Making Sense Of The Mets

By Neil Keefe

The second half hasn’t been kind to the Mets, as they continue to fall in the division and wild card standings. Entering Wednesday, the Mets find themselves 6 ½ games back in the East and eight games back in the wild card.

Jerry Manuel has already created a Monster.com account for after the season and Omar Minaya will probably need to make one too. Oliver Perez currently holds the title of “Biggest Waste of Money” in baseball, and Jason Bay has six home runs and it’s August 4.

With everything except for R.A. Dickey going wrong in Queens, I thought it would be wise to get some input on the Mets from someone who knows them as good as anyone.

Mets fan and co-host of the midday show, Evan Roberts, joined me to talk about the Mets.

Keefe: Your interview of Jerry Manuel last Wednesday with Joe was one of the most entertaining stretches of sports radio in some time. Jerry seemed uncomfortable throughout your conversation and he was clearly fearful of what you guys might ask next.

As a Yankees fan, it really doesn’t matter to me if Jerry is the manager of the Mets or not, but at this point in his Mets tenure, I think it’s more than safe to say he isn’t the right man for the job (but maybe that’s because I just don’t like him). Others will argue that he isn’t the one performing on the field and therefore isn’t at fault, but if you are going to keep a manager for that, then why should any team ever fire a manager?

Jerry made a joke about “clinching this thing” toward the end of the interview, and since he’s survived a firing this long, is there any way that Jerry is a part of the Mets next season if the team doesn’t clinch a postseason berth?

Roberts: No shot. If the Mets fail to make the playoffs, ownership will try to show their fans they are “serious” about winning.

IF Omar Minaya still has his job, he will need to blame Jerry instead of taking the blame himself. Anything short of the postseason will end in Jerry’s demise.

Keefe: Oliver Perez is making $12 million this year and $12 million next year. It’s gotten to the point that the Mets are trying to get Ollie to agree to go to the minors, but the lefty won’t budge after having just spent time there trying to get his act together.

You told Jerry in the nicest way possible that Oliver Perez probably shouldn’t be in the major leagues, and I don’t think there is a person outside of Perez’s immediate family that doesn’t feel the same way, and even they are probably questioning his status as a major leaguer. As a Mets fan, has there ever been a Met that made as much money as Perez, that has accomplished as little and was as frustrating to watch?

Roberts: The Mets have had some bad contracts over the years, but the one that jumps out in similarity is Roger Cedeno’s. Roger had that great year in ’99 before they peddled him to Houston in the Mike Hampton/Derek Bell trade. But a few years later they brought him back with a big contract and he was awful. Every time he came up the crowd destroyed him.

I actually prefer Ollie. Like I have said on air, you can hide Oliver Perez much better than you can an everyday player (see: Luis Castillo).

Keefe: Jerry Manuel likes to say things along the lines of “R.A. Dickey has become one of our top starters” without ever really giving Dickey any real credit. It makes me mad, and I’m not even a Mets fan, that Manuel beats around the bush when it comes to praising Dickey because he doesn’t have the history of being dominant or the frontline pedigree that Johan Santana has.

Dickey has now made 15 starts this season and 12 of them have been quality starts, and it would have been 13 if not for Jerry taking him out early two starts ago. He has earned a no-decision or loss in seven starts in which he has given up two earned runs or less. He might be 35 years old, but he has clearly refined his craft at this point in his career and is without a doubt the best pitcher on the Mets right now.

What will it take for R.A. to win over Jerry’s heart?

Roberts: Let’s be honest, it’s taken a while for us to believe R.A. Dickey is for real. Start after start I would tell Joe to calm down about R.A. because eventually the clock will strike midnight and he will go back to what he once was. It was only a few weeks ago that even I started to believe. And I know it’s different than Aaron Small, but we have seen the one-year wonder before. With that said, I’m now starting to believe that he is closer to Rick Reed than Aaron Small.

As I once said on air (and it was repeated over and over again on Boomer and Carton), “I’m starting to smoke the Dickey pipe.” Eventually Jerry will too.

Keefe: One year ago today, Jason Bay had 20 home runs and the Red Sox were in the middle of a playoff race. Today, Bay has six home runs, is on the disabled list and the Mets are hoping to stay in the postseason hunt long enough so that Citi Field doesn’t look like Progressive Field come September.

The history of being pull-happy hasn’t translated into success for Bay at Citi Field the way it did at Fenway Park. When you take away Bay’s two, two-home run games, he has two home runs in the other 93 games he has appeared in.

It’s hard to say anyone regrets a decision that pays them $66 million, but it’s hard for me to believe that Jason Bay doesn’t wake up some days or walk into the Mets clubhouse every day and wonder, “What did I do?”

Roberts: What were Bay’s choices? Nobody was giving him the offer the Mets were offering, so even if he has those thoughts, he ask to himself: Would it be worth it to have taken a lot less, but be in a pennant race somewhere else?

Look, I preferred Matt Holliday over Jason Bay, but Bay’s contract is much better than Holliday’s, and I do think that come next year Jason’s numbers will be a lot better.

For some reason we have seen a lot of guys struggle in their first year playing in New York: Carlos Beltran, Roger Clemens and even Curtis Granderson right now. I don’t love Bay, but I have confidence that he will be much better in 2011.

Follow Neil on Twitter at http://twitter.com/NeilKeefe

Follow Evan on Twitter at http://twitter/com/JoeandEvan

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