Tag:Jerry Manuel
Posted on: October 4, 2010 12:51 pm

Dysfunctional Mets need changes at top: Very top

What we're about to find out as the New York Mets regroup, revamp and retool (and re- anything else that sorry franchise can think of) in the wake of firing general manager Omar Minaya and field manager Jerry Manuel is this:

Whose philosophy will emerge?

That of owner Fred Wilpon, the old man owner who might finally be humiliated enough to take charge of his own franchise?

Or that of Jeff Wilpon, Fred's son, who as the chief operating officer makes a very good bull in a china shop, bullying his way through the front office while essentially acting as the de facto GM?

Fred, according to sources, is said to favor an older, more established general manager such as Sandy Alderson or John Hart.

Jeff, according to sources, has favored the promotion of assistant GM John Ricco in what most view as a completely transparent attempt to put a puppet in charge who would continue to allow Jeff to pull the strings.

"Jeff Wilpon has been the GM this year," one source within the Mets' organization told CBSSports.com. "He has made Minaya's life hell.

"Omar was better off when he was in Montreal and Washington. Since Fred backed off and Jeff stepped up, it's similar to Baltimore. It's like the [Peter] Angelos kids. The Mets are going to end up like Baltimore if they don't watch it. What GM is going to want to go there unless Jeff backs off? It's amazing."

A veteran GM with West Coast ties who was hired to run the Diamondbacks last month, Kevin Towers, according to sources, received a back-channel overture from the Mets earlier this summer as the wheels were coming off but wanted no part of a dysfunctional situation in which, currently, Jeff Wilpon runs unchecked.

"We are extremely disappointed in this year's results and the failures of the past four seasons," Jeff Wilpon said in a statement Monday announcing the firings of Minaya and Manuel. "We need to hire a new general manager with a fresh perspective who will transform this club into a winner that we want and our fans deserve."

Not that Minaya didn't make his share of mistakes, because he did.

But what the Mets need most is a chief operating officer who will back off and actually let the baseball men
run the baseball operations unchecked, without constant interference.

Posted on: February 22, 2010 2:21 pm

Rehabbing with Jose Reyes

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Working with Mets doctors and rehabilitation specialists, shortstop Jose Reyes spent the winter in New York making sure his hamstring healed properly.

"I only went [home] to the Dominican Republic for two weeks, at Christmas," Reyes said during a discussion the other day. "It was hard. My family is very important, but this is very important for me. I depend on it for my game."

The rehab culiminated last week, when Reyes arrived in Port St. Lucie on Monday and began running outside on real grass for the first time since tearing his hamstring last summer.

"It's been better than I expected," he said. "It's been very good. Nothing to worry about."

It was something to worry about a few months ago, mainly in the immediate aftermath of the surgery.

"The first two weeks after the surgery there was a little concern because my leg felt weak," Reyes said. "I said I want to work hard and I know I'm going to be fine, and I've been doing that the past three months. And now I'm ready to go.

"I'm real glad with the work I did with the guys in New York."

He started running four or five weeks ago, he said, and it felt good when he did because he was a little scared of what might happen.

"You have to get that explosion in your first few steps," he said. "For the first month or two, that's always in your mind when you're running."

Reyes says he believes his problem last summer was that he tried to come back too soon, feeling a responsibility to return "because we have so many injuries."

As the summer wore on, he said he became so depressed at his mounting count of games missed that he reached a point where he couldn't even watch the Mets on television.

Now, he's back running on the Technicolor grass, moving fluidly to his right and ranging left into the hole to field grounders and, in a related development, smiling big.

There's no more concern when he runs, he says. The only difference is in his preparation.

At the direction of the medical staff, he warms up hard before stepping onto the field with a routine of stretching and riding an indoor stationary bicycle. It is a routine he will continue before every game this season, he says.

Otherwise, "I'm just trying to get ready for the season. I don't see big-league pitchers in a long time. I have to get ready, get back into baseball shape."

Sunblock Day? Sure is. Temperature zooming up to 80. Even avoided the rain that was supposed to hit the eastern side of Florida.

Likes: Don't look now, Mets fans, but manager Jerry Manuel and his staff were thrilled at Oliver Perez's first live bullpen of the spring the other day. What really struck Manuel is that Perez's foot was consistently landing in the same place on the mound upon his delivery. Ace Johan Santana was in the group and pointed that out to Perez as well. When Oliver is on, as we've seen, he can be nasty. But he's never graduated from diamond-in-the-rough status because he's never been able to harness his mechanics. Often, his landing foot hits the ground in different places upon his delivery. It's no coincicdence that Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax spent time with Perez on Monday. ... Veteran Kelvim Escobar, in camp fighting for a bullpen job, says he thinks his shoulder is advanced enough that he has a chance to be ready for opening day. Escobar always has been a class act, I wish him well. ... Good move by Mets GM Omar Minaya in hiring Wayne Krivsky, the former Reds GM and assistant GM in Minnesota and Texas, as an adviser during the offseason. ... The Oscars are coming, and you can do a whole lot worse than seeing Precious. It's depressing, yes, but it is really well done. ... I can honestly say Le Tub has not lost its burger magic. Had a chance to visit my favorite place the other afternoon, dinner in a driftwood booth on the Intracoastal waterway in the hot late afternoon sun while the boats cruised past. Terrific burger, as usual. There's one pound of meat in those bad boys.

Dislikes: Really hate to see Khalil Greene not show up to Texas' camp because of a return of his anxiety issues. Greene is a good kid who once was a terrific player. I hope he can get his issues resolved and join the Rangers soon. His 2009 manager, Tony La Russa, grimaced when told the news Monday morning. La Russa expressed dismay that he hadn't yet phoned Greene to wish him well with Texas, something he's been planning to do.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Pale invaders and tanned crusaders
"Are worshipping the sun
"On the corner of 'walk' and 'don't walk'
"Somewhere on US 1
"I'm back to livin' Floridays
"Blue skies and ultra-violet Rays
"Lookin' for better days"

-- Jimmy Buffett, Floridays

Posted on: February 20, 2010 2:27 pm
Edited on: February 20, 2010 10:19 pm

Mets' Santana shows zip in first mound session

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- First workout of the spring for Mets pitchers and catchers Saturday, and probably the most notable thing of all was this: Ace Johan Santana threw a slider during his bullpen session.

Threw all of his pitches, in fact, and the man whose season ended with surgery to remove five bone chips after only 25 starts last summer walked off the Port St. Lucie practice fields with a big smile.

"His bullpen was real good," Mets general manager Omar Minaya said. "We noticed great extension that he didn't have last year. He feels real good about himself. We got to see the slider, which we didn't see much of last year. So he's in a very good spot right now."

Now it will be incumbent upon both the Mets and Santana to keep it that way. The club already has mapped out a careful schedule for him this spring, according to which he will not make his first Grapefruit League start until the second week of games.

The Mets think that a more conservative schedule will allow Santana to stay healthy while still preparing him to reach the 90-pitch range by opening day.

Manager Jerry Manuel made several references following the workout to keeping key players healthy and maybe slowing down some of the recovering Mets.

"Johan's really feeling well about himself," Manuel said, before adding of Santana and shortstop Jose Reyes: "We're almost going to have to pull the reins back. They're really getting after it.

"We don’t want to peak in February."

Sunblock Day? Wooo-hooo! Sun's out and temperature soared into the 70s today. Baseball weather is here.

Likes: Always one of the better guys in baseball, Johan Santana spent a long while signing autographs for Mets fans when he finished his workout Saturday. Lots of grateful fans. And one pitcher who is extremely grateful to be healthy again. ... Roy Halladay's work ethic is as good as there is in the game (he's been arriving at the Phillies' complex at 5:45 a.m. to get his workouts in) and Cole Hamels' description of him ("he's quiet but he doesn't make himself disappear") is perfect. ... The baseball newsstand at Baseball Think Factory, an excellent site and a great way to keep up with good stories and smart analysis. Plus, priceless smart alecky comments from the guys who run the shop, Jim Furtado and Repoz. ... Barefoot drive across the state of Florida on Friday was pleasant, zipping across Route 70 -- where I passed a place to go hunting for wild boar. I kept on cruising (and would have done so even had I been wearing proper footwear, for driving or hunting). ... The book Game Change is absolutely riveting. Authors Mark Halperin and John Heileman's insider account of the 2008 presidential election is fast-moving and stocked with terrific behind-the-scenes anecdotes. ... Can't get me enough grouper in Florida. The blackened grouper Caribbean style with black beans and rice was a winner the other night at the Abbey Road Bar and Grill in Jupiter, Fla. ... Gaslight Anthem's The '59 Sound is fabulous, one of the best discs I've obtained in the last few years (and a shout out to my hip bro for the birthday gift). Whip-smart lyrics and full-bore rock 'n' roll with no coming up for air.

Dislikes: Love the fact that we've reached the point where baseball feels it must formally tell players not to bring guns and knives into the clubhouses. Not.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"It's funny how the night moves
"Humming a song from 1962
"We were always waiting... always waiting
"We were always waiting for something to happen
"I saw tail lights last night In a dream about my first wife
Everybody leaves and I'd expect as much from you
I saw tail lights last night in a dream about my whole life
Everybody leaves, so why, why wouldn't you?"

-- Gaslight Anthem, Great Expectations


Posted on: December 29, 2009 4:35 pm
Edited on: December 29, 2009 5:21 pm

Bay-watch finished, Mets' winter looking up

Whether he wants to or not, slugging outfielder Jason Bay is on the verge of becoming a New York Met. Bay and the club have agreed to terms on a four-year contract worth $66 million, CBSSports.com has confirmed, with a fifth-year option that could boost the package into the $80 million neighborhood.

The deal is pending Bay passing a physical examination and, as such, the Mets are not confirming that an agreement is in place.

Barring any surprises with Bay's physical, the move will accomplishes one of the Mets' chief offseason goals, which was adding a slugger who will man left field and make manger Jerry Manuel's lineup more dangerous. It also should silence critics who were chattering that the Mets' dalliance with Bay was "just for show", a transparent attempt to placate their fans while making an offer they knew Bay would not accept.

In the end, they got it done.

Now, regarding the "wants to" part: The Mets made their initial offer to Bay coming out of the winter meetings in Indianapolis some three weeks ago and have been waiting for an answer ever since. Speculation, of course, has been strong in some quarters that Bay must not have wanted to become a Met very badly because, if he did, talks between him and the club wouldn't have dragged along for so long.

But in a chilly winter on the free agent market in which Boston cut bait with Bay and signed outfielder Mike Cameron, and Seattle, San Francisco and the Yankees -- all clubs looking for a big, middle-of-the-order bat -- Bay's options pretty much dwindled to just one. And that one was located with a Queens ZIP code.

However Bay was delivered -- and there's a lot of dollars here to sooth any disappointment the Canada native might have felt when Seattle didn't step up, or when Boston pulled its offer -- there is no doubt that it's a victory for the Mets.

It's not a guaranteed victory, because we've been through this before with them: They traded for Johan Santana two winters ago and signed free agent closers Francisco Rodriguez and J.J. Putz last winter and failed to make the playoffs both years. Much to their fans chagrin, the Mets have proven in recent years that they're a different breed and often add up to less than the sum of their parts would appear.

But they have needs to fill as the time since their last playoff appearance (2006) lengthens and the back-to-back NL champion -- and Mets' NL East rival -- Philadelphia Phillies (who already have traded for Roy Halladay and signed Placido Polanco this winter) continue to swing for the fences.

Though he's now 31, considered a mediocre outfielder and batted just .267 for the Red Sox last summer, he also walloped 36 home runs and finished with 119 RBI.

With a healthy Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran (it's never too late to start knocking on wood in advance of opening day with them) and with slugging third baseman David Wright, Bay will give the Mets another presence that should make life difficult for opposing pitchers.

But their job is not finished. They still need a catcher -- free agent Bengie Molina remains the most logical bet -- and pitching (bullpen help, especially).

With the Mets, the job is never finished. But with Bay poised to change his workplace address to Citi Field, ever so cautiously, there again is hope.

Posted on: February 16, 2009 10:12 pm

Atlanta makes more sense than Seattle for Griffey

TAMPA, Fla. -- As Ken Griffey Jr. sleeps one more night while rasslin' with what probably will be the last big decision of his career, the parameters are pretty simple.

Atlanta by far offers him the best situation, personally.

Seattle clearly is where he should go, professionally, from strictly a save-the-legs, extend-his-career point of view.

Assuming the money is roughly equal -- a year, somewhere between $1 and $2 million -- this doesn't make the decision any easier. But the parameters are very clear.

Remember when Junior asked the Mariners to trade him to Cincinnati so he could go home?

Turns out, he rarely felt at home.

Atlanta offers a far better home situation than Cincinnati ever did. He lives in Orlando, 15-20 minutes from the Braves' complex. He literally can live in his own house an extra six or seven weeks this year during spring training (as opposed to having to pack up and spend February and March in Peoria, Ariz.).

Atlanta, the city, is geographically closer to his Orlando home than Cincinnati is. At an hour away by air, Griffey could head home to Florida on off days if he wanted.

If he signs with Seattle, of course, he can't. But he may be able to acquire several more at-bats as a DH than he would as a platoon left fielder in Atlanta.

Meantime, while the Braves aren't necessarily favored in the NL East, they probably can hang with Philadelphia and the New York Mets longer than a Seattle team that lost 101 games last year can stay afloat in the AL West.

So, to recap. ...

Atlanta = home, family, playing meaningful games, possibly getting one more chance to play in October if all sorts of things fall into place.

Seattle = easier on the legs thanks to the DH slot and ... um ... well, far less humidity than Atlanta during the peak of the summer.

It's difficult to view a Griffey return to Seattle as anything more than a chance for the Mariners to help sell more tickets. At 39, he's certainly past his prime and isn't in position to significantly help them improve. He's a role player now.

Bottom line is, it's pretty clear.

Atlanta makes the most sense.

Likes: Mets manager Jerry Manuel's plan to shake up the lineup, and maybe give shortstop Jose Reyes more defensive responsibility in terms of helping to position guys. Terrific idea. Reyes has shown a lack of focus and a need to mature. Giving him more responsibility may be exactly what he needs to lock in and stay focused. ... Love Boston's David Ortiz and White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen saying anybody who tests positive for steroids should be suspended for an entire season. Somebody start that petition. ... Sean Penn has to win the Oscar for Best Actor over Mickey Rourke, doesn't he? Rourke's performance was powerful, but -- and not to diminish it -- he was largely playing Mickey Rourke. Penn was pure acting. ... B.B. King's latest disc, One Kind Favor, is really good. ... So is The Hold Steady's latest, Stay Positive. Vastly underrated group. ... Absolutely love the Blackberry "If Delivery People Ran the World" ad where the kid Callahan is missing from school and the delivery folks track him, grab him and deposit him before he knows what's hit him.

Dislikes: I will see you on Tuesday live from the Alex Rodriguez press conference in Yankee camp. I don't think anybody wants to be there -- A-Rod, the Yankees, the media, anybody. But we've all got to play our parts before we can move on with the spring, know what I mean? I'll be happy to get past it and get back to writing baseball.

Sunblock day? Warm sun, cool air. Probably around 70 which, for you Northerners eating your hearts out, is still pretty darn good down here.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"I think she drove a new Mustang
"I guess it might be a rental
"I remember she had satellite radio
"I guess she seemed a bit nervous
"Do you think I’m that stupid?
"Well look, what the hell, I’ll tell my story again …"

-- The Hold Steady, Sequestered in Memphis

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com