We're only a few days into Spring Training and we're all ready at cliche critical mass. These are the quotes that every manager will spout during Spring Training, hoping that someone, somewhere, mistakes these banal buzzwords for deep analysis of the very fabric of baseball. More importantly, they're the inoffensive yet printable quotes that every journalist needs for his' or her's preseason fluff pieces.
Some oh so exciting quotes to look out for:
- "[Young position player] is in the best shape of his life."
- "[Pitcher] had a rough year last year but he'll bounce back."
- "We're going to have to switch things up and just have fun out there."
- "Sure we finished 35 games under .500 last year and made no major upgrades but we're looking to improve this year."
Jerry Manuel, of course, is no different. It's okay though, it's been a long time since he and his "gangstas" had something to be excited about. His entire managerial tenure with the Mets thus far has been somewhat disastrous -- from another epic collapse in 2008 to the painful and awful injury riddled 2009 season, it seems that Manuel and the Mets have had a penchant for failure.
Late in a game during the 2009 season, Jerry Manuel decided to pinch hit Ramon Castro with Omir Santos. Santos was, at that time, sitting in the bullpen completely cold. It took him nearly 5 minutes to make his way to the batters box and he promptly struck out. Now, I'm not saying Ramon Castro is some superstar hitter, but he did have two hits that day. He also had more major league experience than Santos and is without a doubt the better hitter. After the game, Manuel defended his decision by saying that he "doesn't necessarily believe in statistics" and that he "goes with his gut" and hopes that stats can back up his decision making.
More recently, Jerry is once again serenading us with stupidity. He told the press the other day that his goal for his pitchers is for them to "throw more strikes." Seriously? Is this some sort of joke? You want them to "throw more strikes"? What a genius insight into baseball. I think my Little League coach once told me to "throw more strikes" because I had zero concept of what a strike zone was. These people are professional athletes. I could understand talking about changing an approach or whatever but to tell them to "throw more strikes" is a joke.
Now, Jerry says that he wants to bat Jose Reyes third even after Beltran returns. It's pretty obvious how awful of a decision this would be. It's also something the Mets have brought up every Spring Training since 2007. This time Jerry seems to be serious about it for some reason. It's another one of those stupid "let's change things for the sake of change" moves that will do nothing for this team.
Now, mind you, the notion of a "lead off hitter" is itself pretty awful. A team should have it's highest OBP guys at the top of the lineup and the lowest at the bottom (in fact, some "baseball theorists" believe that one of the better OBP guys should bat 9th to be driven in by the top of the order). A guy getting on base alone increases the odds of a run being scored. Speed for our purpose is irrelevant. Reyes has been labeled as a lead off hitter simply because he's fast. In reality, Reyes doesn't really have the OBP to lead off. The issue with him batting third is that he doesn't have enough power. The three and four holes are usually reserved for the guys with the highest OPS and Reyes' career .772 OPS is simply not good enough at creating runs out of the three hole.
I'm also afraid of Luis Castillo leading off games. He's one severe knee injury away from being completely hobbled (if he's not all ready). While he has in recent years put up a good OBP, he hits for zero power as his slugging is actually lower than his OBP and his .043 ISO is inexcusably awful. His peripheral statistics suggest that he really doesn't make good contact because he rarely swings. He wants Reyes to bat third even after Beltran returns from his injury. What does this solve? What is the purpose of this?
I've been saying that Jerry needs to go since they extended him. This year will probably prove to be his last but I'm hoping that somehow the Mets can overcome their incompetent leader.