Today there was a lot of standing around the clubhouse, waiting for some players to trickle in and collect their stuff. And there was an Omar press conference, looking back and looking ahead. There wasn’t a lot of substance, more that the evaluation process has begun about why this team keeps finishing one game short.
“Why is it we can’t get over that hurdle?” Minaya said to us. “I don’t have the answer right now, but we’re working hard to find the answer. We shouldn’t be playing the 162nd game to get into the playoffs.”
This team hasn’t exactly distinguished itself under September pressure the last two years. How do you fix that? Rip apart the fabric, or deal a big piece of the fabric? There are several good players here. But even with the bullpen horrors, if David Wright could have hit a fly ball with Daniel Murphy on third and no outs against the Cubs last week or Ryan Church could have done the same with one out, the Mets are in the tiebreaker game tonight. And then they couldn’t hit in the Florida series.
“How can you score five runs this weekend here?” Minaya asked.
Minaya isn’t going anywhere for those who want him out. He planned to meet with Jeff Wilpon today to talk about Jerry Manuel’s status, but that seems like just a formality. He’s universally respected by all the key decision makers. Jeff Wilpon told me and a few others yesterday that he thought this team overachieved, all things considered, and that this had a different feel than last year’s collapse. Minaya said it will at least be a couple of days before the manager announcement comes.
Besides that, there are many holes to fill. Take second base. The fans may not appreciate this, but Minaya said Luis Castillo can be salvaged here, that he got behind coming into spring training after having both knees operated on and it carried over, that the fans will give second chances if guys perform. Still, it remains to be seen if he’s back. They would have to pick up a lot of salary with three years left if they could somehow find a taker. Minaya also said don’t read too much into Murphy playing second in the Arizona Fall League. The GM said they need to work on getting right-handed hitting help. He also defended the Pedro signing even though Martinez had only one good year out of four. “There’s no Carlos Beltran if there’s no Pedro,” Minaya said.
They are probably going to need at least one starter if they don’t re-sign Pedro, maybe two if Ollie Perez walks. Minaya talked about Jon Niese yesterday, and Niese told me today he hopes there’s a bigger plan for him when he gets to spring training. Derek Lowe is a free agent to be, and he could at least handle NYC after pitching in Boston and L.A., although he can have some shaky starts. The Mets don’t seem high on chasing K-Rod as the closer because of the many-year investment it would take.
John Maine will have surgery tomorrow to have his bone spur removed. Carlos Delgado said he wants to be back; the Mets have a $12 million option with a large $4 million buyout. Do you pick up the option and deal him at his age? Minaya was asked about having so many older players that you can’t count on health-wise. He said there are always going to be a few risk players on a team. The Mets say they will have no availability for reporters tomorrow, so I guess we’ll wait for the Manuel press conference, if and when they work out a deal.