Friday, July 16, 2010

If Mets win, it will be in spite of Jerry Manuel and Omar Minaya

I feel bad for Fernando Tatis and wish him well now that he has undergone shoulder surgery and is on the 60-day DL, but the fact remains that almost 1.5 of Omar Minaya's Opening Day roster consisted of players that would not make most major-league teams. It took half a year, but the Mets have finally purged the roster of Tatis, Mike Jacobs, Gary Matthews and Frank Catalanotto.

A case could be made that a pennant contender would also not have players like Luis Castillo, Oliver Perez and John Maine, who were not only on the Opening Day roster, but started the season in prominent roles.

If the Mets still had their Opening Day roster, and Ike Davis, R.A. Dickey, Hisanori Takahashi and Ruben Tejada were not on the team, they would not have gone 48-40 in the first half.

Minaya does deserve credit for finding Dickey and Takahashi. Everyone keeps getting ready to write Dickey off, but last night he kept the Mets in the game against two-time defending Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum. Imagine if Maine or Perez had been pitching instead.

Tejada improves the Mets' defense over Castillo, and when he was hitting at least a little, the Mets were winning, going something like 15-5 in the first 20 games Tejada started after Castillo went on the DL. But with Tejada in a deep slump, the nearing return of Castillo may not be the disaster that it appeared to be a couple of weeks ago.

But Perez is also nearing a return, which brings up a big difference between last year's Met team and this year's. Last year, the team and fans waited, mostly in vain, for injured players to return. But now that Carlos Beltran is back, most fans and probably the team as well are dreading the return of players like Perez.

Despite Jerry Manuel's numerous curious moves, I was ready to give him credit for the Mets' successful first half until the handling of Jose Reyes' oblique injury. The Mets appear to have forgotten the lessons learned last year about rushing players back. The organization as a whole likely shares responsibility, but it was Manuel who put Reyes in his original lineup for Thursday night's game against the Giants, because, as Metsblog reported:

"I assumed that he was ready to play…I put him in the lineup, and then [Ray Ramirez] came to me and said that there is still a bit of discomfort, even though he feels much improved, and I took him out of the lineup."

Reyes had not swung a bat since Sunday, but Manuel assumed he was ready to play. Manuel added that Reyes appeared "much better," which appears to be more wishful thinking on Manuel's part. As Metsblog writer Michael Baron wrote:

…if he’s not ready to play, i don’t think he can be 'much better' as Manuel indicates…i think it would be ok if someone simply said 'the guy is hurt, he needs time off to rest'…that really would be ok, because that would mean nobody is going to try and accelerate his return, like last year, and prolong this issue…

The Mets went through this last year and nobody lost his job. If Reyes is out any length of time, someone needs to be held accountable.

And if Reyes is out, the Mets don't have to worry about trading for some so-so starter who probably won't make an appreciable difference to a team whose big problem now is scoring runs, because the Mets will be out of the race.

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