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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Maybe Jerry Manuel needs a day off

When a player is pressing, especially in the late innings, one tool at the manager's disposal is to sit him down for a day - give him a chance to get a little rest and clear his head. David Wright is playing like he could use a day off. And now Jerry Manuel is managing as if he, too, could use a day off. How else to explain pinch-hitting Omir Santos for Ramon Castro with the bases loaded and two outs in the ninth inning on a day when Castro already had two hits?

Not every bullpen move will work out, nor every lineup change. But moves as bizarre as pinch-hitting for Castro with a player whose major league experience can be measured in days, coming on top of batting Gary Sheffield cleanup two days in a row, call into question Manuel's overall judgment.

Manuel did not lose this game - J.J. Putz did. There's no way of knowing what Castro would have done if he had the chance to bat in the ninth. Maybe Manuel is right that Castro would have had a poor chance against the Marlins' Matt Lindstrom. But if you are going to take Castro out, it needs to be for a lefty at least, not a righthanded rookie unaccustomed to pressure at-bats.

Santos hit a first-inning grand slam off of a struggling pitcher who probably had almost no idea who he was. That one hit does not elevate Santos to the player you want up when the game is on the line.

But Manuel has already shown that he can blow one homer out of proportion. Just because Sheffield reached a milestone with his only homer, Manuel treats him as if he is the Sheff of old. Last night, when the Marlins walked Carlos Beltran in the fifth with runners on second and third to face Sheffield, the Met announcers began talking about "picking your poison." But choosing between Beltran and Sheffield is like choosing between the food at Citi Field and the food at Shea. Sheffield struck out and is hitting .167, slightly below Beltran's .388.

Along with strategic moves, the manager is supposed to motivate his players. But while some players such as Santos see their hitting rewarded with playing time, others such as Daniel Murphy and Castro get the opposite treatment. You can bench Murphy for his fielding, but not if you are replacing him with Sheffield, another poor fielder who is now a much poorer hitter than Murphy.

Go play golf tomorrow, Jerry. Catch up on "Lost" or whatever TV show you like. Don't think about baseball. Clear your head and come back strong for the showdown in Philly.

11 comments:

Wanda (aka Metschick) said...

Have they already left for Philly? He should take the double-decker tour and stay @ the Museum. Just wander around, clear his mind.

Oh, and get some gelato @ CapoGiro. yum.

Anonymous said...

Sheffield in the cleanup spot isn't too terrible. He's driven in 3 runs the last 2 times and has hit the ball hard. besides, who the hell else does he have to hit in that spot?
Putz blew the lead, but make no mistake, David Wright lost the game. for the series, mr. wright had 4 k's and 6 lob. today he gidp w/men on 1st and 3rd 1 out, and struck out looking in the 9th w/2 on no out. and let's not ignore his stellar defense.
jerry made a questionable move in the 9th, but the game was lost before that point.
km

Jonmouk71 said...

You have to believe with Wright's talent that he will pull out of this - I remember Jeter having a horrendous April and then hitting well the rest of the year. If the Mets are 3 under .500 and farther from 1st by May 15th, Manuel may not survive; and Girardi is not far behind, especially after A-Rod is back (can't believe I'm looking forward to A-Rod being back!). Speaking of A-Rod - it has been written that if he had gone to the Sox in 2004, he would have had 2 rings by now and been much beloved in Boston. Maybe so, but the two Boston rings also would have had a steroid shadow over them.....

Uncle Mike said...

Wow, that Johan Santana has really made a difference for the Mets. Yes, I know, he pitched well, but can he pitch 9 innings every time, to make sure some Putz doesn't mess it up for him?

I know! I know! Yesterday aside, he's a good pitcher, but that name! It makes what he did yesterday so much funnier!

Admit it: If I had bet you after that weekend disaster in Boston that Phil Hughes would win his next start and Santana wouldn't win his, you would have taken it, right?

Both New York teams are up to their necks in question marks -- particularly with their bullpens, their rotations, and their third basemen who can't seem to hit in the clutch -- but I just want to hear one Met fan, just one, admit that having Johan Santana has not made any difference thus far.

Anonymous said...

I know the Yankees getting swept in Boston really hurt us, but just knowing that in spite of that the Yankees right now have a better record than the Mets really has to suck, right? KM? My condolences.

-JJ

Anonymous said...

JJ, I could care less that the yankees have a better record than the mets right now. we have bigger things to worry about. but congrats on being 1 game over .500 if you keep it up you can enjoy your second consecutive october with no yankee baseball. I, on the other hand, am accustomed to it so it won't have the same effect on me.
km

Anonymous said...

Yeah, KM, you're full of shit.

-JJ

Anonymous said...

JJ,wise one, tell me please, enlighten me. Is it the yankees we have to beat to win the NL east? the NL wild card?
Tell me, why do you care if the yankees have a better record than the mets? what does it prove?
km

Anonymous said...

You got to be kidding me!! Are you actually being serious with your question? Really, are you?

Boy, talk about the pot calling the kettle black - what you are asking me is what we Yankee fans have been asking you Met fans for YEARS!!!

You're right, neither team has anything to do with each other in standings, division titles, Wild Card slots, or anything of that matter, but Met fans always have to say some kind of negative crap about the Yankees when your own team should be the team to talk about and amongst one another!!

I'll tell you what: I will answer your question if you can justify what I explained above. Deal?

-JJ

Anonymous said...

I will continue to have negative crap to say about the yankees. and i will always root for them to lose. but having a better record means very little. with the way the mets have started the year, i am not concerned with beating the yankees in the standings. I do get joy out of the yankees losing, especially getting swept by the red sox. but better record? means nothing to me at this point.

And MINJ, johan makes a big difference for the mets. aside from us being able to say that we have the best pitcher in all of baseball, it also means that we at least have a very good chance of winning every 5 days. or at least of giving our bullpen a bit of a rest. with the way that our staff has been performing, that makes a world of difference for us. now you can answer a question. how is CC working out for you guys?
km

Anonymous said...

So, that's it, KM? You mean to tell me that you admit that you actually waste energy in rooting against a team that has absolutely nothing to do with yours? You actually admit to taking the sole focus off your own team to do this?

Okay, that comes as no surprise to me - now the next question: Why?

Let me see if you can answer that question honestly and concisely.

-JJ