So I couldn’t get any sleep last night and decided to put on the MLB Network’s presentation of the 1986 baseball season that I DVR’ed. Every time I watch this, there is one segment that always sticks out in my mind. Jeff Pearlman (author of “The Bad Guys Won”), talking about game 6 of the World Series:
â€œI interviewed Bill Robinson before he passed, he was the 1st base coach for the Mets and he told me something that I will never forget. Two outs in the ninth, Gary Carter gets to 1st base and he says â€œI was not going to make that last Fâ€™in out of this World Seriesâ€. Kevin Mitchell gets to 1st base and says â€œI was not going to make the last Fâ€™in out of this World Seriesâ€. Ray Knight gets to 1st base, he says â€œWell Iâ€™m not making the last out, itâ€™s going to be somebody elseâ€â€¦I donâ€™t know if you can factually will yourself to win a baseball game but they came as close as anyone ever has.â€
Now I know that there will probably never be a team like 1986 and frankly I donâ€™t want there to be. The team fit the times; they were gritty, dirty and flashy. The story from Jeff is one of hundreds that Iâ€™ve heard, each of which further solidifies the legacy of one of the best teams to ever take the field. That thought brings me to the team we currently have. I believe at the core of the Mets issues is a lack of identity. Not a new theory by any means but one that is probably the most difficult and complex to fix. I feel that the Mets as currently configured (2007-2009) are a collection of players and good ideas but hardly a team that can be told apart from any other ballclub. Now, Iâ€™m not talking about only physical ability but the intangibles and personality that good teams draw upon in those despite times to win.
The Mets will be going through many changes in this offseason. Some of which will come via trades and some will come via free agency. As many can attest to, I am a very level headed fan when it comes to this team and what Iâ€™m about to say is not out of panic or anger but out of frustration with the steady decline of this team. I believe first off, the Mets need to develop a tougher skin. I want to see Jose Reyes next year do his merengue dance all over home plate. Why do you askâ€¦because he Fâ€™ing can. Iâ€™m tired of this hypocrisy that the Mets are subjected to when it comes to celebrations. I want them to celebrate when they have success and get pissed when they fail. I want people and media to STOP anointing David Wright as the Mets â€œcaptainâ€ or â€œleaderâ€. David has not done ANYTHING yet to merit this type of praise. Also I would like people to give Luis Castillo some props and quit on so much hating. He did what he said he was going to do and did it well. Also can people realize that Daniel Murphy is just a kid and this was his FIRST FULL SEASON as a MLB player. I donâ€™t understand how he got all this hype and why people are so disappointed.
Now, I do believe the Mets need a shake up. My shake up would have to be, the Mets finding a way to trade Carlos Beltran. Now I know people will bring up the power outage the Mets had this past year and Beltran is far from a problem when it comes to fixing that issue for next year. I agree with this but letâ€™s be honest, the reason for the low HR numbers at Citifield(by the Mets) had to do with the injuries the Mets sustained during the season. Citifield ranks 8th in HRâ€™s allowed in MLB, so obviously teams are not having an issue hitting balls out of the park. What does Beltran have to do with any of this you may ask? Remember I want the Mets to develop an identity that separates them from their past and jump starts a future. That being said, I believe Beltran should be moved in a 3 way deal to bring in a Prince Fielder or Adrian Gonzalez. This will address some of the power issue for next year and give a different dynamic going forward. With some power coming from the LF the Mets pick up and Frenchy, The Mets should have a good core of young players that can do some damage.
I honestly believe that Beltran is the most psychologically messed up player on the Mets and has been ever since his at bat versus Wainwright in the 2006 NLCS which is described in painful detail on Wikipedia
â€œWainwright walked Paul Lo Duca to bring up Carlos BeltrÃ¡n with the bases loaded and two men out. All involved, including the capacity crowd at Shea, were acutely aware of Beltran’s history against the Cardinals, and the tension mounted accordingly. Down 0-2 to the rookie Wainwright, Beltran looked at a called strike three, a curveball on the outside corner at the knees, and the ballgame was over. The Cardinals had won their 17th National League pennant. This was the last playoff game ever played in Shea Stadium.â€
To be the guy who strikes out to end the season, especially the one they had in 2006 must be tough. Consider also his first season after being one of two big contracts signed in the 2005 season, being the guy who contested Jimmy Rollins â€œteam to beatâ€ assessment in 2007 (we all know how 2007 ended), being the guy who made his own assessment the very next year in saying the Mets were the â€œteam to beatâ€ (we all know how 2008 ended) and to top it all have the season he had in 2009â€¦I believe you see where Iâ€™m going with this. There is no disrespect toward Beltran as he is one of the best center fielders in the game (which can translate into good players in return) but he needs to go, for his sake and ours.
I also want to see an improved bench. I loved Tatisâ€™ hustle but he must be gone next year. I would not mind Jeremy Reed and Alex Cora returning as they can serve as the defensive replacements. I do think the Mets lack an identity behind the plate and a one or at very max two year deal of Bengie Molina should take care of this. I believe this is necessary because we need to be honest with ourselves, Omir Santos is NOT the player we all thought he was going to beâ€¦well that I thought he was going to be. Many have said on this blog that Omir was a â€œlightning in a bottleâ€ and I believe they were right on. Omirâ€™s â€œhot streakâ€ ousted Ramon Castro but they both finished with similar lines. They both have 7 home runs, Omir did finished with a higher BA by 30 points and more RBIâ€™s but Omir did also play 40 more games than Ramon. With the success of Josh Thole in his short stint in the majors, they need to both battle for a spot at backup catcher for the bench. This leaves one more spot that in my opinion needs to go to Mark Derosa. Mark can play various positions and seems to have that personality that this team needs to build an identity.
The Mets need to have more reliability with their starting rotation and bullpen. They obviously need a pitcher that can carry the momentum Johan Santana gives after an awesome start. Many have thrown out John Lackey as ideal for this role, a choice that I absolutely agree with. The competition for Lackeys services will be fierce but this is a must sign for the GM. The fact that the Mets first round draft pick will most likely be protected is probably the only positive for such an awful season, a positive that the GM must take advantage of. The Mets CANNOT go into next season with Mike Pelfrey as their #2 pitcher. While I do believe Mike was a victim of circumstance, this is one mistake that cannot be repeated. Oliver Perez is one of the worst signings ever made in Met history. Knowing that we cannot unload his contract, he must be relegated to being the #5 pitcher in the rotation where nothing is expected of him until his contract is up. The last spot can be decided internally between Niese and Nieve but if the Mets have money to spend, a Pinero or Marquis are good options to choose from. John Maine should be brought back and kept as pitching depth in AAA. As for the bullpen, it is a â€œhit or missâ€. I believe the Mets should bring back Stokes and lock up Feliciano for a few years. I believe Parnell should stay in the bullpen and the Mets must pick up another lefty reliever. The long man duties should go to the loser of the Niese/Nieve matchup. Pat Misch should return to be pitching depth in AAA and Tim Redding should never be seen again in a Met uniform. Francisco Rodriguez also needs to put up or shut up. K-rod is about to finish the season with his highest ERA since 2003, and here I always thought a trade to the NL usually helps AL pitchers (i.e Cliff Lee, CC Sabathia).
Last but not least, it is time to clean house with collapse personnel. This includes Manuel and Howard Johnson. I believe also a change at pitching coach is due. This team needs a stricter; more disciplined and fundamentally based coaching staff. Ill leave the task of potential suitors for others to decide but the fact is they will not accomplish anything with this laid back managerial style. Again my opinions are just for the Mets to develop an identity for themselves. Whether itâ€™s a young baseball team with heart or a team that will give pitchers a hard time on the base paths, they need to be known for somethingâ€¦need to be feared for something. As 2009 draws to an end, the Mets have an opportunity to remake themselves into a team that can accomplish a goal that has eluded them since 1986. They have come close so many times and each time they lacked that one quality which separates the guy who goes home with the prom queen and the guy who doesnâ€™tâ€¦identity. After 3 years of coming close and this abysmal year, this team needs to find an identity to go along with this new â€œeraâ€ of Mets baseball. They need to not be that guy who makes the last outâ€¦