A theory positing: If the Mets had somehow lost the twenty-inning game with the Cardinals on April 17, Jerry Manuel might have been fired by the end of the weekend. The Sunday loss to the Cardinals would have put the Mets at 3–9, ensconced in last place, with little hope in sight. Manuel would have been blamed for the loss — warming up K-Rod about 48 times was the largest of many offenses — and his ouster would have been the supposed kick in the pants the Mets needed. Instead, in the wake of that game, Manuel held on, and the Mets got hot at home, winning ten of their next eleven after the Cardinals series. The downside, though, is that Jerry Manuel still isn’t a very good manager.
Manuel had another blunder last night in the Mets’ 5–4 extra-inning loss to the Reds. Manuel, bizarrely, double switched out both David Wright and Jason Bay (who is gonna hit someday, right?) in order to keep in Fernando Tatis, his emergency catcher. (What is it with emergency catchers? Is the notion of having to put someone at catcher for one evening so terrifying that managers across baseball will drown their mother to avoid it?) This left the Mets particularly punchless and a loss seemed, frankly, inevitable.
On the whole, there’s only so much a manager can do. But generally speaking, you hope they can at least stay out of the way and let the best players do what they do. Fangraphs has given up on Manuel and, pretty much, Omar Minaya, the general manager whose hide is protected, for now, by Manuel.
This team is too big of a mess for one with so many excellent and enjoyable players like Jose Reyes, Wright, Carlos Beltran, and Johan Santana. It’s not just Manuel or just Minaya. It’s a combination. I’m not sure a great manager can overcome a poor general manager, and I don’t believe a great general manager would endure a poor manager. But when you get a pair of the same quality it leads either to beautiful fireworks or a bunch of self-inflicted burns. The Mets currently employ the latter. Truthfully, it’s hard to find an uglier design than what the Mets have in place with these two.
We think that’s too strong. But we didn’t think it was too strong before that ten-of-eleven streak, a streak that’s beginning to feel like a statistical anomaly. Every game through May 27 for the Mets is against either an NL East foe, a division leader, or a Yankee. We’ll know soon.