- Francesa's frustration:
When Mike Francesa talks about the Mets, you can almost hear the desperation and crestfallen tone in his voice as he comes to grips with a management team that won't kowtow to him, nor be affected in any way by his rabble-rousing and bullying.
Repeatedly Mets fans call the show and express their displeasure at the club's lack of movement thus far in the winter. Again and again, Francesa begins his now-familiar lament that the Mets are irrelevant and they have to make a big splash to drum up renewed interest in the fan base.
As I said days ago, it's either-or; either fans want the team rebuilt correctly to maintain a sustained contender; or they want to spend big money now and have to pay the full price tag later (as the Mets are currently doing).
But I'm not repeating that theme. My focus is on the declining influence of Francesa as he clings to the premise that he's a sports power broker who can get things done through force of provocative verbiage and steering the conversation in the direction he'd like it to go.
In years past, the Mets organization had people who were conscious of their perception in the media and public; they responded to public outcry capriciously and, many times, stupidly. Omar Minaya, in the final years of his reign, had become so beaten down by on and off-field stumbles that he wanted to maintain some semblance of goodwill and ran the club without the same confidence and belief systems he used earlier in his tenure. His "friendship" with Francesa was seen as a detriment as the radio host used this to his advantage to bolster his own bloated self-image as a "player" in the New York sports scene whose decrees had to be taken seriously regardless of their idiocy.
Bland and oft-repeated theories on how to build a club aside, Francesa is grasping at those strands and clinging to the past in which Minaya, the Wilpons, Steve Phillips and the Mets on the whole felt they had to take the entreaties seriously. Even when the ridiculousness was ignored----"da Mets hafta break up 'da core", etc.----it was still out there; fans were still screaming into their phones, on forums and in bars that the Mets were "irrelevant" because Francesa said this was the case.
It's still being said.
The difference is Sandy Alderson is the Mets GM.
Despite the questions I had before his hiring, the one thing that could be said about Alderson----success or failure----is that he won't be bullied. In the first, somewhat prickly interview between Alderson and Francesa on the day Alderson was introduced, the GM made it clear that he wasn't going to back down; that when Francesa pushed, Alderson was going to push back. He may have done it as a politician would----with smooth and gentle deftness, but the message was clear. That message----"I'm in charge here"----had to have been a punch to the ego of Francesa, who came to the conclusion that his days of forcing the Mets collective hands were over.
The future of the Mets is still cloudy. Alderson and his lieutenants have a lot of work to do and are still sifting through the morass left behind after years of dysfunction, turf battles, fiefdoms, factions and lack of cohesion. One thing can be certain, whatever they do won't be dictated by a self-important blowhard who knows a limited amount about baseball and uses his position as a hammer to get his way and boost his self-worth.
This is a good thing no matter the results.
- Viewer Mail 12.10.2010:
So happy that Carl Crawford is staying in the AL East. #sarcasm
A hashtag Jane?
I do it too and once we start incorporating it into our postings, comments and other writings, we're in deep, deep trouble. Twitterized.
Joe C. writes RE the Yankees and Red Sox:
Paul, I respect your baseball analysis very much; but I have to disagree with your comment about the Red Sox being better than the Yankees.(Of course I am a Yankee fan) Yes, their lineup is probably better especially hitting in Fenway. But their top two pitchers, Lackey and Beckett struggled last year, and their closer is suspect. If the Yankees land Lee, their rotation will be CC, LEE, AJ, Hughes and we will have Mo closing. I think that starting rotation makes the Yankees better.
You said an important word concerning Cliff Lee---"if".
What's the plan if they don't get Lee?
Zack Greinke? Francisco Liriano? Ricky Nolasco? These are pitchers for whom they're going to have to give up a large chunk of their farm systems rather than simply money for Lee. I happen to believe A.J. Burnett will rebound and be what Burnett has been for most of his career----great, okay or terrible game-to-game.
Mariano Rivera is, of course, better than Jonathan Papelbon or any other closer the Red Sox use if they deal Papelbon, but Papelbon is still very good despite assertions to the contrary; he's still gotten the big outs in the playoffs.
Overall, the Red Sox are the better team right now and even if the Yankees get Lee, the Red Sox may still be better when all is said and done.
Jeff (Street Boss) at Red State Blue State writes RE the Red Sox, Yankees and Royals:
Look out, Yankees, dem Red Sox means bid-ness! Guess the Rays, O's and Jays can forget about next year, NOW.
Ya wanna talk big moves? How 'bout those Royals! They snatched up your man-crush, Prince!
It's a recurring theme with the Red Sox: we'll try a stat zombie tenet and verbal gymnastics, then when it doesn't work we fling money at the problem.
I'm almost at a loss with the Royals (and "loss" is a term they're no doubt accustomed to in Kansas City). Jeff Francoeur is so hard-headed that he clearly has no desire to change and win. If he did, he'd have gone to the Phillies, listened to Charlie Manuel and tried to alter his game to be a more productive bat. What's most frustrating is the talent level----he could be a star, but it's become clear that he never will be.
The Royals also signed Melky Cabrera.
Max Stevens writes RE the Angels:
Prince, I'm feeling depressed that my Halos did not get Carl Crawford. The buzz has been that the Angels have money to burn, but so far their biggest move has been to land...Hisanori Takahashi. Woop-dee-friggin'-doo! I wonder, though, if a seven-year deal for a speed guy like Crawford may be a problem over the long term. Speed doesn't slump, but speed is the first thing to go as players begin to decline in their 30s. Granted, it won't matter much if the BoSox win multiple championships in the next 3 or 4 years, but in the long-term Crawford's contract might cause problems, no? Or maybe I'm just bitter and looking for some kind of silver lining. The Halos better get Beltre, and Tony Reagins better pull off some good trades, or it's gonna be another long summer in Disneyland...
I'd understand that criticism if Crawford was Vince Coleman or Willie Wilson----players who had nothing but speed; but Crawford can hit; one would think as he ages, he'll alter his game to adjust to the declining speed. He's not Jimmy Rollins. Rollins is only now starting to talk about changing his approach to account for declining skills. Crawford's skills are there to begin with. I have no issue with the contract.
I found the playing up of Hisanori Takahashi to be ludicrous. Takahashi's useful, but the Angels needed a bat and have come up completely empty to that end so far. They're going ot have to overpay to get Adrian Beltre. What's strange is that the Angels almost have an "old Mets" feel to them right now as if they have to overpay to get anyone to come there in the first place. The Angels are moving their goalposts if they're claiming to be content with Takahashi and none of their other targets coming to Anaheim.
They're in for a long year if they don't beef up their offense.
I'll be on again with Sal next week. Hopefully, Lee will have signed somewhere by then so we can end the "stories" that are degenerating into his breakfast selection at I-HOP.
"Did he have the sampler? Does that mean he's going to the Yankees?"