Isn’t just like the Mets that they needed to be the dumbest team in baseball for five years before they realized they might need to be the smartest? They’re like George Costanza, author of the above title line, upon the realization that his own instincts had become so untrustworthy he needed to openly defy them by doing just the opposite of what they favored. The Mets have a long history of such behavior, whether it’s sitting on their hands whille the bullpen burned to the ground in 2008 then spending the offseason stuffing the roster with high-profile relievers; responding criticism of moves like the Scott Kazmir trade by aggressively promoting 19-year-old hard throwers to the majors; answering their near-complete tone deafness to the will of fans with regards to the new park by inviting bloggers to share a warm chat with executive Dave Howard. Of course they didn’t ask me.
And now it’s replacing the street-smart but improvisational front office of Minaya and Bernazard with the Harvard egghead set of Alderson, DePodesta and Ricciardi. Don’t get me wrong — I like the move and even I liked Omar — but at this time last year we could only hope to get through the offseason before a regrettably dumb move got made. This year, there’s reason to believe we will get through the offseason in better shape than we entered simply because the new guys will apply some discipline and processes designed to get the team pulling together for that purpose. If there’s one thing the previous administration didn’t do, it’s that. Wouldn’t it have been nice if the Mets had realized this when it was time to replace Steve Phillips?
What this all means to the ongoing managerial search remains a mystery although many seem to think it helps Terry Collins‘ candidacy: He’s reportedly admired by Paul DePodesta, got good reviews for his work with the Mets’ minor leaguers last year (he was the opposite of Tony Bernazard, natch), and has been compared favorably to Bobby Valentine for his energy, enthusiasm and international experience (ironically, Collins’ first managerial job was to replace the placid Art Howe in Houston). He was a finalist the last time the Mets interviewed for managers in the dawn of the Omar Era in 2005. On the downside, the veterans in Houston and Anaheim eventually tuned him out, he lacks any real Mets heritage and he’s unlike to excite the fanbase all by himself (but the support of the New Holy Trinity would say something).
Sartorially, Collins wore No. 2 while managing the Astros from 1994-96 and No. 1 for the Angels during their Disney period.
With the idea in mind that front-office bigwigs ultimately affect the unimportant stuff that eventually gets reported and published here, MBTN would like to take the opportunity to go blog on you and comment regarding this afternoon’s bizarre transfer of power in Metland.
We predict it will become clear that what emerged today was the Wilpons’ lack of trust in castrated former head honcho Jim Duquette, who like Art Howe is absorbing some punishment for circumstances beyond his control. While we think it’s great that local Queens guy Omar Minaya is getting an opportunity to truly lead the Mets, at the same time it’s a shame that Duke was never really afforded the same, even though, at least until July 30, his moves, and his team, ought to have demonstrated to his bosses he deserved it.
What we learned today in an unfortunately candid moment was that the Wilpons never took the training wheels off Duke’s contract and may never have intended to, seeing as Minaya was the man they wanted all along. And that’s because his assignment in Montreal — which everyone knew was temporary when it began — provided Minaya with the one thing Duquette could never have: A fair shake at some experience.
Taken broadly, that’s a thread that runs through a myriad of Wilponian messes including the Kazmir-Zambrano trade: The idea that unproven rookies are risks for other organizations to take. Ironically, the fact that that move — widely rumored to have come at the behest of Duquette’s senior scouting advisors — hasn’t paid immediate dividends only goes to prove how right the Mets philosophy can be made to appear: Duquette, the unproven rookie, is taking the fall for it.
Anyhow, we wish Minaya the best of luck but hope in light of his previously stated allergies to progressive thinking that he honors his pledge to utilize Duke as his “right-hand man” and that the Wilpons resist getting in the way unless he doesn’t. You gotta believe.
Just like Richard Hidalgo, we took most of September off, but we’re back in time to wrap up the September moves. Thanks for hanging in there as we moved to new World Headquarters in Brooklyn.
Let’s plow through the September moves we missed (all updated now):
Sept. 1: Recalled Matt Ginter 13; Tyler Yates 33 and Craig Brazell 9 from Triple-A Norfolk.
Sept. 4: Called up veteran lefty Vic Darensbourg from AAA, and assigned him No. 39.
Sept. 8: Recalled Aaron Heilman 48.
Sept. 10: Sent Matt Ginter 13 to the 60-day DL and recalled AAA hitting machine Victor Diaz, who debuted the next day wearing No. 50.
Sept. 14: Sent Vance Wilson 3 to the disabled list and recalled catcher Joe Hietpas from AA Binghamton. An emergency catcher, Heitpas has somehow avoided emergencies since his recall and is still waiting to become the third No. 10 this season.
Sept. 24: The Mets finally get their table setters returned to them, Jose Reyes 7, who sat out with a broken bone, and Kazuo Matsui 25, resting a sore back.
Finally, let’s bid farewell and better times to manager Art Howe, who’ll be turning over his keys and the No. 18 jersey after the season, along with most of his coaching staff. Though we grant Art was little more than a caretaker and nobody’s idea of a brilliant strategist, we’re sure he did his earnest best and applaud his class and dignity as he takes the axe and unnecessarily absorbs three weeks of lame duckness for two teams that performed below expectations for reasons in, and often out, of his control. We were scratching our heads when he walked in the door, too. Good luck, Art!
As noted below, this was a weird year, even by Met standards, and we’re saddened that it ends with less promise than it began. The search for Art Howe’s replacement will kick off what ought to be a fascinating offseason and for the sixth straight year, join us for the soap opera here.
Here’s former A’s and Astros manager Art Howe accepting the No. 18 jersey to manage the Mets next year. Howe will take over for the victimized and jobless Bobby Valentine 2, whom the Mets whacked the day after the season ended. (Coaches Charlie Hough 54 and Tom Robson 57 summarily left of their own accord). The move temporarily leaves Jeff D’Amico numberless, although he may wind up jobless as well. Howe becomes the 17th Met manager (and the first to wear No. 18). See more at MBTN’s All-time Coaches & Managers list.