Alex Rodriguez knows a circus when he sees one, and the former Yankee turned ESPN broadcaster had an ear-to-ear, blinding-white grin on his TV-ready face as he watched John Ricco address the media Sunday afternoon outside the Mets’ clubhouse.
During his more rebellious Bronx days, A-Rod lobbed grenades at the Yankees on a daily basis, but did nowhere near the damage that the Mets’ splintered front office — under the supervision of COO Jeff Wilpon — is doing to its own franchise since Sandy Alderson stepped down.
Forget what the scoreboard said. This weekend in the Bronx was an unmitigated disaster for the Mets, who were masters at unintentional comedy while trying to convince us they were responsibly running a major-league franchise.
We say “they” because there’s no one person to blame. That’s the beauty of three acting general managers, a system put in place by the Wilpons to fill the power void left by Alderson’s unfortunate departure. But what started out as a poorly-conceived idea has only deteriorated over the past few weeks, and then revealed all of its flaws during an embarrassing 48-hour stretch in the Bronx.
Simply put, the Mets are supposed to have three GMs, right? Yet on Saturday, after Yoenis Cespedes floated the idea of season-ending surgery, and Jeurys Familia was dealt to the A’s, the team failed to produce even one front-office executive to explain what the heck was going on.
“I think the decision we made to wait a day was the decision we made,” Ricco said. “I’m not sure I disagree with that decision even now.”
Omar Minaya was in the building, but as Ricco explained Sunday, they didn’t feel he was up to speed with Cespedes’ medical chart and it would have been “unfair” to roll him out for reporters to feast on. OK, fine. But then let’s drop the pretense of this three-GM setup, because Minaya wasn’t hired back by the Wilpons to do news conferences, nor does he want to get back into that game.
Minaya’s strength is scouting and securing talent, two things the Mets very much need him to do since returning to Flushing. Just let him do that, under whatever title seems fit. As for Ricco, the Mets should just tag him as the interim GM until they conduct their outside search rather than continue with the semantics.
Ricco did the best he could during Sunday’s 31-minute sparring session with the media, but there was no way out of this Cespedes mess. We were told that Cespedes has been bothered by chronically bad heels throughout his career — with different franchises, not just the Mets — and Ricco tried to come up with scenarios that wouldn’t involve him having surgery.
None was believable.
Not after Cespedes just spent nearly 10 weeks on the disabled list and still felt severe pain in his heels Friday night in his first game back — as the DH, no less. Cespedes is scheduled to see more of the Mets’ doctors on Monday and presumably they’ll come up with a plan of attack. One that works this time.
“If the pain is too much, and he can’t deal with it, surgery would be a way to fix it,” Ricco said. “But if he can play through it, and you can manage it with these other methods, then that’s a perfectly reasonable way to go.”
The Cespedes affair is the front-burner issue at the moment. He’s midway through the second season of a four-year, $110-million contract and the Mets have to get him right, somehow. As for the Familia trade, and what is being characterized as a meager return for him, Ricco explained that J.P. Ricciardi — the other member of the Big Three — was the one responsible for dealing with the A’s, based on his relationship with their EVP of baseball operations, Billy Beane.
To recap, Ricco was out front absorbing the bullets, Ricciardi chatted up his former boss on the trade front and Minaya is minding the store as a silent partner. Maybe in the Wilpons’ thinking, this looked like a functioning idea on paper. But what went down in the Bronx this weekend strongly suggests otherwise.
Incredibly, Ricco waited until the very end of his news conference to finish with this kicker: Oh, by the way, Noah Syndergaard was placed on the DL with hand, foot and mouth disease — a virus the Mets believe he contracted from a youth camp over the All-Star break. A very contagious virus. You can’t make this stuff up.
So we’ll give the Mets credit for at least doing one thing right this weekend. Hustling Familia to Oakland as soon as possible, while he still was healthy enough to pass a physical.