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I Don't Want Manny! Part Duex

Mike SteffanosTuesday, August 30, 2005
By Mike Steffanos


Yesterday I wrote why I didn't want Manny Ramirez on this team despite the obvious need to upgrade the offense. After I finished my post, I gave some more thought to this subject. I considered what I might say to Fred Wilpon and Omar Minaya if I had the chance. Since I know that will never happen, I hereby resort to a somewhat pretentious literary device...

An open letter to Omar and Fred

Gentlemen,

Thanks for making this season actually fun again. I had almost forgotten what it felt like. You've done a remarkable job of turning this franchise around in one year.

I know that there are a lot of Met fans out there that make their voices heard by calling into talk radio shows and demanding that you do whatever it takes to improve this team. They want you to trade for Manny Ramirez or Alfonso Soriano. They question your commitment to the fans when you fail to make the marquee move that they desire. Even radio talk show hosts that have nothing but contempt for the Mets lobby endlessly for such a move.

I hope you understand that there are many loyal Met fans out there that have no desire to make their voices heard in this manner. We have strong feelings too, we just don't wish to wait on hold for hours for the chance of 15-30 seconds to express those opinions.

I'm one such fan. I've rooted for the Miracle Mets of 1969, the "Gotta Believe" team of 1973, the 1986 champions, and dozens of mostly awful teams in between. I've maintained a loyalty to this team from youth into middle-age. I care.

If there has been one constant I've seen through all of the years, it is the failure of the farm system to provide impact players for this franchise. Sure, we're excited about Wright and Reyes (thanks, Fred, for firing Steve Phillips before he had the chance to trade them), as we were with Doc and Daryl back when. Still, the sad truth is that these guys and a handful of others were the exception to the rule. To me, this is the single biggest reason why the Mets are bad far more often than they are good.

Omar, I agreed with the moves to bring in Pedro and Beltran. This was a team badly in need of bold strokes. I do question the need to tie up tons of money in overpriced players on an ongoing basis. Seems to me that's a formula for failure that other Mets teams have followed (ah, but Bobby Bonilla did have a great smile, didn't he).

They say that you are a creative executive that can think outside the box, Omar. How about finding away to strengthen our lineup for next year without blowing the bankroll and making us markedly weaker defensively? How about finding a way to develop the few prospects in the system? In fact, how about putting money and your expertise into building one of the premier systems in baseball rather than the cesspool it has been?

As I wonder how the Mets will address the need for a true closer in the off-season, I question why the franchise has such a poor record developing our own closers. Looking back, I find it amazing to realize that the last time we had a home-grown talent closing games for us mullets were still cool haircuts for guys. That was a long time ago, wasn't it?

As I watch revenue-sharing taking effect over the last couple of years, I see small market teams that used to be glorified farm systems for the rest of baseball are now able to keep their talent. It's going to be tougher and tougher to find key guys via free agency, and you'll pay through the nose for anything worthwhile in a trade. Seems to me it will be the teams that can find help from within that will be the most successful in the coming years. If we had a decent system, we could even trade some top prospects for what we need and not deplete the system as we have done previously.

Fred, I know there are some that will call you names like "Fred Coupon" when you don't go after the big name that they are fixated on. I don't imagine I would enjoy that much if I was in your place. Yet as disgusted as I've been with this team at times, I never questioned your desire to have a winner in Flushing. The problem is, under your watch the Mets have changed directions more times than a squirrel in the road. I think you have come to realize the folly of trying to buy a winner, but you find it hard to ignore the deafening demands of some fans for the next guy that is supposedly the missing piece.

In the 70's, I saw this team go from the darling of New York to a sad joke. After an all-too-brief span of time in the '80s, it happened again. We had a couple of good years around the millennium, and then crashed again. This is a team that had become virtually irrelevant in this area after so many bad years. Fred, I'm tired of this team being a punch line for washed up comedians like Billy Crystal and pompous, fatuous radio hosts, and suspect that you are, too.

Being on the fringes of a pennant race shouldn't be such a rare event for Met fans. How about a commitment to build something that endures for more than a couple of years? How about making pennant races in Queens a regular event? How about making this team into something we can all be proud of?

Regards,
Mike

Mean Mets Management unfair to Trax

A lot is being made of Trachsel's demotion to the bullpen after a great start Friday night. I have to admit this caught me by surprise, if only because I felt Victor Zambrano could actually contribute something out of the bullpen. For those of you out there that are so convinced that Trachsel is getting screwed, please keep in mind that most of us have to endure much worse things than this at work for a lot less money.

Also, keep in mind that last year we had to endure two starts each from Scott Erickson and James Baldwin, and fourteen from the great Matt Ginter. I like this year's pitching problems a lot better.

Tomorrow: off of the soap box and back to the pennant race.

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