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Jerry Manuel vows to make the Mets work on fundamentals

Feb 17, 2010, 4:20 PM EDT

Jerry Manuel.jpgWhen it comes to spring training evergreen stories there aren’t many more venerable than “best shape of his life” and “Player X spent the winter working on a new arm angle to get on top of his breaking ball” pieces. After those, however, you have to go with “Manager X plans on emphasizing fundamental baseball this spring” rebop. According to Allen Barra, this year it’s the Mets singing that tune:

Looking for bright spots as the Mets pitchers and catchers report?
Here’s one: Jerry Manuel has vowed to put his team through a starter
course in fielding fundamentals.

Two observations:

  • The major leagues is a bit late to be teaching anyone fundamental baseball. The best way to ensure good fundamental baseball at this level is to, you know, get guys who are fundamentally-sound baseball players and use them a lot; and
  • As Barra notes, the the Mets are likely to realize a dramatic improvement on defense simply by having Carlos Beltran and Jose Reyes back on the field.  Query: is Manuel clever/devious enough to be aware of this, plant some “I’m emphasizing fundamentals” stories in the press and then later try to take credit for the inevitable improvement brought on by Beltran and Reyes being back?

Probably not. He’s got more to worry about than silly spin games. But part of me likes to think of Jerry Manuel trying to play the angles in advance of what could be an ugly summer in Queens.

  1. BC - Feb 17, 2010 at 4:25 PM

    “The major leagues is a bit late to be teaching anyone fundamental baseball.”
    You said it, Amen!
    Reyes is super-skilled but he makes dumb plays in the field and on the bases.
    Manuel will be gone by the end of June.
    Hopefully this time Minaya gets the ax too – and at 4am so he knows what it feels like.

  2. Charles Gates - Feb 17, 2010 at 4:26 PM

    Most of these stories also say something about how each and every player will practice bunting so they will come through in the clutch. Because, yes, Carlos Beltran bunting in high leverage situations is exactly what the Metts need.

  3. YANKEES1996 - Feb 17, 2010 at 4:50 PM

    Craig,the answer to your query, I will vote for “clever”, but it will not save his job!

  4. Palehose67 - Feb 17, 2010 at 5:24 PM

    I’m trying to think of the top ten sping training lines every year:
    10. [Manager] said, “This spring we will be stressing fundamentals!”
    9. [Local sports reporter]: “[Player name] showed up to camp in the best shape of his life. He easily has lost 15 pounds.”
    8. “[Young pitching prospect] will given a real shot to compete for the fifth spot in the rotation.”

  5. Xpensive Wino - Feb 17, 2010 at 5:35 PM

    Now’s as good a time as any to start the “who’s going to be the first manager fired this year” conversation……

  6. john pileggi - Feb 17, 2010 at 5:36 PM

    Managers who are “teaching the fundamentals” usually are not around to reap the be benefit. Think Dallas Green and Bobby Valentine. The guy doing the “re-teach” is not going to be popular, even if he is effective. The next guy is the recipient of the benefits. Jerry is a good guy and I hope he gets to stay long enough to see some fruition of all this stuff.

  7. Omega in Colorado - Feb 17, 2010 at 5:56 PM

    @john pileggi
    the same thing happened here with my Rockos. Clint Hurdle busted his guys butts on fundamentals for a few years, lost their ear in the dug out, drastically improved the Rockos fielding and was shown the door for all his hard work.
    I guess that is just the life of a skipper.
    That being said, I am officially adopting the Mets as my underdog team this year, I will root my heart out for them every chance I get, unless of course they are playing my Rockos or my first true baseball love, the Cubbies.

  8. HansonChop - Feb 17, 2010 at 6:18 PM

    “But part of me likes to think of Jerry Manuel trying to play the angles in advance of what could be an ugly summer in Queens.”
    Just don’t come crying when Jurrjens and Hanson come down with shoulder injuries. Karma’s a bitch like that.

  9. Mark Barkow - Feb 17, 2010 at 6:38 PM

    Go check Manuel’s comments last spring. I remember him saying the same thing! What happened?

  10. Larry in Long Beach - Feb 17, 2010 at 9:05 PM

    “But part of me likes to think of Jerry Manuel trying to play the angles in advance of what could be an ugly summer in Queens.”
    Craig, seriously, enough with bashing the Mets. It’s not funny anymore. The team was contender in ’07 and ’08, before a disastrous (though injury marred) ’09. We get it. They stunk. They disappointed. They have a high payroll. They had all sorts of dysfunction and organizational messes. But do we need to have 3 posts a week pointing out nonsense just so you can kick them around some more? I’m no apologist, and I’m certainly willing to acknowledge the shortcomings of Manuel and Minaya, though I think they haven’t bombed nearly to the extent you portray week in and week out. Though to be honest, the IRA in the 70’s didn’t bomb the way you portray Met management to have done.
    I accept the entire article here as one of those usual spring pieces and I even get a kick out of the very question of Manuel being cagey or just blowing smoke. But the fact that you just could not resist that final sentence, and that you have included 20 or 30 others like it in articles over the last few weeks, is really getting very, very tiresome.
    The Mets have their issues, but you are so far past the usual degree of making a point, I half expect you to be selling t0shirts reading “AREN’T THE METS BAD? RIGHT? THEY’RE BAD. SEE? BAD.”

  11. Old Gator - Feb 17, 2010 at 11:07 PM

    I agree, it’s time to look at the upside of the Mutts.
    Uh – what is that? Well, they lowered the outfield wall. And….?
    For the way Jerry Manuel helped screw over one of the classiest guys in the game so his little clique of quitters, egotists and screwups could rally around him and show him that the implosion of ’08 was no fluke, that they really were a bunch of overpaid whiners and quitters, he’s getting exactly the ticket to an ugly immortality that he asked for. But, as Salman Rushdie famously wrote, life is very long. The Feelies found redemption, and the Beanbags found redemption. With a major overhaul and some new management, the Mutts can find it to. It’s time for them to stop trading on 1986 and get their act straightened out.

  12. OneSweetWorld - Feb 17, 2010 at 11:31 PM

    Umm the guy 2 spots ahead was right, Manuel SAID THE SAME EXACT THING LAST YEAR when they started Spring Training. I cant wait for Omar to be fired and Bobby V to come back and coach this team next year…

  13. Chillax - Feb 18, 2010 at 9:35 AM

    I completely agree with OneSweetWorld. This Mets bashing has gotten way out of hand. There is a very distinct reason why the Mets preformed the way they did last year……INJURIES. They have been contenders in the past few year before that. The fact of the matter is, all the media and bloggers are doing is fueling a team to achieve and throw the banter back in their face. If I were Jerry Manuel, I would have a table of the nasty articles written about the Mets in the clubhouse, so that the team can use it to get motivated. Everyone knows that you never tell a professional athlete that they can’t do something because they will push that much harder.

  14. Old Gator - Feb 18, 2010 at 2:10 PM

    I agree. Enough is enough. I bailed on a golden opportunity to rag on the Escobar disaster a few posts up. And you’re right about last year. It deprived all the other fans in the NL East of a great opportunity to watch them choke and fold in the last two or three weeks yet again. If they’d stayed healthy, they probably could have set an alltime record for consecutive gotterdammerungen by blowing a nine game lead with seven games left to play.

  15. Carroll B. Merriman - Mar 2, 2010 at 10:43 PM

    Love the blog, i found you via google and will be bookmarking you right now.
    oh you can usally catch me over at bontrade forum

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