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Brian Cashman Creates a Diversion

Over the weekend, Yankees GM Brian Cashman raised a few eyebrows by accusing the Mets of "abusing" reliever Pedro Feliciano. The lefty is now on the DL for the first time in his career, and the enormous workload he shouldered in recent seasons for the Mets is thought to be the culprit. "The use pattern was abusive," Cashman said of the Mets' treatment of Feliciano. Mets pitching coach Dan Warthen responded with the most obvious rejoinder: "They didn't know that when they signed him?" Warthen also noted that Feliciano "volunteered to pitch every day." For his part, Feliciano has not blamed his current injury on the Mets.

It's pretty hard to argue the Mets did not abuse Feliciano. It's not so much the amount of appearances he made--92 last season alone--but how often that Feliciano was called upon to pitch to multiple batters, or multiple innings. Feliciano's primary value was as a LOOGY, and the fact that he was called on to be more than that is a demonstration of the lack of vision and judgment of ex-manager Jerry Manuel (and, by extension, the Omar Minaya administration). It's nearly impossible to say for sure what caused Feliciano's injury, but his time with the Mets would have to be considered a major factor.

All this being said, for a GM to call out another team in such a manner is pretty remarkable, and it becomes even more so when involving the crosstown rivalry between the Mets and Yankees. Cashman's remarks were presumably off the cuff and not calculated to tweak the Mets, but that's the effect they had regardless.

Even in the absence of an apology or clarification, neither of which Cashman has offered, I'm not particularly upset with him. He's the one who looks the most ridiculous in this situation, because no matter what the Mets' use of Feliciano may have done to his arm, they didn't trick Cashman into signing him.

Plus, the Yankees' GM seems a bit cranky lately. Maybe it started when the Steinbrenners went behind his back to hand setup man Rafael Soriano a ridiculous contract. Whatever the cause, he seems to be on edge these days. Case in point: on Opening Day, pictures surfaced online of a Yankees official flashing signals about the Tigers pitchers' velocity to Yankee batters, which prompted some tsk-tsking from the commissioner's office. Hearing of this, Cashman grumbled about the "blogosphere" and sniped, "The psychotics who obsessed about it yesterday, I think we did them a favor by keeping them off the streets and preventing them from hurting others." Meow!

Part of me wonders if Cashman would have said anything about Feliciano's usage prior to joining the Yankees if that usage hadn't come with the Mets. Not because the Yankees dislike the Mets or vice versa, but because the Mets are a walking punchline in the press. Perhaps Cashman thought he could deflect criticism of the Feliciano signing by pointing at MLB's biggest punching bag, hoping the press would gang up on the Mets as they have done all winter.

Don't buy this theory? Consider that few newspapers saw fit to editorialize on Cashman's remarks this weekend, which one would think are worthy of some comment. One of the few that did, the Daily News' Filip Bondy, criticized Cashman but still found plenty of time in his column to verbally defecate on and condescend to the Mets. The rest of the NY sports press, with their silence, essentially say that Cashman's remarks don't require examination because they were about the Mets and anything bad said about the Mets requires no refutation.

In contrast, all of the local papers wrote stories on the Opening Night "prank" SNY played on itself, when a rogue employee aired audio from Family Guy shortly after the Mets' loss. (Was the crime in this situation making fun of the Mets or thinking Family Guy is funny?) Such a PR gaffe fits into the narrative of the Mets as hapless bunglers, as do Cashman's remarks about the Mets' treatment of Feliciano. Pointing out the disingenuous nature of those remarks does not, which is why few members of the press have bothered.

I know I've said this before, but evidently it bears repeating: The Mets have given us so much material to work with. There's no need to invent things to mock them for.