51° Good Morning
51° Good Morning

The continuing saga of Omar Minaya and roster depth

Following the Mets' impressive victory over the Phillies, Jerry Manuel was asked about winning pitcher R.A. Dickey, about whom I wrote my column.

"I think what the organization did this winter was create depth," Manuel said. "Now, we see that it’s coming into play. It’s coming into play with quality starts against very good teams. The organization has to be applauded for getting the sort of depth where if we do run into some problems, we can solve them internally."

Now, Manuel may not be a tactical genius from first pitch to final out, but the man knows human relations. Why not butter up your superiors, at a time when your job is on the line?

But, in what continues to fascinate me most of all about Omar Minaya's reign, there is a grain of truth to what Manuel said, IMO. It just doesn't tell the whole story. Not even close.

After all, Dickey is precisely the sort of guy good teams sign to a minor-league deal and the summon when necessary. The Mets are paying Dickey a pro-rated salary of $600,000 since they called him up to the big leagues last week.

Can Dickey keep up what he has provided in his first two starts? Highly unlikely. He has stranded 89.5 percent of the opponents who have reached base, and that's just not sustainable over the long-term. Eventually, when you load the bases with none out, as Dickey did in the second inning, you're going to get burned.

But that's fine. For a pro-rated $600 grand, you shrug, thank Dickey for his earning his keep and turn back to your frontline starting pitchers...

...Oops. As I wrote in my column, Dickey represents such a breath of fresh air because the people who preceded him, John Maine and Oliver Perez (he technically replaced Perez) created so much drama and accomplished so little.

Minaya seems to come through with an annual version or two of Dickey, low-risk pickups who deliver. Last year, it was Fernando Nieve and Gary Sheffield. Two years ago, it was Fernando Tatis. Three years ago, Damion Easley. And so on.

But annually, the Mets don't have enough reliability with their 25-man roster. That's where they lack depth, and that - more than heart, or an ability to hit in the clutch - is what has kept them out of the playoffs.

Imagine, say, if you went to a high-end restaurant, and your first order - let's say, something presented as duck a l'orange - featured spoiled food, put together poorly. And no duck. Then your friend coaxed you back the next week, and the maitre d' said, "Sorry about last week. Here's our new dish," and it's a really good burger.

That's the Mets, sort of. You appreciate the effort to make up for the initial mistake. But that initial mistake is very costly, and reflects very poorly on management.

--Jose Reyes is starting to look like his old self, and that's a huge development for the Mets. What a different team they are when he's getting on base and running around.

--In this odd episode, Jeff Francoeur and Jason Bay denied they had a problem with Darryl Strawberry, who came into the Mets' clubhouse last week to offer what sounded like a typically frank pep talk.

Between this and the latest Francisco Rodriguez imbroglio, you could get the perception that the Mets' clubhouse is a problem. I disagree, even if Nelson Figueroa disagrees with me. Two years ago, I thought that Willie Randolph had lost his Mets clubhouse. I don't think that's the case at all with Manuel. Even though, as stated, I think Manuel's game management skills are poor enough to merit a change.

As for Figueroa, I don't know how he thought he was making the Mets out of spring training. He should've read the tea leaves better. Should the Mets have kept him? Yes, with Jenrry Mejia going to the minors to prepare as a starter. Is Figueroa making the Mets regret their decision? With a 5.30 xFIP, not particularly.

--The Yankees' game was suspended after five innings, resuming today. and I guess the half-shift came with mixed messages: Good news for the team that A.J. Burnett pitched better, and bad news that they're still not hitting much.

--Brett Gardner is one of the many Yankees slumping. It wasn't realistic to think he would maintain an on-base percentage over .400. Just as it's not realistic to think that Mark Teixeira will have an OBP under .330 for the entirety of the season.

--Javier Vazquez will start tomorrow night, but Alfredo Aceves had another setback with his back.

--Former Yankee Hideki Irabu was arrested for drunken driving.

--Carl Crawford and Joe Maddon were ejected from last night's Red Sox-Rays game, and both figure to receive short suspensions. It sure does seem like Bob Davidson, the home-plate umpire who ran Crawford and Maddon, finds his share of trouble and then some.

--Big news in the baseball business world, as agent Dan Lozano is leaving the Beverly Hills Sports Council, as first reported by ESPN's Jerry Crasnick. Why is this big? Because Lozano will take Albert Pujols with him, and Pujols is very likely to sign a deal with St. Louis that, starting in 2012, will make him the game's highest-paid player.

Does it dramatically impact the odds of Pujols' staying with the Cardinals? I dobut it. But any time you change the figures on either side of the negotiation, the dynamics have to change a little bit. Lozano, who also represents Jimmy Rollins and Michael Young, will no longer have to answer to his BHSC partners.

Meanwhile, there seems to be much discussion of Pujols' humanity this season. Is there anything more silly than talking about an RBI-less streak? Good grief. Any such talk, of course, reflects not only on Pujols, but on his teammates getting on base (or not doing so) before he gets up there. In any case, I think we need to see more than one bad month before we start wondering what's up with Pujols.

--The Dodgers are suing Jon Lovitz and others for a failure to pay for 2010 season tickets, and you can picture Lovitz's old "Saturday Night Live" character Tommy Flanagan trying to talk his way out of this one: "I gave the check to my butler, and my butler is so rich that he has his own butler. And my butler's butler's personal assistant must have lost the check. Yeah, that's the ticket!"

--I'll check in later from Citi Field.

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