There is this assumption that by doing nothing to add to the roster, the Mets are sealing Jerry Manuel's fate as manager, that his firing at the end of what could be another playoff-less season is a done deal.
First of all, if you don't think he's doing a good job, fire him now.
Second, the man whose fate you'd think would be sealed is Omar Minaya. In his tenure he's done nothing to help the team in-season, but especially this season, when the need for another starter was so obvious for so long. Manuel, and even some players like David Wright, made it known that they could use the help.
But Omar is being a good soldier by insisting he has the green light to make a deal when ownership has probably told him that he can't add any more salary. And he can't release Oliver Perez because of his salary, and ownership can't swallow paying someone that much for not contributing.
Not that he's contributing now, anyway.
Omar is just doing what he's told, so presumably, he'll be protected.
That leaves Manuel stuck with the players he has. That list includes two guys off the DL, one of whom is ice cold (Beltran) and one who everyone outside the locker room apparently hates (Castillo, although he started to hit against Atlanta), two players who were cold and are now hurt (Bay and Barajas), the hot-and-cold Francoeur, a rookie in Ike Davis, and a weak bench.
Only Reyes, Wright, and Pagan have been dependable, and even there, Reyes hasn't been playing up to his own level, and Wright is in the middle of another brutal cold streak.
Angel Pagan has been the team's best player, by far, except for maybe R.A. Dickey. That says a lot.
The real culprit with this team is ownership. The Wilpons spend money, no doubt. No one foresaw Jason Bay going a whole season without getting hot, and having this drastic a power loss. They've paid big bucks for free agents before, so you can't call them cheap.
But this season, after a lost season due to injury last year, and after two seasons of bitter collapses, ownership had the opportunity to win back the fans who could no longer stomach the situation and have started to stay away.
Yes, they added all the nice Metsy touches like the Hall of Fame and moved the apple and added big photos of old Mets. Great.
But what fans really want is an ownership that is willing to fund changes necessary to allow the team to compete and to win. That has not happened.
Instead, we get reports that the Wilpons lost a ton of money to Bernie Madoff and that it has affected the ballclub, something they have denied again and again.
But the proof is in the pudding, and despite many opportunities to do something to help the team—whether it's throwing money to the wind and cutting Perez for the good of the club, or acquiring needed talent—management has done nothing.
That's on the owners, who aren't going anywhere.
Omar is just taking orders, so he's safe.
That leaves Manuel, who, like many managers before him and many who will come after, is the scapegoat when, in fact, almost none of what has troubled this team is his fault (you want to question his moves, fine, but you'll have those questions with pretty much any manager you bring in).
Wednesday night's error-filled loss doesn't reflect well on Manuel, but he's not the one throwing balls away, or missing the strike zone, or hitting batters, or failing to hit. The players are well aware of their situation and are trying—probably too hard—but just not executing.
A third of the season remains, with a lot of home games and games against teams like Houston and Pittsburgh. The Phillies are battered, and despite winning the Mets series, the Braves have shown signs of coming back to earth (10-10 since the break). The Mets, warts and all, are better than their 6-14 record since the All-Star break.
But the reality is that nothing is going to happen to fix what is broken, and the inertia comes from the top. Ownership can't spend money, so management can't make changes, so the roster stays the same, flaws and all.
That leaves it up to the players in the room and Manuel to beat the odds and somehow find a way to put it all together in the final 54 games.
Can it happen? If you believe that the players who have underperformed can rebound down the stretch, then yes, it is possible.
Ya' gotta believe. Because there's nothing else to count on.
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