So Howard Johnson is gone as hitting coach, or soon will be, replaced by another guy who will presumably tell Mets hitters to "take more first pitches" and "look for a pitch in their zone," and whatever else a hitting coach should be telling a team that’s been approaching every game like a meaningless contest on the last day of the season ("Go up there hackin’, son; I gotta plane to catch!"). And of course the Mets hitters will come out of their slump and start hitting the ball again, whether because of the shock of their friend’s firing or the law of averages (most likely the latter).
Meanwhile, Jerry Manuel will remain manager, and he will find ways to lose, whether the team hits or not. He will continue to play Rod Barajas over Josh Thole and pull Johan Santana after 100 pitches (gotta keep Jo’s confidence up) and bunt Reyes ahead of Castillo and use his worst reliever in the most critical situation while saving his bajillion-dollar closer for the ninth inning of blowouts at Citi Field, and the many other nonsensical bows to conventional wisdom he’s employed over the past three seasons … moves that have resulted in a reasonably talented team playing to an under-.500 record during his tenure.
Jerry Manuel’s job is safe for the rest of the season. It’s the hitting coach who pays the price.
(I ask this, apart from my main point, which I’ll get to shortly: Is there some reason Jerry couldn’t have talked to his hitters about "taking more first pitches" or "looking for pitches in their zones?" He is, after all, the manager.)
None of it makes sense, but then again, how can one expect something sensible from such a poorly run organization? Moreover, how can you expect an organization to be run anything but poorly when the guy at the top got the job solely because his daddy owns the team? As someone once said of a certain prominent politician who also made a mess of his daddy's inheritance, Jeff Wilpon was born on third base and thought he hit a triple.
Look at his history: According to the NY Times, the Montreal Expos drafted Jeff in 1983 as a favor to daddy Fred Wilpon. Jeff never played an official game for the ‘Spos organization or any other in MLB. Jeff went to work for Fred, rising (surprise!) to Vice President at Sterling Equities. Fred gave him the Brooklyn Cyclones to run for awhile, before handing him the keys to the Bentley. Now he’s driving the big club off the road. Into a ditch.
Jeff is probably a decent guy. It’s not his fault he’s rich (after all, he didn’t do anything to make it happen). Neither is it his fault that he never had to learn the baseball business from the ground-up. After all, who among MLB team owners did?
But to run a successful business, one has to recognize the gaps in his knowledge and experience, and hire people able to compensate for his shortcomings. In Jeff’s case, he obviously knows nothing about building a winning organization, so he should put it in the hands of someone who does, and become what Mets fans should be praying for: the most absentee of absentee owners.
One assumes Jeff Wilpon loves the Mets and wants them to succeed. But unless he’s willing to step back, hire a real baseball man and let him do the job, the Mets will remain a joke … baseball’s Knicks, run into the ground by Queens’ answer to James Dolan.