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Rickey Will Save This Club

Mike SteffanosThursday, July 12, 2007
By Mike Steffanos

Not really, but I'm sure that Rickey believes he will, and that's all that counts.

Look, I've always hated firing a hitting coach or a pitching coach as a way of motivating a ballclub. I think there are literally a handful of hitting and pitching coaches that have more than a passing effect on their charges, and the rest are almost virtually interchangeable. I like Rick Down, but to me he clearly is in the second category, unlike a Rick Peterson, who is clearly a difference maker. While I don't blame Down for the poor approach at the plate that actually started rearing its ugly head last September, I can't fault the Mets for taking a shot at getting a different voice in there. Although Hojo seems to be most likely to take over most of Down's duties, Rickey Henderson brings about as different of a voice that you can bring to a coaching staff. I'm not sure if this move smacks of some desperation, but it clearly reflects a sense that things needed to be changed sooner rather than later, and I agree with that.

The impatient offensive approach that has made for some virtually unwatchable games has been around all season, even when the club was winning. I honestly worry that this flawed approach, as much as anything, could cost the Mets an October run. You had to change the dynamic, and the Mets are trying to do that. Newsday is now reporting that Julio Franco's tenure with this club is coming to an end, at least as a player. For those Mets fans out there who somehow worked themselves up into believing that the club isn't committed to making the changes necessary to turn things around, I think that shows that they are.

Good people like Rick Down are often sacrificed in the pro sports world because there is nothing that supersedes doing everything possible to win. I hope Down catches on somewhere soon, and I hope the fans of that club enjoy his off-beat sense of humor as much as I have.

MetsBlog Blogger Beat Appearance
For the few of you that aren't already sick of me from this site (Hi Mom), my words of dubious wisdom appear in a Blogger Beat discussion on MetsBlog on Moises Alou and Pedro Martinez.

About Comments
For a period of several hours on this site, we were bombarded with hundreds of spam comments. Usually these contain links to sites of dubious merit, but these random comments contained no links at all. Because of this they evaded all of the filters and I had to spend precious time deleting them manually. Since I only have a finite amount of time to put into this blog, this precluded me from finishing my look at the Mets at the Break. We'll try to get that done this weekend, even if the Break will already be over. I think if I experience another attack like this at some point soon, I will thwart it by turning off the comments for a while. I'll put up a note to that effect, but just be aware that if you see comments turned off it's not because I don't enjoy the real ones -- even from those who disagree with me.

About Mike: I was the original writer on this web site, actually its only writer for the first 15 months of existence. Although I am grateful for the excellent contributions of my fellow writers here, I have no plans of stepping back into strictly an editorial role. I started this thing in the first place because I love to write and I love the Mets, and blogging here keeps me somewhat sane. If you haven't had enough already, more bio info can be found here.

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Comments (6)

I would suggest either adding a captcha to comment posting or enabling registration and making commenting for registered users only. Nothing else will stop the spammers.

The team needed a wakeup call, plain and simple. And more often than not, it's coaches rather than players that tend to be the sacrificial lambs when GMs decide to make waves. Minaya needed to send a message to the team that status quo was not going to get the job done, and it was not going to be tolerated either.

That's why DFAing Franco was so important as well. It's one thing to lose a coach (who as you stated, are usually easy to replace), but it's another to drop a veteran player who by all accounts commands a great deal of respect within the clubhouse. Franco's play and lack of versatility certainly didn't warrant a roster spot. His attitude and lack of hustle was disturbing. By releasing him, Minaya sent a clear message. Produce, or be replaced.

The Mets are a better team today than they were yesterday. Minaya is cleaning up the mess. Signing Marlon Anderson will surely add more depth to the bench. I'm guessing the next room in the house to get cleansed is the pen. Scott Schoenweis may have his days numbered.

Pretty much what Salman said. Which was pretty much what Mike said.

Bill James has said that, contrary to popular opinion most management hirings and firings in baseball occur for good reason. "If he was a smart hire in the first place; when did he suddenly get stupid?" really doesn't reflect the many reasons why I a man might no longer be the right man for the job. In this the baseball world is much more like the business world than many would admit.

Regarding Franco, there was a guy, name of Robert Townsend I believe; he used to run Avis Rent-a Car, and he wrote business how-to books. One thing he used to repeat for executives new to a job: come in, set your goals, and within six months fire the least productive member of your team. It's part of how you establish that you are in charge and keep things moving forward.

Obviously the Franco assignment was done because the Mets had needs that Franco couldn't meet; the business world doesn't quite have a parallel to the roster spot issue. But casting off the least productive player sends that message that We Are Serious About Winning. It is painful, grown-up, and necessary.

Gene - I'd like to avoid a captcha, as people with impaired vision (like me) have a lot of trouble with it. The registered users is one I'm thinking of, but the spam filter work great most of the time. Yesterday's attack was quite unusual, and if I had turned off comments for a few hours would probably have just gone away.
Salman - I agree with most of what you write, but I think Schoeneweis isn't going anywhere right now with 2 years after this one on the contract.
dd - agreed. I'm sure Franco was a tough decision for Omar, in that he was Omar's guy in the same way Down was Willie's. Some columnists are trying to paint this as some sort of silly feud brewing between Omar and Willie, but I think both are pros and know this has to happen sometimes.

The best thing Franco did as a Met was force Beltran out of the dugout for a curtain call after he hit a homerun when at the time his fan appeal was not the best( it still needs work, but that was huge.)Franco took a roster spot and didn't produce. Case closed. Last nights game! I like the names that won it at the plate, Reyes, Gotay, Millage. A sign of that tiger I was talking about that is missing.That and the things Omar is doing shows we are not the only ones displeased with lala land attidude. I think we will see a change, this is a good thing that will catch on. I think the youth on this team is catching the hunger to win and that will spread into the rest of the team. Maybe I should change that I think to I hope. The best is yet to come.

Al - Agreed on Franco. I hope you're right about things changing. I'm fairly optimistic.

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