Meet The Mess Or A Mess To An End?

There’s no spinning an eight run first inning, a 16-1 loss, and rampant humiliation the type the Phillies have inflicted on the Mets over the last three games. Only the Mets could let a Phillies team that’s dealing with an embarrassing season of their own do this. The Phillies, with a too little-too late comeback, have made their disappointing season a bit more bearable. But it’s still disappointing. That aside, they walked into Citi Field and backhanded the Mets and the Mets took it. Again. No doubt the Phillies were laughing on the bus back to Philly and they had reason to. It can be glossed over through the prism of payroll and preseason expectations or lack thereof, but the Mets participating in the Phillies downfall earlier this season by beating up on them is rendered meaningless by the past three games.

Suggestions that the Mets have quit are inarguable. It’s not about talent anymore, it’s about incompetence. A big league team cannot allow another big league team—regardless of disparity in talent and money—to treat them like a punching bag and leave them lying in the dirt shrugging as if it’s accepted that this is the way things are and will remain. The Mets could’ve hit the Phillies back for once and ended their playoff hopes. Instead, they gave them a lifeline. Behind the Cardinals by 4 with 12 to play and having to leapfrog both the Dodgers and Brewers make a Phillies playoff appearance all but impossible, but it could’ve ended this week and the Mets could’ve been the ones to do the deed. Instead, they chose to lay down.

Are the Mets this bad? No. Were they as good as they looked in the first half of the season when they were one of baseball’s most pleasant surprises and talked of buying at the deadline rather than selling (and did neither)? No. But there’s no escaping the 9 straight home losses and 14 of 16 since August 19th. Comparisons to the 1962 version of the Mets are based on nothing other than attempts at ridicule and pure numbers—there’s no comparison between the situations, but that it’s mentioned in this context is bad enough.

No one wants to hear the likes of Michael Kay saying, “I told you so,” when he had the team winning 50 games before the season. He didn’t tell anyone anything. The end result doesn’t prove the prediction accurate. Nor does anyone want to hear Mike Francesa, who earlier in the season repeatedly stated that Mets’ manager Terry Collins deserved a contract extension and is now speculating on the same manager’s job security. The beat writers have taken to Twitter and other outlets with their passive aggression and self-indulgent agendas.

It’s all meaningless.

But this has to be examined logically. Does it make a difference whether the Mets won 81 games? 77 games? Or 70 games? No. The front office is presumably angry about the perception of disinterest on the roster; that the stands are completely and deservedly empty; but in the big picture, they’ll take the higher draft pick and get a better player.

What can they do to fix this to avoid the same fate a year from now and have the Mets a more welcoming and inviting destination for prospective free agents as they have money to spend with the expiring contracts of Johan Santana and Jason Bay at the conclusion of 2013?

Collins isn’t going to be fired. There are increasing pushes for Wally Backman to take over as manager because he’s a feisty and aggressive, in-your-face type that won’t tolerate the mistakes that are being tolerated now. Backman will be on the coaching staff in 2013 as the bench coach in part to be feisty; in part to provide a link to the 1980s; in part to prepare as a possible heir apparent to Collins. The only coaches on this current staff that will return are Tim Teufel (he’s popular with the Wilpons); and Dave Hudgens (GM Sandy Alderson likes the way he teaches hitting). Apart from that, they’re all gone.

As for the players, the Mets have to get some fighter types who aren’t going to meekly accept the bullying of other clubs. This current group is too cerebral and passive. No one hits back. How about some mindless tough guys who don’t take garbage from other teams?

Jonny Gomes and Kyle Farnsworth are two of the types of players the Mets should consider adding. It’s not because they’re supremely talented or are drastic improvements over what they currently have. We don’t know what Farnsworth will do on the field one year to the next—he’s no worse than what they currently have—but he’s known throughout baseball as someone not to mess with. Gomes has pop off the bench and walks, but more importantly is always ready to drop the gloves and it was him who sent the message to the Yankees and the rest of baseball in 2008 with a spring training brawl that they weren’t going to shove the Rays’ collective heads into the toilet anymore.

Even if it’s a lateral move talent-wise, the Mets have to get some of the faces that have epitomized their fall over the past 5 years. By that I mean trading Bay for something, anything and eating money if they have to. Chone Figgins and Franklin Gutierrez for Bay and $5 million would match up financially and the change-of-scenery might benefit the players, the Mariners, and the Mets. Shin-Soo Choo is going to be available and so will Chris Perez from the Indians. Maybe two bad teams could come to an agreement for a Bobby Parnell, Lucas Duda deal.

The notion of trading Ike Davis was floated recently. The source was in question and the Mets, as usual, were blamed for spreading the rumor that Davis doesn’t listen and parties too much. The truth is that the source in Adam Rubin’s piece was referred to as a “baseball source.” No one from the Mets was said to be that source other than via uninformed speculation. That doesn’t diminish the logic behind the idea. If the Mets can bring in an impact bat at a key position like Justin Upton as part of that deal or in a three-way trade, they have to explore it. I’d try to get Upton or see if the Rangers would want to be creative with Ian Kinsler. That would free the Mets to revisit the proposed trade by the Padres in which Daniel Murphy would’ve gone to San Diego for Luke Gregerson and perhaps ask for the speedy and versatile Everth Cabrera.

Many good things have happened to the Mets in 2012 in spite of the ludicrous conclusion to the season, but they can’t move forward with the roster and coaching staff in its current state. It comes back to the original question of whether this is a mess with an end or a simple mess.

Right now, it’s a combination of both. Behind the scenes and without fanfare, the farm system is being rebuilt well with plenty of young talent infusing the organization. Some, like Matt Harvey, are beginning their big league careers, and Zack Wheeler is on the way; but changes—cosmetic and practical—have to be made if only to put forth the perception of doing something. Anyone would’ve accepted the Mets being outgunned. It was expected. But players who should be happy to have a job can’t been seen as giving up. And that’s what’s happened. Keeping those players who’ve either quit or can’t play—Andres Torres, Josh Thole, Bay—won’t help, but dumping them certainly will if only for the sake of appearance.

Appearance is currently all they have left and, right now, it’s not particularly attractive. In fact, it’s downright ugly.

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  1. #1 by Jeff on September 21, 2012 - 4:48 pm

    Watching Collins’ press conference made me feel uncomfortable. I hope things turn around in Flushing.

    • #2 by admin on September 21, 2012 - 5:55 pm

      I can’t blame him for looking befuddled. What more can he say, really?

  2. #3 by Bill on September 22, 2012 - 5:02 am

    As I mentioned to you on twitter, mindless toughs would be just a golden gift to the media who loves to magnify every bad thing that happens to the Mets or the the Mets do. As a Devils fan I was disgusted by the cheap hit from Flyer Claude Giroux in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinal this past season. However I supported the Devils playing it cool by simply just sending them to the golf course which they did the following game. Ironically it was also around the same time during the Hamels-Harper incident. Would I support a Gomes like player showing the Phillies, the rest of the NL and Yankees that we won’t be a doormat anymore? Yes but we all know it’s nothing but a no-win situation for the Mets. The last thing they need to be labeled is a bunch of thugs.

    I don’t support the Wally Backman movement among fans. As someone who has managed and been in supervisory positions I can attest that screaming and public humiliation will cause people to tune out very quickly. Baseball players aren’t that much different in this regard, Ozzie Guillen’s act only lasted so long in Chicago because of him bringing the city a title since the 1985 Bears and as of today it seems that his job down in Miami is in jeopardy as well. Do I get pissed at Collins’ decisions? Of course but when comparing him to Jerry Manuel who repeatedly threw players under the bus, I’ll take Collins anyday. The team just doesn’t have much talent. The outfield is a big hole of utility, platoon and just plain bad players. Catcher position is devoid of talent and the infield if mediocre. The saying among some of us fans is; “As Wright goes, so does the team” and thats what happened. The only position I have confidence in 2013 is pitching. Your trade ideas are interesting however.

    • #4 by admin on September 22, 2012 - 2:21 pm

      One of the problems the Mets have had since, well….forever is worrying about what the media thinks and says about what they do. That has to stop and, under Alderson, has to a large degree. He has them intimidated so they don’t say the things they say in print and privately to his face because he responds calmly and with a savagery that mutes the underlying reality that he’s calling them idiots in a polite way and doing it to their faces.
      I think Wally has toned down that raving maniac act. I’m not in favor of firing Collins. They can let Wally be a bench coach, placate the fans and see how he handles the cauldron as a number 2, then decide. They don’t want him to leave for another club and he doesn’t want to leave. The only way that happens is if he’s offered a managing job in the big leagues (unlikely) or if the Mets don’t promote him.
      The importation of tough guys isn’t just to promote thuggery by saying we can’t beat you on the field, but we can beat you up; its to end this perception of the Mets as weak. That too has gone on forever. They’re…too…nice. They need an edge and bringing in the likes of Gomes, Farnsworth or Ty Wigginton will give them that personality of someone who’s not going to take crap.
      Regarding the trades, any move will be a positive. They can’t go forward into 2013 with the same manager, same coaches, same players. The manager’s staying; there will be coaching changes; and they need to make some moves to alter the image of the club, even if they’re only of a lateral variety.

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