Jerry Manuel's Moves Continue To Baffle Media and Fans Alike

Wendy AdairAnalyst IMay 6, 2010

DENVER - APRIL 13:  Manager Jerry Manuel #53 of the New York Mets visits the mound to make a pitching change against the Colorado Rockies during Major League Baseball action at Coors Field on April 13, 2010 in Denver, Colorado. The Rockies defeated the Mets 11-3.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

The Mets are a month into the season and several moves that Jerry Manuel have made have been questioned at great length by fans and media alike, this is not good news. 

They were in first place, thanks to their 9-1  homestand, but just finished a 2-4 road trip in Philadelphia and Cincinnati, in two of the most hitter-friendly parks in the National League.

While the Mets are in second place and still very much in the mix in the NL East, you do have to wonder if some of Manuel's decisions are costing the team wins.

First and foremost, Fernando Nieve has been used to excess, mostly due to the absence of Ryota Igarashi, who is on the DL with a strained hamstring.  Nieve has appeared in 17 games total and in nine of the last 10 games.

Jason Bay is still hitting cleanup even though he struggled mightily on the road trip, while a bad road trip is just that, if Manuel continues to place him in that role for the next week with the same results, it hurts the whole team.

Another questionable move was putting Jose Reyes in the third spot of the lineup, enough has been written about that, so I will not elaborate on that further, but to say fans strongly want him hitting leadoff again is an understatement.

During the third and decisive game against the Phillies last Sunday night, it was obvious that Johan Santana was not on his game in the least early in the game, but the bullpen was not prepared and Santana faced more batters than he should have under the circumstances.

Mike Francesca of WFAN radio asked Jerry, "after Victorino's grand slam, why did you not take Santana out then...?", to which he replied "the guy in the bullpen was indisposed or not ready", which does raise some eyebrows about what he meant by that response.

However, the point is that more than one pitcher in the bullpen should have been warming up, it should not  have been left to one "guy", especially if there were doubts that he would be ready when needed to enter the game.

During yesterday afternoon's game in Cincinnati, Manuel double-switched David Wright out of the game in the bottom of the 10th inning after Wright struck out swinging to end the top of the inning. 

Naturally, there was some concern about a possibility of an injury to Wright, but Manuel would not give that as the reason for the switch.

Manuel's reason for the move was that Fernando Tatis, who had pinch hit in the 10th inning was needed as a potential back up catcher in the event that the game went more than 10 innings. 

Henry Blanco started the game but was pinch hit for in the bottom of the ninth inning and there was some concern about Rod Barajas and how long he could continue to catch.

Anyone who knows what kind of gritty player David Wright is will firmly believe that if an emergency catcher was needed, he would have had the catcher's gear on without being asked about his readiness.

Two years ago, during the All Star Game, NL Manager Clint Floyd had run out of pitchers, Wright was asked if he could pitch the 16th inning if necessary, to which his reply was "Lets Go".  Mets management would have had major objections to Wright pitching in an All Star Game but it didn't happen, the AL won in the 15th inning.

The point is that Wright will do everything possible to help the Mets win, and Jerry Manuel knows this so chances are he may have removed Wright so that  he would not be tempted to put him in a dangerous situation.

By no means am I advocating that Wright put on the "tools of ignorance" and take unnecessary injury risks, just that double switching him because of fear about a catcher needing to be replaced does not make much sense to me or a lot of other Mets fans.

Wright did have two hits on the afternoon, a single and a solo home run that brought the Mets within a run of the Reds, who were winning 4-2 at the time. The only innings that Wright had missed so far in 2010 was last Saturday in the 8th inning when the game was out of reach in Philadelphia.

While I do understand the concern about a backup catcher needing to be on the field, Tatis is a proven utility player who could have taken over any number of positions. 

The general rule of a double switch is that the last batter is the one that gets switched out, while generally it is not questioned, being that Wright did have a successful afternoon

He had a bad at bat in the 10th, and was waved off the field before the bottom of the inning began, which had to be awkward, but that is a part of the game.  However it was something that was unnecessary on a getaway day with the Mets needing a win to salvage a series win.

Pedo Feliciano gave up the game winning home run to Orlando Cabrera to end the game with the first batter he faced, so the point of the double switch was moot, but still questionable in the eyes of fans and media.

Fans and media do think that they can probably manage the team better than the manager, but moves like this do make you wonder if Manuel is costing his team wins with roster decisions, he is on a short leash to begin with in 2010, the clock is ticking......