Mets Rumors & News
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For the second straight year, the Mets season came down to game #162, and for the second straight year, the team lost. Season over. No playoffs. After 2007’s collapse, Willie Randolph should have been fired, the bullpen gutted and an effort to make the team younger should have been a priority. Instead, Omar Minaya chose to retain his manager, put all of his bullpen eggs in Duaner Sanchez’s basket and re-sign Moises Alou and Luis Castillo. All were big, big mistakes.

The main culprit in the demise of the Mets was, of course, the bullpen. Were they single-handedly responsible for every Mets loss? No. But did they have a major league–high 30 blown saves? Yes. Count ’em, 30! That doesn’t mean the team lost every one of those games, but that’s a pretty darn high number. In the off-season, Minaya managed to trade away Guillermo Mota to the Brewers. Good start. But, unfortunately, it wasn’t a start. That was it. Unless you count Matt Wise, which I don’t know how you could. He was last seen driving a Mister Softee truck this summer.

Minaya decided that last year’s bullpen, which was a complete disaster coming down the stretch in ’07, just needed a little tinkering. As it turns out (and to no one’s surprise) it needed 20 sticks of dynamite and a lighter. He put a lot of faith in hoping that Sanchez would return to his pre-injury form. That obviously didn’t happen, as Sanchez was a shell of his former self and had trouble hitting the high 80s on the radar gun. Aaron Heilman, Pedro Feliciano, Scott Schoeneweis and even Billy Wagner failed miserably last year, and repeated their pathetic performance this year. Of course, the injury to Wagner was a big blow, but the ’pen was in trouble before he came up lame. They were forced into roles where they would inevitably fail, because almost every one of the team’s relievers was a specialist, who couldn’t pitch a couple of innings at a time. Because of that, the bullpen kept putting the team in a position where every game was tight, no lead was safe and every at-bat a nerve-wracking, do-or-die exercise. And the architect of that bullpen was Omar Minaya. Sure, he dumped Jorge Sosa early and picked up Brian Stokes and Luis Ayala off the scrapheap, who helped a little (but like everybody else failed at the end), but a bad plan entering the season is what killed them.

Minaya also made the ill-fated decision to bring back Moises Alou. The oft-injured, 42-year-old left fielder only played in 87 games in 2007, so if you were surprised that he’d only appear in 15 games in ’08, raise your hand. Left field was a black hole for two months until Fernanado Tatis was given to the Mets as a gift from the gods. Minaya lucked out there. And how many Mets fans rejoiced when they heard these words last winter: four more years of Luis Castillo. He’s the seven dwarfs all by himself―Surly, Limpy, Slappy, Grouchy, Moody, Lazy and Gripey. Damion Easley filled in admirably, but he too was brittle. Argenis Reyes can’t hit. So they ended up with Ramon Martinez the last week of the season (they may have been better off if he was starting all year).

Did Minaya do everything wrong? Of course not. He traded for Johan Santana (no small thing), Ryan Church and Brian Schneider. But the team needed an overhaul not a tune-up. The Mets need to stop thinking so highly of themselves. They’ve been blinded by the regular-season success of 2006, but that year and the next two ended in failure. They won 88 games in 2007 and now 89 this year. What did Bill Parcells once say? You are what your record says you are. So this winter, they need to do what they should have done last winter: jettison Heilman, Schoeneweis, Castillo (would they even be able to perform in front of Mets fans again?) and build around the core young guys―David Wright, Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran, Santana, but not with washed-up, over-the-hill types (please). They need to build for sustained success and not take the one-year-or-bust mentality. How far has that gotten them? Enough with the Moises Alou’s and even the Pedro’s. Maybe they should take a page out of the New York Rangers handbook. The Blueshirts realized they couldn’t get any further in the playoffs with the Jaromir Jagr’s and Martin Straka’s and built around their young core group with more youth instead of age. It may backfire or be a step backwards temporarily, but in the long run your window of opportunity for success is longer. The Mets have a young core group; they can do the same thing.

Could the Mets have won one or two more games with a hit here or there and snuck into the playoffs? Absolutely. (Will Wright ever learn to relax in the clutch?) But why were the Mets in the position for their season to be on the line the last game two years in a row? Because Omar blew it. He miscalculated on how far he should have gone in changing the makeup of the team. (At least the clubhouse sniping and finger-pointing ended when Jerry Manuel became the manager.) But instead of holding Minaya accountable, the Wilpons are giving him a four-year extension. Odd timing. I guess they want stability in the front office (hey, the Detroit Lions had stability with Matt Millen; it’s not always a good thing). Hopefully Minaya gets it this time. The Mets have a lot of holes, but let’s just hope he fills them the right way.

There is currently one response to “Minaya to Blame for Mets Downfall”

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  1. 1 On October 14th, 2008, metbass64 said:

    This is my last word on David Wright! YES, he tightens up in the clutch and it sucks – but so does one of the best hitters in the game, a cross-town guy named A-Rod. Hopefully, he and Wright will overcome their “anti-Manny-isms”. But, was ANYONE who understands the game paying attention the night of the Daniel Murphy lead-off triple? Wright’s mistake was NOT in failing to get Murphy home from third at all, but in actually TRYING to get him home at all. Wright’s baseball I.Q. showed signs of being quite low in that spot, which, when the Mets failed to score and lost the game, I personally felt was the end of their season, even though Mr. Santana tried in earnest to save it (he might have seriously garnered votes for MVP if the Mets had actually gotten into the post season, I think). But, I digress. You see, oh you bashers of the bullpen, Minaya, etc., Wright seemed to be the only one on the field who DIDN’T know that Piniella had no intentions of giving him anything good to hit in that at-bat. The only reason he was not “formally” intentionally walked was, perhaps, because a righty was pitching to him and the Cubs hoped to get, by chance, the result that ocurred. But the obvious ball 1, ball 2 and ball 3 pitches thrown to start Wright off weren’t enough of an indicator, it seems, that he was obviously being pitched around there. So, he swung at ball 4, ball 5 and ball 6 to end his at-bat! And instead of him being on first with Murphy on third, and Delgado receiving the intentional walk he was going to get no matter what Wright did – which would have brought up Beltran with the bases juiced and no outs – we had them loaded with one out and Ryan Church (SHEESH!) up instead. And we all know how that turned out! If Piniella didn’t make his only mistake of an otherwise brilliantly managed inning by bringing the middle infielders in against Church, the grounder he hit to Uggla would have been a double play ball instead. But then we wouldn’t have gotten to see Ramon Castro strike out to end the inning, so… If anyone reading this didn’t realize Wright’s ineptness while they were watching that brutal inning and subsequent loss – well, you don’t know the game as well as you might think you do – sorry. THAT WAS NOT WRIGHT’S RUN TO DRIVE IN THERE! Trust me on this. I’m only shocked that in the 2 and a half weeks since that game, in all the countless times Wright’s name has come up on WFAN and SNY as a choker, that NO ONE ELSE (Francesa, Coleman, Benigno,etc.) has pointed this out. They all keep harping on how he failed to bring the run in there! Yet, his “choke” in that particular spot was NOT in failing to make contact, but in foolishly thinking that he needed to make contact and be the “hero” to end the game instead of allowing the situation to unfold so that another team mate could come to bat in an almost fool-proof position to win the game. As for his buddy Jose Reyes, he’s no angel either in terms of baseball smarts! In that same week, the Mets were shut out on one hit. Mr. Reyes – who’s job is to get on base any way he can to set the table and ignite the offense – leads off the very next game by getting a quick 2 balls and no strikes count. So what does he do? He swings at the next pitch, also a ball, rather than taking a strike – and hits a pop-up to the left fielder for out number one. Mets lost that night, too. Of course, the next night he leads off the game and hits a home run. Great! Mets won! But not what they truly need from him on a night-in, night-out basis. He causes more trouble, errors, distraction, and forces more pitches to be thrown – not only to himself, but to the next batters in the line-up, who see more fastballs with him on first threatening to steal – by taking walks hitting singles (what about a bunt every now and then to start things off?). Longer at-bats by him and everyone else = high pitch counts and early exits for opposing starters! Eventually, someone will get this through his head, and the whole line-up will benefit. Then maybe we’ll win that one more game we couldn’t win the past 2 seasons to get in to the playoffs?!

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