Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Organizational Socialism

  • Let's get a consensus on what's acceptable:

Even when the Mets do something perceived as "right", the critics find reason to attack them.

Their recall of top first base prospect Ike Davis was greeted with a reaction of "finally" by many; nods of approval by others; and, as is the pre-requisite for anything the Mets do these days, criticism of the way it was handled.

Judging by the media, this has turned into another reason to bash the Mets, who literally....cannot....win.

No matter what they do; how or why they do it, the ravenous and leeching bottom-feeders use it as an opportunity to bash the wounded and reeling club on the whole. That they do it in such a transparent and agenda-driven way is only diminishing their already low credibility and fostering the notion of laziness and inability to formulate interesting and relevant stories on their own without nitpicking everything a staggering club tries to do.

There was rampant criticism of what seemed to be clerical hesitation with the Mets official recall of Davis. Here's a clip from Tyler Kepner's column in today's NY Times:

As strange as it was to see the Mets designate their opening-day cleanup hitter (Mike Jacobs) for assignment 11 games into the season, give them credit, at least, for acknowledging a mistake and quickly fixing it.

Davis hit .364 with two homers in 10 games for Class AAA Buffalo. (GM Omar) Minaya said he began considering a promotion late last week, and the move became obvious Sunday when the Mets cut Jacobs and brought in Tobi Stoner to be a fresh arm in the bullpen.

Yet instead of calling Davis on Sunday night and bringing him to New York immediately Monday morning, they did not tell him until after he had taken batting practice for Buffalo’s game on Monday afternoon.

“It’s my first time being called up, so I don’t know the regular routine,” Davis said. “But it wasn’t bad. I thought I was going to be batting fourth for Buffalo, and I got even better news.”

It is a minor point, perhaps; the adrenaline rush of a call to the majors more than makes up for a hectic travel day. But it speaks, again, to a questionable decision-making process that rival executives have called haphazard and disjointed.

This was the general consensus around the New York and nationwide media. The notion that the Mets did the right thing and still screwed up is only adding to the punching bag/piling on aspect that has become easy sport over the past 2 1/2 years for the club.


Maybe, instead of making decisions the way they currently do, the Mets should hold a mass conference call with the media to see how they feel about each and every issue----from the cleaning solutions used in the Citi Field bathrooms to how to promote prospects----and come to a consensus as to the proper protocol.

In every story attempting to detail the perceived ineptitude of the Mets, there are always anonymous quotes from other club executives suggesting there's a "disjointed" and "haphazard" series of missteps that screw up even the most obvious actions.

The only explanation I can come up with for this is that it's easy to jump on the Mets because of their struggles over the past three years. Some were self-inflicted; others were accidents of circumstance. I didn't see anyone ravaging the Mets in 2006 when they were running away with the NL East title and were well on their way to a World Series win before Duaner Sanchez's car accident; nor did I see the attacks for the majority of 2007 until they collapsed in September.

Since then, it's been open season.

Because clubs like the Red Sox appear so smoothly run doesn't mean such a prevailing belief it true. Does anyone remember the Theo Epstein resignation snit in which he threw a tantrum and broke off contract negotiations after 2005? When he escaped from the rampaging media hordes in a gorilla suit?

Has it been forgotten that the Giants, an organization loaded with prospects; close knit and built the right way, were attacked because of a barren farm system due to GM Brian Sabean's decision (correct in retrospect) to build around his all-world superstar Barry Bonds with veterans who may have been in the twilight of their careers; who may have been declining; but were at least still good enough to provide a semblance of what was expected to "build around Barry" and try to win immediately for a veteran manager in Felipe Alou?

The Phillies were seen as a group of underachievers and choke-artists in their own right until that hot streak in 2007 that vaulted them into the playoffs and sowed the seeds to their National League dominance over the past two years.

The Padres were given a pass from the stat zombies because they had one of their "own"----Sandy Alderson----running things; but the organization was filled with a survival of the fittest atmosphere rife with inter-organizational battles of dueling philosophies that eventually caused the collapse to the monstrosity they were before Alderson was forced out.

Success cures all ills; justifies a lack of cohesion; but how many clubs are run with the smoothness of the Angels?

Even the Cardinals, with a Hall of Fame manager and World Series contending club have dealt with a factional war of whether to go with stat-based analysis or run things the way Tony La Russa has become accustomed. La Russa won the war last season as they traded for Mark De Rosa and Matt Holliday; but it went on for years as the team tried to placate the manager with pats on the head while doing the opposite of what he and pitching coach Dave Duncan wanted.

In looking at the way the Mets handled Davis, was it really so absurd for them to decide to give him some Triple A at bats before promoting him? He'd never played above Double A; did it hurt him to get the few weeks against veteran pitchers----big league swingmen----in Buffalo? The Mets also saved a few bucks in keeping Davis's arbitration clock from beginning----something media darlings like the Rays have been lauded for in the past.

Was it ridiculous to think that maybe, possibly Mike Jacobs would start off the season hot and hit a few homers before settling into the streaky bat he's always been? The club wasn't expecting to have Albert Pujols at the plate and Casey Kotchman in the field when they went with Jacobs; they took a chance and it turned out that the veteran slugger started off cold; then they made the move to Davis. Without Carlos Beltran, it made sense to take chance on Jacobs and if it didn't work, cut the ties.

As for the accusatory eye-raising in print of, "they didn't tell him until after he'd taken batting practice for Buffalo's game on Monday afternoon", I say: Yeah? So?

So he took batting practice before hopping on a short flight to New York City---so what?

What was going to happen? Is he some delicate piece of China that was going to break if he was surprised by the wonderful news of his recall and----oh no!!!!----took the dangerous action of....batting practice?!? A top prospect taking batting practice? I guess the Mets truly don't have the faintest clue what they're doing to run such a risk.

What got the Mets in trouble before the arrival of Minaya and created the atmosphere that led Fred and Jeff Wilpon to let Minaya run the club and spend the money on the likes of Pedro Martinez and Carlos Beltran was the "College of Cardinals" truth by group dictate that ended with the trade of Scott Kazmir for Victor Zambrano. Like it or not; agree with him or not; there needs to be one main voice running a club with advice from knowledgeable people helping him along. In the end, there has to be one Boss; even if he runs everything over a cliff, at least the decision will be made by the designated voice.

The group dynamic in running an organization when coming to a final decision does not work.

Right or wrong, there must----must----be one decisionmaker. The critics can continue their relentless attack out of convenience, but the only way to determine who was "right" is in retrospect.

Regardless of the media contention of fractured communication with the Mets, it's only the failures of the past three years that have accorded them----the media and critics----free rein to unload. If and when things turn around for the Mets, they'll find another target and a series of "when did you stop beating your wife?" accusations floated against a struggling team or individual.

It's cowardly and gutless, but it's the way it is. Being able to recognize it is your first step to a greater understanding and dismissal of such faulty logic. If it's accepted that this is the strategy, then maybe it'll stop; or at least happen with decreasing frequency.

  • Cardinals 4-Diamondbacks 2:

Aside from everything that's gone wrong for the Diamondbacks in the past 2+ seasons, what should be of great concern isn't just that they had to place Brandon Webb on the 60-day disabled list and their erstwhile ace won't be available until late-May (if then); it isn't that they're relying on Rodrigo Lopez, Ian Kennedy, and Kris Benson as part of their starting rotation; it isn't even that their bullpen blew another game last night.


What should be the biggest red flag for a season rapidly heading down the tubes is that they received serviceable-to-good pitching performances from the aforementioned journeymen over the past three games...and still lost.

On Saturday, Benson allowed 2 runs in 6 innings.

On Sunday, Kennedy allowed 0 runs on 2 hits in 5 innings.

Last night, Lopez allowed 2 runs in 7 innings.

The Diamondbacks lost all three games either because they didn't score (Saturday); or because the bullpen and/or bad defense gacked the games up.

In fact, last night, it appeared that manager A.J. Hinch pushed Lopez through another inning when he was tired (his arm was dragging in the seventh; his mechanics looked off) because he didn't want to put a tie game in the hands of that atrocious bullpen before he had absolutely no choice.

The Diamondbacks are in trouble.

The warning signs of doom are too glaring to ignore; and I know them as if I planted them myself.

Remember, I'm a Mets fan.

  • Angels 2-Tigers 0:

Joel Pineiro.



What was most impressive about Pineiro last night (and with Brad Penny for the Cardinals in Arizona) was that you could almost see Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan on their shoulder, counseling them; telling them to battle when they didn't have their best stuff.

There was one sequence (almost simultaneous as I flipped back and forth between the games), that was more telling than any pitch or mechanical adjustment. Both Pineiro and Penny stopped when things were getting hairy, walked behind the mound, looked down at the ground in concentration, took a deep breath to collect themselves----and got out of their respective jams.

Pineiro didn't have his sinker working last night, but fought his way through until he found it and his groove later on.

That is what defines a winning pitcher----not the tenets of the stat zombie or ill-informed allusions that Pineiro was a product of being a Cardinal rather than implementing that which he learned while with the Cardinals now that he's an Angel; and we're going to see it all year long.

A friend and fan, Mike Feirman (YanktheMike on Twitter) brought up a very good question during last night's Mets game. As the holes in Alfonso Soriano's game become more of a liability for the Cubs, his contract looks increasingly atrocious, it's an interesting question as to whose contract is worse, Soriano's or the Blue Jays' Vernon Wells?

Wells has a full-no trade (good luck moving him anyway); and, including this season, is owed a guaranteed $95 million through 2014.

Soriano is owed $90 million through 2014 with a full no-trade clause. (Forget trading him too.)

There's no debate on which player I'd rather have if choosing between the two.

Vernon Wells would be the choice.

Wells is almost three full years younger than Soriano; he's a thousand times better defensively; and, most importantly, the struggles of Wells haven't come due to a lack of effort.

The contract given to Wells by then-Blue Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi (and it's said ownership forced him to do it) is not Wells's fault. They offered him the money and he took it. You and I would've done the same thing. Because Wells is a pretty good player making mega-star player money is not something that should be held against him; and he hustles on the field.

Soriano's main issue with the Yankees was that he enjoyed his newfound fame a little too much; that he had bouts of laziness that not even Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada or manager Joe Torre could do anything to avert. Now that he's slowed down even more in his mid-30s, he's still displaying the same lack of effort in not running as hard as he should; by exhibiting diva-like tendencies when he should be working harder to make up for a faltering game.

This decision would be a no-brainer and not just because of on-field issues.

The choice would be Vernon Wells.

  • Viewer Mail 4.20.2010:

Jeff (Acting Boss) at Red State Blue State writes RE panic and Twitter-blocking:

Panic, panic, everywhere panic!

The tune in the 'Lou is that we've turned into Ozzie Guillen's old White Sox -- livin' and dyin' by the 3 run bomb.

Meh. Too early to freak out (unless you're the Red Sox).

And I forgot to say, who cares that Heyman blocked you. Embrace it! Welcome to the blocked-out twitter club! First round of drinks on me!

The Cardinals have no problems that I can see; and they've got the personnel (Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday) to live by the 3-run bomb without worry or regret.

There's a perception that I care about Jon Heyman blocking me when I don't. Evidently he tweeted his reasoning for blocking people----which I didn't even bother to read, believe it or not. I just think it's an odd thing to do for a writer of supposed prominence. He'sremarkably weak.

I have some extremely weird guy from Ghana stalking me on Twitter and asking me bizarre questions; I haven't blocked him...because I don't care enough to bother!!!

I am down for the drinks though!

Jane Heller at Confessions of a She-Fan writes RE the Red Sox:

If I were Theo Epstein, I'd use Mike Lowell more as DH. Lowell can still hit, I'm assuming, so why not add a decent bat to the lineup?

They're going to have to do something a little more drastic that Mike Lowell to address t2010BaseballGuideCover.gifheir issues on offense. That said, their schedule over the next two weeks----the Rangers, Blue Jays and Orioles----is weak enough that they should get back on the winning track.

At least they'd better.

Paul Lebowitz's 2010 Baseball Guide is still available on Amazon and I-Universe in paperback and E-book. And now on Barnes and Noble.com. It's available for download as an E-book here. Dig it!!!!!


She-Fan said...

You said it - success changes everything. The minute the Mets go on a winning streak, suddenly every move they make will be "genius."

Gabriel said...

Jane's right, they're under fire because nothing has worked for them.

On another subject, what do you think of Fred Lewis? He's now the Blue Jays' 4th outfielder and he's batting leadoff.

Jeff said...

Vernon Wells has sorta held his own so far this season... Soriano cannot say the same.

Because Soriano is worthless.

Did you hear he's finally going to placate Sweet Lou and lose "the hop"? After all these years (and ERRORS), now Sori is ready to lose the hop. Too little too late I'm afraid.

The dude is a waste of space. I could get Soriano out swinging. No problem. Throw him something unhittable, low and away (preferably IN the dirt) and he'll swing.

And miss.