The Mets lost yet again last night, and while I didn't see the game, I followed it from Yankee Stadium on my laptop, and it appeared - again - that effort/heart/grit/sticktoitiveness was not an issue for Jerry Manuel's group. Certainly not for Angel Pagan.
They just can't get it going offensively, is all. If Jose Reyes and Jason Bay ever start playing up to their track records, it could be a significantly different season.
Even so, the Mets have now scored 175 runs and allowed 171, which means - according to baseball's Pythagorean record - that they should be 21-20, rather than their actual 19-22. In theory, that means that the Mets could have a few breaks, and consequently a few more victories, coming their way.
But from watching and monitoring enough Mets games this season, I feel confident in asserting that Jerry Manuel should take some blame for the team playing below its Pythagorean expectation. If a manager can make a difference here or there, then some of that lies in the few games between a team's actual record and Pythagorean record.
We know the list of transgressions by now: The confounding love for Gary Matthews, Jr. The excessive bunting, long after the world appreciated that this was the wrong call more often than not. Continuing to hit Jose Reyes third long after the rest of us knew it was time to switch Reyes back to leadoff. Pushing for Jenrry Mejia to join the big-league bullpen, and then barely using him in high-leverage situations.
And, for god dawd dawd, as Fletch would say, an apparent desire to burn Fernando Nieve's right arm into a crisp in time for a Memorial Day barbecue. Nieve helped the Nationals pad their lead in the seventh inning last night. At Yankee Stadium, I could hear JE scream, "Nooooo!" from Nationals Park when Nieve entered the game.
Do you know what team considerably outperformed its Pythagorean expectation? The 2007 Diamondbacks, who posted a 90-72 record against a 79-83 Pythagoaren record.
Do you know who managed that Diamondbacks team? That's right, Bob Melvin.
When the Mets fired Willie Randolph in 2008, they needed a manager who was capable of smiling. Who could forge good will with his players, his owners and his public. Manuel aced that test, and the bullpen meltdowns of that September acquitted him of enough charges from The Second Collapse to get him the full-time job.
Now, though, it's unquestionably time to fire Manuel. And to replace him, they need a manager capable of...well, managing. A ballgame and a roster.
Melvin probably won't lead the Mets to the playoffs. But I do think that he'd make far better decisions than Manuel, and that would lead to a few more victories along the way, and that would lead to the Mets at least being in the playoff conversation.
Which, crucial in the Mets' universe, would lead to a few more ticket sales.
For fairness' sake, let's look at how both Manuel's and Melvin's teams have performed, vis a vis their Pythagorean expectation, in their full seasons as manager.
1) 1998 White Sox: 80-82 actual record, 75-87 Pythagorean record. +5.
2) 1999 White Sox: 75-86, 72-89. +3
3) 2000 White Sox: 95-67, 92-70. +3
4) 2001 White Sox: 83-79, 81-81. +2
5) 2002 White Sox: 81-81, 86-76. -5
6) 2003 White Sox: 86-76, 88-74. -2
7) 2009 Mets: 70-92, 72-90. -2
So Manuel's total is +4, not including his 2008 half-season with the Mets. If someone wants to do the math on the '08 Mets from the point he took over (June 17) until the end of the season, I'll throw it in here.
1) 2003 Mariners: 93-69, 97-65. -4
2) 2004 Mariners: 63-99, 69-93. -6
3) 2005 Diamondbacks: 77-85, 66-96. +11
4) 2006 Diamondbacks: 76-86, 80-82. -4
5) 2007 Diamondbacks: 90-72, 79-83. +11
6) 2008 Diamondbacks: 82-80, 82-80. 0
So Melvin is +8, not including the 29 games of the 2009 season with Arizona - which, again, I'll add if someone does me the favor of crunching the numbers.
Conclusions: To say that a manager is directly responsible for this differential would be foolhardy. But I think everyone agrees there is some correlation. We see that some of Melvin's teams underachieved, and some of Manuel's overachieved. Yet Melvin had two huge overachievers, and Manuel last three full seasons produced the "under," if you will.
Melvin clearly would give this team a better chance to win everyday, IMO.
--From last night's Yankees game, I wrote about the mighty Rays, and how the Yankees' long list of injuries - with Jorge Posada the latest - are making it increasingly difficult for the Yankees to run with them.
I usually like to see my preseason predictions come true, because I enjoy looking smart. Right now, though, I'm just kicking myself for projecting the Rays for third place, and thinking about how much fun a Yankees-Rays ALCS would be to cover.
Good Lord, is Tampa Bay good. Derek Jeter said last night they remind him of the Angels, in the way they run the bases, and I see that. But the Angels have never had the sort of power pitching, to go with that offensive approach, that the Rays do right now.
Back to the Yankees: There'll be some re-enforcements arriving today, most likely Chad Moeller at catcher and Greg Golson in the outfield, with Mark Melancon most likely headed back to Scranton. In the bigger picture, though, this gives Francisco Cervelli even more of a platform to audition to be Posasda's successor.
Posada is signed through next year, so this isn't something that will be resolved imminently. But the more you see of Cervelli, and the more pitchers rave about working with him, the more you wonder whether Jesus Montero will wind up as a trade chip.
--A.J. Burnett pitched poorly, although I give him credit for sucking it up and lasting 6 2/3 innings on a night when the Yankees didn't have a long reliever. Sergio Mitre will be available in that role tonight, Joe Girardi said yesterday.
--Alex Rodriguez didn't comment about the Anthony Galea case, and as Michael S. Schmidt reports, A-Rod isn't out of the woods yet on this. Based on the history of these scandals, though, I'm sticking with my bet that A-Rod skates.
--Good story by Arthur Staple about personal catchers for starting pitchers. I especially liked the anecdote about what happened to Mike Pelfrey last year when he requested to work with Brian Schneider.
--Thanks to NaOH for referring us to this detailed explanation of UZR, by its creator, Mitchel Lichtman.
--Interesting piece by Ken Rosenthal about the Brewers, and their failure to either acquire or develop sufficient pitching to back up their terrific offense. Milwaukee manager Ken Macha doesn't have much more job security than Manuel, at this point, and Willie Randolph appears the leading candidate to replace Macha.
--With the Subway Series starting tomorrow, you can make your own, all-time Subway Series lineup here.
--And yes, live chat today at noon. Will a veteran like Bob Tufts win the Live Chat MVP? Or will it be a rookie, like last week's winner Ira? There's only one way to find out.