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Five ways to "fix" the Mets

Feb 11, 2010, 11:53 AM EDT

As you surely know by now, Craig likes to needle the Mets. The problem
is that it’s become entirely too easy to pile on them at this point
(Junk bonds? Not enough money to sign Rod Barajas?
Really?) and therefore, no longer much fun. With that in mind, Craig
asked me, the resident Mets fan on HardballTalk, to come up with some
solutions to “fix” the franchise. See, my orange and blue brethren,
he’s not completely evil.

I’m going to stop short of saying Fred Wilpon should sell the team
or that the Mets should sign this guy or trade for that guy, because as
we get ever closer to Spring Training, the looming reality is that this
is the team that will take the field. Instead, I’m going to focus on
some practical solutions to put the organization back on the path
towards “respectability.” Here goes…


1) Decide on a public face: This is essential. No more
picking and choosing John Ricco for this or Omar Minaya for that. It
only perpetuates the perception (and reveals the likely reality) that
the front office is completely fractured and paints Minaya as an
increasingly marginalized and powerless figurehead. If the Wilpons truly
feel that Ricco can be a trusted leader in the front office, they need
to swallow their pride and let Minaya walk. There’s plenty of internal
lieutenants (former Reds general manager Wayne Krivsky, for example) to
help Ricco along the way, if needed. If the Wilpons can make annual
payments to Bobby Bonilla through 2035, they can fork over the
remainder of Minaya’s contract. This current charade is unsustainable.

2) Learn how to keep certain things in-house: Allowing
private disputes to become public doesn’t benefit anyone, especially
when the New York tabloids function as the team’s backdrop. You’d think
the Mets would have learned their lesson after the Tony Bernazard-Adam
Rubin debacle, but they recently decided to target Carlos Beltran and
Scott Boras, hoping that they would come out of it looking like the
victim. They were wrong. A recent poll on MetsBlog tells us that the
fans still have an overwhelmingly positive view
(88%) of Beltran, and weeks later I’m still trying to figure out
exactly what they were trying to accomplish by airing their grievances
in such a public manner. Medical disputes between player and team are
nothing new, but they are usually kept under wraps for the sake of all
involved. Where other teams show restraint or have some degree of
subtlety, the Mets are completely reactive and petty. A fresh and
reasoned P.R. approach is necessary.

3) A complete and thorough review/overhaul of medical protocol:
This should be obvious and I hope it is already underway, but the
recent dispute regarding Beltran’s knee surgery is just the latest
example of miscommunication and ineptitude in this area. The treatment
of Jose Reyes’ injury was similarly botched and misrepresented by the
team publicly, adding unnecessary drama to the situation.
I don’t doubt that the Mets have some of the industry’s best doctors –
they work with the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York — but I’m
sensing that they are being hamstrung (pardon the pun) by the
indecisiveness of the front office. The process of how injuries are
handled must be addressed and/or modified for clarity. Former reliever
J.J. Putz recently alleged that the Mets asked him not to talk about
his injury with the media, so while that may or may not be true, they
can’t stop players from talking to each other. If the organization’s
current reputation persists, I fear it will continue to keep many
impact free agents away from Queens.

4) Invest in the draft: When I ask Mets fans for their No. 1
criticism of how the team operates, this is often the first thing they
mention. While small-market teams like the Pirates have invested
heavily in the draft in recent seasons, the Mets have routinely refused
to surpass the slot recommendations passed along by the commissioner’s
office, resulting in a lack of quality depth throughout the minor
league system. As recently as last season, the Mets spent less in the draft than any other major league team, failing to sign a pair of promising young pitchers
in the process. Getting on the Mets for declining to pony up on a
mediocre catcher like Barajas is one thing, but this is a troubling
blueprint for success. If they weren’t active internationally, it would
be crippling.

5) Bridge the disconnect between fans and the front office: There was recently an unnamed member of the front office who expressed disappointment
that the Mets failed in their efforts to land catcher Bengie Molina in
free agency. Meanwhile, anybody with a pulse and an internet connection
would know that the fans were overwhelmingly opposed to such a signing.
I’m not advising the front office to listen to the fans on every major
acquisition, but we’re witnessing a franchise that is completely out of
key with the tenor of their fanbase. They’ve made an effort this winter
to address concerns about the team’s lack of identity in the new
stadium, something that should be applauded, but as I said when the
announcement was made, we shouldn’t give them too much credit for
something that should have been implemented from day one. These are just a couple of examples, but rightly or wrongly, it seems like the Mets are always playing “catch up.”

You’ll notice that I said little of the team on the field or manager Jerry Manuel and that
is because I believe winning will cure all or most of the ills
mentioned above. I don’t claim to be a prognosticator, and as such, I’m only armed
with optimism for the season ahead. I firmly believe that these players
have been kicked around and bloodied so much over the course of the past nine months
that they just might be the most underrated team in the National League
right now. Of course, be sure to remind me of this statement if they finish in fourth place
again.

  1. BC - Feb 11, 2010 at 12:02 PM

    And you can accomplish ALL FIVE of these things by canning Omar Minaya. Funny, huh?

  2. striker - Feb 11, 2010 at 12:14 PM

    The fans seem to think the Mets will finish sub .500 this year.
    http://www.fan-exchange.com/mlb/standingspredictions.asp
    They are such an in between team that could go either way. But they are in too big of a market to rebuild.

  3. willmose - Feb 11, 2010 at 12:27 PM

    As your five points illustrate, the Mets problems start at the top. All five points are problems that good management solves. Good management starts at the top. No you can’t fire the owner, an a brain transplant is probably out of bounds also, but gee whiz, isn’t their a baseball person in NYC that Mets could hire as CEO and turn this team around?

  4. YX - Feb 11, 2010 at 12:28 PM

    Interesting to learn that all fans are pessimist except Yankees’

  5. moreflagsmorefun - Feb 11, 2010 at 12:41 PM

    The BIG problem with The Mets is the Wilpons, sorry they do not deserve to be the owners of a New York franchise because they sit on their head and think with their ass, sorry it is true.The ownership lost money in the Bernie Madoff scheme and they have been penny pinchin for a year now.They are disgusting as owners and the Mets will never succeed with them as the owner.I feel bad for the fan’s.

  6. GimmeSomeSteel - Feb 11, 2010 at 1:01 PM

    6. If/when you get back on your feet financially, think for yourselves instead of reacting to what the Yankees do. You’re not the Yankees, never have been and never will be. Win games and the tabloids will gravitate towards you and maybe some of the fans.

  7. kirk - Feb 11, 2010 at 1:10 PM

    What added value does Minaya give to the Mets? How is it even possible that both Minaya and Ricco are both still around and give public addresses to the Press. I would rather that the GM position focus on developing a championship team while a Public Relations person gives public addresses to the Press.
    Under no circumstance should Minaya be anywhere near a reporter. Especially, Adam Rubin. Where is Jay Horowitz? Shouldn’t he be addressing the Press instead of Minaya?

  8. YankeesfanLen - Feb 11, 2010 at 1:30 PM

    I agree with the concept that the Metropolitans will never be in the same breath as the Universe where the tabloids are concerned. The Post is an unabashed Met paper, except when the team is down, then they take no prisoners but do represent to some degree the opinions of the fans.
    The News is middle of the road and will pump up their coverage if there’s half a chance of succeeding. The Record runs hot and cold depending on Klapisch’s mood and O’Connor’s attention span.
    The Times: Did an NL team move into town?
    I have a lot of friends who seem to like the Mets so I save my vitroil for here, but I would like something that could be talked about without letting my Yankee fandom getting them turned off. And they get all pissed off when I don’t tease them.
    Do the five things then I’ll talk. Especially number 1.

  9. Philsfan - Feb 11, 2010 at 1:45 PM

    6.) Move to another division, the Phils own this one.

  10. Jonny5 - Feb 11, 2010 at 1:52 PM

    I’d say trade everyone for young up and coming prospects.

  11. MP - Feb 11, 2010 at 2:15 PM

    #6. Avoid having both Daniel Murphy and Omir Santos in the starting lineup. Unless its AAA Buffalo.

  12. Joey B - Feb 11, 2010 at 2:16 PM

    Besides the obvious, like a real CEO and GM, they should put out a game plan and let the public know about it, so they become accountable to it. More so this winter than ever, but it doesn’t look like they have any blueprint whatsoever.
    I’d love to see them predict how many wins they’ll get, backed up by a few statistics, just so the fans can get an idea of how serious they are. If they really think they can win, then Bay makes sense, or at least some sense. But given the shortfalls at C, 1B, 2B, RF, and SPs, it doesn’t make sense to me to tie up $16M+ for five years.
    I’m also thinking they should come clean on their finances. They seem to have the $16M+ for Bay, but nothing to add a catcher, or SP, or to pay for minor league improvements.
    If I were a Mets’ fan, I’d have preferred to have locked in a few draft picks, rather than commit the money to Bay. Heck, as a RS fan, I can tell you that almost the entire RSN was overjoyed with the Wagner trade. A month of good production, and two good draft picks. The Mets either have, or should have, more money than we do. No one, no matter what kind of spin, not even NYM fanatics, can prefer Chris Carter over two good picks. They really need to explain the thinking behind the trade.

  13. Joey B - Feb 11, 2010 at 2:33 PM

    Besides the obvious, like a real CEO and GM, they should put out a game plan and let the public know about it, so they become accountable to it. More so this winter than ever, but it doesn’t look like they have any blueprint whatsoever.
    I’d love to see them predict how many wins they’ll get, backed up by a few statistics, just so the fans can get an idea of how serious they are. If they really think they can win, then Bay makes sense, or at least some sense. But given the shortfalls at C, 1B, 2B, RF, and SPs, it doesn’t make sense to me to tie up $16M+ for five years.
    I’m also thinking they should come clean on their finances. They seem to have the $16M+ for Bay, but nothing to add a catcher, or SP, or to pay for minor league improvements.
    If I were a Mets’ fan, I’d have preferred to have locked in a few draft picks, rather than commit the money to Bay. Heck, as a RS fan, I can tell you that almost the entire RSN was overjoyed with the Wagner trade. A month of good production, and two good draft picks. The Mets either have, or should have, more money than we do. No one, no matter what kind of spin, not even NYM fanatics, can prefer Chris Carter over two good picks. They really need to explain the thinking behind the trade.

  14. Jonathan Libman - Feb 11, 2010 at 3:22 PM

    Key to Mets whole season is their lefty batters.
    Mainly Reyes (is he healthy?) and Can Daniel Murphy or the newly signed Mike Jacobs do anything?
    David Wright and Bay can play, hard to say about Jeff Franceour – but the Mets looks like they can be easily pitched around.
    Match that with their soddy pitching behind Johan and they look like a near lock to finish in 4th place.
    Every team in their division got better, in multiple areas.
    The problem with trading for prospects is the Mets can’t scout!!!
    Bay was a Mets product – whom they traded for Bobby Jones.
    Lasting Milledge will out produce Bay – ya heard it here first.

  15. BC - Feb 11, 2010 at 3:39 PM

    #6: Have a bus pull up at Citi Field, pick up the Wilpons and entire front office, scouting, coaching and medical staff, drive across Northern Blvd. through the Marina and into Long Island Sound.

  16. Mark Rak - Feb 11, 2010 at 4:17 PM

    How can any article with cures for the Mets not address the fact that Jerry Manuel is still the manager? You can talk all you want about the injuries last year, but Manuel is the one who presided over the 2008 collapse. For that reason (and thousands of others) he should have been fired then.
    Before, during and after the injuries this team played with no fire, no sense of urgency and a complete lack of fundamental baseball knowledge….be it on offense, defense or on the basepaths. This falls right in the lap of the manager and coaches.
    To anyone who watched the Chisox in during Manuels tenure, this type of play is all too familiar. It is the reason he was fired there, and it is no coincidence that the Chisox won the Series the year after he was gone.
    I am sorry Mr. Manuel, but you should never have even been given this job and must be fired along with that joke of a coach Warthen (who was lucky he had a AAA job).
    Bring instant credibility back to the Mets by re-hiring Bobby Valentine (before the Marlins or Cubs do). Not only will you finally start to sell some tickets, but you will also start to see a team that is getting the most out of it’s players.

  17. PG - Feb 11, 2010 at 7:38 PM

    I agree with BC, but why is this seemingly so difficult for them to do?

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