Friday, October 30, 2009

Mutiny For Dummies

I'd love to play Stratego against the Wilpons ... they'd turn all their pieces facing me to start the game.

Not enough that they're bringing in former Diamondback Chip Hale to coach third base, but they're also talking to former Diamondback Bob Melvin about the position of bench coach. Now bench coach, as you know, is like being one scandal away from the Presidency. Somebody must have realized that Razor Shines was one inappropriate joke by Snoop Manuel away from being manager of the New York Mets, and understood what it was like to survive four years of Dan Quayle as the Vice President.

(Seriously? Topical humor from 1990? Any Sinead O'Connor jokes you wanna unleash there, Metstradamus?)

So let's not only attempt to have a former manager come in and be the bench coach, which is obvious enough, let's also bring his base coach in too! Wow, I think even the kids that have never played a game of Clue in their lives could figure this one out. The question is, can Snoop figure it out before it's too late?

And if he does, what's the point? This happens all the time, and I don't get it. What are we hoping to accomplish here? What the Mets, and every other team that does this, is saying is that "you'd better go 35-5 or your ass is getting canned", or something like that. But just as with Kevin Towers and JP Ricciardi for jobs potentially working under Omar Minaya, being faced with your eventual replacement isn't going to make you smarter, or make you a better manager. That's The Winner Within b.s. If there's a chance that Snoop isn't the right person to lead your club, then why not just get it over with rather than go through the whole charade of 40 games and cause another international incident of firing another manager after one game of a west coast trip? Is it a public relations thing? Must be. I didn't major in that. I hope Manuel majored in looking over his shoulder.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Satan's Series

At midnight on Monday, October 26th, the New York Yankees won the 2009 American League pennant, completing a World Series matchup with the Philadelphia Phillies.

Also at midnight on Monday, October 26th, the movie Armageddon was starting on my cable system.

How fitting.

The movie had a happy ending. But this, my friends, is Baseball Armageddon. There is no happy ending. Satan has been unleashed. The minions have arrived on earth. The Mayan calendar has ended little more than three years earlier than expected. The world will never be the same. And the next two weeks are going to be the worst two weeks on earth.

In one respect, this awful season couldn't have ended any other way. The good news is that now, there really is no possible season that could possibly be any worse than this. (At least 1993 saw Toronto in the fall classic to defeat the Phillies.)

But in another respect, we have a final battle where there can be no winners. Only pain and anguish. I'm here, fellow Met fans, to quell that pain and anguish ... because you're unknowingly inflicting it on yourselves.

About a week ago, I set out on a quest to win a Nobel Peace Prize. Unfortunately, my original plan to bring the sabermetricians and the scouts together in harmony was put to rest when I was informed that they were no longer at war. But undeterred, I still seek this honor. Because this, this is a much more noble (Nobel?) crusade.

Anyone over the age of 40 will surely remember, and those under that age surely read about it in their history books, but in 1980 Jimmy Carter pulled the United States Olympians out of the Moscow games because of the Soviet Union's invasion of Afghanistan. The athletes didn't like it. But it was for their own good. Friends, consider me your Jimmy Carter. (Carter, it should be noted, is a past winner of the Nobel Prize for Peace.) Though I realize that I'm not the boss of you, I'm making a decision on behalf of all of you that you may not like, but please trust me when I tell you that it's for your own good, and the good of the planet.

I'm boycotting the 2009 World Series, and pulling all Met fans around the world out of it. You may not like it, but it's for your own good.

For those of you who have made that decision already, good for you. You're doing a service to your community. But I see way too many of you on the internets feel that you have to choose a side. Maybe it's because it's the World Series, or because you don't want to have baseball on somewhere on your dial and not be watching it, and choosing a side will help you be able to watch the games. Let me tell you that no good can come of either outcome.

I'm all for hatred of the Phillies, but rooting for the Yankees is not the answer. Do you really want to have your Yankee fan friends to be all nice to you and tell you that "hey, you've gotta root for New York" (sorry, I hate that) only to then come up to you all winter and tell you that "Hey, we took care of the team that you couldn't ... you're welcome!" in that slimy, smarmy, Yankee voice? Do you want that condescending pat on the back from those people welcoming you to the dark side? You want to be on the same side as these people for the next 4-7 games? When they go back to laughing at you the rest of the winter, and when John Sterling provides the soundtrack to your winter, you're going to be sorry you rooted for them.

Conversely, Yankee hatred is a staple of society. But siding with the Phillies is also not the answer. I understand staying along league lines. But do you want to be on the same side of any argument with Brett Myers? Shane Victorino? Jimmy Rollins??? JIMMY ROLLINS??!?!? The same guy who's insecurities led him to bring up the Mets during their World Series parade? Really??!? When Phillie fans go back to pouring beer on your head and knocking you out with one punch in Citi Field, while Comcast Philly or My Philly 17 puts it on television (yes, this happened), and when the Phils clinch the series in New York and take the World Series trophy for a spin around the Citi Field parking lot that you once knew as your beloved Shea Stadium before heading to the airport, you're going to be sorry you rooted for them.

You get the point, right? Rooting for either one of these teams is like getting into bed with the head cheerleader for a night, only to have her tell the entire school about your shortcomings in bed. Is this what you want??? All winter??!?!? Have some self respect.

But worse than that, do you really want Mets fans fighting with other Mets fans about why rooting for one over the other is more palatable? Maybe these kind of arguments wouldn't happen too much in bars across New York ... and maybe only one of these drunken discussions between Met fans would result in a bar fight. But my friends, that would be one bar fight too many. The few friendships between Met fans that would end because one of them rooted for the Yankees would be one friendship too many. Don't let yourselves be driven apart by taking sides in this mess. Let the Yankee fans and the Phillie fans be the ones to throw hands with each other. Let's not eat our own young, or commit Met on Met crime. You're playing right into Satan's hands. This is what he wants. This is why he's here with his minions.

That's why my solution, my message of peace, is your only chance at a dignified existence over the grueling days and weeks to come. Trust me, it's not worth it. You want to make a statement, turn your backs. Walk away. Have dinner with your families. Watch Armageddon on your local cable system ... it's on, like, all the time! And it has a happy ending even though Bruce Willis dies. (C'mon, like you didn't know.) Read Ron Darling's book, or Greg Prince's Faith and Fear in Flushing. Buy a box set of Gilmore Girls. Anything! You have the power to reject Satan, and stop the inevitability of doom for yourselves. You have the power.

And if your curiosity takes over and you must know what is happening between the minions of Satan, get the scores through telegraph or Pony Express (they still exist, right?) And if you must use the television, at least have the decency of turning on the Spanish version on WWOR so that Joe Buck doesn't cause your ears to bleed. And for heaven's sake boo ... everything. Every play, every strikeout, every hit, home run, and balk ... regardless on who's on which side of the play. Boo.

But you can't take sides. It's for the good of humanity. Please, heed my message of peace and freedom. Oh sure, some might twist that around and say "well, you're taking away our freedom to pick a side." But what I'm saying is this: free yourself from the tyranny that you have to take a side to watch this World Series. Friends, follow me. Follow me to freedom. To Switzerland. To a brief respite of happiness before you have to deal with the Metropolitan signings of Jason Marquis and Hideki Matsui to keep Oliver Perez company on the disabled list. Help me fight evil.

The fate of the world is in your hands.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

What Have You Learned? Daniel Murphy

What Have You Learned is our very special off-season series that will outline what you've learned, what I've learned, and hopefully what the 2009 Mets have learned about themselves, others, and 2010. Today, in a very special "What Have You Learned", as we discuss ... Daniel Murphy.

You don't tug on Superman's cape.

You don't spit into the wind.

You don't pull that mask off that old Lone Ranger.

You don't trust Lenny Dykstra with your life savings.

And for the love of all things holy, you don't gather a group of Mets fans together at a pizza joint and even pretend to make a joke about Daniel Murphy. Because that's the direction that the Volvo was headed for me when I started on a riff about Murphy's notebook ... after he got a hit ... on a night where he came up with half of the Mets hits that night. In retrospect, what the hell was I thinking?
"Hey! Leave Murph alone!!!"
So what have I learned about Daniel Murphy? First off, that people love him and if I dare even think about joking about him, then those same people will slice off my sensitive parts with a rusty blade and feed them to me as dim sum. And that people who work as hard as Daniel Murphy shouldn't be joked about. Yeah ... save your jokebook for those that deserve it, like Bobby Bonilla ... Steve Phillips ... and Balloon Dad.

Fair point. But does it mean that we shouldn't get rid of him? Unfortunately, that's a harder point to make. The numbers for Murph don't exactly read like tea leaves ... more like complicated computer code. We can agree that his second half was much better than his first half. And I'm sure we can agree that his horrible first half was due in part to having to change positions ... his average in May when all this was going on was a healthy .176. Now here are the splits, first half to second:
  • Average: .248 to .282
  • Slugging: .364 to .485
  • OPS .677 to .798
And yet, his on base percentage went down a point from .314 to .313 between halves ... so while the sexy numbers have bumped significantly, Murph is still a free swinger. And that tells me he has a ways to go before he can be the hitter that his legions of followers are sure he will be.

Leaning on that work ethic of his, you would think that Murphy can work his way up, or at least work hard enough to keep his numbers where they are and not have another month batting .176. Question is, will the Mets (Snoop Manuel) have enough patience to put him at first base and leave him there (and stop worrying about Fernando Tatis' time, or whichever washed up reclamation project Jeff Wil... er, Omar Minaya signs)?

Will Omar sign enough offense at other positions on the diamond to construct a good enough lineup to leave Murphy at first base? And there's the defensive aspect too ... will Murphy have the schooling he needs at first base to not only be able to field the position (which he's done fine), but to also know where he needs to be and what base to cover/throw to? Because that's been his problem at first base ... and let's face it, with the little experience he's had at first, you had to expect that! So while to say that Murphy has been a defensive liability at first might be true, you can't put it all on him. Hopefully he'll have some sort of position set for him from now until April so that he'll know where he'll be and what he needs to prepare for.

(Heck, you could say that's what a lot of players on this roster and in this organization needs ... rather than being asked to learn two or three different positions while taking time away from learning the finer points of hitting. But I've already waved that "Stop Making All Our Players Into Utility Players" banner, no need to wave it again.)

Now, that position will probably be first base with the Mets. But if the Mets show a lack of patience, or if Murphy can be used as a chip to get a power bat, maybe that position is his more natural third base somewhere else. But the key would be to not diminish his value and trade him for a middling, somewhat productive, 35-year-old bat such as a Magglio Ordonez. If he's traded, it had better be part of a package for Doc Halladay and not, say, Victor Zambrano.

Excuse me while I bludgeon this dead horse:

But seriously. While I hesitate to say that trading Murphy now would be "selling low" after his bounce back second half, there's plenty more improvement to be seen here before it's decided that he's gone. It's up to the organization, if indeed they keep him, to draw it out, keep him in the lineup, not jerk him from position to position, acquire talent around him and take some pressure off him, and heed the creed that I was ordered to adhere by at a certain pizza place:

Leave Murph alone.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Misplaced Funny Funds

Wait, let me get this straight ... the Mets made money off the Madoff scandal?

And still never signed an extra bat???

I mean, there was extra money? I don't buy it. If there was extra money, then why did I get an e-mail from the Mets offering a chance to win Dunkin' Donuts coffee for a year ... an e-mail which had absolutely no connection to the Mets whatsoever. Nice. If I wanted offers from Dunkin' Donuts, don't you think I would have subscribed to the Dunkin Donuts' e-mail list???

You can tell me that it wasn't just the Mets that did this. I got the same e-mail from the Cubs ... yeah, the team that filed for bankruptcy!

So all that money sat there doing nothing but collecting interest? F***ing Wilpons. Give it to someone who can actually use $47.8 million.

Like Steve Phillips! Hey, that should cover alimony for a couple of months.

I think I've blown a funny fuse on this. I feel like I'm Cartman in the episode of South Park where he had Kenny take the school picture upside down where you could see his buttocks instead of his face ... and then he took the picture and put it on a milk carton only to have two people come looking for him because they too have "buttocks where their heads should be".

Maybe I feel remorse ... although certainly not for Phillips, who put himself in this mess. More so for the family, in this mess through no fault of their own, who now have to deal with the details of all this get into the papers and thrust into the spotlight where they don't deserve to be. Maybe I indeed just blew a funny fuse. In either event, I hesitate to make light of this. It's too easy to cross the line from justifiable ripping to unnecessary piling on. Besides ... all the really funny stuff seems to have been already written, which would make me a plagiarist.

But in reality, he deserves to be ripped. It shouldn't surprise you that Phillips exhibits horrible judgement ... between trading for Mo Vaughn, discussing a David Wright trade, and unnecessarily ripping Carlos Beltran when standard op procedure on Sunday Night Baseball is to kiss everybody's butt, not to mention his first "fling" with infidelity. But this ... THIS!


Nah, that David Wright idea was still the worst.

Okay, now that the obligatory tongue-in-cheek portion of this monstrosity is over, check out Howard Megdal's take at NY Baseball Digest for a great take on the Phillips thing. I couldn't have put it any better.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

What Have You Learned? Brian Schneider

What Have You Learned is our very special off-season series that will outline what you've learned, what I've learned, and hopefully what the 2009 Mets have learned about themselves, others, and 2010. Today, we look at Brian Schnieder, and most likely jinx his very existence.

I pretty much knew it was a lost cause when I led off my "Behind the Blow" series by writing about Scott Schoeneweis. There was a part of me hoping that Schoeneweis would make a return trip to Shea in '09 as I wrote that on October 1st of '08. By December 12th, Schoeneweis was gone, for some guy named Connor Robertson.

Now, as I write to you about Brian Schneider, I'm also hoping against hope that Schneider comes back even though you, your family, your friends, Omar Minaya, Omar Minaya's friends, and for some reason Avril Lavigne (?) are hoping for Schneider to be gone. I don't blame you. But considering the options out there, Brian Schneider doesn't look so bad.

Now there's going to have to be an offensive upgrade at a few other positions to make this palpable. You could have upgraded this position in one fell swoop by trading for Victor Martinez. But that ship has sailed and is currently docked in the Charles river. So who's left? Rod Barajas? He had 19 HR's last year but also batted .220. Bengie Molina? At the age where catchers start that inevitable descent off the cliff? Yorvit Torrealba?

Oh, silly me.

Then you look at the internal options. Josh Thole is a catcher who needs some work on catching the ball. Three passed balls and one error in 16 games tells me he needs to expand the zone ... his comfort zone. He's going to be a fine hitter, but only if he gets a little more time in the minors to refine his stroke and be completely ready to go when he gets back to the show, rather than become 2010's version of Daniel Murphy.

And Omir Santos? He's going to live off that Papelbon home run for a long time ... it's probably gotten him further than he deserves, and he'll live off that for at least a few more months going into next season. But look at his numbers. They tell me that the offensive upgrade from Schneider to Santos isn't worth what you lose in defense and in calling a game. If the upgrade was from Schneider to Victor Martinez? No brainer.

It would have taken management having a set to make a trade for Martinez while being far out. But that didn't happen. The options that exist now don't excite me enough to stick with what we have ... which is an inexperienced Thole and a journeyman in Omir Santos. As with Murphy, it would take some major upgrades at other positions to make keeping Schneider palatable. This team needs major upgrades at other positions anyway, so why not consider Schneider's return as a way to help the pitching staff a little bit ... or at the very least give Mike Pelfrey a personal catcher that can actually make a difference (not like giving Paul Bako any credit for being Greg Maddux's caddy)?

Well ... here's why not: Because you can't bring back Brian Schneider and Daniel Murphy. And if the choice is a semi-decent prospect and a journeyman catcher, you bring back the guy with the higher ceiling, and that's Murphy. If you bring in a left fielder, a first baseman, and maybe even a second baseman like Dan Uggla, then there's a chance for Schneider to come back. And maybe you have to use Murphy as a trade chip to make that happen. That said, you can also make a good case to bring Murphy back (which I will attempt in the near future), just as you can make a case for Schneider to come back (which is more a concern about the lack of catching options out there). But you can't bring both back ... there's no good case for that.

Now that I've written a piece that's somewhat pro-Schneider, expect to hear tomorrow that Schneider's been released so that he can sign with Telemarket Rimini.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

What Have You Learned? Darren O'Day

What Have You Learned is our very special off-season series that will outline what you've learned, what I've learned, and hopefully what the 2009 Mets have learned about themselves, others, and 2010. Today, because our blogger is still very bitter about what seems to be an extremely minor, we look at the departed Darren O'Day.

Today, we woke up to more sobering news about the state of the New York Mets. Today's news: The Mets have released Ken Takahashi.

The news here is not that Takahashi was released, but the 40-year-old who is most famous for giving up a three mile long home run to Raul Ibanez was the end result of putting Darren O'Day on waivers. The departure of O'Day, so that an injured Mike Pelfrey could remain on the active roster, turned into Nelson Figueroa for a start ... which turned into a pissed off Nelson Figueroa when he was designated for Casey Fossum ... which turned into one, awful, unmemorable appearance in a Mets uniform ... which turned into Ibanez's three run HR off Takahashi.

And now, he's gone. This means that the Mets have nothing to show for O'Day, who threw for a 1.94 ERA and an 0.95 WHIP in 55.2 relief innings for the Rangers.

It also means that I never got a chance to use the fact that O'Day studied animal biology in college ... which probably cost me a great blog involving Oliver Perez and farm animals.

What does this teach us? It teaches us that asset management is non-existent in Queens. And that sheep in Texas are lucky to have a guy like O'Day on call. Think of how helpful he could have been to those cats that live underneath Citi Field. They'll never know what they're missing. Unfortunately, we do.

What have you learned?

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Omar Minaya Would Like You To Put Your Questions In A Box

A new procedure put in place in response to the Adam Rubin fiasco, beat writers will now be expected to put all questions for Omar Minaya in a box at the beginning of the day. Omar will address your questions at 7:30, after Jeff Wilpon tells him what his answers should be.

Friday, October 16, 2009

What Have You Learned? Jose Reyes

What Have You Learned is our very special off-season series that will outline what you've learned, what I've learned, and hopefully what the 2009 Mets have learned about themselves, others, and 2010. Today we celebrate the fact that Jose Reyes has finally had his surgery, what the Mets can learn as a species to ensure that this nonsense never happens again, and what Ted McGinley has to do with all this.

Here's what pisses me off about Jose Reyes:

All season long the pre-game shows (Fran Healy would like me to point out that the show is called "KFC Pre-Game Live" sponsored by KFC and their new Kentucky Grilled Chicken ... but I won't because I'm not being compensated, and I almost choked on a boneless chicken bit that actually had a bone) would be dominated by the following: "Jose Reyes got up out of bed this morning and ate a bagel with cream cheese, but the cream cheese weighed down his hamstring. Jerry Manuel says that he expects his return in about another two to three weeks."

And it went on and on and on ... and it wasn't just Reyes. We had to hear about the running, jumping, and eating habits of pretty much everyone on the roster. But Reyes is the meal ticket ... the one that holds it all together, making it more frustrating that this injury has been the one that has seemingly been mishandled the most.

And now that we get this ...
The Mets said Reyes will start his rehab shortly and can resume baseball activities "soon after the new year."
... it means we're going to have to hear this all winter. Jose Reyes will perpetually be two to three weeks away from something ... all the way through March.


So what has Reyes learned? How can you learn if you're not in the classroom? You don't get to take a test from the nurses office. 2009 should have been the year for a guy like Reyes to take the next step in his baseball development and enter his prime with a flourish. Instead, he tried to go to third on a grounder to shortstop, and soon after that we never heard from him again.

I would hope that the Mets have learned that you can't make a concussion go away with a cortisone shot. Or that they've learned that the health of the players is more important than having them play meaningless September games to keep those SNY ratings up. But who knows? If Jeff Wilpon thinks he can run a baseball club, who's to say that he doesn't think he can run a hospital? Good thing that Father Fred didn't buy a hospital instead of a ballclub (Gimme the scalpel Daddy! Gimme the scalpel! I wanna try!!!)

You would think it would be so easy ... that you wouldn't screw up something so fundamental as injuries. But when Jeffy comes out and says "we have to change how we handle injuries", then it makes you think that all of these freak occurrences may not have been so freak. Maybe it's why we have Cowboys' doctors operating on Jose Reyes instead of our own guys. Then again, one of our own guys, Mike Herbst, looks too much like Ted McGinley, known for sinking every single show he's ever been on. So who can blame the Mets for thinking that Herbst is McGinley in disguise, sent by the Phillies to finish us off once and for all.

Coincidence? Me thinks not.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

What Have You Learned? Jeff Francoeur

What Have You Learned is our very special off-season series that will outline what you've learned, what I've learned, and hopefully what the 2009 Mets have learned about themselves, others, and 2010. Today, we investigate whether Jeff Francoeur has really turned the corner, whether this is all part of his evil plan as a spy for the Braves, and my new quest to win a Nobel Peace Prize.

I've often thought about how I'm going to make my mark on this world. Should I write a book? Build a better mouse trap? Develop a seed that makes broccoli taste like cinnamon, thus combining health with great taste? Then, President Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize:

"I will accept this award as a call to action -- a call for all nations to confront the common challenges of the 21st century."
The President, with that speech, has inspired me to create a path towards my own Nobel Peace Prize ... and this is how I'm going to do it:

I'm going to bring the sabermetric guys and the scout types together.

If that's not a common challenge of the 21st century, I don't know what is.

And I'm not just talking about locking Theo Epstein and Omar Minaya in a room until they sing Kumbaya together (or until their eyes bleed, one or the other). I'm living on a grander scale. I want to bring everyone together, and make the baseball landscape one big Coca-Cola commercial. It's not going to happen in one post, it's going to take time. But it's going to be my life's mission. Because I want that Nobel Prize, dammit (can you win a Nobel Peace Prize if you say "dammit" all the time?)

It seems like y'all are for one or the other. And I think we can have both. If we had been so resistant to progress back in the fifties, we'd never have created the heaven we know today as Reeses Peanut Butter Cups because combining chocolate and peanut butter would have been akin to raising the dead with pagan rituals. And it's going to take the next genius GM to figure out what the right balance is between the batting eyes and the free swingers. Billy Beane brought us OPS. Then the landscape was changed with UZR. The next stat isn't going to be a stat at all ... it's going to be the one who figures out how to integrate everything including OPS, UZR, flat speed, straight slugging, and yes ... grit and heart (don't worry, I'll never become so blinded in my quest to win a Nobel Prize by ever suggesting this team signs David Eckstein), to build a better baseball team. The balance may not be 50/50 between the stats and the scouts. In fact it'll probably be closer to 78/22 or something. But the right balance will dominate for years.

What does this have to do with Jeff Francoeur? Everything. The three polarizing figures of the stats vs. scouts war are Francoeur, Adam Dunn, and Juan Pierre. Dunn and Pierre are probably the polar opposites in terms of how they're valued, yet the ironic thing is that both players can be of help to the Mets in different capacities. The Mets might need somebody like Pierre to cover the massive amount of ground at Citi Cave, but he doesn't walk. Dunn is a power hitter who walks a ton. But he also strikes out a ton and has as much range as a statue. Too bad you can't call in Dr. Alphonse Mephisto to splice their genes and make one super player that has defensive range and walks a lot ... although with the Mets medical luck, they'd hire a cheaper doctor to create a player who can't move, strikes out 215 times a year and has the batting eye of Mr. Magoo. (Think Dave Kingman ... 1982.)

So what have we learned about Frenchy, the third polarizing player? First off, I can't discount the fact that he's taken to New York quite well, and threw everything he had a smile on his face. On the 2009 Mets, a year where he's hit into a game ending triple play, and a game ending lucky stab by Mike McDougal, that's no small feat. When the trade was made, I thought Francoeur would be miserable going to a big city, going to a rival, and away from his hometown. It was the opposite. No doubt in my mind that put him in the right frame of mind to pick up his game. Amazing what you can accomplish when you're happy. Remember the Robby Alomar years, when he was clearly not happy as a Met? Didn't work out so well, did it?

And I was dead wrong about him in that I thought '09 would be dreadful, and '10 would bring us the new improved Jeff Francoeur. Instead, his '09 as a Met was as good as it could have been. If that was the sugar rush of a new team, much like the last part of '08 was attributed to that new manager smell, is it all downhill from here? If we have indeed seen the best of Frenchy, the saber guys will be all over him ... and rightly so, because that means that barbecue and batting cage time with Howard Johnson will have been a fruitless endeavor where Frenchy learns nothing. And what a waste of BBQ sauce that would be.

Here's where we bring the world together ... ready? Upon further review Francoeur, in the right situation, can be the right fit. Let's say he dips a little bit from the .311/.338/.498 line he put up wtih the Mets last season. If he's batting sixth in a lineup that has some serious juice up top, say, a healthy Reyes, Castillo or an improved version at second, an improved David Wright, a healthy Carlos Beltran, and a shiny new part like Jason Bay or Matt Holliday or Derrek Lee or whoever, Frenchy can be that guy crushing pitches down the middle with the bases loaded, instead of the Mets loading the bases with nobody out and having Anderson Hernandez up, followed by a 4-6-3 D.P. by Fernando Tatis.

Now, if you're going to depend on Francoeur to be your cleanup hitter, you might have problems. Because unless Hojo is part evolutionary psychologist, Frenchy is going to be who he is. It's up to the powers to put a team around him and continue to bring the best out in Francoeur where, walks or not, he can be somebody that everyone can love.

Peace and love. Peace and love.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

What Have You Learned? Jerry Manuel

What Have You Learned is our very special off-season series that will outline what you've learned, what I've learned, and hopefully what the 2009 Mets have learned about themselves, others, and 2010. Today, we put on our gangsta colored glasses and take a look at our manager, Snoop Manuel.
"You play to win the game" -Herman Edwards
"Oh crap, we're 25 games out, maybe I should manage to win." -Snoop Manuel, in not so many words
It surprises me when I go back and look at the game logs of guys like Ryan Church and Daniel Murphy, and see that Church really didn't have as many games off in the early part of the season as it seemed, and that Murphy, who seemed to have a spot on the bench way too often in favor of Fernando Tatis, led the 2009 Mets in games played with 155 (a feat that should be worthy of some special award akin to a purple heart ... maybe a Golden Needle or something.)

Somehow, Jerry Manuel did it with smoke and mirrors ... that's it. But not the same smoke and mirrors that the Cardinals surely thought Davey Johnson used to win in '86. No, Snoop had to go to his smoke and mirrors after everyone got hurt, and had to go to the hospital for smoke inhalation.

It's the only way I could explain it. The stats say otherwise, but what my eyes saw and what my ears heard told me that Snoop Manuel isn't the man for this job. You probably could have figured it out from the angry tone I had been taking near the end of the season, but I've been convinced that Manuel isn't the man to lead this team to the next decade. And it has nothing to do with the impatience that us New York fans are accused of.

Any manager that treats spring training like the end of the world (the 80-pitch drill), April-August like spring training (too worried about getting guys like Gary Sheffield at-bats when the full complement was healthy, pitching guys out of the pen for seven days straight and then letting them rot for weeks), and treats a meaningless September like the World Series (for example, putting Frankie in a game down by a run in the ninth, then bringing him back for a save the next night which he promptly blew in nuclear fashion) is not the gangsta for this job. And I'm done with the injury excuse. Too many games were being lost in ways where the injuries were a non-factor.

While I'm worried about throwing away 2010 before 2009 is over, our friends at Mets Today point out that it was the same deal last year, meaning that while we didn't know it, 2009 was thrown away before 2008 was over.
"He (Manuel) emphasized the need for his players to practice the skills that produce victories not necessarily those that 'help you statistically'". -10/4/2008
How'd that work out for you there, Snoop? Did the team fall short of those expectations? Or could it have been a failure of epic proportions? Probably closer to the latter, don't ya think? Obviously, Snoop has learned absolutely nothing.

If it was just the ineptitude, I'd be more willing to lean on the injuries as a crutch. But when you have a manager that never seemed to be on the same page with his players (Snoop: "Oh, Jose had a good run today." ... Jose: "I ran? When?"), and threw them under the bus (or the tractor) at every opportunity, when does it get old? It got old with Willie Randolph ... and upon further review, how much of the rift between Randolph and his roster was caused by Tony Bernazard sneaking around the clubhouse undercutting him at every turn? When does this get old? The next time he blames Oliver Perez's 58 walks in 19 innings on bad defense? Or maybe when he blames David Wright's next slump on not getting enough sleep?

Let me segue from that to a cautionary tale, if I may: If Manuel actually came out and said that David Wright wasn't getting enough sleep, and Wright said that was ridiculous, might I say you'd rip Manuel a new one? Might I say ... rightly so? But this actually happened before. Which manager was the culprit of this?

The same manager everyone seems to want back to right this ship: Bobby Valentine.

Listen, I love Bobby V. Loved him ever since he told me he liked my banner on Banner Day 1984, when he was just nodding at everyone else (dammit, if he was one of the judges, I would have won for sure). But know that with Bobby Valentine comes these kind of motivational tactics that wouldn't fly with star players ... it didn't fly back when it was Todd Hundley, and it certainly wouldn't fly now. For Bobby Valentine to come here and make it work, it might take breaking up some core, and that will frighten some of you ... because Valentine is someone who is at his best when he's doing more with less. You can't have it both ways. Valentine would be a great option to have back here, but let's not forget his flaws too.

Someone else who does more with less is Tony La Russa. That's right, The Genius. And it seems that the genius might be available soon along with the pitching coach that turned Joel Pineiro and Kyle Lohse into valuable members of society let alone halfway decent pitchers. Now ... put yourself in the owners' shoes. You've basically ensured that Snoop is coming back next season, but Tony La Russa might be available. Now what? Do you let him go to the Reds and work for Walt Jocketty because you've made a commitment to Snoop? Or do you make yourselves look like the ones who went back on a promise to bring in La Russa? After all, it's not like playing the fool is a new role.

So barring a change of heart by ownership (good luck), what must Snoop learn in 2010? Learn that games in September are only important to win when you have a chance to win. That you only break the glass that contains Fernando Tatis only in case of emergency. And that spring training is in March, not May. And that bad defense doesn't cause Oliver Perez to walk home an entire ballpark. It's the other way around.

And keep your head on a swivel. You never know who's gaining on you.

Friday, October 09, 2009

What Have You Learned? Omar Minaya

What Have You Learned is our very special off-season series that will outline what you've learned, what I've learned, and hopefully what the 2009 Mets have learned about themselves, others, and 2010. Today, we look at everyone's least favorite person with everyone's favorite job: Omar Minaya.

Remember how easy it used to be to get a t-shirt that said "In Omar We Trust"? Now they're about as readily available as those Patriots 19-0 gold coins ... and worth about as much.

It's gotta be tough to be Minaya these days. He's the very definition of lame duck ... between his people getting fired around him, hiring new people who could possibly replace him (and I wonder whether Minaya was "encouraged" to do this), and having reports pop up that the only reason you have your job is because of the extension you signed, I'd say that would make a man feel quite inadequate. Good thing he's in the sports business, where there's no shortage of advice for that kind of thing.

What has Omar Minaya learned? Hopefully, how to choose his battles more wisely.

What must he learn for 2010? Unfortunately, he's going to have to learn how to be somebody he's not. Look, I think Minaya is a good GM ... but not for what this franchise needs. His strengths, being able to sign the big fish being paramount among them, was something the Mets desperately needed after the 2004 season when they badly needed an infusion of star power. The Mets don't need that now. They have enough stars. They need a GM who knows how to construct a roster 1-25. Minaya has proven that's not a strength for him. most egregiously with the Darren O'Day debacle (yeah, that still bothers me). But if he's going to keep his job past this season, he's going to have to make it a strength.

Is that fair? Absolutely not. I'm not a fan of putting people in a position to fail. When you start firing people to "send messages", you get away from the mission statement. Now who the %#$* knows what the Mets mission statement is, but what they seem to be doing is trying to "light a fire" under Minaya. The problem is that you can light a fire to make somebody hustle, or give more effort. But pressure doesn't make you smarter. School makes you smarter. And Minaya graduated Newtown High School way back in 1978. If there's something he didn't pick up before then, it's not coming.

But he's got one chance to fix this. I don't know if that's possible in one season. Problems like the Mets have get fixed from the ground up, and that takes years. Maybe Minaya can do what he does best and go after the best free agents out there, whom to me are Matt Holliday (NLDS Game 2 error not withstanding) and John Lackey. But that's going to be rough. Holliday would have to do what few do, and that's play in St. Louis for a half a season then actually leave ... since players love being there. Lackey? I see him either staying in Anaheim or going home to Texas, so Omar might be chasing his tail on both of them. With the rest of the free agent market lukewarm at best, Omar is going to have to change course and try something else.

Maybe that draft class from 2008 which includes Ike Davis and Reese Havens will be confirm Minaya's skills as a builder. But who knows if and when the Mets can reap those grains? Maybe Chris Carter will be a good first step, but that's assuming he makes the club. Minaya's best chances to fix this might not contribute until after he's gone. Since much of his staff will be starting from scratch, is there really a chance to make meaningful improvements in one season?

You want to fix it this year? Well, that might involve mortgaging some future, and that's what makes a lame duck dangerous, getting rid of future to save his job today. Here's the two edges to this sword: A: People say you have no future in your farm system ... and that's part of what needs fixing with this organization. But B: Omar says that's overblown, that there are some pieces that other teams want. All right, prove it. Make a trade for Derrek Lee if that's the case. Make a trade for Dan Uggla and Jeremy Hermida and give Florida more salary relief if that's the case. Make a trade for Doc Halladay if that's the case.

I don't know what the exact answer is. But if you want to fix this, maybe a good way to start is to watch a replay of the Tigers/Twins playoff, where you'll see two teams with talent up and down the roster, not to mention the balls to trust that talent when it mattered most. (You'll also see a team who won said playoff game where the winning pitcher was a guy you released in '05 ... probably to make room for Julio Franco or Juan Marichal or Juan Marichal's grandmother on the 40 man roster.)

Maybe a good way to start is to not waste roster spots on broken heroes on a last chance power drive. Don't even think about giving Gary Sheffield another season. I don't care what kind of numbers he put up, his signing was a mistake. Nick Evans' lost season was probably due in no small part because of Sheffield's signing pushing him to the minors and starting him on the abyss. Were 10 HR's and 43 RBI's worth that? Hopefully, Evans will be a viable option on the bench next season (heaven knows that Snoop Manuel made him familiar on the bench in September), along with Carter, and maybe Hermida if you trade for him. They can't be any worse than Fernando Tatis and his band of empty bench spots as the Mets played the whole season with anywhere from 23-19 players.

Maybe another way to start would be to take a chance on Miguel Cabrera, as the Tigers might try to trade him after his escapades during the last weekend of the season. Now, notice I didn't say that it would be another "good" way to start. Sure, while you wouldn't get him cheap, you might be able to get him at a slightly reduced rate. But if you want to change the entitlement that the locker room has been accused of having, Cabrera would be the absolute worst option you could choose. I know it's tempting, but now that the Mets are on a streak of sweeping final series, the last thing the Mets need is a lazy problem child who goes on benders and tells kids they're fat after once being as big as an El Dorado.

Other than that, have at it. Go forth and fix the team, somehow someway. Just go against everything you've ever been taught about how to run a team. Easy, right? Figure out what you've learned, Omar. Then forget all of it.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

What Have You Learned? Ownership

What Have You Learned is our very special off-season series that will outline what you've learned, what I've learned, and hopefully what the 2009 Mets have learned about themselves, others, and 2010. Today, we look at the Wilpon family, and their family values as they pertain to baseball.

Ownership is underrated. One need look no further than Tampa for proof, where the Devil Rays were less than the model expansion franchise until Stuart Sternberg took over, exorcised the Devil, and brought the newly christened Rays to the World Series. It's also where the late Bill Davidson took over the laughingstock Tampa Bay Lightning and gave them their first Stanley Cup. Take a look at where the Lightning are now under the ownership of Oren Koules, Len Barrie and Absolute Hockey Enterprises to see how fast prosperity can change.

If you believe in the theory that everything trickles down from the top, then you have to believe that the six seasons out of the last eight that have been nightmarishly terrible have also trickled from the top. Not coincidentally, the last eight seasons are the ones since Nelson Doubleday, for all intents and purposes, was out as Mets owner. Not that the Mets history before this has been littered with pennants and World Series titles, but through all of the past angst with this franchise, whether it be Steve Phillips vs. Bobby Valentine, Rick Peterson vs. Scott Kazmir, Art Howe vs. a nap, Julio Franco vs. Mother Nature, Tony Bernazard vs. Willie Randolph, Tony Bernazard vs. the Cyclones Chaplain, Tony Bernazard vs. the Binghamton Mets, Omar Minaya vs. Adam Rubin, Jose Reyes vs. healthy hamstrings, David Wright vs. Citi Field, the one and only common thread through all of this ... is you, Fred Wilpon. And you, Jeff Wilpon.

It's you. It's always been you. And keep in mind that you're forcing me to agree with Wallace Matthews twice in one season. It might be your most egregious offense.

So what have the Wilpons learned? Absolutely nothing. Not a damn thing. Think about it: What did yesterday's Wilpon media blitz solve? Mind you, I saw very little of it. Didn't have to. Hasn't anybody in the Mets organization learned that less is more? That's the tact they take with, say, Mets memorabilia in Citi Field. Unfortunately, it's not the tact they take with, say, news conferences. And while nothing of that level happened, by all accounts the appearance was a horror show. But everything that was said in that news conference and everything they said on the Yankee Propaganda Hour could have been given to us in a news release.

Or better still, not at all. The term "tone deaf" gets thrown around a lot when it comes to how the Mets are run, and Monday was another example. All I kept reading in the last two months is how Met fans want this season to end, and end quickly. What Jeff did was extend the season unnecessarily by one day with his "news" conference, the only news being broken was that he fired Luis Alicea so that he has more time for drinks with Tom Nieto. Jeff's presence on Black Monday, or on any other off day for that matter can never improve perception, only ruin it. His aim was to probably make me realize that ownership really feels bad about this and have me rally behind them. But what really happened was that I listened to him speak and thought that when the movie gets made about this franchise, Adam Sandler is a slam-dunk to play Jeff Wilpon. (And Jeff might be better suited to be a wedding singer anyway.)

And maybe we needed to hear something after 2007, but when you come and apologize three seasons in a row, it gets old ... especially after a season we knew was over in July. It doesn't need to be told to us, just shown to us. Your actions always speak louder than your words. Actions over the last four years: three do-or-die games lost at home, and a 70-win season.

And now, while your words say you're going to do everything you can to fix this, your actions say that you're prepared for the same old same old. Your actions say that you're willing to blame everything on the injuries without taking into account that the baseball that preceded it was shoddy at best. You'd better be right, or else you've just thrown 2010 away before the ink is dry on 2009.

You want to fix this? Start by not doing a thing going forward. You're bringing back Omar, you're bringing back Snoop. Fine. Now go away. Nobody wants to hear from you, nobody wants you peering over their shoulder. Let the baseball people do the baseball things, and you stick to running the business ... because that's what baseball teams are now, right? Nothing more than businesses. I accept that.

But know this: If all you're worried about is the bottom line ... if all you're worried about is the financial ledger, and you're not willing to admit that a baseball team is more than a business to your fan base, and you're not willing to go the extra mile for your loyal fans by doing things such as making your fans feel at home at Citi Field rather than making 90-year-old Brooklyn Dodger fans feel at home, then don't expect Met fans to treat your business as anything more than that. If you treat the Mets, your Mets, as a disposable income option for people who could care more about drinking wine at the Acela Club than about baseball, rather than a baseball team that people have had a life long love affair with, then don't expect the fans, your fans, to treat the Mets as anything more than just one of many choices for their entertainment dollar rather than 25 of their closest friends whom they can't live without. And know that the choices you make for your business do not live, or die, in a vacuum.

Remember that as you wonder why nobody's coming to your sparkling new ballpark in 2010.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Red Light Shakeup

FLUSHING, N.Y., October 5, 2009 - "The New York Mets today announced that Bench Coach Sandy Alomar Sr. and First Base Coach Luis Alicea will not be returning for the 2010 season. Alomar Sr. will be offered another position within the organization.

Hitting Coach Howard Johnson, Pitching Coach Dan Warthen and Bullpen Coach Randy Niemann will return to Manager Jerry Manuel's staff in the same positions next year. Third Base Coach Razor Shines and Catching Instructor Sandy Alomar Jr. will be part of the Major League staff in 2010 in yet to be determined roles."
In a related move, the Mets have announced that replacing Shines as third base coach will be a New York City traffic light. Runners will have to adhere to the light, which will be showing red, yellow, or green at various and random times. But the club feels that the traffic light, which can't see which runners are where because it is a traffic light, will have just as good a success rate as Shines. Furthermore, the traffic light will not have a salary, and will only require maintenance costs and a replacement light bulb or two. The light will don uniform number 64 for the upcoming season.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Rest In Pieces

This is the end, the merciful end for the 2009 New York Mets. My only friend ... the end.

This may, or may not be the end for Nelson Figueroa as a Met. If so, what an ending. And I know that Figueroa will probably never, ever read this. But if he does: Nelson, keep doing what you do, and keep being who you are. From hanging with the Youth Service League team from Brooklyn while you were in Buffalo, to remembering who they were when I brought them up in Washington while you were signing my baseball (and thanks for that, again), and everything in between, you've been nothing but a class act who's easy to root for. I'm sure even amongst this wasteland of a season, there will be fond memories that fans will take with them courtesy of yourself.

If the Mets were smart (and the jury's out on that), the minute you decide to hang 'em up they will hire you as a fan liaison and keep you around the ballpark for the sole purpose of making the fans feel good. Because people will forget what you do (and yes, that means that people will probably forget this game that you pitched, eventually), but they'll never forget how you made them feel. I'm not going to forget the ball you signed. I'm not going to forget how you didn't forget that youth team from Brooklyn. The Mets have made us feel like garbage for three seasons. You didn't. Don't forget that, ever.

That said, Snoop Manuel should be fired. Where was Nelson for the final game last year? Or the year before that? I know Snoop wasn't managing in '07, but I still blame him. Fire him, now. Because ... now they sweep the last series of the season, which makes the '09 Mets only slightly less useful than a screen door on a submarine. Dammit.

For those who stuck around here through the last few painful months, thanks and bless you ... seriously. For those that didn't, well you're probably not reading this now. But if you are, who the hell could blame you? Watching the Mets must have felt like homework lately. I can only imagine what reading the crap I spew on a daily basis must feel like. You're always welcome back, as I'm not going anywhere ... this month will be the one where we all try to figure out what we've learned this season. There will be refreshments.

But I'm looking forward to a few mental health days here and there, as I'm sure you are too. Rest in pieces, boys and girls.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Now Here's Baghdad Bob With The Paid Attendance

Interesting throw in to the game notes on the bottom of the wire copy for Saturday's 5-1 win:
"The announced paid attendance was 37,578."
The unannounced attendance in the real world? Let's just say Tony Bernazard has more Facebook friends.

That explains the uncontrolled giggling on the P.A. system when the attendance was actually announced. It was the biggest fit of laughter at Citi Field since Snoop told the following joke at a press conference in June:
Scott Kazmir walks into a bar with a parrot on his shoulder. The bartender says "Where'd you get that?" And the parrot says "From Jim Duquette".
You had to be there.

The Stench Of Inactivity

When Nick Evans strode to the plate for the first time in 11 days after being kept in some sort of storage, the scent of mothballs and Sucrets was palpable. It was too much for Tim Byrdak to take, as it reminded him of his grandmother's room. He threw a meatball down the middle and Evans launched it for a triple.

But what people don't know is that the only reason Evans even reached the plate to pinch hit is that Snoop Manuel was distracted by the most recent webisode of The Office. That Snoop, always looking for new material. But despite Evans' appearance the Mets still won Friday's game, allaying Manuel's irrational fears that letting Evans on the field will lead to not only certain loss, certain death, and the firing of the manager, but cause the whole Citi Field foundation to crumble.

Oh wait, that was Ryan Church that caused that.

In other news, Yankee fans are apparently grumbling to their cult leader that Ron Darling is announcing their first round playoff games. Oh, wait a minute ...

Okay, I'll hear your complaints now.

Friday, October 02, 2009

The Final Meltdown In The District Of Columbia

I really wanted to avoid a third straight "manifesto". For as sick as you may be of reading them, believe you me, I'm more sick of writing them.

And while there's no "Manifesto Part III" coming on this site per say, "Manifesto Part III" spontaneously came out at Nationals Park on Wednesday night after Frankie gave up the grand slam to Justin Maxwell. It came out in part because I was able to move up six rows to get right by the field. I yelled at anyone in blue and orange, and I lost my mind ... plain and simple. It was two days worth of frustration which topped off a season's worth of frustration piled on to three seasons worth of more frustration. It's like a Famous Bowl from KFC ... a whole bunch of slop thrown in a bowl (or in this case, a Washington Nationals ice cream helmet).

I lost my mind to the point that I wouldn't be surprised if this ends up on You Tube somewhere down the line. But as I've said, the anger was misplaced. These players, for the most part, have no business being in the majors much less on a pennant contender. The players that are bonafide major leaguers that are still here are either physically beat up, mentally beat up, or have been possessed by the soul of Aaron Heilman. Or in Frankie Rodriguez's case, all three. These are traits whose fault lies very little with the players on the field. (As I know from personal experience, when Aaron Heilman's soul envelops your body, there's very little you can do.)

The anger really belongs to the person who manages this team, the person who put the team together, and most of all, the people who own this team. But with the latter three not even in town (I think), and our manager rushing off to most likely record new bits for Dial-a-Joke, the players were all that were left. So they caught the brunt. And you must understand that Maxwell's grand slam topped off two days of baseball hell. First came Elijah Dukes' catch where you can clearly see me in the front row hoping to catch a home run, which basically makes Dukes Michael Jordan, and me Orlando Woolridge. I was posterized.

Then I realize that that former Yankee punk Tyler Clippard was the winning pitcher. Tyler Clippard has seven major league victories in three years. I was a witness to two of them. I loathe Tyler Clippard ... irrationally, but still.

Then came Wednesday. I was with an old buddy whom I hadn't seen in years, and never down in his new home in the Beltway. The last game we went to together was Game 5 of the Subway Series. We tried every single rally hat in existence, and some that weren't invented yet. We switched hats for the last inning, and if Mike Piazza's last out had cleared the fence, we were keeping each other's hat.

We didn't try that in the bottom of the ninth on Wednesday (since it worked so well the first time), but he was confident that we had the game in the bag as Frankie was facing Ryan Zimmerman. If he was confident, that was good enough for me. I needed an excuse to wash away all of the nonsense of the season and pretend, just for a few minutes, that it was a big game and we actually had a shot of winning it. Zen awashed me ... until BB-Rod and Maxwell combined to make it all rush back to me.

That's when I flipped out. Look, I realize it's not my birth right to see a win every time I go on the road to see the Mets. But for crying out loud, give us something this month ... anything. One warm and fuzzy memory to take to the winter? Just one? Especially when the all-star closer has a two run lead in the ninth?

No. The Mets are the Washington Generals. Think about it: The Nationals, a team with 100 losses and zero to play for, are running around like they've won the World Series and throwing pies at each other, happily throwing t-shirts to the fans. Meanwhile the Mets are playing because the schedule says so ... and they look like it. Who's fault is that? Johan Santana beat the Rockies 7-0 on July 30th. Since then, they have the worst record in the N.L. The San Diego Padres, with guys who should be in A ball, are 33-23 since that date. The Reds, similarly horrible, are 31-26 in that span. Oakland? 32-25. All aforementioned teams had nothing to play for by the time July 30th rolled around, like the Mets. Yet they've decided to show up. The Mets? 18-41. How long are we supposed to lean on all these injuries as a crutch? Eighteen and forty-f***ing-one. That's when cornstarch was patented!

Your manager has put a ton of stock and spent team meetings discussing finishing strong and playing to win. What has that gotten you? 18-41!!! And where has it gotten Nick Evans?

Get comfy, Nick.

You mean to tell me there's no at-bats for Nick Evans on an 18-41 team? There's room for Maxwell and Ian Desmond on the Nats. But Nick Evans can't break this sad sack lineup?


Let me digress for a second. Can I tell you that we got free t-shirts on Tuesday and free fleeces on Wednesday for the Fan Appreciation Day that we don't have (sorry to keep harping on that, it bugs the ever loving crap out of me.) Now I want you to tell me what you see, or more importantly, what you don't see:

What? A giveaway not slathered with the words "Spongetech" or "US Gold Dot Com" or some other corporate sponsor? You mean teams that give away things to their fans just for the sake of giving them away still exist? Wow!!! Look, I understand the ways of the world ... corporations pay for these things so that you can enjoy them. Bla bla bla. Then how can a smaller market team that draws nothing like the Nationals able to do this? Did they just have some leftovers lying around? Or do the Nationals just simply ... appreciate their fans? What do the Mets fans get?

We get our owners packing up the pitching rubber from Citi Field and presenting it to Mariano Rivera to commemorate his 500th save. No Mets hall of fame inductions since 2002, but Mariano Rivera gets our pitching rubber. "Congratulations on kicking us in the groin, can we bronze your foot?" I mean, what's next ... are we going to plate Luis Castillo's glove in gold and present it to Mark Teixeira for hustling all the way on the dropped pop-up? Or maybe we could dip the broken bat that Clemens threw at Piazza in encrusted diamonds and present it to Roger when he's inducted into the Texas Sports Hall of Fame. Ooh, I know! Let's take the DVR that I recorded Wednesday's game on, have me sign it, encase it in glass, and send it to Justin Maxwell so that he can watch his home run over and over and over again. And let's honor Adam Dunn for his bases loaded walk since we didn't sign him.

Oh, they'll decrease the ticket prices ... what a convenient announcement to make after looking like dogmeat this weekend. But now they have a built in excuse if they do indeed cut the payroll. See, trust nobody.

If the team wants to show their appreciation to their fans, here's an idea for the rest of the season: three forfeits. Just don't show up. Nobody will know the difference.

I'm sorry, I guess this was Manifesto Part III. But I'm just getting started. Once this wretched season is done, there will be plenty more to discuss. You can count on that.