Jerry Manuel Is Creating Quite a Stir at the New York Mets' Camp

Jason BurkeCorrespondent IFebruary 24, 2009

Since the start of pitchers and catchers, it seems the Mets haven't been able to keep themselves off the back pages of all the major New York newspapers.

This despite the fact that the Mets haven't made any major signings or moves since K-Rod and Putz joined during the winter meetings and have had to compete with the Alex Rodriguez controversy which has taken baseball by storm. 

How is it possible that the Yankees, who spent $423 million on three players, have been the quiet ones this spring? The answer. Jerry Manuel.

As Manuel steps into his first full year as manager, he is making it abundantly clear that he intends to change the culture in the clubhouse and has used the media to fuel that change.

He first made headlines by proclaiming he was considering dropping Reyes from the leadoff spot to the three hole. Feeling that maybe Luis Castillo could benefit from leading off.

Then, he leaked out to the media that he believes Daniel Murphy is a good enough hitter at this stage to be the everyday left fielder and that the Mets are more likely to go with a platoon of Church/Tatis in right field. 

Visibly annoyed, Church chatted with Manuel over his comments and came out in a better state of mind. 

"He's already said he's going to challenge guys in spring training because he wants to see what you're made of," said Church.

Various media sources also claim Reyes is not too keen on giving his leadoff spot to Castillo but has not raised any arguments as the team comes first.

And that's what Manuel is trying to provide with this team. A team he inherited which has the same roster, for the most part, besides the new bullpen corps.

In Manuel's estimation the team will come first and players will have to adapt. It's the new attitude that Manuel wants and believes this team needs to deal with the exceeding pressures of New York.

As he explained when asked about Church's reaction to his comments, "What did I say that I possibly need to clarify? That you need to work for a job? That if you're playing good, that you play?"

So far, Manuel seems to be doing a fair job of keeping the players on their toes. If everyone doesn't agree with his methods they should remember that he has caused more excitement this February than the previous two Octobers for the Mets.

So as Manuel changes the mental makeup of basically the same team, it's wise to understand the madness to Jerry's method.

As Church explained after their meeting, "come September we don't want any more collapses."