Friday, May 21, 2010

The Doghouse Is This Way

  • "We don't need any (bleeping) heroes":

The above-quote is taken from the underrated (and under-read) book by Dave Rosenbaum about the Florida Marlins first championship in 1997, If They Don't Win It's A Shame: The Year the Marlins Bought the World Series.

In one incident at mid-season, manager Jim Leyland was livid at pitcher Al Leiter for hiding a groin injury; Leiter got rocked, allowing seven runs. Leyland's comment regarding Leiter was: "We don't need any fucking heroes". It should also be added that in reading between the lines of the entire text, it's clear that Leyland and Leiter didn't exactly get along, so Leyland was probably already a little irritated at Leiter about something large or small.

I couldn't help but think of the Leyland/Leiter dustup in which Leiter was placed on the disabled list against his will----and said "my groin has no comment"----during last night's Mets-Nationals game in which starting pitcher John Maine was yanked because he didn't look right and had no velocity in the bullpen or after walking Nats' leadoff hitter Nyjer Morgan on five pitches.

Maine didn't want to come out of the game, protested that he was fine and had a public back-and-forth with a clearly irked Mets manager Jerry Manuel in the dugout after he was pulled----NY Times Story. Maine's going to see a doctor today and his comments have a "methinks he doth protest too much" aspect to them:

“I guess they didn’t see 95,” he said, referring to the velocity on his pitches, then added, “It was a little slow, but it was the first batter of the game, cut me a little bit of slack.”

“No, I didn’t get a chance, and I think that’s what I’m most upset about,” he said. “They said they saw something, so they’re taking me out. I’m a little hurt by that. It wasn’t 100 m.p.h. the first pitch. I never got asked to really see how I was or anything like that. They just said I was out. That’s what upset me the most.”

All due respect to John Maine----I've long been an admirer of his abilities----but he's not in a position to be given "a little bit of slack". Johan Santana gets some slack; John Maine doesn't get some slack. How much rope did he want? Did he want to put the team in a hole like he did against the Marlins by walking everyone and showing no ability whatsoever to put the ball anywhere close to where he wanted?

There's being gutty and there's being selfish. I don't think Maine intentionally wanted to put his team in a precarious position, but it's like Leyland said: "We don't need any fucking heroes". Things are shaky enough for the Mets; this only makes things worse.

An interesting side note about that Leyland story? His bench coach that year with the Marlins was...Jerry Manuel.

So now what do the Mets do about a starting pitcher in place of Maine? They can't just shove Jenrry Mejia into the starting rotation now. There's been talk that Mejia is going to the minors to start and will be back in the big leagues once his arm is acclimated to starting again, so that lets him out. Nor are they going to put Oliver Perez back into the rotation by default. (I'm thinking that Perez might find some use as a reliever.)

They don't have many choices----some are advocating the re-signing of Pedro Martinez, but I wouldn't go there. Dillon Gee is pitching well enough in Triple A and acquitted himself admirably in spring training; at least he throws strikes. With Hisanori Takahashi starting tonight against the Yankees, the Mets are losing a bullpen weapon who----along with Raul Valdes----has been extremely useful in quieting down games in which the starter had been blasted out early; they can't keep going to the long relievers and expect them to stay fresh. If Maine can't pitch, I'd have a look at Gee.

On another ancillary note with the Mets, yesterday I was listening the Mike Francesa for the first time in months and while he insists that he has no bias against the Mets, it's clear that Francesa----an avowed Yankee fan who takes pride in tweaking the Mets and tries to hide behind the cloak of impartiality and the premise that "the Mets are more interesting when they're good"----makes savaging them a cottage industry and bolsters his own bloated self-image as a power player in sports by trying to not-so-subtly influence club machinations.

He relentlessly attacks David Wright whether he admits it or not----many times unfairly----and his credibility in these matters has declined exponentially as his ego has grown even more insufferable. Obviously, he wants a managerial change and has speculated on the status of GM Omar Minaya.

It has to be noted, however, that it was Francesa who gave an annual epitaph on Joe Torre after each playoff loss only to be proven wrong when Torre survived through 2007. This is the same man who defended one of his then-closest friends, Jets coach Bill Parcells, for a series of ridiculous play calls in a 1997 season-ending loss to the Detroit Lions that deprived the Jets a playoff spot. Paraphrasing from memory, Francesa's lament regarding Parcells was: "He tried something and it didn't work." It's a shaky foundation especially since, had it been any other coach, Francesa would've been calling for his head.

So he wants Manuel out? And he thinks Minaya may be on the way down as well?

Okay. Fair enough.

Who does he want to replace them?

I've asked and asked and asked the advocates of managerial and front office change for a series of solutions to the Mets problems with new people at the top and no one has an answer. Bob Melvin and Bobby Valentine are the main candidates to take over for Manuel (and every time I hear Chip Hale speak, I see a man who's going to be an excellent manager on and off the field).


What about the GM?

The stat zombies mention Sandy Alderson. Those still worshipping at the altar of Moneyball suggest Billy Beane. Thanks, but no thanks.

Who do they want?

I've said this again and again, for better or worse, the Mets don't function that way.

If you look at their history going back to the 80s, they hired Frank Cashen to run the club; Cashen was replaced by Al Harazin who had been the financial guy during the 80s and was a disaster; Harazin was replaced by Joe McIlvaine (the scouting guru from the 80s who'd left to take over the Padres as Cashen refused to retire); McIlvaine was succeeded by his assistant Steve Phillips after losing a power struggle with manager Bobby Valentine; Phillips was replaced by his assistant Jim Duquette; Duquette by Minaya, who'd been one of Phillips's lieutenants.

Sensing a trend?

You know who'd replace Minaya? Assistant GM John Ricco. That's it. No one else is getting the Mets GM job. Period.

It's a fun thing to attack the Mets, but if you look at their track record over that time, they've had highs and lows and some devastating heartbreaks, but they've been mostly good enough to compete. You can argue that the closed atmosphere of the way they do business is a mistake, but we've seen outsiders hired by other organizations to hellish results----Paul DePodesta with the Dodgers; Neal Huntington with the Pirates----it doesn't always work to bring in people who do things differently.

The Mets don't do it that way, so to suggest anything else----that someone's going to waltz in and say, "we're doing this, this and that" and expect it to: A) work; and B) be blindly allowed by the Mets ownership, is a fantasy. Minaya's not going anywhere.

Oh, and one more thing: the Mets aren't that bad!!!! They're right in the middle of the Wild Card race and they're not that far behind a wounded Phillies team to justify a wholesale housecleaning from top-to-bottom!! Considering the expectations and punching bag status of the team this past winter, is 20-22 worthy of the self-serving Francesa attacks?


One final thing about Francesa: no one wants to hear about horseracing!!!

Nor do they want to hear his bloviating about the subject in a manner that's more "this is what I know; bask in my greatness and knowledge" condescending Bill O'Reilly style of educating the masses. Nobody wants to hear it. His baseball ineptitude is more than enough.

  • This don't sound good:

Brandon Webb changing his arm slot----ESPN Story----and it could mean a few things. Most aren't good.

One, he could legitimately have been throwing from the incorrect angle as a result of pain prior to surgery and having lost his arm angle post-surgery. If that's the case, then he might start feeling better (if he's healthy, that is) and be able to return in the not-so-distant future to pitch.

Two, he could still be feeling pain and looking for a way to pitch (and bolster his free agent credentials at the end of the season) to provide something upon which to base a guaranteed contract for 2011.

I have no idea which of the two options is accurate. Both are viable. One great pitcher keeps returning to the vast expanse of my head----John Smoltz.

Smoltz has a notable threshold of pain and for awhile, he altered his classic motion to account for the agony he was in with his shoulder; pitching at a three-quarter angle before one of his surgeries, he was effective and created all sorts of movement with similar velocity as when he was at the top of his game. After he had shoulder surgery, he returned to the Braves starting rotation and pitched well with his original arm angle.

Is Webb still hurting and trying to find a way to pitch?

Or has a disparity in his arm slot truly been discovered?

Either way, the Diamondbacks can't possibly expect Webb back before the All Star break; and by then, it'll be just for Webb to show what he's got left for the team to trade him and for Webb to get a guaranteed contract for next year. The Diamondbacks are one hot mess. Even if they're not in a playoff race, there can be mutual benefit for the two parties to get Webb out on the mound.

That said, it's hard to see anyone getting anything from him this year; in fact, from the outside, it's taking a Ben Sheets/Carlos Delgado tone of, "oh yeah, he needs more surgery".

But who knows? Maybe Webb's new arm angle will work and he'll be able to pitch.

I'm dubious. Highly dubious.

  • Viewer Mail 5.21.2010:

Gabriel (Capo) writes RE Hanley Ramirez and the Blue Jays:

I like Hanley, but he's a teenager. I hope Dan Uggla put him in his place so the Marlins can keep on playing good ball. I like Uggla, and I cracked up with the Popeye reference.

There's speculation of the Blue Jays becoming buyers at the deadline rather than sellers. What's your take on that?

The truth is coming out now about Ramirez and it can be found here in the Palm Beach Post.

Apparently, Ramirez's apology came from the firestorm coming down on him for his diva-like behaviors; that the entire team was letting him have it....and that he was threatened by Andre Dawson.

You don't want to be threatened by Andre Dawson, whose nickname was "The Hawk" for a reason.

The classic quote from the article pretty much sums up what Dawson was telling Ramirez:

"I'm not going to say a lot, because if you say the wrong the thing to me, then you might wind up on the floor on your rear end..."

This is exactly what Ramirez needed coming from a man with the reputation and look on his face that told him that it was going to happen if he did indeed say the wrong thing.

Tony Perez was there to offer counsel as well, but I think he was probably there because he knew what Dawson was capable of and he needed to keep him from strangling Ramirez if he did "say the wrong thing".

Ramirez got the message and apologized. He's going to play like an MVP for the rest of the season and he's going to hustle. Bank on it.

Regarding the Blue Jays, they're in a pretty good spot in that they're hovering around contention; but the odds of them hanging around the playoff race----especially with the Rays and Yankees in their division----are not good. With their wealth of young pitching, teams will be coming to them for deals and GM Alex Anthopoulos has been a savvy trader. They may be willing to listen on acquiring veterans to improve their current state, but they'll be selling their own veterans avidly.

Jane Heller at Confessions of a She-Fan writes RE Theo Epstein:

Did I read that right? There were complaints because Theo Epstein went to a concert? He's not exactly Obama. I don't think there would be a national emergency if he took a few hours off. Jeez!

It's the stupidest thing I've ever heard of. At least today. Give the guy a break. If that's what he has to endure in Boston, I'm beginning to understand the gorilla suit escape during his resignation snit in 2005.

Jeff (Acting Boss) at Red State Blue State writes RE Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer; the Rays; and Kerry Wood:

Ah yes! The Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer! One of my all-time favs!

I really love watching the Rays. Anyone who knows me knows that -- above all -- I would rather watch good pitching than good hitting, that GREAT pitching can even get me... er... aroused?

Perhaps I've said too much.

And yes, watching Kerry Wood has the opposite effect.

The world frightens and confuses the Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer. He's just a caveman.

Joe Maddon's new age managerial style still annoys me; but the team is winning, so one can't argue with success.

I don't think you've said to much. Everyone has their predilections; just imagine what's going on with Michael Kay.

Um. Know what? Don't. We don't want you throwing up all over your keyboard. And that goes for everyone.

Jennifer at The Simple Dish writes RE the Rays:

If only the rest of the AL East would wake the hell up and realize that the Rays are serious contenders this year. Nice to see a team that's not the Red Sox or Yankees at the top of the standings so far.

It's such an advantage to get off to a hot start and the Rays are back to playing the way they did in 2008----and that's with the issues I discussed yesterday. Their pitching will hit a speed bump eventually, but the bullpen will be well-rested and the offense is bound to pick up. They're going to be tough to catch.

The Brooklyn Trolley Blogger writes RE my predictions:

In baseball speak, if you get 7 out of 10 projections're doin good Kid! Right or wrong it's a damn good read.

I'm resisting the urge to gloat about certain things (the Diamondbacks; Clayton Kershaw; Ubaldo Jimenez). Must....resist....temptation....2010BaseballGuideCover.gif

My book is still available on Amazon, I-Universe and Barnes and It's available for download as an E-book here.

Do what must be done.

Do not hesitate; show no mercy.


Jeff said...

Maine looked like he was gonna cry last night. It made me feel uncomfortable.

And so did his motion.

He looked... scared. And weak. I think Manuel & Co. did the right thing... ugly as it was.

the Brooklyn Trolley Blogger said...

in a little shameless self promotion...I was selected to be on a Fan Panel tonight on 1050espnRadio tonight on Bill Daughtry's show....from 9 to 10 pm. If you're not busy tonight.....
The butterfiles are F'n with me right now.