Posts Tagged ‘Jerry Manuel’

1986 to 2010: Confidence and Determination to Caution and Trepidation

March 28, 2010

Before the start of the 1986 Mets season, then manager Davy Johnson stood in front of all his players in the clubhouse and confidently proclaimed that this would be without a doubt the year in which the New York Mets would go all the way to the World Series and win it.

Coming off of two very successfully seasons in ’84 and ’85 that virtually put the Mets back on the baseball map, fans were also beginning to see the maturation of their farm system in pitcher Dwight Gooden and slugger Darryl Strawberry emerge right before their eyes. Why wouldn’t Johnson feel compelled to profess that his ball club was the best in the business?

Eager to prove the naysayers wrong that the Mets weren’t just a bunch of overfed, immature, downright scum, they fulfilled their manager’s prophecy in dramatic fashion no less and won the whole goddamn thing.

Fast forward to this upcoming season and to present-day Mets manager, Jerry Manuel, who has also made some of his own personal predictions although none as bold as his fiery predecessor’s. Manuel, who will be starting the 2010 season under the veneer of a lame-duck year, stood in front of his players and demanded at the very least fundamental baseball. Instead of using words like achievement and redemption, Manuel spoke in terms of prevention and recovery.

With a large majority of his players returning from the disabled list, Manuel is proceeding with caution. Like any good manager, Manuel would rather have his starting shortstop Jose Reyes available for the duration of the season rather than push him for Opening Day and place his overall status in jeopardy.

Looking back on the 1986 season, the Mets had Dwight Gooden’s dominating pitching, Keith Hernandez’ consistent play both defensively and at the plate, and a lethal combination of power and speed in a young Darryl Strawberry. The Mets along with their manager, Davy Johnson, were ready for greatness.

As for Manuel, with the 2010 season on its way, the focus will be on staying healthy and deciding which reliever will be coming out of his bullpen to set up for his closer.

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One Up, One Down: Mejia and Reyes Are on the Move

March 6, 2010

Jenrry Mejia, a name that has drawn a lot of attention this past week down in Port St. Lucie, Fla., is just one of the many unexpected developments to come out of Mets camp. Mejia, a twenty-year-old right hander who hails from the Dominican Republic, has been able to put a lid on his control problems, allowing his raw talents to take their proper course. Mejia has electric stuff. He throws a 96 mph fastball with a lot of movement that can make even the most talented hitters miss. In two-and-a-third innings of work on Friday, Mejia managed to strike out four of the seven batters he faced.

In addition to a high-octane fastball, he also has a changeup and what scouts are calling a decent curveball. Fortunately for Mejia, possessing a naturally cutting fastball could very well be all the juice he needs in landing a role as the Opening Day set-up man for closer Francisco Rodriguez. With Mejia as a formidable front runner for that position, Mets manager Jerry Manuel is faced with an even more difficult task if and when he decides on who will be the eighth inning guy out of the bullpen.

“What he has to do is prove that for the most part he can throw consistent strikes. If he can do that, he’s got somebody fighting for him,” Manuel said.

On a down note, shortstop Jose Reyes was scratched from his scheduled start in Friday’s split-squad matchup at Tradition Field against the Marlins. The Mets lost that game, 4-3, when Florida’s Mike Stanton crushed a 2-run HR off of Bobby Parnell in the 10th inning.

Reyes, on the other hand, was diagnosed with an imbalanced thyroid that doctors later classified as overactive. According to the NY Times, the symptoms associated with this condition include loss of weight, hyperactivity, bulging eyes, and excessive sweating.

However, Reyes has confirmed none of those symptoms. In spite of how he feels, the Mets have taken the proper precautions. Reyes will be retested in New York on Monday, delaying those results until Wednesday. Doctors have suggested that the Mets catalyst may be sidelined for up to a month as he is monitored and receives the necessary treatment.

“This is not what I want to be doing,” Reyes said. “I am disappointed.”

“I don’t know what’s going on, this is the first time I’ve ever had something like this,” he added.

“I have to be worried. I can’t do anything…I’m getting tired of it. My team is always playing without me. I want to play.”

Manuel Prepares the Kool-Aid But Are We Ready to Drink It

February 20, 2010

As I sat by my computer yesterday listening to Mets manager Jerry Manuel discuss the many ways in which he would construct his starting lineup for the 2010 season, I felt compelled to jot down my own version of New York’s various batting orders. After several attempts to outdo the well-respected skipper by batting shortstop Jose Reyes sixth, I conceded and felt it best to leave the decision making up to the man in charge.

Manuel was his usual open-ended self on Friday as he addressed concerns regarding the Mets starting rotation, the catcher position, and how airy and light third baseman David Wright appeared to be carrying himself after such a demanding season.

Upbeat and clear-minded, Manuel even poked fun at himself while professing that the longer he stayed amongst the many sour-faced beat reporters, the worse off his team would be. Eventually, his bellowing laugh would finally subside. Only then did he begin to turn his attention to more serious matters for example, which reliever would bridge the gap to closer Francisco Rodriguez.

“We have to find that person,” Manuel said. “It’s going to be difficult. The quicker we resolve that…the better off in the long run.”

If health was the obvious reason why the 2009 season ended in such devastating fashion, a weak bullpen the previous year could be seen as a no-brainer when explaining why our beloved orange and blue were unable to patch things up and reach the post-season in 2008.

Fortunately for Manuel, he inherited that underperforming bullpen from his predecessor, Willie Randolph, and was given an incomplete for the struggles he was made to endure in that department. Manuel’s advice for a solid bullpen this year; throw strikes and consistently pound the strike zone, simple enough.

After quelling the rumors by stating that Daniel Murphy had all but solidified himself as the club’s first baseman, he also reinforced the notion that there was indeed a fifth starter race brewing between right-hander Fernando Nieve and Jon Niese, the Mets homegrown left-hander.

In reference to a question as to how much space separated the Mets from the first-place Phillies this season, Manuel proceeded with caution. When asked if he thought this particular group of guys could be a contender for the post season in 2010, the Mets skipper confidently replied, “What I like is the fact that almost seventy percent of the guys were here early for Spring Training.”

“That says a lot,” he added. “It’s a good sign of some positive things for us on the horizon.”

With the recent setbacks to starting centerfielder Carlos Beltran and the expected eighth inning reliever Kelvim Escobar all too real, these next four to five weeks will be either a springboard for better days to come or just a case of the same old story for the New York Mets.

Other tidbits from Manuel’s presser:

Alex Cora is the Mets back-up shortstop.

Catcher Henry Blanco will be limited in his usage behind the plate.

Angel Pagan and Mike Jacobs are very much in-line to make the Mets 25-man roster.

According to Manuel, Spring Training is a tough place to evaluate players, Florida’s Josh Johnson is a very good pitcher, and number 53 works just fine for him.

Madoff, Backman, and an Old Baseball Jacket

November 17, 2009

Amidst an array of wood-carved ducks, Rolex watches, and uninspired artwork, a shiny blue and orange jacket with a number 2 on one sleeve and a NY Mets emblem on the other was proudly displayed. Looking at it from the front, you might think it could have belonged to any Mets fan that made their way to Flushing Meadows over the years. You may even envision Tom Seaver standing safely at first base due to a botched sacrificed bunt ready to run the bases. Or perhaps this was the one shred of paraphernalia worn by a family friend who vowed to never take it off until the Mets won the World Series again.

Whatever the case may be, when you proceed to investigate who this particular piece of clothing belongs to, it’s hard not to recoil in disgust. “MADOFF!” That’s right. The notorious mastermind of the most lucrative Ponzi-scheme of all-time was a New York Mets fan. So much so that he decided to pony up with the team’s ownership in hopes of expanding his evil empire until it all came crashing to a devastating halt. Nevertheless, to imagine Bernie Madoff donning his most prized Mets possession (bought at auction for $14,500) brings to mind our most recently notorious Mets aficionados.

Up first is pitcher Jerry Koosman. The legendary left-hander had his best years as a Met. But as the saying goes, it’s not how you start its how you finish. Koosman felt he was above the law or in this case the IRS and is currently serving a six-month jail sentence for tax evasion. Lenny Dykstra, who is fortunately not behind bars, owes tons of money to several financial institutions. “Nails” is so far in debt that he had to pawn away his championship rings and other sought after memorabilia that he acquired over the years as a professional baseball player.

As Koosman and Dykstra continue their honorary fall from grace, the Mets organization has recently announced that Wally Backman, another of the team’s black sheep, will be taking over the managerial duties for the Brooklyn Cyclones next season.

“He has always been a fan favorite in New York, symbolizing the blue-collar work ethic and unbridled dedication to winning that this city – and particularly this borough – values above all else in its sports stars,” Cyclones general manager Steve Cohen said. “Brooklyn and Backman were made for each other.” Perhaps, we will be seeing those exact words atop the Kosciusko Bridge on our way into Kings County.

As if Brooklyn doesn’t have enough of a slightly skewed reputation, now it has to embrace someone who has been arrested twice and has had financial problems in the past. Not to mention that Backman was also canned after just four days on a job once. I guess everybody deserves a second chance. I, personally, think the hiring of the fiery Backman is a good thing. It makes perfect sense. As long as he keeps his shirt on or jacket (haha) in this instance, he should have nothing to worry about.

Oh, by the way, Backman was released from the Chicago White Sox organization in 2003 as a minor league manager. Why? He was lobbying for the White Sox manager position. From who, you ask? Jerry Manuel.

Mets Ownership, GM, and Manager Back for 2010

October 13, 2009

Hey Mets fans, I apologize for being so lazy regarding this blog. As you may or may not care, our beloved Metsies are most likely watching the playoffs just like we are. The Yankees have moved on to the American League Championship Series and the St. Louis Cardinals have been eliminated.

In the meantime, I’ve been listening to WFAN’s Mike Francesa as he practically has a coronary ripping into Mets GM Omar Minaya and COO Jeff Wilpon for delivering a broken down Pinto and passing it off as a shiny new Cadillac this past season. Thanks Mike, you don’t have to be Joe Garagiola to realize that the Mets need power and a legitimate number two starter behind Johan. But who?

Best case scenario: Holliday and Halladay, as in Matt and Roy. Ladies and gentleman, it’s the Matt and Roy Show, starring Mets manager Jerry Manuel or bench coach-in-waiting, or bench coach X. You heard Ownership, folks, Omar and Jerry “must” step it up. Hey, it could be the Jerry and Omar Show instead. Did somebody say “distraction?”

Wilpon understands how much is at stake so he’s already started creating distractions of his own, calling out the Los Angeles Dodgers medical staff and accusing them of being more incompetent than his own medical staff.

Oh great, the Phillies have just scored three runs in the top of the ninth inning to take a 5-4 lead.

Be sure and check out Mets Public Record this Thursday at 10pm on Blog Talk Radio.

Misch Earns Himself a Second Interview

September 28, 2009

The New York Times released a startling report yesterday stating that for every six applicants searching for employment there was just one open position available. With that in mind, holding on to one’s job security should be seen as a top priority. Having already been forewarned that his starting role was in jeopardy and in no hurry to test the current job market, Mets left-hander Pat Misch gave his manager more than he could ask for. He pitched a complete game shutout earning him his second win of the season and granting the Mets a two-games-to-one series victory over the Florida Marlins at Land Shark Stadium.

Misch’s previous start, against the Atlanta Braves last Monday at Citi Field, was his shortest outing of the season as a starter. The southpaw lasted just one-and-a-third innings, giving up eight earned runs on seven hits. That dismal outing prompted Mets manager Jerry Manuel to question Misch’s criteria as a full-time starter and to recommend that he be placed back into the Mets bullpen.

“Someone was telling me I might not get another chance to start. I’m glad Jerry stuck with me,” Misch said.

With six games remaining for the Mets this season, Misch will most likely be asked back for a final start. For the time being, he can hold off on sending out those resumes.

For Mets Fans, I Think It’s Safe to Wave the White Flag

August 26, 2009

Where to begin? The Mets announced yesterday that Johan Santana’s 2009 season has come to an end. Assuming all goes well with his surgery to remove bone chips from his left elbow, the Mets ace will be back in time for the start of next year’s Spring Training. With all the injuries that have befallen on the Mets this year, this latest diagnosis of Santana could be considered the final straw, the last nail in the coffin, putting a team out of its misery, or beating a man when he’s down, whatever cliché you want to use – the Mets are officially done. You could even say they are overdone.

Since the departure of Carlos Delgado, Carlos Beltran, Jose Reyes, and John Maine, the Mets have been a model of inconsistency. In professional sports, baseball included, staying healthy throughout the course of a season is essential. The Mets and their fans have learned that lesson the hard way.

After last night’s 2-1 lost to the Florida Marlins at Land Shark Stadium, Mets manager Jerry Manuel proceeded to answer questions. He looked like a man who had just spent the night in an airport. A man whose travel plans had been delayed due to his flight being cancelled. When asked if last night’s starter, right-hander Nelson Figueroa, deserved another shot in the Mets rotation, Manuel nonchalantly said, “Yeah…why not.”

And the Best Actor Award Goes to…Jerry Manuel

August 22, 2009

Prior to this week’s high temperatures and humidity, the summer months in the city have actually been quite bearable. Unfortunately for New Yorkers, when they’re made to endure more than a day or two of extreme heat, tempers have a tendency to flare up. The same could be said for the Mets manager. Jerry Manuel was given the heave-ho last night for arguing a play at second base in the bottom of the fifth inning. Come to think of it, can you really blame him? For the last three months, he has had to lead a ball club that at best is a shadow of its original self. From hamstring tears to concussions, hip impingements to injured quads, not to mention the latest release of one of his starting pitchers and the firing of Tony Bernazard from the Mets front office, the world that surrounds the Mets skipper would make for a very interesting reality show. Perhaps it could be called “Project Someday.”

With all of the negativity that has infiltrated the Mets clubhouse of late courtesy of Gary Sheffield, the Amazins were able to pull themselves together and take the first game of a four-game series Friday night, 4-2, from the NL East-leading Philadelphia Phillies.

“We are in a place where we are fighting for our lives,” Manuel said after the Mets victory. “Everything we do, we are just battling.”

With the return of their four best offensive players mired in uncertainty, Manuel’s post-game comments have never sounded so desperate.

For the Mets, It’s A Win Here and A Win There

August 15, 2009

Since Mets centerfielder Carlos Beltran was placed on the disabled list on June 21st, the Mets have won nineteen out of forty-seven games. With such a dismal number of victories, my only guess is that it has made them appreciate greatly when the outcome ends in their favor. As optimistic as the Mets may be feeling right now after witnessing Bobby Parnell’s winning performance last night, seven strikeouts in six scoreless innings, this latest contest could very well be seen as just another stranded victory in a sea of never-ending defeats.

Prior to the Mets 3-0 shutout of the San Francisco Giants last night at Citi Field, they have lost ten out of their last fifteen games. As much as any Mets fan would like to revel in the coffers of yesterday’s performance, it still does not make up for all the atrocious and despicable baseball that they have displayed these last few months. However, not to be too negative, Mets closer Francisco Rodriguez notched his twenty-sixth save last night and looks to be his old self again. Angel Pagan, back from a couple of days of rest, blasted a lead-off home run in the bottom of the first inning getting the Mets on the scoreboard early. Most impressive though was Bobby Parnell’s ability to finish up an abbreviated outing without allowing a walk, something that has unfortunately eluded Mets starters this season.

As we enter the third weekend of August, the Mets are currently twelve games out of first place in the NL East and nine and a half games out the Wild Card. Despite the obvious, it seems apparent that Mets manager Jerry Manuel is not ready to concede the fact that his ball club is now better suited for the role of spoiler.

“We have to continue to really get after it these last however many games and see where we are,” Manuel said. Hope springs eternal, I guess.

Sheffield Could Very Well Be Running on Empty

August 11, 2009

At the start of every season, major league teams seek out veteran ball players with the hope that they could possibly have one good year left in them. The Oakland A’s had nothing but good intentions when they brought back Jason Giambi. The same could be said for the Boston Red Sox regarding pitcher John Smoltz. For the Mets, its 40-year-old Gary Sheffield who has already been placed on the disabled list and most recently has been hampered with a sore hamstring. Acquired more for his wisdom and experience then his ability to contribute everyday, it’s easy to see why the Mets would opt on the side of caution when making the decision whether or not the veteran slugger is able to play.

Prior to yesterday’s game, Mets manager Jerry Manuel sat down with Sheffield behind closed doors to discuss his nagging injury among other things. According to eyewitness reports, Sheffield wasn’t too pleased with Manuel’s decision to scratch him from the Mets starting lineup for the fifth straight day. The veteran outfielder was disappointed because in his mind he was ready to go and eager to get back out on to the field. When the Mets picked up Sheffield right before the start of the season, he was highly considered to be their right-handed power threat coming off the bench. However, with all of the Mets injuries this year, he has been given many opportunities to play everyday.

During his tenure in the American League, Sheffield was able to perform on a daily basis as a designated hitter. With the Mets being a National League team, getting at least three or four licks a game means he must be able to perform defensively as well. For Manuel and the Mets, sacrificing defense for a dangerous bat who is currently ailing may not be such a great idea. With that type of uncertainty, you could make a good case as to why the Mets skipper would think twice before inserting the name ‘Sheffield’ on his daily lineup card.