Thursday, August 12, 2010

Bridge to K-Rod becomes bridge to nowhere for nowhere Mets

It was almost exactly one year ago (August 15, 2009) that a Met season already in disarray took a drastic downward turn when the face of the franchise, David Wright, ended up face-down and motionless after getting beaned. Now Francisco Rodriguez is under arrest for an alleged assault on a family member in the family room at family-friendly Citi Field.

So far, K-Rod has been suspended for two days without pay. With the power of the union, a longer suspension at this point would probably run into problems. But at least the Mets could have said that they were suspending K-Rod indefinitely, then bring him back in a couple of days depending on how things developed.

And this story is still developing. Last night, it was reported that K-Rod was upset with reporters because he was not used in the eighth inning, but now it turns out that was because the altercation had already occurred.

Many have been quick to point out a pattern of confrontations with K-Rod. But confrontations with Tony Bernazard, whose temper apparently got him fired, and Brian Bruney, who apparently was the one to provoke K-Rod, and quickly backed down in the following days, do not necessarily make you the new Milton Bradley.

Still, K-Rod also had a confrontation with an older bullpen coach, Randy Niemann. And for all we know, these confrontations are underreported and there is more to them, at least the ones with Bernazard and Niemann, than we know.

Even if K-Rod had a spotless past, the alleged events of last night are bad enough.

Meanwhile, Jerry Manuel says before the game (before the suspension was announced) that he would not hesitate to use K-Rod today. Even if one did not think K-Rod should have been disciplined, it would make no sense to use a player who had apparently spent the night in a holding cell at Citi Field and has yet to be arraigned. But Manuel must not think that would affect K-Rod's performance, considering that he also said before the game that this was not a baseball matter and would not be a distraction to his team.

Even after this incident, the Mets' main issues remain the same. Manuel needs to go as soon as possible. His inability to adapt to changing situations is such that he will probably continue to obsess over who will be the eighth-inning setup man when he currently doesn't have a closer.

And his rushes to judgment will probably cause Manuel to anoint a new closer immediately, even if K-Rod is due back in a couple of days. Manuel pulled Hisanori Takahashi from the rotation after a grand total of one successful setup appearance Tuesday, only to see him falter last night. Now he's stuck with no starter for Saturday, and has actually mentioned the dreaded Ollie.

But this is one instance where I hope that Manuel goes through with one of his crazy plans. If the Mets insist on keeping Ollie on the roster, Manuel should show upper management the consequences of that decision.

I'm just glad I don't have tickets for Saturday night's game.

Keeping Perez on the team sends a message that if your contract is big enough, it does not matter what you do. Yesterday's altercation ends up being all the more reason to dump Ollie.

As for replacing Manuel, the Mets have drawn praise for giving Wally Backman a second chance and setting him up as a potential replacement that could inspire the team, excite the fans, and come cheaply. But Backman needed that second chance because of his own legal issues, including one involving a domestic incident.

Will the Mets, who tend to be publicity-conscious at the wrong times, now shy away from Backman? I hope not. If Backman deserved a second chance before, he still deserves one. But if he is going to become the new manager, appointing him now could set off a whole new round of controversy. Maybe the Mets should bring in an interim skipper instead and then hire Backman or someone else after the season.

But if the Mets want to rally a fan base that is moving from dispirited to disgusted, get rid of Manuel as now and send Ollie packing.

Judging from Squawker Lisa's excitement last night, the only people who will be caring about the Mets before too long are rubbernecking Yankee fans.


Matt Warden said...

Things take a turn for the worst for the Mets. How surprising...

Anonymous said...

Well, at least no one got banned for life. That is, until they could buy their way back in.

Anonymous said...

I say let Manuel finish the season, keep the controversy to a minimum, then let him go after the season. Hire Wally Backman, with the stipulation that he conduct himself in a professional manner, and emphasize "team first".

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