Dead GM Walking
I wasn't all that upset with the manner in which the Mets fired Willie Randolph
last June. The New York media was up in arms about the Mets flying Randolph across the country to fire him in the middle of the night and while I agreed that it wasn't the ideal way to deliver the news, I didn't dwell on it. The Mets had fired a bad manager and that was good enough for me. Improving the quality of baseball on the field was more important to me than the team's public relations strategies. Today that balance has shifted.
Obviously the Mets needed to fire Tony Bernazard. If various media reports are to believed, he acted in an extremely unprofessional manner on numerous occasions. Explaining as much to the New York media should have been the easiest thing in the world. But somehow Omar Minaya and the Mets managed to screw that up, too.
Minaya, either through an impromptu bad decision, or a poorly-conceived, Wilpon-approved plot, subtly questioned the motives of Daily News reporter Adam Rubin. Minaya apparently thought that he could insinuate that Rubin was out to get Bernazard fired and take his job and get away with it. The only conclusions that can be drawn from this are that either Minaya doesn't think before he speaks or he's terrible at predicting a media reaction. Given that recent events
and the current state of the major league team already bring into question his talent evaluation skills, he's running low on job responsibilities that I could say he executes competently.
It's certainly possible that Minaya is merely a puppet of ownership in this incident. Even if he acted on his own, the whole Bernazard episode raises new questions about the Wilpons' ability to run this organization. I would not be at all upset if they decided in the near future to sell the team. But for now, I think the very least they can do is fire Minaya. He's assembled a bad team and now he's put himself squarely in the crosshairs of the local media. This is far too deep a hole for Minaya to dig himself out of. Now is as good a time as any to make a fresh start with this team with an eye toward next year.
"If on-base percentage is so important, then why don't they put it on the scoreboard?"
The author of those words of wisdom, twenty-five year old Jeffrey Braden Francoeur
, is now a New York Met and I can hardly believe it. I can't even muster the energy to be sarcastic about this. Jeff Francoeur
is terrible at playing baseball. And now he's going to be in right field every day.
Francoeur is hitting .250/.282/.352 this season for an OPS+ of 68. This makes him the new worst hitter in the Mets lineup, by a decent margin. Yes, even on days when Omir Santos is starting. There are only three hitters in the National League with enough at bats to qualify for the batting title and a lower OBP than Francoeur's .282. And while the fact that one of them is Jimmy Rollins is hilarious, it doesn't change the fact that Frenchy is having a truly terrible year at the plate.
And there can be no argument that this is some kind of slump that he might be ready to bust out of, because he had an almost identical line last year. The only difference seems to be that he's walking even less this year. Even when he was "good" in 2006 and 2007, he wasn't actually good. He may have driven in 100 runs both of those years, but he also put together a combined line of .276/.315/.446 and an OPS+ of 95. Yes, even in his best days, he was a below average hitter. Not exactly the stuff that corner outfield stars are made of.
Francoeur does apparently play very good defense, or at least have a very good arm, but then so does the man he's been traded for. Ryan Church can play right field well. He can also play center field, saving the Mets from playing Angel Pagan or Jeremy Reed every day. And, oh yeah, he can get on base every once in a while. Church is by no means a great player, but the one thing Francoeur can do, Church can also do. The fact that he is also not completely hopeless with a bat in his hands is just an added bonus.
There's been talk of Jerry Manuel and/or others in the Mets organization not liking Church for a long time and I guess this just about confirms that. Church didn't always live up to expectations and he had some bad luck with the concussions last year, but when he was able and allowed to get on the field, he was a solid contributor. It would certainly have been possible for the Mets to upgrade the right field position, but they did not do that here. They traded a decent player for one of the worst hitters in the game. And they're going to play him every day. I don't know how much more of this season I can take.
Tonight's the night
Things don't look good for the Mets right now. The team is four and a half games out of first place, losers of fourteen of their last twenty games. Sixty percent of the team's core is on the disabled list and not coming back any time soon. David Wright's OPS has dropped over a hundred points in the last three weeks. But tonight, things start to turn around. Tonight, the Mets have hope. Tonight, the Mets begin the run that will carry them back to the top of the NL East.
Oliver Perez is back!