- Crisis Management and Survival:
Or is it on its axis?
Logic dictates that if normalcy is chaos, then chaos is normalcy.
It's never easy for the Mets; even when everything's going swimmingly, there's always something. In 1986, they dominated the entire season and never had to break a sweat in winning the NL East only to have a heart attack-inducing scare put into them by Mike Scott and the Astros; then they had to be pushed to the edge of the cliff by the Red Sox in the World Series before somehow surviving and winning.
They cause consternation and heartbreak as a matter of course.. All through the 80s; to the dark times of the 90s; the resurgence of 1999-2000; the near-miss in 2006; the collapse in 2007; and the 2009 season in which a petulant child of the Gods was given a "toy" with which to play----and he broke it in a fit of pique.
Did anyone expect anything less in 2010?
From most quarters (almost non-credible in their entirety in all matters baseball) the Mets were projected to be an utter disaster with rampant firings, a sell-off and drastic rebuild. Early in the season, it looked to be heading in that exact direction; instead, they rebounded and got blazing hot to launch themselves toward the top of the National League East. Since then, they've stumbled again. The work-in-progress continues as they try to keep their heads above water and figure exactly what they are; who should be batting where; which pitchers belong in what role.
Who? What? Where? When? Which?
They've fallen below .500; had some dramatic wins; heartbreaking losses; and even their greatest critics don't know what to say about them. Terrified by the propensity of the club to rise exactly when the last patch of dirt is about to be scattered and packed on their grave, no one's saying anything. They're waiting. And wondering.
Who are these guys? And what do you do with them?
Rather than come up with a broad-based plan, the best thing to do is echo the Mets odd spring training slogan----Prevention and Recovery----with my own version for their current status: Crisis Management and Survival.
Let's take a look...at what to do....maybe.
Oliver Perez----oh boy.
Without getting into the inevitable eye-rolling; wall-punching; savage attacks at Perez; at pitching coach Dan Warthen; at GM Omar Minaya; at the most convenient targets to blame for the lefty's struggles----it must be accepted that: A) Perez is making $12 million this year; and $12 million next year----he's not going anywhere; and B) they need to find some use for him, somehow, some way.
Once that's taken as a given, they can move forward.
Perez isn't making his next scheduled start. The Mets are keeping their options open for that game with Hisanori Takahashi as a possibility. What I would do is bring up R.A. Dickey to take the start. He's been pitching excellently for the Mets' Triple A affiliate in Buffalo; he's a veteran knuckleballer from whom they should know what to expect.
Takahashi has been invaluable as a long reliever. I don't think it's been truly appreciated what a vital role he and Raul Valdes have played in games that the starters have gotten bashed early; both pitchers have entered games and quieted things down to the point where the Mets have been able to stage rallies and, if not win, get back into games that should've been walkaways and made them competitive. Why mess with a strength?
After hopping over that hurdle, we get to Perez.
He's refused a minor league assignment and is being savaged for it. In fairness to Perez, he's a veteran, he's earned the right to refuse such a transaction; and truth be told, I don't know how much good it would do.
His problems are mental and mechanical. Amid all the rampant questions of "where's his fastball?", no one seems to comprehend the simplest solution. He's not throwing as hard because he's concerned about throwing strikes; because he's so desperate to throw a strike----any strike----his fastball is flattening; once his fastball flattens, it's batting practice.
You wonder why the likes of Greg Maddux were able to throw the ball where they wanted to consistently? It's because his mechanics were so fluid and flawless that he didn't have to worry about them; it was a given that his head, his arms, his legs and everything else were going to be in the proper place allowing him to concentrate on the hitter and executing his pitches.
Perez needs to step, kick, and throw with authority making sure his hand is on top of the ball at release point.
And I'd try something else.
What I would try with Perez is something outside the box, but inside the Mets family with someone who automatically commands respect in personality and accomplishment.
I'd ask Tom Seaver to come and work with him; or even send Perez to Seaver on the West Coast for a tutorial and cleansing----a pitching high colonic. They wouldn't even have to clear a roster spot since Perez would only pitch in a blowout anyway and they're stuck with him. They could function with one fewer pitcher for a week.
It's no disrespect to manager Jerry Manuel, pitching coach Dan Warthen, bullpen coach Randy Niemann or anyone else in the organization to try something different with a legendary Met as tutor; and if it was perceived as usurping the current manager and his coaches or stepping on their collective toes? Too bad. Nothing else has worked, they have a lot of money invested in Perez. Why not give it a shot? What they're doing obviously isn't working.
Maybe Seaver can give Perez a few glasses of his wine; maybe that would help too. Clear his head; or cloud it up. One of those. He couldn't be much worse.
Jeff Francoeur is in quicksand.
I find it laughable that the Francoeur-haters appear like rats after a nuclear (or in a nod to the pronunciation of those noted political thinkers Sarah Palin and George W. Bush, "nucular") holocaust as soon as he starts to stumble back into what he was with the Braves; the bewildered entity whose failures exacerbated his fall from grace with the Braves.
Earlier in the season and during his superlative few months with the Mets last year, the same people who had the guts to still show their faces were muttering, "just wait, just wait" with Francoeur.
Technically, they're right. He looks horrible; clueless; rudderless; baffled----whatever word you choose.
But doesn't it make sense that there would be growing pains with the reinvention of Francoeur? That the early season patience he showed and enthusiasm he generated since putting on a Mets uniform was bound to have its ups and downs?
He's in a horrific slump and is receiving a much-needed day off today. Does that mean he needs to be treated as he was with the Braves? That the good work he's done as a Met----on and off the field----is to be tossed out the window?
When one has difficulty in any endeavor, the first thing they do is retreat to what it was that made them feel better; to what they know. It could be drugs; smoking; drinking; or any other outlet. With Francoeur it's hacking away at any and every pitch he sees. It's not an easy process to reinvent and recreate that which has been embedded into the consciousness of a superiorly gifted talent from the time he was a youth----and for which he was celebrated.
Francoeur is salvageable----the Mets have to have patience with him and go back to square one; back to what had been working last season and earlier this season. This day off is the first step. Panicking, abusing and abandoning is exactly what the first caretakers of Francoeur's talents----the Braves and their fans----did; and it's the exact opposite of what the Mets and their fans should do.
It's ironic that history is repeating itself, and it can be avoided this time.
- The fog of verbal crap:
The Yankees do realize that Citi Field in also in New York City, right?
Like a ventriloquist's dummy, Yankees manager Joe Girardi is moving his lips up and down while the words coming from his mouth are sounding eerily similar to those which would be said by GM Brian Cashman----the corporate double-talk that is so painfully tiresome and makes one long for an explosion of honesty from Kenny (James Bond Villain) Williams with the White Sox.
Here's the "reason without reason" for Javier Vazquez being skipped in the starting rotation again according to Girardi (you can decipher it any way you wish):
"I know Javy wants to pitch but that was we thought was the right decision at this time," Girardi said after the Yankees 7-1 victory at Yankee Stadium Saturday afternoon. "You can always look for rhymes and reasons for things and sometimes there just isn't any."
"We took everything into account," Girardi said. "There were a lot of internal discussions and what we came up with is that this is the best thing for our club right now."
And yet, for the second straight time, it seemed as if the Yankees were avoiding pitching Vazquez against the Red Sox, who come to the Bronx Monday night for a two-game set. Last weekend, Girardi skipped Vazquez's turn at Fenway Park, saying he preferred to save Vazquez for interleague play, where his bat could be a factor in games at National League parks without a DH.
The entire ESPN article is available here so you can bathe in the crapulance.
Here's my response to the Girardi "explanation".
Why not just come out and say it? The Yankees are handling Vazquez like a fragile piece of crystal; like he'd break if looked at crossly.
I have no tolerance for this double-speak. I take offense to it. It's one thing to be part of a conspiracy of lies in which both parties have a mutual benefit and accept the lies as the cost of doing business----but everyone knows what's going on with Vazquez. They're shielding him and trying to build on his solid start against the Tigers by pitching him against the Mets rather than against the Twins.
I know it.
You know it.
Vazquez knows it.
Girardi knows it.
Everbody knows it!!!
The Yankees are in a position now with the way Phil Hughes has pitched that they're not going to need Vazquez as a fourth starter in a playoff series, rendering his acquisition and deployment moot; he might not even be on the playoff roster if he's still such a train wreck mentally; but it'd be nice if the Yankees were honest about it.
"He's struggling at home; we want him to be more comfortable and the best way to achieve that is to pitch him on the road; give him extra rest; and handle him accordingly."
It's not that hard.
Oh, and the Yankees do realize that it's going to be exponentially worse for Vazquez if he gets blasted by the Mets, right?
- Wound Man:
One of Dr. Hannibal Lecter's victims was carved to shreds in a pattern that was identical to that of the "Wound Man" illustrations in surgical texts from the Middle Ages.
It was Dr. Lecter's predilection for "whimsy" in amusing himself that got him caught. Re-creating "Wound Man" with an actual human being was par for the course with the good doctor. It was a mistake.
I have a penchant for using convenient targets for my own use in such a manner----but I'm not getting caught and it's not whimsy; it's a necessary part of what I do and it's not done with an eye on entertaining myself (although that's a side benefit), but in the quest for accuracy in truth. I've used writers, analysts, broadcasters, whatevers as the prey in my evisceration.
That said, I've defended those that need to be defended even if I loathe them; and I've pointed out the failures of those I respect and even....yurgh....like.
It's never personal with me.
With that preamble, I have to point out that Bill Madden's column in today's NY Daily News essentially repeats (nearly verbatim) what I said in recent days about Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik; Ken Griffey Jr.; writer Larry LaRue; former Royals manager Trey Hillman; and Yankees GM Brian Cashman.
I have great respect for Madden, and he doesn't need to plagiarize me (if he even knows I exist), but that doesn't alter the fact that I said it first. Because I did.
- Viewer Mail 5.16.2010:
Jennifer at The Simple Dish writes RE the Phillies:
When Cliff Lee was traded, it left some head scratching and questions about the farm system and whether or not it was the smartest move. Now with Lee gone and the Phillies finding themselves in a position where Lidge may going on the DL for an unknown period of time, just how good does that farm system look now?
The Lee trade has been debated and relentlessly defended to the point of anger by Ruben Amaro Jr. The big issue now is how much the self-justifying "plan" that was referenced as the reason for the trade (and subsequent ego-driven adherence to said "plan") will affect Amaro's decisions going forward.
Making a drastic move for a needed starting pitcher or----to fill a more glaring Phillies need----in the bullpen will essentially have Amaro gutting the farm system he was so adamant in keeping intact by making the Lee trade in the first place.
When an ego is involved, the best interests of the organization are muddied and that's big reason for the Phillies to be concerned not only about 2010, but about their whole future.
They should've kept the Stone Cold Killer and traded for Roy Halladay.
But they didn't.
I'm the future.
I am the end of time!!!!!