Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Let's not blame Jerry Manuel

As every baseball manager knows, getting fired is part of the territory. Jerry Manuel, who is on every talk radio, print media, and blog hot seat, deserves better. Ever since Endy Chavez made his spectacular catch in the sixth inning of game seven of the 2006 NLCS, the Mets have done nothing but disappoint their fan base. Age, Injuries, and inconsistent play from their young players, have all contributed. When the Mets blew a seven game lead with seventeen to play in 2007, we should have known better. Three fifths of their starting rotation was made up of a pair of 41 year olds (Glavine and El Duque) and a rookie (Mike Pelfrey). You just can't win without a legitimate, in his prime, ace. So Omar traded for one in Johan Santana. Genius! He also tried to upgrade the defense by acquiring good gloves in blossoming OF Ryan Church and Catcher Brian Schneider. We all know what happened. The Mets got off to a slow start, and Manager Willie Randolph was fired. Jerry Manuel took over after 69 games and actually had a 3-1/2 game lead with 17 left to play. This despite closer Billy Wagner blowing out his arm in August. Starting Pitcher John Maine was injured. And the other starters (with the exception of Johan and Pelfrey) couldn't get past the sixth inning. This put pressure on the Wagner less Mets. It was the bullpen collapse of 2008, so Omar Minaya thought he fixed that with a bold winter meeting trade, acquiring former all star closer J.J. Putz, and signing the all time single season record holder for saves, Frankie Rodriguez. Everyone applauded. 2009 would be different. Well, it only got worse! Injuries, injuries, injuries! The Mets just can't get it right the last three and a half years. But in this curious case that is the New York Mets, the blame can be put squarely on the shoulders of the players. Are we suppose to blame Jerry Manuel for David Wright's sudden penchant for swinging at every slider outside the strike zone? How about Jason Bay and his one home run? Jose Reyes, layoff not withstanding, hitting a robust .216? Or how about an Ollie Perez, who once was wildly inconsistent, but is now just plain consistently bad. I don't blame Jerry. On paper, even without Carlos Beltran, the Mets should have enough offense to win with the quality of the pitching they have been getting. Johan Santana could easily have a 6 and 2 record right now. What the Mets have been doing is finding a way to lose tight ballgames and more often than not a lack of offense has been the culprit. Here are some numbers to digest. The Mets have a combined 4 HR's and 33 RBI from the number three and four hitters. COMBINED! Their pinch hitters are hitting a collective .209. The team average with runners in scoring position is .237 and with two outs it drops to .227. The biggest indicator is the team's road average which sits at .217 with a pathetic .281 on base percentage and a disgusting .339 slugging percentage. I guess that explains the 5 and 13 won-loss record on the road. So much for blaming Citifield or the manager.

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