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Quick Hits -- Friday the Thirteenth Edition

Mike SteffanosFriday, May 13, 2011
By Mike Steffanos


Just a few quick thoughts on what's been happening:

Beltran
This is undoubtedly Beltran's last season in New York, and he seems determined to go out with a bang.

As remarkable as today's three home run game was, even more impressive has been Carlos' presence in the lineup virtually every day. After missing much of spring training the buzzards were definitely circling overhead. I would have signed off on 125-135 games from Beltran in a heartbeat at the beginning of the year, and I tend towards an optimistic outlook on things.

I've always liked Beltran, and I've defended him in this space quite often from those who question his commitment to winning and all that nonsense. I've come to feel that doing that is a waste of time -- while plenty of us admire Carlos, those who don't tend to be implacable in their disdain. If you feel that way I won't try to change your mind.

As for me, I'm grateful to be able to watch even a somewhat diminished Beltran -- at least physically -- run out on the feel day after day. In a season that seems to be somewhat lacking in charm and magic, that at least feels right to me.

To me, baseball has always been, at its best, a balance of grace and power. At his best, Beltran made a very difficult game look easy. That probably hurt him with some of the fans and media loudmouths, but if you are someone who has a deep appreciation of the game of baseball it was nice to watch.

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Manuel Labor
Writing for CBSNewYork.com earlier this week, Rich Coutinho opined that Jenrry Mejia's elbow injury was former manager Jerry Manuel's fault. While I'm not sure that I would go quite that far (although I wouldn't completely discount it), I thought Coutinho made some good points in his column.

Manuel kept pushing to have Mejia in his bullpen last spring despite the fact he lacked overall command and secondary pitches. Any responsible organization would have sent the kid to Triple-A to start games and refine his off-speed stuff, but somehow Manuel prevailed and the kid went north with the club.

I think the most frustrating part for me was that even when it became clear that Mejia wasn't going to be an important contributor out of the 'pen he was kept on the club to pitch mop-up innings rather than sent back down to do what he should have been doing all along.

It was short-sighted decision making at its worst. I know I had no faith at all in the Minaya regime after that, although I confess there wasn't much left at that moment, anyway. Still, it was somewhat of a watershed moment for Minaya's leadership in the same way the Kazmir trade was for the previous management team. Not as dramatic, of course, but damning none the less.

I have to admit that I liked Jerry Manuel for a while because he came in and really lightened the mood after all the negativity at the end of Willie Randolph's tenure. The way he mishandled the bullpen down the stretch in 2007 really contributed to the collapse, and he was even worse in 2008. I don't know why he was even brought back to play his part in the foolishness with Mejia last season, but I guess that musing is for another day.

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Mr. Wilpon, Tear Down This Wall...
Jeff Francoeur, as quoted in the NY Post:

"They've gotta shorten the park up ... It's huge. I'm not saying make it a bandbox like Philadelphia, but they have to do something.

... It just wears on you. Lower the fence in left field, bring in the gap in right-center a little bit. Make it more fair for right-handed hitters to hit it out."

I always thought Shea was a fair ballpark. If you hit the ball well you were rewarded, but you didn't see those check swing homeruns that you get in some of the bandboxes around the league. When Citi Field was being built I was hoping that they would construct a park with similar dimensions.

Instead, someone went off the deep end with all of the quirkiness and high fences and the "Mo Zone" in right field. The consequence of this is a park that has become too big of a story and probably has gotten into the heads of some of the players, including David Wright.

The bottom line to me is that changes should be made to the point where the Mets are playing home games in a fair ballpark again. That way we can stop talking about the ballpark so much. The ballpark is the place where the stories should be happening, but it should not be the story to this extent. It's frankly ridiculous.

If you are just finding this blog again and wondering why I was gone for so long and what the plan is going forward, read this.

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.


Comments (8)

First, would like to say that I enjoy your posts. They're insightful and you have a nice turn of phrase. (Thank you for not prefacing every thought with
"That said" or "Having said that" or any of the standard blogging argot.Also, thankyou for refraining from sophmoric nicknames for the Wilpons.))

Re. Citi. I agree. It's a conceptual disaster.
When you think about the core of the team when the design was approved, power, power and more power - Beltran, Wright, Delgado etc. to build a stadium that's self-nullifying is beyond me. If you had the 1985 St Lous Cardinals, all speed/gap hitters then yeah, good idea.

And, why Wilpon continues to resist making changes make no sense unless the plan is to dump all power and build the 1985 Cardinals. Maybe that's the plan.

It's a great place to see a game but the Mo Zone has got to go!

Thanks for the kind words. To be honest with you, I have my own pet words and phrases that I tend to overuse, and "Having said that" has appeared in this space more than once. But I get your point.

I have a feeling that Sandy Alderson isn't interested in recreating the 1985 Cardinals. I really hope and believe that reason will eventually prevail here and the ballpark will become a fair one, and a non-story.

Mike,

I completely agree with your thoughts about Carlos Beltran. I have always enjoyed watching him and am glad he is playing for the Mets. I never understood the fans who didn't like him. I thought perhaps because he wasn't loud and arrogant and in your face that the fans didn't respect him.

As far as the Met's home stadium dimensions and wall, it is also a testament to the poor management style that has been the Wilpons. They are terrible owners, stubborn, ignorant and they are making the many TRUE fans of this franchise suffer.

That baseball has a commissioner who is by far one of the worst in the history of the sport doesn't help matters much either.

Jeff

I love to watch Beltran,running the bases, he has such a easy flow, grace full almost. Like I remember Duke Snider, the same way. They make it look so easy.I will miss Beltran, but I have to admit the memory of him looking at a 3rd strike in the play offs, still hurts.

Mike, bless u for your comments about the dimensions about the ballpark.I have been commenting about the insane dimensions since i first attended a game there.The dimensions at Shea were fair to hitters and pitchers.How did they ever design this monstrosity when the blueprint for the fences was right next door?

Why is it his last season? Can the mets not afford him. Who replaces him if he is healthy? I beehive the mets can replace wright and Reyes before Carlos. Note how much will a creaky 33 year old make? I suggest a discounted 2-3 ur deal. Note Kirk nieuwenhuis, den dekker and even fmart still need time and mentoring, and pagan may be traded too.

1. Reyes brings energy. But defensively can Tejada replace him? Can his bat? Also I am of the opinion Dave wright could go and net a real big return and then open 3rd base for Dan Murphy. My opinion.

Thanks for the input, Jeff. I'm not a Selig fan, either.

Al -- Snider is a good comparison. From what I've read, he took the same sort of criticism.

Gary -- Agreed. It just seems like building a quirky stadium was more important than building a fair one.

Mic -- I wouldn't mind seeing Beltran signed to a deal like that, but I think it would be more likely if the Mets thought they could compete next year, and that's not realistic. I suspect Beltran signs with an AL team where DHing once or twice a week is an option. I could see him playing 3 or 4 more years like that.

I understand your thinking on Wright. We disagree there, though, as you already know.

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