Where does it end? How much more embarrassment can one organization endure? The Francisco Rodriguez “incident” is the latest cherry on the sundae that continues to define the Mets’ organization as perhaps the most mis-managed and misguided baseball franchise around. Certainly, the Mets did the appropriate action by reprimanding K-Rod and putting him on the disqualified list. But the Rodriguez mishap is just another reason that gives credence to the Mets nickname as the “New York Mess”
Just last year, former special assistant Tony Bernazard verbally threatened minor league players to a fist fight that gave some disturbing insight that the Mets’ minor league system was less than nurturing and encouraging but run more like scenes from “Gangs of New York”. Appropriately, the Mets showed Bernazard the door and apologized for his inappropriate behavior. Shortly, after that Omar Minaya decided to throw Mets beat writer Adam Rubin under the bus since it was Rubin that broke the story on Bernazard. Once again a black mark on the face of the franchise.
It would be nice to say that it all stopped there. But over the past seasons there has been an onslaught of player injuries and some that have been mismanaged (concussion for Ryan Church and Jose Reyes’ legs) so much so that the mantra for the team during spring training this season was about health and injury prevention. There was the Willie Randolph firing that was handled with as much tact and respect as a back alley mugging. And there have been countless rumors of ownership’s money woes with varying reports on the extent how much the organization really has to spend. Of course the “company line” from ownership is that everything is fine but one has to wonder with some of the cautious approaches they have taken in the free agent market when they were obvious, specific holes that needed to be filled that just weren’t fully addressed.
Let’s not forget some poor long term contracts (Oliver Perez, Luis Castillo) and the teams’ struggles of late to attract free agents. Joel Pineiro and Bengie Molina were targets for the Mets this past off-season but they accepted reasonable offers from other teams, complaining that the Mets left them hanging and that they didn’t get back to them in a timely manner. The Mets were successful in securing Jason Bay, but one had to wonder if Bay would have preferred to play for other teams than the Mets but the offers were simply not there for his services. He said all the right things in news conferences about how the Mets were on hit “short-list”, but his play this year has been anything but inspirational.
Then there is the nearly depleted farm system. And while it’s true that the farm system strives to replenish itself, currently the Mets minor leaguers are generally not considered among the top prospects in baseball. This raises some questions as to the talent evaluators and the scouts the team has employed and whether they are really doing the top notch job they should.
And finally, let’s not forget about the two collapses in the past years that have branded the team with the “chokers” title (yes, there’s that “C” word). A moniker they have yet to shake. True, many of the players are not around anymore from three seasons ago, but it’s still a stigma that has followed the team around and seems to be permeated in its pores.
So there seems to be this perpetual black cloud that follows the team around. As much as they try to shake this perception of a disorganized organization, the more things happen that seem to strengthen and reemphasize this belief. It would be easy for me to say that they need to fire the coaches, fire Jerry Manuel, fire Omar Minaya and start from scratch. But this would do little to alter this “New York Mess” perspective. Perhaps the team needs to take a closer look at franchises like the Los Angeles Angels and the Minnesota Twins who seem to garner respect throughout baseball. These are teams that ballplayers seem to genuinely enjoy playing for and a look at their organizational approach might be beneficial as they seem to generally have success year after year.
But for now, the Mets continue to make decisions with no seemingly big picture in mind. They are certainly the Rodney Dangerfield’s of baseball, but whereas Rodney lamented not getting any respect, I’m unsure, at this point, the Mets are deserving of any.