Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Going Overboard

I don’t think it’s a secret that I’m extremely unhappy with the Mets organization as a whole. The front office is run like it’s a Three Stooges film. The direction of the team seems to flux every other week. The man in charge, Jeff Wilpon, seems to think he’s a baseball guru when in reality his knowledge and decision making is hurting the team.

While reading MetsBlog.com yesterday, I saw a post by Michael Baron that discussed how SI.com columnist Jeff Pearlman seems to have the same thoughts as I do. In his column, Pearls of Wisdom, Jeff makes a number of points simular to ones I, and many others, have made about the state of the franchise.

However, Jeff goes on to basically destroy the team overall. He calls the Mets “the worst franchise in baseball” saying the team is so bad that calling them dreadful is “an insult to dread”. The big quote (which was highlighted by Mike on MetsBlog.com) from Jeff’s column reads:

“No, the 2010 Mets are simply worthless. They are a listless, heartless, wretched baseball team; an entertainment value sans entertainment, playing ugly within the confines of beautiful new Citi Field. When the biggest story of the year is Francisco Rodriguez, your star closer, beating up the grandfather of his kids, well, you’ve for problems.”

The other quote that jumped out at me was:

“Put simply, the Mets’ roster doesn’t work. Jose Reyes is one of the best shortstops in baseball, and David Wright can say the same at third. When healthy, Carlos Beltran is an elite center fielder. Ike Davis looks excellent at first base. Angel Pagan makes a superb fourth outfielder. Johan Santana still throws nasty stuff and, uh…. That’s about it. Save for Wright, the middle of the lineup is a wasteland. Castillo, once an All-Star with the Marlins, might be the least-motivated ballplayer in America. Maine hasn’t contributed anything good in 2 1/2 years. Perez is a head case. Jon Niese reminds one of Joe Price.”

Wow. And you guys thought *I* was harsh.

There’s a huge flaw in Jeff’s column here. He’s right about the way the Mets have played the last month and he’s right about the front office’s apparent inability to do anything about the albatross that is Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo. However, Jeff is so off-base about many other things that it’s almost like he was going over the top on purpose to spark debate and outrage.

First off, Jeff says “When the biggest story of the year is Francisco Rodriguez your star closer, beating up the grandfather of his kids, well, you’ve for problems.”

Really. THAT is the Mets biggest story of the year?

- Not Ike Davis and how well he’s performed as a rookie thrust into the limelight? Something that Jeff HIMSELF states in his column?
- Not R. A. Dickey and a long career finally met with success?
- Not Jon Niese putting together a solid season and showing he belongs? Oh wait… Jeff states he’s Joe Price.
- Not Angel Pagan’s rise from bench player to honest to goodness starter? Oh wait, that’s right… Jeff calls him a good “4th outfielder”.
Jeff ignores any of the above because ignoring those little tib-bits is needed for the sake of his article. He can’t talk about any of that, because he needs to show the train wreck only so his point is driven home.
Jeff goes on to say the Mets have no talent other than Wright, Reyes, Beltran and Santana. He says their roster “doesn’t work”.

Well, he IS right in that it’s not working right now, but a lineup starting with Reyes, Pagan, Wright, Beltran, Bay and Davis (as long as all are healthy) is a pretty good one. Betran’s still rusty after missing so much time the last year (although he’s showing serious signs of coming out of it), and Bay’s on the DL (and is having a terrible year regardless) but that lineup SHOULD work and it can.

Where Jeff really loses me in comment like Jon Niese is Joe Price. It was very nice of him to go digging into the baseball archives to find a below .500 pitcher who really no one else in Amercia would ever use as a description to Niese. I kind of fail to see the comparison. I’m sure Joe Price is glad to see his name in print… likely for the first time in a long time. I’m curious to know how he even came up with that comparison though. Admit it Jeff, you’ve been holding on to that name for a awhile… just itching to use it somewhere… right?
For those of you who do not know, Joe Price was a pitcher for the Reds, Giants, Red Sox and Orioles over a ten year career. He fluxuated between being a starter and a relief pitcher earlier in his career before become a spot starter but mostly a bullpen arm. He stared off with some sucess, going 7-3 with a 3.56 ERA for the Reds in 1980, faired well is a reliver in 1981 with a 6-1 record, 2.52 ERA and 4 saves, and then kind of settled into an average, non-descript career from that point on finishsing with a career record of 45-49 with a 3.65 ERA. He retired after the 1990 season. The only real comparison I can make between him and Niese is that they are both lefthanded.

Yes, the Mets overpaid for Jason Bay… pretty much like most teams have overpaid for larger name (and even lower name) free agents. There is no reason to think that Bay cannot bounce back from a horrible first season in Queens. Many players struggle in their first years in New York. His past makes me willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. He came onto the team with his frist real huge contract, which I’m sure he was compelled to live up to. There was no Carlos Beltran in the lineup. He’s hitting in Citifield which messes up some players (see David Wright in 2009). I think Bay will bounce back the way Wright bounced back this year.

Of course there’s been bad moves. Yeah, Castillo’s contact was two years too much and Perez was a mistake overall. I won’t argue there. They were mistakes the Mets should be willing to eat and get rid of, and they haven’t. Jeff is 100% correct there.

But Jeff would have to admit the Mets, as “dreadful” as they have been in the 2nd half, were pretty exciting and were anything but “listless” until the All-Star break. His description fits for their 2nd half play so far, but not the first. the 2010 Mets aren’t worthless. The Mets of the last month are. Maybe we should wait to see how they finish before the 2010 season is declared with that classification.

The problem with Jeff’s article is that he has some great and true points… but it’s hard to accept any of his logic when he overdoes it on such an extrame scale and says things that just aren’t really correct. It’s like he felt the need to “pad” his point with “facts” that really just don’t pan out.

To ignore some of the things I brought up above for the sake of making his column look right that the Mets are “the worst franchise in baseball” is pretty self serving and lazy. I think clubs like the Orioles, Pirates, Cubs, Brewers, Diamondbacks, Dodgers, A’s, Royals and Nationals might fall into that conversation also.

Heck, the Yankees have made as many bad moves as the Mets have, but are willing to just WAY overspend to fix their mistakes. Something I agree the Mets should also be willing to do.

The Mets are run badly. I agree. Ownership needs someone to open their eyes and get little Jeffy Wilpon out of the driver’s seat. The organization needs a total change of ideology. Jeff’s column is right on the money when it comes to that, but he didn’t stop there. He had to go way too far and frankly, I feel it’s kind of embarrassing. Did Jeff even WATCH this team before July 14th?

The last month HAS been terrible from an offense standpoint, however the starting pitching has been stellar. That alone keeps them from being “worthless”. There are changes needed, and hopefully those changes will come… but this isn’t a terrible team and there is a lot of talent on it. It’s just run wrong. I think Jeff may be too biased or maybe too shortsighted to see that… I don’t know if that’s so, but it’s true.
Now Jeff might argue that his article clearly states that he compared the Mets to a big summer blockbuster movie. He used the films “Godzilla” and “A.I.” as his examples. He said:
“Nine years after A.I. rotted the brains of millions of Americans, the film has finally found its baseball brethren. Throughout the majors, there will always be Godzillas — teams like the Royals and Pirates and Nationals that offer customers low expectations and a product to match.”

Ok, the problem with that is that almost EVERYONE gave the Mets no chance to contend this year. No one did. Heck, the average position the team was picked to finish in was 4th. The fact the team was totally in the thick of it until basically August (and still technically are) was a total surprise to the baseball world. If Jeff claims otherwise, I’d like to see the column where he said in the preseason or in the first few weeks of the season where he thought they would contend. I can. I predicted the Mets would contend and the main reason *I’m* mad about the last month so much is because the Mets are basically a MUCH better team then how they’ve played the last month and I expect more from them.
So in the end, don’t insult my intelligence for the sake of looking like some heavy handed master mind of baseball. The entire column’s message is undermined by the fact that Jeff talks down to us like we can’t tell the difference between what is reality and what is just going way over the line. The problem with it is, that Jeff is guilty of the same thing he accuses the Mets off… not acknowledging the issue on their front doorstep. It’s one thing to point of the shortcomings of an organization. It’s quite another thing to ignore ANY positives so you can paint the picture of total bleakness just so you look justified in being 100% negative. I expect better from an SL.com columnist. Hopefully next time I’ll get it.

To read Jeff’s column in full, go to: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2010/writers/jeff_pearlman/08/16/pearlman.mets/index.html?eref=sihp

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