Sunday, September 20, 2009

Sunday Lightning 9.20.2009

  • Like nothing you've ever seen before...
I'm pretty sure that loyal soldier Gabriel was the only one who saw this happen in real time, but I assure you it's 100% true.
I was watching the Twins play the Tigers yesterday on Fox and Twittering a generally varied array of poignant/snide/snarky comments while doing so.
Some were random musings that had a basis in reality:

How funny would it be if Carl Pavano wound up pitching against the Yankees in the playoffs?

Not I nor Shakespeare himself could come up with the level of irony required for such an event. And what if he beat them?!?!

Some were realistic questions inspired by commercials that had nothing to do with baseball:

What the hell has Carrot Top done to his face?

Others were just assessments of why the Twins manage to have success independent of their talent level and why teams like the Mets should take note:

It's amazing how much the Twins get done simply by playing the game correctly. Y'know, catching the ball; having the cutoff men in the right spots. Moving runners along.

NY Mets, take note.

Then there was just me being a wiseass:

If you think you're seeing Brandon Lyon or Fernando Rodney in this game aside from an emergency, that Alaska bridge is still available. Prime view of Russia.

Leyland needs a cigarette.

Joe Buck is disturbing looking.

Then there was the real deal predictions that had nothing to do with anything other than an honest assessment of the situation. As soon as I saw Brandon Lyon come into the game with the score 3-2 Twins with one out and runners of first and second, I Tweeted the following:

Brandon Lyon. Longball time.

On cue----perhaps ten seconds later----Jason Kubel took me way too literally by not just hitting one out of the park, but hitting a towering rocket shot over the left-center field fence to give the Twins a 6-2 lead.
It happened. I know because I'm the one who said it. And it's documented. With a witness.
And that, my friends, is why I am the Boss. I didn't get here based on looks. I could've; but didn't.
  • I believe in Bobby Valentine:
Yesterday morning, still seething from the Mets lack of effort as a season full of promise has devolved into a calamity on and off the field, I voiced my preference for a managerial change from Jerry Manuel to Bobby Valentine. It's not due to anything Manuel's done wrong as Mets manager; he's no worse than most other managers repeatedly get chance after chance, but the Mets need to drop a bomb. Bobby Valentine is that bomb.
What follows are the reasons for a Bobby Valentine-Mets reunion and why it makes sense not just for the club, but for Valentine and baseball in general.

He's available:

After spending the past six seasons as the manager of the Chiba Lotte Marines and leading a formerly beleaguered and downtrodden club to a Japanese League championship in 2005, financial concerns have led to a parting of the ways after the season. In addition to that, I think Valentine would like to return to the States and complete his resume with a championship in MLB.

The Mets need him and he's handled New York before:

Beleaguered and downtrodden are two apropos words to describe the Mets in their current state and it's not solely due to injuries.
This Mets club has been on a downward slide since Adam Wainwright's vicious curveball caught Carlos Beltran looking to end the 2006 NLCS. There's been something off. Even as they built up what should've been an insurmountable lead in September of 2007 only to collapse and let the Phillies catch and pass them, there was an aura about the club that was ominous as if their chance was in 2006 and that group had missed their opening.
Even as they've acquired the likes of Johan Santana and Francisco Rodriguez, the organization has been essentially rudderless with something wrong and no one pinpointing the cause; as if the expensive baubles are being used as a duct tape to mask the underlying problems.
Instead of making any more drastic maneuvers for players, the easiest thing to do is to make a splash with a new manager. And the best available manager to handle the club and all the aspects of New York City is Valentine. Rather than having to worry about GM Omar Minaya fracturing the language and embarrassing the club with his main weakness of handling crisis, Valentine could become the face of the organization with his eloquence and churlishness.

He's the best strategic manager in the world:

All due respect to Tony La Russa, Valentine knows numbers and knows players. He knows the rules better than the umpires and he's always eight moves ahead, calculating what might, could and will happen in his head and is ready for the next move before anyone knew what happened.

His abrasive personality is what the Mets need:

You want someone to shove Jimmy Rollins and the Phillies back when they start with their yapping? Someone to spit in the face at the smug superiority of the Yankees? Tell Hanley Ramirez and his chirping to get over on his side of the field before he's crawling around in the grass looking for his teeth? Valentine is the man.
It behooves baseball itself to have a good Mets team. An interesting Mets team. A feisty Mets team. Valentine serves these purposes as well.
He's obnoxious, caustic, smug, arrogant and calculating. Sometimes to the point of going over the edge. (My kinda guy.) His verbal jousting with the press and unrepentant self-adoration will get the Mets back onto the back pages of the newspapers on a daily basis and will let the rest of the league know that the Mets are back and they're coming after them.
Valentine's reputation precedes him. He's a guy who people either love or loathe, but must respect and take seriously because if he's given the slightest opening, he goes for the throat and tears it out more often than not. (Again, my kinda guy.)

He needs the Mets; the Mets need him:

How many teams have the combination of the money to spend on a manager; the need for a big name to liven up a flagging situation; and the opening to make the move?
Aside from the Mets, not one team has the managerial job coming open, the money to spend and the wherewithal to deal with Valentine and all his baggage----not one.
The Mets have a choice: bring in a new voice in the clubhouse or go the same route with new players such as Matt Holliday and spend more money for potential failure. With the questions still lingering about how much the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme has slashed into the Wilpons finances, the cheapest solution is to move forward with what they currently have in terms of players (with a tweak here and there) and bring in a big name manager.

He has a great relationship with Minaya:

I'm not necessarily against a little friction between the manager and the GM. Occasionally a rift creates some energy and it worked well enough between Valentine and Steve Phillips when both were with the Mets in the 90s and early 2000s. That said, Minaya and Valentine always had a mutual respect and affinity for one another. Valentine's presence would let Minaya go and find talent with significant analysis and input from his manager to put the best product on the field.
Valentine could be the "bad cop" to Minaya's "good cop" (sort of like Tony Bernazard, except with talent recognition skills and a substantial amount of charm). Who knows how far Valentine's prodding would push the likes of Jose Reyes (remember him?) and Oliver Perez?

It's the right move.
It's the smart move.
It's the most inexpensive move considering the options.
I believe in Bobby Valentine.
And the Mets need to make the move as soon as the season ends.
For now and for the future.
On and off the field.
  • Speaking of manager-GM relationships:
Bill Madden mentioned a possible problem in Atlanta with GM Frank Wren and manager Bobby Cox:

Braves GM Frank Wren would probably welcome a decision by Cox to retire, as there is no love lost between the two. And, as popular as Cox is in Atlanta, for the first time he's come under criticism from a segment of Braves fans who think he's stayed past his prime.

I've been critical of Cox for some of his decisions this season. Yanking Tommy Hanson after a superlative effort against the Astros only to see Rafael Soriano blow the game; odd strategic decisions with his middle relievers and lineups; etc. But Cox could make an argument for these decisions. I wouldn't necessarily agree with them, but he'd have an argument. With Hanson, he'd likely say, "I didn't want to push him too far." With Soriano, he'd likely say, "He's my best option at closer; I don't have anyone else."
Cox may be wrong, but he has a case.
What is Wren's problem?
It seems everywhere he goes, he's fighting with someone. In Baltimore, he cost himself the GM job by taking on Cal Ripken Jr. That's not a mistake; that's self-immolation to the point where one has to wonder whether he really did do it on purpose to get himself fired. With the Braves, he made a series of strange decisions and botched the parting of the ways with Tom Glavine and John Smoltz so that it's a question as to whether either will return to Atlanta for any reason before Wren's gone. He alienated and demolished Jeff Francoeur and resorted to trading him to the hated Mets for the mediocre Ryan Church; Francoeur has livened up the Mets clubhouse with his personality and played brilliantly.
It's one thing to have a GM who chafes others as long as he's doing a good job, but to have a guy who's clashing with others on a regular basis? It's a problem and clearly, with the breadth of people who have little-to-nothing nice to say about Wren himself, he's the one who's the source of the animosity.
  • Ken Macha in trouble in Milwaukee?
One would assume that if Macha is fired after this season, Willie Randolph would be next in line for the job. I like Willie and would like to see him get another chance; he deserves it. But can the Brewers really blame Macha for what's gone wrong this year?
A manager is only as good as his talent. The aforementioned La Russa and Valentine are probably worth 5-10 wins a year, but if a team is around a 75-82 wins talent-wise, you can bet that's where they'll end up without a little luck here and there. You can't squeeze water out of a rock. The Brewers have played respectably dealing with sub par years from J.J. Hardy and Corey Hart and shaky starting pitching. I don't know what Macha could've done differently for a better result. Firing him wouldn't be very fair.
  • Your moment of NFL zen:
I think it's great that Rex Ryan is jumping up (like his father) and opening his big fat mouth in telling the Patriots that he and his team aren't intimidated by them; I also think it's going to result in a blowout of epic proportions, a "welcome to the NFL" beating on Jets QB Mark Sanchez; and a baseball cap and seat on the sideline for a pissed off Tom Brady by the middle of the third quarter.
45-6 is my call, but it could be far, far worse.


She-Fan said...

Jim Leyland needs a cigarette! HAHAHAHA! Good one.

Anonymous said...

Why would Bobby V want to return to the Mets? I sure haven't Fred Coupon/Wilpons vote of confidence in July 2002 & then firing Bobby V 3 months later. A manager, owner & GM most trust each other. Freddy Coupon stabbed Bobby V in the back. IMO the Mets would have to give Bobby V LOTS of perks & a gauranteed contract etc to return to this dysfunctional,sloppy team.