Friday, October 05, 2007

Peter Gammons on the Mets Collapse [J. Mark English]

Shout out to my friend whom sent me this article. Its a great bit from Peter Gammons on ESPN on how revenue sharing in baseball has helped even the playing field, but that still does not excuse what happened to the Mets:

In the end, none of the six teams that finished first in 2006 repeated in 2007, another feather in Bud Selig's revenue-sharing cap. What once were baseball-mad franchises in Philadelphia and Denver were revitalized as Cleveland makes its way back, a new cast of heroes named
Jimmy Rollins and Matt Holliday and Prince Fielder and Carlos Pena stepped to the podium and, damn, can we wait to see how Joba Chamberlain, Troy Tulowitzki and Howie Kendrick fare in October? For every Holliday and Tulowitzki, there is Trevor Hoffman, who no one in the game ever wants to see fall. For every Chase Utley there is David Wright, who stood when others hid and accepted accountability for the Mets' untimely fall....

...The Mets "blew" a seven-game lead to a team that rode shotgun down the avalanche in September, a team from whom the Mets can look at and learn from. Charlie Manuel understood that the Phillies are a player-driven team, the best kind of team, and tinkered only with the pitching staff.....Omar Minaya did the right thing in insisting Willie Randolph be retained.

Now here are seven ideas to help two very good, dignified men move forward and not look back on the vast disappointment of September:
  1. Minaya should build a stronger partnership with Randolph, similar to the ones between Mark Shapiro and Eric Wedge, or Walt Jocketty and Tony La Russa. This shouldn't be hard. It may entail less front office, and perhaps even ownership, presence other than Minaya in the clubhouse and around the batting cage. And as hard as Omar works, he has to accept the general manager role that Pat Gillick built in Toronto. When the team was winning, Pat was nowhere to be found, but when they were losing, he was in back of the batting cage accounting for whatever there was in question. Shapiro has adopted that leadership style, as have Theo Epstein and Cashman, and it will be easy for Minaya because he's usually the first to admit mea culpa.
  2. Spend whatever it takes to get Rudy Jaramillo in as hitting coach/psychologist/motivator. He is one of the great hitting coaches of his time; Rickey Henderson is not.
  3. It was ridiculous that Wright, at 24, had to be the player spokesman on every night Tom Glavine didn't pitch, but nothing's going to change Carlos Delgado or Carlos BeltranMoises Alou play another year, and use Carlos Gomez and see if there is another Mark DeRosaRyan Freel on the horizon. Maybe old friend Marco Scutaro.
  4. Lastings Milledge may be very good in time, and he's not going to bring Johan Santana in return. But he could bring Joe Blanton, and the innings he'd eat up in the National League would make Pedro Martinez and the relievers a lot better. Get Blanton and a bullpen arm. Or Cliff Lee and another reliever from Cleveland.
  5. It seems inevitable that there is going to be a catching change, so why not get Ramon Hernandez out of Baltimore, where he has worn out his welcome. Hernandez had a very good relationship with Rick Peterson and Peterson's pitchers in Oakland, and might be revitalized just being away from the Orioles.
  6. Let Mike Pelfrey and Philip Humber develop, either with more minor league innings, or perhaps as middle men. Pelfrey's power stuff might be better suited in the short run to the sixth and seventh innings.
  7. Stop worrying about the Yankees. Back in May, when Cashman was being savaged by the Mets' media, Minaya actually felt so saddened by it that he called on a Sunday morning before an ESPN telecast to defend his fellow GM. The Yankees are very well run, their farm system is producing, they've made mistakes, they have the highest payroll, and on and on. The Mets are well run, they have some young, high-ceiling prospects, they've made mistakes, and they have the highest payroll in the National League. It means nothing to the Mets if someone says they do it right and the Yankees do it with their wallet, because all that should count to the Mets is the competition in the NL East. Add a starter or two and a couple of right-handed relievers and a couple of Eric Byrnes clones and the Mets will be fine, as long as some of their veterans look in the mirror.
Randolph can't look in the mirror for some of those players, although one wishes some of them could spend a couple of days reviewing videos of the ferocity and dignity Willie carried onto the field as a player. And if they don't want to see the video, they should know this: When times got tough, Willie Randolph never turned into a turtle the way too many Mets did down the stretch.

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