My Thoughts on the Mets Going Forward: The Management
December 3rd, 2010 by slangon

It’s been a month since Brian Wilson fired a slider past the bat of Nelson Cruz for the final out of the 2010 World Series. It’s been nearly 2 months since Oliver Perez lobed an 88 mph “fastball” high and outside to Justin Maxwell to walk in the go-ahead run in the top of the 14th inning of the Mets final, meaningless game of yet another meaningless season. After not thinking much about the Mets for 2 months and not thinking much about baseball for 1 month I think I’m ready to sit down and lay out my thoughts and hopes for my favorite baseball club for the coming season. Hell, since we’re officially into the holiday season, think of it as my Christmas list for Sandy Alderson.

So far this off-season, the Mets have done a lot, but at the same time they’ve not done a lot. The most obvious is the complete cleaning out of the front office and the replacement of Jerry Manuel with Terry Collins as the Mets manager. Those are not the most exciting of moves, especially as seen through the eyes of a fan base desperate for some glimmer of hope for the future, but I think they might be the most important moves made by the Mets in years.

Honestly, I knew nothing of Sandy Alderson, Terry Collins or any of the other front office guys that Alderson brought in before they became part of the Mets franchise. I still don’t really know that much about any of them. What I do know is that it seems like they has an actual plan in mind for the team, and not just for the 2011 season. I feel like Alderson has taken stock and come up with an idea of what he feels is the best way to approach things going forward and has done what is necessary to implement that approach. That may not sound like the most exciting of news for me as a fan, but I honestly am into it. After years of witnessing the Minaya approach of figuring out what was broken last season and basically swapping out that broken part for another part after the fact, it’s kind of refreshing to hear Alderson talk about building the team in a way so that you already have those spare parts in place should something break down in the middle of a season.

I also think it’s going to be a little hard to sit and watch what Alderson is going to do heading into 2011 knowing that he’s pretty handcuffed by several big contracts, some of which made some sense, some of which made no sense. In 2011, Carlos Beltran will be making $18.5M, Luis Castillo is owed $6M, John Maine gets $3.3M and Ollie Perez is robbing the Mets of $12M. While I think that with a full year of being healthy Beltran will earn his money, those other three guys are taking up over $20M in resources and contributing next to nothing to the team. It’s sort of hard to go out and try and land any kind of free agent to help the team with that kind of money already tied up. On the bright side, if you’re going to be unable to spend big in the free agent market, it seems like this is a good year to be thrifty. Although I would suggest signing Willie Harris, just because he always seems to do something to burn the Mets. We could sign him and then bury him somewhere in the minors where he can’t hurt us. And I’m only half kidding about that.

Willie Harris aside, I don’t think the Mets will be looking outside for help this off-season a whole lot. I think I can live with that, too, so long as they continue to give some of the young guys who’ve been playing with the big club a shot. As much as I want them to go out and win the World Series every year, I can deal with watching them lose as long as I feel like I’m watching guys like Niese and Pelfrey and Davis and Tejada and Parnell and Mejia grow as players. At this point, with the team obviously being so far beyond being one missing piece away from contending, I would hate to see them mess up possibly building a team that could potentially be an annual contender for the sake of bringing in some washed up, big name player in an attempt to put asses in the seats. I’d rather know that this isn’t our year but we’re building up to it, than be tricked into believing that we’ve finally got that last piece of the puzzle that’s going to put us over the top. That seems to be the Minaya way.

As far as the firing of Jerry Manuel, I agree that he could not be part of the picture going forward. That’s not a knock on his skills as a big league manager. I never really thought he was a terrible skipper. Sure he made some questionable decisions along the way, especially in the way that he handled the bullpen, but what manager doesn’t make questionable deciscions. I thought that he was sort of forced into a flawed situation to begin with, and all the injuries to key players over the past 2 seasons just compounded the problem. I honestly don’t see how anybody could’ve won in that environment. That being said, Jerry’s laid back attitude didn’t help matters, and just for the sake of a clean break, he needed to go. Sorry Jerry.

Once Jerry was handed his walking papers, before Alderson was even brought on board, I was all about either Booby Valentine or Wally Backman being hired as the skipper, although I feel like those are both due to sentimental reasons rather than practical ones. Once Sandy Alderson emerged as the leading GM candidate though, I felt like both of those guys were long shots for the job. I just got the impression that he had his own ideas of what kind of manager should be steering the Mets ship, and neither of those guys fit the bill, which was a little disappointing.

As I mentioned earlier, up until the moment he was hired I really didn’t know much at all about Terry Collins. After reading many articles written about the hiring, he sounds like he will make a fine manager and sounds like he’s dedicated to getting the team as prepared as they possibly can be to win games. He’s supposed to be firey, which is something that I think has been lacking in the Mets clubhouse for a long long time. As far as his managerial track record, 5 out of the 6 years that he was a major league manager, he complied a winning record and finished in 2nd place. Of course 2nd is not 1st, but it’s a sight better than where the Mets have been the last few seasons. Regardless, that would lead me to believe that he has at least an inkling of what he’s doing as a skipper.

His final season as the manager of the Angels did not go so well, however. Not only did the team go 51-82 and end up in 4th place under his guidance, there was a mutiny amongst the players. The funny thing is that I keep reading article after article in which it is mentioned that the players on the ’99 Angels petitioned the front office to fire Collins, I’ve been unable to find any direct information about the incident. What I do know is that Collins resigned on his own, citing bad chemistry in the clubhouse. As a matter of fact, the club had given Collins a 2 year contract extension shortly before his resignation, so apparently the front office didn’t have too much a problem with him. Regardless, of what happened in Anaheim, Collins acknowledged it and kind of reminded everyone that it happened 11 years ago, and he’s learned from it.

That’s what the Mets have accomplished so far this off-season, and I have to say I’m pleased so far. I don’t foresee any World Series games being played in Citi Field just yet, but I think I’m buying into Alderson’s agenda. I think.

Over the next few days, I’ll break down my thought on the rest of team as well, so stay tuned.

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