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Stop the Talk Radio-Driven Insanity

Mike SteffanosWednesday, October 1, 2008
By Mike Steffanos


If WFAN's resident blowhard Mike Francesa ever decides to switch careers and go into marriage counseling, I predict an immediate increase in the Metropolitan area's divorce rate.

Apparently, el hombre gordo feels the Mets must trade one or more of their core players or be doomed to perpetually missing out on the playoffs on the last day of the regular season. In fact, the pompous pea-brained porcine pontificator actually feels that Wright or Reyes must go and the team needs to be torn down and rebuilt.

I know he is not alone in this line of thinking, but I sincerely hope that cooler heads prevail. Neither Wright nor Reyes is even in his prime right now. Indeed, these are the type of young, talented emerging stars that we could only dream of when Steve Phillips regime came crashing down earlier this decade.

For my purposes here I will leave Carlos Beltran out of this particular discussion, because he is an entire discussion by himself. My quick point here is that we all know Beltran is not the fiery leader type, but he is a terrific baseball player who has shown the willingness to play hurt. To my mind, you need to surround Carlos with the right complementary players rather than demand he become someone he clearly is not.

My contention has been and continues to be that the Mets do need to take a hard look at the veteran leadership of the club. That would include Carlos Delgado, Brian Schneider, Ramon Castro, and some of the other bench players. That doesn't mean that all of these guys go, but some undoubtedly will. Moreover, you have to pay attention to who you bring in.

Also, management needs to stop talking about making this club younger and more athletic and make it happen. Even guys who I like and respect like Damion Easley, Marlon Anderson and Castro have to be looked at critically.

Easley will turn 39 in a month and has been injured in two consecutive Septembers. Castro will turn 33, which is old for an overweight backstop, and has not managed to even approach the 250-300 AB the Mets would dearly love to see him accumulate. His offense is undeniable when he is out there and healthy, but that doesn't happen often enough.

Wright and Reyes need to be surrounded by the right kind of veteran leadership that will take the pressure off them. Before we go off the deep end and run these two young players out of town on a rail, keep in mind that if any one of the following things had turned out the Mets way they would probably be in the playoffs right now:

  • If Billy Wagner, even in a somewhat diminished capacity, was able to pitch in September.
  • If Aaron Heilman was healthy enough to pitch at the effectiveness level of last season.
  • If Moises Alou managed to stay on the field and accumulate 350-450 AB.
  • If Pedro hadn't injured his hamstring in his first game and had a chance to really settle into the season.
  • If Church didn't miss half the season.
  • If John Maine didn't get hurt.

Even smaller things played a part. Matt Wise barely pitched out of the bullpen before going down for the season. He might have been able to stabilize the sixth and seventh innings enough to secure another win or two. What if Fernando Tatis hadn't separated his shoulder, taking his surprising production and competitive fire out of the mix at a crucial time?

Don't get me wrong here. You don't win championships based on "what ifs", but you need to take them into account before you trade young stars just approaching their prime because you don't think they're tough enough.

Why hasn't Francesa been demanding that the Yankees consider trading Jeter or Cano or Rivera? After all, despite the highest payroll by far the Yankees haven't won in 8 years. Maybe they're not tough enough. Sure, Jeter and Mariano have rings, but that's ancient history now.

Of course the above paragraph is ridiculous, but that's the point. Francesa's scatter-brained proclamations about the Mets aren't any less so.

As far as the Jon Heyman interview where Francesa confided "inside knowledge" about Ryan Church hating the team and the city, I'll believe that when someone produces an interview with Church where he states that. Too often over the years Mike Francesa has been willing to make statements like that with absolutely no corroborating evidence. I can't be bothered taking him seriously.

If you're inclined to agree with Francesa's take on this team, keep in mind that this was the same man who confidently asserted that David Wright would never be an adequate major league third baseman defensively, and the Mets would eventually be forced to move him. Gold Gloves are sometimes overrated, but Wright is certainly now one of the best defensive third baseman in the game.

I've already offered the opinion that I believe Wright fell into some bad habits that he couldn't shake this season, specifically becoming pull-happy and introducing a pronounced uppercut in his swing. I believe this made him much more vulnerable to outside pitches and also forced him to guess pitches more with two strikes. In turn, he was much more vulnerable to the better pitchers you face late in the game, and this contributed to his struggles in important situations.

These problems are fixable, especially considering he had a pretty good year despite them. I'd be surprised if we didn't see a much better David Wright in 2009 -- provided no one panics and ships him out.

As for Reyes, I thought he did a good job of bouncing back this year. He wasn't great in September, but he wasn't awful. I still think he has a chance to become the best player in baseball, and I'd dearly love to see him do that as a Met.

I'm as frustrated as any of you with these past two Septembers, but I refuse to believe that the first step in fixing something is getting rid of key parts that weren't broken in the first place. Mike Francesa is a silly man. Do yourself a favor and don't take him seriously.

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 (9)

mike, i rarely listen to dopey francesa anymore, but i did hear his idiotic comments about shipping out reyes and wright..fix the bullpen and lets see how next year goes..if we don't make the playoffs again, than the front office might have to unload a core player.no reason for it now.also getting back to francesa, about 2 months ago i heard this jerk go on and on how the devil rays had a nice first half, but would fold up in august and the yanks would win the division..i'd like to hear him revisit that moment of genius..what a jerk.

Francesa is definitely someone I have no problem totally ignoring, regardless of what lip he is trying to sell. No need to elaborate, but I would trust the information from a bum on the street first. If Church really said that then, I am sure he will do what he needs to to make next season better for his own sake. The trade Reyes and Wright, possibly Beltran banter is just hoowie! Sports talk does have good information, you just have to decipher and filter the real info from the chatter to boost ratings.

Revision alert - I inadvertently left Maine's injury out of my initial post. That bullet point was added later when I caught the omission.

I am so glad you feel this way Mike, I thought I was the only one who felt this way. I was so mad after listening to Francesa's interview with Minaya I almost emailed you and even thought about writing my own blog. I was upset at Francesa's arrogance and condescending way he spoke to Minaya and I was upset at Minaya since he agreed with just about everything the Fat man said. Minaya also worried me when he indicated that NY is not a Young player town. What contributed to the Mets success toward the end of the year were young guys like Murphy, Evans, A. Reyes, Smith and Pelfrey.

I really feel that Minaya should take a page from Frank Cashen and stop agreeing with idiots like Francesa. Cashen put together a team for the ages in the 80's because he did it the right way(granted the team only won 1 World Series but they should have won more with the talent they had. I really believe Mets fans are ready and willing for the Mets to field a younger team as long as its surrounded by Reyes, Wright, Beltran, Santana and Pelfrey. Old age has been a factor for the Mets the last 2 years, it may not be the only reason the Mets did not go further, but it did play a role.

Ed

Lets not forget the main thing here. Francesa is a yankee fan. A fat, stupid yankee fan. So is Wallace Matthews. We have to be able to take things these guys say with a grain of salt.

The Mets have a solid core, Yes we need some more parts. But come on, getting rid of Wright, Reyes or Beltran would be insane.

I have mentioned Francesca twice in emails in the past two days, so I'm going to reference myself a bit.

Seasons when a batter gets 300 or more Total Bases is certainly a mark of excellence and productivity. Darryl Strawberry managed it once in his career; fifteen or sixteen times, I forget which it is, a Met has managed it at all.

Of current Mets, Carlos Delgado has done it once for us, Beltran two times for the Mets, Jose Reyes twice, David Wright, in each of his four full seasons in the major leagues. Anyone who tries to sell the idea of trading one of our trio of core players wants the Mets to fail.

And now to shamelessly quote myself from about ten minutes ago:
>
...y'know, it's a small person who won't re-examine his long-held positions once in a while. And re-examination sometimes begats a change in attitude; today,I can calmly say that I WOULD piss on Mike Francesca if he was on fire.
>

I been posting this around various blogs to gather opinion.

Just thought of this... My biggest complaint over the years has always been settling for the mediocre guy when the impact guy would "only" be $3-$5million more.
So with that in mind, lets look at Oliver Perez, he made $6.5 million this season. He's expected to make, what? $10-$12 million over 4 years or so.

CC Sabathia made $11 million this season. I mean, I have no idea how much he's going to end up getting but a fair guesstimate would be $15-17 million over 6 years or so. Which is VERY similar to what Johan's contract situation.
CC is a year younger than Johan but a year older than Perez but is a HUGE upgrade over Perez. So for an extra $5million or so, would it be worth it to go after CC Sabathia?

This whole time I thought it was dumb and would never happen and thought whoever reccomended that is living in la-la land and think there are infinite funds BUT when put into that perspective comparing Oliver Perez and CC Sabathia, it makes a little more sense, looks feasible, and in my opinion doesn't look so far fetched anymore.
Hopefully Omar is thinking this way and deems it worthy, I certainly do.

Mike, you are dead on in your dismissal of Francessa's bloviating. The Mets in 08 were a team with six fine players (Wright, Reyes, Beltran, Delgado, Santana, and Pelfrey) surrounded by gaping holes--at second base, in left field, behind the plate, and especially in the bullpen. To fix the team, which makes more sense: to fill the holes, or to get rid of the guys who played well?!

Fatcessa is a bitter Yankee fan living in the past. Full of envy that the Mets are finishing closer to the playoffs then his Yankees. Which he never brings up.

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