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Muscle Sport Magazine

Jerry Manuel, Omar Minaya Deservedly on Mets Chopping Block

When COO Jeff Wilpon made his way down to Atlanta, he made sure to tell the throng of reporters what he wasn’t there to do more than what he was actually doing. “I’m not here to fire anybody,” he said emphatically, but did state that he was disappointed with the team’s four game sweep at the hands of the Marlins. He has many big decisions to make regarding his manager and general manager and was obviously looking to rattle their cages by showing up down south during a road trip.

Jerry Manuel, who took over for Willie Randolph during the 2008 season because the team had a monumental collapse the previous season and then came out of the box rather slow, has presided over a second collapse and then had the built-in excuse of last season’s injury bug. Players missing time are part of the game and Manuel needs to make the best with what he has at his disposal. The problem is that the former American League Manager of the Year does not fire anyone up in a leaderless clubhouse. Certainly a formula for disaster and the team’s 19-21, last place record heading into Washington is another indication that Manuel is not the right man for the job.

That can also be said about Omar Minaya, who is still trying to hold on and build the team around the core players from the 2006 team. That dream ended when Beltran left the bat on his shoulder while Adam Wainright’s duece sent the Mets packing in Game 7 of the NLCS. Since then, Minaya has put together a team void of any true power source and a weak pitching staff, sans an ace and closer.

The Mets actually do not need a complete overhaul and can make a few moves to get themselves back to respectable status. If they can pull off a deal for a real starter (and stop hanging on to the hope that John Maine and Oliver Perez can revert back to their old status) or two, then they can not have to rely on their weak middle relief as much. because their current rotation is uncertain, their bullpen has been exposed as a unit that cannot be trusted to hold any lead. In a perfect world, the Mariners take an offer for Cliff Lee that doesn’t include first baseman Ike Davis and he can be paired with Johan Santana.

To add some pop to a line-up in desperate need of it, a player such as Adam Dunne needs to be imported. The Mets should have signed him when he was a free agent before the 2009 season. Minaya relied on the aging and banged-up Carlos Delgado to come back and hit the long ball but instead first base (and the outfield corners, positions that the slugger just happens to play) was a continuos revolving door of bad performances in the field and at the plate.

Minaya could make up for his horrendous offseason, when he let many starting pitchers (Ben Sheets, Jason Marquis, Joel Piniero) pass by and overpaid Jason Bay to be his cleanup hitter, something that the former Pirates and Red Sox left fielder cannot even fake good. Sure, he hit 36 long balls in 2009, but that was in his walk year and came with half of his at-bats coming at Fenway Park, definitely not the same thing as signing a huge deal and playing at Citi Field.

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The question is not if Manuel is fired or not, it’s a matter of when Wilpon pulls the plug. Also, does he clean house and get rid of Minaya in the same wave? Knowing this conservative organization, they will probably replace Manuel with Bob Melvin and keep Minaya around. That may be a slight improvement, but what they really need to do is make a big splash and promote Wally Backman from Single-A Brooklyn in the offseason. The former scrappy Met second baseman is not the type that will take Jose Reyes’s nonsense sitting down and if the undisciplined and overrated shortstop continues on the same path, that is exactly what he will be doing.

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The Mets lack of baserunning skills is a direct reflection on Manuel and his coaching staff and they have run themselves out of an infinite amount of innings with decisions that make you spin, but Manuel sees no need to show any cause for concern. The next time that Wilpon decides to pack a bag, he should think of that and remember to bring along an axe.

Photo by Bill Menzel

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