Mets Management Needs To Start Evaluating Talent In The Present

From the unintentionally foreboding fluff piece that keeps on giving: 

He, unlike most scouts, had command of both English and Spanish. He could walk into the poorest prospect's home, wash down the oxtail and goat stew with a tall glass of boiled roots without a blink, infect the fathers with his easy smile, convince the mothers with his eyes. He could vouch for their 17-year-olds' soft landing in the U.S.; why, O himself, who soon doubled as manager of the Rangers' Florida Instructional League team, would be their shepherd on the other side. His networks, like fungi, sprouted overnight. The Mayor, visiting Rangers officials soon dubbed him.

--snip--

Great interview, great nose for talent, extraordinary interpersonal skills, they'd say. Lacks administrative skills, they'd whisper, and let what O didn't have eclipse what he did.

"The Mayor"--it fits. Politicians don't scour the population for the most qualified person for administrative positions. Expertise is often compromised for familiarity and allegiance. A young man shakes hands with a mayor and years later, now just a man, he's got a minor bureaucratic  job with a decent government salary. A young man shakes hands with The Mayor and years later, he makes thirty-six million dollars. 

This offseason, the Nationals new general manager Mike Rizzo traded the first pick in the Rule 5 draft to the Yankees for reliever Brian Bruney, he of career 4.75 FIP. To make room, he released reliever Saul Rivera, who has a career 3.95 FIP. In essence, he traded Rivera, the best player in baseball not good enough for 40-man roster consideration, and $800,000 in salary for an arguably worse reliever. Why? Rizzo was part of the Diamondbacks Front Office that drafted the then 18-year-old Bruney out of high school.  And after trading for him 10 years later, Rizzo lauded the closer-potential he saw in Bruney at the time.

I was thinking about this trade recently, while watching Bruney pitch mop-up for the Nashville Sounds. Yea, not a big deal (pun intended). But when someone talks about a below-average 28-year-old reliever like they're the second-coming of Mariano Rivera, you have to question the underlying thought process.

Trading for players from past organizations is a hallmark for crappy GMs. It's the "A" in Dayton Moore. Finding the random former-Expo in every Omar Minaya-offseason is like the mystery prize in the Fruity Loops box. "Mom, I got a Clint Everts this time! No, I don't think it does anything."

The Mets have needed roster-security for the past few years and they've mistaken that time and again with their personal security, bred from familiarity with a given player. And ever since Jeff Wilpon got involved as co-Mayor, it's only gotten worse. I suspect Mike Jacobs, Jason Bay and Gary Matthews Jr. signal the first of many former early-2000's Mets re-acquired under Jeff's leadership. It's as if the Mets are run by two kids whose only qualifications to manage a team is they used to always play each other in MVP Baseball 2003; one would always pick the Expos, the other the Mets. Actually, that might be Jeff Wilpon's only qualification to run a team. 

That's a lot to say that the Mets have a hard time conceptualizing what a player is, relative to what he was. I intend to write more about this subject later, but yesterday provided a neat example of this problem

"We'll just have to make some tough, tough decisions in going forward," Manuel said, "if we deem after his next outing that he's ready to join us and compete at the Major League level."

Lost in the confusion propagated by one hack Mets blog I won't name here, about whether or not Jerry Manuel intends to re-insert John Maine into the rotation, is the more relevant question: why is John Maine still around? In 2007, John Maine was a 26 year old pitcher with good peripherals and an interesting fastball. There was some upside there. Now, Maine is 29, he's got a long history of arm problems, no velocity, and absolutely no idea of the strikezone. If I didn't know any better, I'd say he's a prime candidate for a 3-year $36 million dollar contract. But he's not represented by Scott Boras, so let's just release him. 

The best part had to be this, though:

But Manuel also indicated that he does not consider Maine a candidate for the bullpen.

Wait, you don't consider him an option for the bullpen where he could maybe recover some of his velocity and pitch essentially meaningless innings, but you're considering him for the rotation? John Maine...the guy who can barely lift his arm after five straight innings. By my count the Mets have 3 or 4 guys in the bullpen, who, for one reason or another, should be in AA. But you want to put him in the rotation, at the risk of losing the pitcher with the best FIP on the team to waivers? 

...Wait why is the lame-duck manager making roster decisions? 

Release Perez. Release Maine. It's not 2007. Stop wasting the time of minor-league managers with their pointless rehab starts. There's no rehabilitation program for being bad. 

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