New York Mets: Let's Try Talking Tangibles

Paul SieversAnalyst IMay 16, 2009

NEW YORK - MAY 13:  Jose Reyes #7 of the New York Mets bats against the Atlanta Braves on May 13, 2009 at Citi Field in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. The Braves defeated the Mets 8-7 in twelve innings.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

In-tan-gi-ble (adj.)-

                            1. Incapable of being perceived by the senses

                            2. Incapable of being realized or defined

In my 24 years on Earth, I have yet to encounter a word in any dictionary that is more misused. I still remember that day in college when my human resources professor asked the class, "What are some intangibles a company can offer their employees?"

It was the moment I realized the misuse of intangible was a tangible problem. A college professor just asked me, "What are some things that nobody is sure actually exist that we can do for our employees?"

She might as well have asked us to raise our hands if we were absent. You can't list intangibles!

Unfortunately, people like to drop the i-bomb most often when talking about baseball, specifically in reference to my New York Mets.

My Friday began by settling into my cubicle with a wide grin on my face; I was happy that the Mets had started a brutal 10-game road trip with a win in San Francisco.

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Surely I would be able to tune into ESPN Radio 1050 and listen to glowing remarks about my boys in blue and orange.


Some clown at the Daily News named John Harper decided the Mets should look into trading Jose Reyes because he makes the occasional boneheaded play.

Radio host Brandon Tierney decided Harper shouldn't be the only one stirring the pot, so he got on the bandwagon and rambled for two hours about how you can't win with a guy like Reyes.

Yeah, you can't win with a middle infielder who hit .297, had an on-base percentage of .358, had a .475 slugging percentage, stole 56 bases on 71 attempts, and was more valuable than any shortstop not named Hanley Ramirez last year.

Who cares how productive he is? He pouts when he makes an error, and that, apparently, loses baseball games.

Naturally, Tierney dropped a hard-i on a few occasions, making the requisite Derek Jeter reference. Apparently Jeter's attitude and heads-up approach to the game won four World Series.

"Derek Jeter would never make some of the plays I see Jose Reyes make." You're right, Brandon, you would never see Jeter make some of the plays that Jose Reyes makes.

That's right, the Yankees won four World Series in five years because of Jeter's intangibles. He made everyone better and nobody knows how. Those teams would have been nothing with their insanely deep rotations and lock-down bullpens if it weren't for Jeter's sunny disposition.

If Jeter makes teams win, then why did the Yankees play absolutely lifeless, robotic baseball last year? That team looked miserable, yet Jeter got a free pass.

Tierney's show came to an end, and I decided to consider what I had just hear to be an isolated incident of stupidity. I went to lunch and enjoyed my slice of buffalo chicken pizza, thinking I was done with this manufactured Reyes debate.

Later that afternoon, I was listening to the Michael Kay Show (I really need to learn to work in silence) when to my surprise, I'm not greeted by the voice of the Yankees. Instead we get former Mets GM Steve Phillips.

Phillips and his partner agreed that the Mets shouldn't trade Reyes, and I'm thinking, "Thank God. It doesn't change the fact that he was an awful GM, but at least he's not a complete moron."

My relief, however, was temporary as Steve Phillips proceeded to outdo Tierney.

"I am very surprised that the Mets didn't shake up their core. I would have traded Beltran because Carlos Beltran is the kind of player who only puts up numbers, he won't win games. Give me a guy with the intangibles like Torii Hunter or Shane Victorino. Guys who will get their uniform dirty. Guys like A-Rod, Teixeira, and Beltran don't win ballgames."

Where to even begin?

First of all, we're dropping another hard-i and not using it properly, because a dirty uniform is in fact tangible.

Second, if I had Beltran, A-Rod and Teixeira on my team, I would win A LOT of games.

Third, Mr. Phillips, how the hell did you ever get a gig as a general manager in Major League Baseball? And if you have the secret recipe for constructing a mentally tough team, then why did all of your Mets teams crap the bed when they faced Atlanta?

Fourth, Beltran doesn't make a team better? He had the best ultimate zone rating since that stat has been recorded.

In addition, last year he had to deal with novice corner outfielders in Fernando Tatis, Nick Evans, and Daniel Murphy for the vast majority of the season—all of whom credited Beltran for teaching them how to position themselves.

Does that not qualify as making your teammates better?

Lastly, neither Hunter nor Victorino is anywhere near Beltran's class of player. Beltran's .876 on-base plus slugging last season was far better than Hunter's .810 or Victorino's .799.

Beltran is also possibly the league's best defensive player at any position—let alone center field. If the Mets traded Beltran for either player, the team would undoubtedly suffer.

Steve Phillips went on to give us two more gems; first he said: "If you want to look at a lesser talent making a team better, look at the Denver Nuggets replacing Allen Iverson with Chauncey Billups."

This was followed shortly by: "The Mets needed to make a change to their core because they don't have winners on that team. Maybe David Wright can become that guy."

Let's start with the concern about the core first. THE TEAM BLEW 29 SAVES LAST YEAR. JOHN MAINE AND BILLY WAGNER GOT HURT DOWN THE STRETCH. How is that the fault of the core? Yeah, Jose Reyes is a selfish jerk for refusing to pitch the eighth inning.

And how lazy is Carlos Beltran for not trying to hop the fence and catch some of the moon-shots that Scott Schoeneweis and Aaron Heilman routinely gave up? You can't win with guys like that!

As far as the Denver Nuggets parallel, Phillips would have a point here...if they weren't completely different sports! There's one glaring difference between a baseball team and a basketball team: passing!

Baseball players don't have to share the ball! If Carlos Beltran were shoving Ryan Church out of the on-deck circle to get to the plate then I would see Steve's point.

Here's the problem with the chemistry argument: There's no one mental characteristic that every champion possesses. For every Barry Bonds who never won a ring, there's a Reggie Jackson who won five. For every Derek Jeter with four rings, there's a Craig Biggio who never won the big one.

Every World Series winner has had two things going for them: talent and luck. If intangibles were involved, we're not aware of them. Instead of inane debates over the team's mental makeup, why not debate what to do with Daniel Murphy or whether or not the Mets need to hire a medical staff that can actually evaluate players' injuries?

And if we are going to start talking about chemistry, let's at least give credit where credit is due. That was a gutsy come-from-behind win for the Mets last night.

Who knows, maybe they have the necessary intangibles after all.