.  This is just another philosophical difference that I have with those making the decisions for the Mets, and it is something that I have to painfully swallow as a fan.

Unfortunately, the Mets are stuck with Beltran

The reality is this.  So much of the Mets’ success is predicated on this guy playing and producing.  With such a high percentage chance that he will miss large chunks of time due to injury, shouldn’t the Mets have hitched their star to someone more reliable?  I think so.  Well, now we are stuck waiting for him to get “healthy” once again, with no realistic timetable for his return.  Sounds like a broken record to me.

To conclude, how would you answer the question I posed to you at the beginning of this article?  If you thought differently, then you just have not been following the Mets very closely for the past few years.

The Omar Babble

January 29, 2010

The following is a response from our wonderful general manager to the idea that he might not have “full autonomy” in running the team.  This is an excerpt from an interview with Kevin Burkhardt of SNY on Thursday.

“Yes, I do have full autonomy,” Minaya told host Kevin Burkhardt. “I know there’s been some talk about that. The bottom line is that I have full autonomy; the bottom line is that we have a good group of staff that we work together; the bottom line is that we make decisions, and like anything else, I have assistants around me, and like anything else, but it’s full autonomy, we feel good about working together and we are continue to work together.”

I AM in control!

….Sheesh!  After that verbal explosion, I think I need a drink.  Let’s finish it up with this one…

“No, like anything else, we have, and I say this, we go out, we pursue certain players, some of the players that are out there we have gotten certain amount of whether salaries that we say hey look we were interested in the players but that being said, we’ve acquired the players that we wanted to,” Minaya said.

Better make that a double.