Excuses are like ‘you-know-what’s.’ Everyone has one and they all stink. When it comes to the New York Mets, there is so much of that going on that it’s almost become comical if it weren’t so sad.
Two September collapses followed by a summer of long-term injuries to key components may be the big picture but the smaller one – perhaps an even more glaring one – is that neither Willie Randolph or Jerry Manuel were able to get the best out of their players. Heck, they weren’t even able to get a full day’s pay out of the majority of the locker room on a daily basis.
To say the Mets gave up before they were mathematically eliminated this past summer is like saying reality television has become a bore. Even the young replacement players for the banged-up veterans appeared as if they were just going through the motions. Mental and physical errors made the season reminiscent of the 1962 Mets, with the main difference that they were loveable losers while these imposters were down right deplorable.
Now we have the pleasure of seeing it all over again for the fourth consecutive season. Jeff Wilpon has already announced that both Manuel and general manager Omar Minaya will be back.
The core group of players that have all been either a part of the collapses, the injured or unable to take charge when needed may all return, as well. The one question mark is first baseman Carlos Delgado, who is a Type B free agent after his contract ran out while he was on the disabled list.
The 37-year-old underwent hip surgery back on May 19 and left a huge hole not only at his position but also as the Mets’ only real power threat, the team had a popgun offense. Delgado then strained an oblique muscle while rehabbing and that put him on the shelf for good. Not exactly much of an endorsement for his conditioning.
Now Delgado has stated that he will be playing winter baseball in his native Puerto Rico to salvage what may be a career nearing its end. If he shows that he can still consistently hit the ball out, the Mets may offer him a one-year deal with incentives. But has the front office taken into consideration that a veteran such as Delgado has been a part of both the 2007 and 2008 collapses and never has taken a step up to become a team leader?
While we’re on the subject of players who have no desire to be in the driver’s seat, let us bring David Wright into the mix. The young third sacker is certainly talented and a model citizen but had the perfect opportunity in 2009 to become Mr. Met. He certainly did not do that and actually took a few steps back. He also has shown that he is a singles and doubles hitter at a power position, more alarming especially since the Mets lacked a big stick everywhere else in their line-up. His home run total (10) was reminiscent of a utility player.
Carlos Beltran did his best to play through pain but still had to succumb to missing a good amount of time due to a bum right knee. But he also is a ‘stand behind someone else’ type of person. He is not a take-charge guy by any means, even though he gets paid like one. That was one intangible that Minaya did not seem to think or care about when he threw boatloads of money at the free agent centerfielder, who did his best to take less from the cross-town Yankees before settling on the Mets.
And the last of the fearsome foursome? None other than Jose Reyes, who has made a career out of committing rookie mistakes year after year. Bad habits such as not running out ground balls or pop ups and horrendous base running mistakes has definitely rubbed off on some of the younger players on the team.
What needed to be done was not and Manuel seemed more like a substitute high school teacher than a major league manager. Basic fundamentals that are a part of spring training were botched up through Game 162. Inexcusable to say the least, but management seems to be content with him as the field boss because he is the furthest thing from controversial. The image-conscious Mets love to remain squeaky clean, even to a fault.
While the outcome of 2010 may be predictable wit the Mets, their excuse of what went wrong will not be as easy.