Jeff Wilpon watched the Mets' loss in Atlanta, and while he didn't make any public comments, it's growing increasingly evident that both Jerry Manuel and Omar Minaya will pay the price for this season's results. The men will accept different tradeoffs: Manuel gets to leave the organization but won't get paid, while Minaya will keep receiving a handsome paycheck but will have to deal with the indignity of being demoted (or "kicked upstairs," as we used to say).
Manuel obviously deserves to be dismissed as manager, IMO, and it's difficult to mount a strong argument in support of Minaya's continued employment as general manager. And yet, to borrow and amend the old Ronald Reagan statement: Mets fans, are you better off than you were one year ago?
Coming off a 2009 season that couldn't be described as anything but catastrophic (in a baseball context), doesn't this 2010 season represent some sort of progress?
With 31 games to go, here would be my pros and cons checklist for the Mets:
1) Johan Santana's health rebound.
2) Jon Niese's establishment as a bona fide, major-league pitcher.
3) David Wright's return to baseball's upper tier, even if it's "Top 20 in the NL" rather than "Top 10."
4) Angel Pagan, for crying out loud.
5) Mike Pelfrey's rebound, even if we're not quite sure yet where he'll level out.
6) R.A. Dickey, for crying out loud.
7) Josh Thole
8) No, Ike Davis hasn't been that good. But at age 23 and still extremely cheap, he merits another look, IMO.
9) Jenrry Mejia, who could make his first big-league start Saturday, as David Lennon reports.
10) Jose Reyes at least showed he can still play the sort of explosive baseball that makes him special.
1) Jason Bay
2) Oliver Perez
3) Luis Castillo
4) Jeff Francoeur
5) The Francisco Rodriguez embarrassment.
6) Carlos Beltran
7) John Maine
8) Reyes hasn't shown a consistent ability to stay healthy
It's easy for me to say this, since my stress level doesn't sway and fro with Mets results. But when you look at contractual commitments and general importance to the franchise, I think the developments in the "Pros" group trumps those in the "Cons."
The biggest concerns in the "Cons" are Bay and K-Rod; Francoeur and Maine won't receive any more money from the Mets, and Beltran, Castillo, Perez and Reyes have no obligations beyond next year. With Bay, from a statistical standpoint (and assuming he can overcome the effects of his concussion), next year simply has to be better. If Bay defies statistical expectations, making his track record irrelevant, then this will go down as an all-time flop contract.
K-Rod is more tricky, of course. The absolute worst-case scenario is that Rodriguez returns to the Mets and isn't as good anymore because of his thumb injury. But if he's that bad, then the Mets would make sure (at least, I think they would) that he didn't hit his $17.5 million vesting option in 2012.
The second worst scenario is that K-Rod comes back to the Mets healthy and vests that option, and while no one would dispute that he'd be wildly overpaid, there are worse things than having a good closer.
The bottom line is that, viewed through a different prism, Mets fans can come away with some positive feelings about this season. That won't happen in many cases, and I get it. There's too much anger over the entire Minaya era, and a payroll ($134.4 million, according to USA Today's calculations) that is both poorly spent and not necessarily big enough, when you look at the Phillies' payroll ($141.9 million) and cheaper ticket prices.
The likely ascension of John Ricco to GM, and possibly of Wally Backman to manager, probably won't inspire Mets fans as much as the team hopes. They wouldn't be brilliant maneuvers. But Ricco would at least bring some discipline to the job. Backman? He's a wild-card. Maybe he has upside, but maybe he'd be nothing more than a curiosity.
So I can't sit here and say that the Mets' future is bright and perfect. What I can say, as Larry David emphasized in this episode of "Curb Your Enthusiasm," is that it is better.
--Off the Yankees game, I wrote about Javier Vazquez and his dramatically improved stuff. Vazquez deserves to return to the Yankees' starting rotation. I think he will. Where would you rank Dustin Moseley on the Yankees' depth chart for starting pitchers, looking ahead to October? Seventh? There's no loss incurred by switching him back to long reliever.
--Interesting column by Jay Jaffe about Joe Torre and Manny Ramirez. I think there's some merit to the idea that Torre is just as much to blame as Ramirez for Manny's ugly Dodgers ending. But 1) I don't think you can completely overlook the human element, and the reality that Manny has a history of getting voted off the island; and 2) the mention of managers often losing their teams once they hit 65 is unfair, IMO. I can think of plenty of younger skippers whose players have tuned them out over the years.
--Did I mention there's a live chat Thursday at 11? Well, I'm mentioning it again.
--I'll check in later from the Stadium.