One recent evening, not unlike any other evening, while watching our boys of blue and orange play out the string a proposition was made in Dirty’s dugout by one of the sites founding members. The premise of this indecent proposal was for any of the collection of long time readers present in the dugout that evening to provide their response to 2 simple questions. These questions being “What went wrong and what went right with the 2010 Mets season?”, and, “How does the team go about fixing it in the offseason?”. One of these questions alone would provide a target rich environment for mud slinging and character assassination of the highest order, but two questions, well that’s just too enticing too pass up. As such, for your consideration one Mets fan’s interpretation of the 2010 season.
In many ways the die for the 2010 season was already cast before it began as it was being driven by the contract burdens to Castillo, Ollie and the back end of Carlos Beltran’s deal. These deals tied down 2 everyday starter positions and 1 rotation slot at a financial commitment of 30% of the teams $126M payroll for 2010. This left room for only one major signing and the result was last winter’s hot stove debate of “add a #2 Starter or a Bat” or take your pick: Lackey, Holiday, or Bay. Most fans knew the roster needed to be rolled far deeper than the addition of 1 big signing but that was all the budget would allow given the accumulation of bad aging contracts. The next contributing factor to this seasons failures was poor communication and an inability to control a story. There were enough side distractions to warrant renaming Citifield to TMZ Park. It began with irritating our starting center fielder with the he said she said debacle swirling around Beltran’s knee surgery. The Mets continue to ignore the basic premise that sometimes the best form of communication is to not say anything. For those who think I may be overestimating communication consider that other Mets stories that consumed headlines this season included Santana’s sexual escapades, Jeff’s pep rally trip to Atlanta, Lady Gaga vs. Jerry Seinfeld, Omar’s shadow watch trip of the west coast swing, K-Rod’s perp walk, the VA Hospital non-attendee’s, Backman lurking and the continuing death rattle coverage of one Jerry Manuel & Omar Minaya. Some of these bemused while other’s just consumed but all required wasted energy by the front office and killed the feel good story of the teams first half performance. The last contributing factor to the failures of 2010 is a lack of leadership. I define this as everything from Jerry being clearly overmatched as a managerial tactician to the void left in the Clubhouse when Frenchy perceived himself to be losing playing time when Carlos Beltran returned from the DL. Frenchy was streaky at his best but he was a leader in the Clubhouse and provided a much needed voice in the clubhouse. Once removed from the starting lineup it seemed all Frenchy wanted to talk about was leaving. Other examples in the leadership void include Jerry and management’s lack of control over one K-Rod earlier in the season as he was taking on coaches and Omar’s reticence to remove Jerry after the disastrous post All Star Break west coast swing. Some may minimize the impact of the bounce gained by changing Managers in season but combining this with the addition of subtracting Jerry this may have been enough to keep us in the hunt for a wildcard slot pre-Johan’s injury. At a minimum it would have been refreshing to maybe see a hit and run, the wheel play employed, maybe a suicide squeeze on occasion if for no other reason then to give the opposition something else they need to plan for. Noticeably absent here is my reliance on claiming an impact due to injuries. Good teams overcome injuries while bad teams use them as an excuse. Yes they hurt, but, every team has injuries and we need look no further then what the division winning Phillies have overcome this season.
As for what went right I’ll keep this brief: Pagan, Ike, Thole, Niese, Taka, Dickey, 15 wins for Pelf, starting pitching in general, May-June, Joe Petruccio’s artwork, all the fine work by the writers at TRDMB, and the launching of the new site.
Moving on to how to fix things this off season. Well master of the obvious, see ya Jerry & Omar, cut loose Castillo & Ollie. Alright, that’s out of the way although don’t be surprised to see Castillo & Ollie all the way through spring training for no other reason that they are assets under control and they probably won’t prematurely cut an asset, albeit them poor assets, until late for no other reason then to see if something develops where they can be dealt. Not likely but you never know. My preference was Jon Daniels and Bobby Valentine taking the helm. Kevin Towers would have been nice too. But with both those guys off the board my thinking is that we’ll be seeing a Hunsicker GM & Backman Manager being the final selection given historical ties to the franchise. An early indication of any trades they may make I believe will come from the manager they hire. If the were to go after Valentine I don’t believe he would want to lose any of the core of Beltran, Reyes, Wright since he be of a mind that he can win with those guys based on observing the talent from the outside. That would be a mistake based on recent history. If it’s Wally I believe they’ll be in full youth movement and trade anybody for the right deal short of David Wright. Whoever lands the GM role will have to resolve the cornerstones of any bad business model: Bad Contracts, Poor Communication, and a lack of Leadership.