Wayne Krivsky is not Branch Rickey or Frank Cashen, and should not be looked at as the anointed, brilliant successor to Omar Minaya. Met fans looking at him as some sort of savior should take a closer look.
Yes, Krivsky has a good reputation, he brought in Arroyo and Phillips in fine trades, yet also made a pretty poor trade of Kearns (when he was still productive) and Felipe Lopez for very little; this last deal is still lamented by Red fans.
He has spent the last few years bouncing from the Reds to the Mets to the Orioles and now back to the Mets, so this is not someone the Yanks, Red Sox, Angels, Phils, or any top team has come racing for with a long-term deal in a top position. Krivsky has a well-deserved reputation in player development and especially in contract negotiation, and it seems as though this last area is where his skills may be the most utilized. Perhaps his main duties will be to inject some respectability to the disheveled minor league situation following the Bernazard Era of Error, and to help Omar show restraint when he is ready to award the next Castillo/Ollie-style contract.
There is a lot in Krivskyâ€™s career to show that he is an intelligent, responsible man who should be a fine assistant to Omar, but those expecting him to be Omarâ€™s sure-fire successor might do well to examine his career and record. His record as GM consists of 2 decent years with the Reds before being fired. It is his time with the Twins as an assistant to the GMâ€”where by all accounts his main role was as a contract negotiatorâ€”where his positive reputation was largely formed.
Terry Collins was a respected manager, whose major league record looks very similar to Jerry Manuelâ€™sâ€”without the one playoff appearance and Manager of the Year award. Collins led his teams to second-place finishes 5 of his 6 years, and resigned during a less successful third year with the Angels, while players were apparently petitioning for his removal.
Collinsâ€™ previous team, the Astros, immediately went to the playoffs the next 3 years after Larry Dierker replaced him, and Mike Scioscia, while taking a few years, eventually led the Angels into their run as one of the more successful franchises in the game.
Collins is regarded as a hard-nosed leader, a possessor of the legendary baseball quality of â€œgritâ€ and he has indeed had success as a minor league manager. But, like Krivsky, his record is very much a mix. Collinsâ€™ Astros and Angels did show improvement in his first season, but his aggressive style apparently helped him last just three years in each city, and the promise shown in his first year in each stop was not fulfilled until a successor had been hired.
This space has consistently shown a respect for Omar Minaya, and a huge disdain for Jerry Manuel, and this has not changed. Omar simply does not have the poor record his rather annoying detractors credit him with. We have yet to reach the World Series, but Omarâ€™s reign has beenâ€”by any reasonable evaluationâ€”the fourth best roughly 5-year period in Met history, training only 1969-73, 1984-88, and 1997-2000.
Is there room for improvement? Absolutely. Has Omar awarded a couple of really bad contracts? Sure has. But Omar took a team which was absolutely buried in washed up overpaid players and weak, uninspired play for three years, and instantly turned them around. Omar has brought us Pedro, Beltran, Delgado, Wagner, Santana, and KRod, and his timely extensions of Wright and Reyes clearly saved the team money and stress, by tying up the franchiseâ€™s two young stars for years. Every time someone whines about Slappy and Ollie, they should try to remember all of this.
Omar has yet to put together another team as complete as the 2006 squad, who might have missed a title due to one great curveball. The next week is indeed a huge one for Omarâ€™s future and for the 2010 team. But again, a reasonable, fact-based review of Omarâ€™s Met tenure shows that he will almost certainly reward us with either John Lackey or Matt Holliday, or that he might surprise us with a trade for Roy Halladay. He has done it before, again and again. Fortifying the catcher position with Blanco, re-signing Cora, and bringing in the experienced Coste to be a tutor at AAA show that he may indeed be concerned with the secondary positions as well, which shows promise for 2010.
As for Jerry, his weaknesses have been pointed out more than enough, and a discussion of his strengths would be most welcome, as this is beyond the baseball ken of this writer. Jerry does not seem to get the most out of anyone, he does not appear to be well-liked or respected by his players (one or the other would be nice), he constantly plays tiny-ball with his incessant bunting, his bullpen strategies are questionable at best, and his admitting to playing Tatis over Murph at the end of last year to try to save his own job was pretty disgraceful. Possibly most distressing for a team coming off of two horrible finishes and the complete disaster of 2009, Jerry is always willing to throw blame at others, be it Ryan Church or the catchersâ€™ pitch-calling. This is not a strategist and not a leader.
However, if we are looking at a braintrust of Krivsky and Collins replacing them at the first sign of distress, Met fans should not feel very positive. These menâ€”very much like Jerry Manuelâ€”seem like decent people, and experienced baseball hands who have worked with various franchises with some success, but there is nothing in the records of either of them to suggest that they are the ones to lead us back to an era like the second half of the 1980s or the Bobby Valentine years.
From right here, these men seem like very valuable parts of an organization if, and only if, they serve in the capacities for which they are best suited. For Krivsky, this would be as an assistant GM whose role is to advise on young talent and to aid a possibly overburdened GM in contract negotiations. For Collins, this would be as a professional minor league coordinator, as he has had success at that level, and his intense personality could very well help youngsters when they are not under Collinsâ€™ tutelage long enough to become burdened by the overbearing character he seems to become in large doses.
The conclusion here is that these guys are in fact excellent hires, as long as they are not promoted above their levels of expertise. The Mets have not discovered diamonds in the rough hereâ€”they have discovered good baseball men who have never shown that they are true leaders at a top MLB level, and in fact seem quite well prepared to assist Omar (or his successor) and the next Met manager (Backman? Teufel? Bobby V? Showalter?) in various capacities.
Hereâ€™s hoping that this debate is rendered irrelevant by a seriously successful season by the 2010 Mets, which would indeed leave us with a very deep front office.