Promoted from FanPosts. --Eric
We regulars at AA tend to form a general consensus about what should be done to improve the team, whether by altering the major league roster or utilizing differently the roster already in place. This is not to say that there are not constant debates; after all, disagreement is the sign of healthy discourse. But still, when the team is run such that it exposes obvious inefficiencies, critically-thinking fans with access to the same pool of metrics and analysis will tend to form agreements about recommended courses of action. This post is meant to present, briefly and incompletely, those recommendations.
1) Jeff Francoeur is an extremely overrated major league right fielder and should be relegated to a bench spot at best, traded or released at worst. His .269/.310/.427 career line is mediocre for his position, and his defensive abilities, the best of which is his throwing arm, are not enough to make him a viable starting player. There are differences of opinion, however, as to whether his .301/.344/.482 career line against lefties in 927 plate appearances is enough to justify a platoon situation with Angel Pagan, who has a mere .709 OPS in 385 PAs against left-handers. Still, we agree that on the whole, Angel Pagan is the far superior player and represents the better option going forward.
2) Rod Barajas, with his sub-.700 career OPS, should not get the bulk of starts at catcher. He is an out machine who has gotten on base only 28.2% of the time over his career. Josh Thole has demonstrated tremendous on-base skill over his minor league career and has hit very well in his short time in the major leagues. Henry Blanco is comparable to Barajas, but is the recognizably superior defensive player. Barajas' fleeting shows of power are not enough to offset his other deficiencies. Thus the Mets would get the most value from the catching position by giving the bulk of the playing time to Thole and Blanco going forward, and Barajas should be dealt for a serviceable reliever if possible.
3) The contract which Alex Cora received, paying him $2 million this year and an option for $2 million next year vesting with a mere 80 appearances, is a travesty. Cora is a sub-replacement level player and not worth more than the major league minimum. Signing him to this contract represented a failure to properly assess the market at best, and abject cronyism at worst. Furthermore, it betrayed the Mets' inability to determine their roster's greatest weakness: offense from the second base position. None of Cora, Tejada, or Castillo are sufficient, and the Mets should have known this and signed one of Felipe Lopez (Cardinals: $1 million), Orlando Hudson (Twins: $5 million), or Kelly Johnson (Diambondbacks: $2.35 million). Signing Alex Cora to his contract in light of this market was just wrong. The Mets should look to acquire a better second baseman for the remainder of the year, and trade or release the inept Cora.
4) At the very least, Cora (or Castillo) should not be hitting second in the order. With Beltran back, the lineup should be something like this (when Reyes and Castillo return):
Reyes, Pagan, Beltran, Wright, Bay, Davis, Thole, Castillo
5) Jerry Manuel is an extremely poor tactical manager. Not only are his lineups often nonsensical (think Gary Matthews, Jr. leading off or Frank Catalanotto hitting fourth), but he has often made bizarre and obvious tactical blunders, such as pinch-running with Fernando Tatis while simultaneously pinch-hitting with Alex Cora. Worse is his devotion to the sacrifice bunt. One could conjure up many examples, such as ordering the maneuver on 3-1 counts with a position player pitching, or calling for pitchers to sacrifice with one out and runners on first-and-third. Manuel also has a tendency to fall in love with a relief pitcher after a couple outings, use him to death, and then cast him out after a few poor showings. It often seems that he'll float crazy ideas and then drop them when beat writers point out their flaws. And finally, he has been known to blame players for their injuries. He should be replaced.
6) Omar Minaya is not the worst general manager, but he is not very good either. As mentioned above, he persistently fails to identify where the team can most easily be improved, and falls in love with also-ran scrubs like Alex Cora and Fernando Tatis, even if sometimes he strikes gold with these players. Recently he has shown little impetus to trade prospects or make big, ill-advised free-agent splashes, but this might be the result of constriction by ownership rather than some new-found prudence. For evidence that Minaya is over his head, look no further than the plan at the beginning of this year to play the mediocrities known as Mike Jacobs and Gary Matthews, Jr. over obviously superior players; and the fantastical belief that Oliver Perez and John Maine could be serviceable starters. What's more, he was relying on perpetually-hobbled Luis Castillo, no offensive behemoth in his own right, when the only backup was Alex Cora. The starters in right field and catcher were players who can easily go under .300 OBP for a full season. Once again in 2010 Omar Minaya, with a very large payroll at his disposal, constructed a roster that relied on dismally mediocre players up-and-down the lineup and in the starting rotation. He should be replaced.
That seems to be about the extent of it right now. Obviously we could quibble about the deployment of certain relief pitchers or the configuration of the bench, but I think this is enough to start a discussion. Thoughts?