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Jason Fry and Greg Prince
Faith and Fear in Flushing made its debut on Feb. 16, 2005, the brainchild of two longtime friends and lifelong Met fans.

Greg Prince discovered the Mets when he was 6, during the magical summer of 1969. He is a Long Island-based writer, editor and communications consultant. Contact him here.

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Omar, Let's Discuss 2010

Reality can be a plunge into a cold bath, or it can just be reality. Tonight I watched the Mets lose by a pair of grand slams to the Dodgers and didn't even flinch.

What good would flinching have done? I figured the Mets would lose, and just hoped it would be dull and pitiable instead of excruciating and infuriating. They were slow on a couple of ground balls, two different pitchers walked in runs and the offense couldn't muster an extra-base hit. By the ever-sinking standards of the summer of 2009, that's not that bad.

Before the game Omar Minaya came down to talk injuries, and somehow managed to finish his rundown by game time. Carlos Delgado is hitting off a tee, but probably five weeks away. (And that's five weeks away from standing in a batter's box and having the stats count, not five weeks away from somehow being the Carlos Delgado of the second half of 2008.) Carlos Beltran is on the bike and in the pool, which means don't hold your breath. (OK, hold it in the pool. We've got enough problems around here.) Jose Reyes tried to run and needed a cortisone shot, which means you can't even discuss a timetable. John Maine is throwing off flat ground, which in the language of injured pitchers is a tiny step above “arm still attached to body.” J.J. Putz was seen sitting in the dugout. Billy Wagner is pitching to batters in Florida, but that's a giant crapshoot and unfortunately, Billy Wagner is not a cleanup hitter. Oliver Perez starts tomorrow, which … oh wait, it's Oliver Perez.

In other words, everybody important who's hurt or Oliver Perez is still hurt or Oliver Perez. The cavalry, if it comes at all, will trickle in a horse at a time to find the ranch burnt and the settlers dead. And there isn't enough bullion in the bank to hire enough new cavalrymen. I've seen too many disappointing Met prospects over the years to object to the idea of mortgaging the supposed future, but you could spot us the farm systems of the Rangers and Rays and probably still not be able to swing deals to fill all the Mets' holes. Nope, as Westerns go this is the end of “Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid,” and we are not walking away. It's over.

Look, the front office deserves to get excoriated for bad contracts and idolizing crappy veterans and poor roster management and entrusting the health of the players to a staff of Dr. Nick Rivieras, but in the end no single one of those things nor even the combination were what sunk the 2009 Mets. It was a barrage of injuries even a better-constructed plan wouldn't have survived. It may be unjust that that perfect storm will obscure the other mistakes, but the world is rarely just. Let's just move on.

Let the season go, make a PLAYERS FOR SALE sign and start building for 2010 right now. This needn't be a teardown project, or anything that will make the Citi Field bean-counters blanch under their green eyeshades. The Mets should open 2010 with a roster built around David Wright, Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran, Johan Santana and Frankie Rodriguez, and there's no reason to think that core can't contend with the right complementary pieces and bit players added to it. So start figuring out how to assemble them in July instead of November.

What can we swap? Well, by any modern reckoning, Luis Castillo is a terrible baseball player. But this year he worked hard to turn himself back to what he was in late 2007: merely terrible instead of terrible, fat and hurt. Fortunately, Major League Baseball is full of stupid GMs made greedy by the thought of playoff games. Point out that Luis Castillo never strikes out, is faster than average, has Gold Gloves on his mantle and is (dramatic pause) a veteran. That, plus paying off an admittedly cringeworthy portion of his horrible contract, might be enough to fob him off on someone else and let Orlando Hudson know to expect a call in November.

Ryan Church shows signs of being able to hit and is a superb defensive outfielder. I bet someone would rent him for the rest of '09. Brian Schneider's no great shakes, but crappy catchers automatically get a reputation for being Pitcher Whisperers. Put him on the curb with a FOR SALE CHEAP sign and see if someone bites. Shop around Alex Cora, cruelly exposed in an everyday role but a smart, tough bench player who deserves to be some contender's Lee Mazzilli.

Or do something else. The next crop of Milledges and Humbers for Adam Dunn? I'd make that trade. Or go fleece the Pirates for their prospects — the Pirates are like the slow kid down the block who can be conned into giving up grimy quarters for mirror-bright nickels. (If you don't take advantage of him, the less-scrupulous kid who lives next door will.)

Be brave, Omar. I know bad PR terrifies your bosses, but they have less to worry about than they think. Don't be afraid that the seats will empty and the press will be brutal. The press is already brutal and trust me, we're not showing up at Citi Field because we think Carlos Delgado might show up five weeks early. Yes, New Yorkers are impatient — but we're also realistic. We know this isn't our year, and we're ready to deal with it. The best thing you can do is stop pretending. Show us you're trying to make next year our year.

Remember: July 21 is the first of three AMAZIN' TUESDAYS. And that Faith and Fear in Flushing: An Intense Personal History of the New York Mets is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble or a bookstore near you. Keep in touch and join the discussion on Facebook.

21 comments to Omar, Let's Discuss 2010

  • Anonymous

    Sheffield and Livan might be useful for a contending team. They didn't cost anything so that's getting something for nothing.

  • Anonymous

    I can't believe it's gotten to the point where we can say “Yeah, Oliver Perez will be back, that's a help right there…”
    But I don't see the Mets throwing in the towel yet. A good run can catch a flawed Phillies team, and besides, there are a lot of expensive seats to fill at Citi Field (and a lot of advertisers who will be angry if SNY is not interesting TV in August and September). I don't blame them for putting people for sale. I do blame them for having a lousy farm system, which makes trading really hard.

  • Anonymous

    There's something about having the words “Omar” and “bad PR” in the same sentence that makes me snicker…and then want to apologize immediately for being tasteless…

  • Anonymous

    i would prefer to discuss 2010 with paul depodesta

  • Anonymous

    Makes trading hard? Is this before or after they traded for Johan, Putz, Maine, Delgado, Schneider and Church?
    If there is one thing that Omar is good at, it's pulling off a trade with minimal pieces.
    The problem with the Mets has been with the draft, since they so often sign Type A free agents and lose their 1st round pick. Even when they have it they play it conservatively and don't bust slot to get someone that fell due to signability so they don't have upside guys in their system besides some of the international players that are at least 4 years away.

  • Anonymous

    A'ight let's take a look around these parts. Omar Minaya isn't going ANYWHERE. They extended him last year. The Wilpons should be used to paying salaries for people who are no longer around (Willie, Duquette, Howe, anyone?) but I think they like Minaya cause he's their fall guy. He'll take his lumps in the media and tells them stuff without telling them anything. As for Manuel, I wouldn't be surprised if he was let loose but honestly, he's here till what, the end of '10? He'll stick around for that I'm sure. You know what I think is funny though Jason? A few weeks ago I was LAMBASTED across mutliple boards for merely suggesting what you said here – that in 2010 we should build around the core of Wright, Reyes, Beltran and Santana (Krod too but I don't even really consider him – weird I know, but he's only there for one inning). And that's IT. Back up the truck for the rest. You say it and it doesn't sound so bad, LOL. (It wasn't here that I was tortured, so no worries there). I'm just happy to see I'm not the only crazy one.

  • Anonymous

    You seem to suggest you just want Omar to do..something. Well here's something.
    Fire Manuel. He sucks. Get a rah-rah guy in here, or a silly guy, or someone that knows how to take the pressure off, because normally excellent players are pressing and struggling because of it. Manuel brings nothing at all to the table. And he's the easiest to replace.
    Get rid of Tatis. or at least martinez. Once Martinez got hurt, it was stupid to keep an already overmatched player on the roster. Three players in Buffalo, outfielders, are hitting .300. Emil Brown, Jesus Feliciano (good WBC as well) and Corey Sullivan (who also had a good spring). Emil brown has one error, the other's have none.
    Are these guys the answer? well, probably not. But they're not not the answer. They could have a good game or two, and winning a game or two because of that would be nice right now. Maybe we catch lightning in a bottle for a couple of months. Much better to try to do that with a guy that's bat is actually hitting, than an overmatched prospect or Tatis who couldn't find lightning if he spent all his time in the NY skies.
    I know we need 'power', but the bad streaks and the bad defense Sheffield plays doesn't seem worth a home run every week or so. Omir Santos certainly has looked like the career minor leaguer he is. Schneider isn't special. he's average. barely acceptable. But Mike Piazza retired. We'll live with it.
    Finally, Orlando Hudson wasn't, and isn't, the answer. Castillo's contract isn't that much money anymore, and his stats don't suggest he's much worse than Hudson. (Of course, batting Castillo 8th is getting as little from him as possible) Manny? eh..he'd be nice to have back now, but given his defection, I doubt the Mets wouldn't be right where they are right now. Lowe? Lowe will almost definitely finish the season better than Perez. However, it's probably the only season he will during the contract.

  • Anonymous

    Glad it wasn't us! A few weeks ago I thought we might be able to pull it out, but since Beltran went down we're utterly punchless, and I don't see that changing. As for sticking with the Phillies, we just had our shot at that and missed it. The Phils played horribly for three weeks, and we kind of floating alongside them. But that's as good as it's gonna get.
    Agree re Omar — he's not going anywhere, and the storm of injuries will inoculate him from job-threatening criticism about the other stuff.
    We're going to finish fourth. It sucks, but that's baseball some years. I'd rather the Mets accept it and get to work on making 2010 different.

  • Anonymous

    As far as baseball stories go.. The Phillies floated alongside the Mets back in May/June of '07 when they were losing every game. They had their shot and they missed it. turns out, teams that have bad stretches tend to have them again. Here's hoping to fixing ours, so we can capitalize next time.

  • Anonymous

    I don't think Jerry's really helping or hurting. Wright is giving himself an ulcer, but that's because he's alone in the lineup and he's trying to be Superman. The other guys are doing poorly because they're either too old, too young or just not that good.
    To try to word things better, I want Omar to say, “We're not going to make the playoffs in 2009. What can I do to work on the plan for 2010?” Anybody who doesn't seem to fit into that plan (or is essentially interchangeable) AND has some trade value now should go: Castillo, Church, Schneider, Cora, maybe Livan, Stokes, Green. I left the likes of Tatis out of the discussion because I don't think they'd fetch you anything and somebody's gotta finish the season….

  • Anonymous

    I'm pretty confident in saying that Manuel is costing us games..but
    While I agree I'd want to see big shakeups, it's not that reasonable to htink that you'll be able find and get reasonable replacements everywhere, especially without gambling on huge long term deals that could turn out to be disasterous long term. Where guys are average, you almost have to leave them be. Fix the big problem areas (which was supposed to be the difference for this year..) Castillo is a above average second baseman. You don't upgrade in value much there and chances are you'd have to give more than a 2 year deal. I really like Cora, i think he adds a ton as a backup guy. Stokes, Green(although he's been okay) Livan..schneider, Sheff, Tatis, Santos, Reed are all probably gone after this year anyway.
    If we're talking future, Manuel should be starating Murphy at first, Evans in left, Fernando Martinez in Center every single game. but I believe that if he did this, they wouldn't be in such dire straits. (And this is where my Manuel thoughts begin. Since even h e's said he thinks they'd get more production out of 1B if Murphy started every day)

  • Anonymous

    At one point last night, I thought “this has got to be rock-bottom.”
    Then I realized “Ollie starts tomorrow.”
    This will get worse before it gets better.

  • Anonymous

    fourth is optimistic
    nats are better than we are and not too far back

  • Anonymous

    Trade Reyes, Church, Castro, and Castillo for Halladay and use the off-season to pick up a functional shortstop and one more big bat in the outfield.

  • Anonymous

    Tough to trade Castro, seeing as he's been the property of the Chicago White Sox since the beginning of June.
    NEXT?

  • Anonymous

    We're not in fourth place, we're just drafting.
    (Apologies to the vast majority who aren't surrounded by NASCAR fans and missed that reference.)

  • Anonymous

    The problem starts with the fact that Omar is allergic to Dunn. Could have had him this off-season. And if we had him we'd probably be in first right now. Likely could have traded for him a month ago if Omar was generous enough. And if he had we'd probably be in first right now.
    For some reason, they don't get the fact that Dunn is not Kingman. Well, he may be in terms of defense and Ks but he is much more consistent at the plate and has a great OBP every single year. I'd still give up Parnell and prospects for him right now.
    A few days ago I was opposed to giving up on this season but the new reports on Reyes and Beltran make it obvious that by the time they return this season will be out of reach. So you are right: trade away. But not Church, who I think would be a good fit on a good team which the Mets could be next year. And I also think Hudson is overrated and honestly I'd love to keep Cora as a supersub for next year since I doubt you'd get much in return. But Livian, Sheffield, Castillo, Schneider, everyone else can go.

  • Anonymous

    Pardon me, but the notion that, assuming that everything else about the season to this point being unchanged, having Adam Dunn puts us in first place is ludicrous.
    Even if you assume that Dunnls production would be the same, having him doesn't counterbalance the astonishingly incompetent level of play displayed thus far.
    It seems to me that I remember Bill James demonstrating pretty conclusively in the '80s that one player, no matter how good, makes a difference of no more than 2 or 3 games over the course of a season,and my recollection is that that was in the context of discussing *great* players…which Adam Dunn is not.

  • Anonymous

    Jerry's not going anywhere either. Not for at least another year. And if he gets fired now, Sandy Alomar is your manager. Nothing much changes. They're not going to fire the manager AND all the coaches AND the GM AND every other key person in the front office simultaneously. No team ever does that. I don't know why anyone would even consider that within the realm of possibility.
    This is a mostly veteran team. Nobody's going to “kick their butts.” Why? The manager has NO leverage, ZERO, when almost everyone is on a guaranteed contract. Jerry is no dumber a field manager than Bobby Cox, and Cox isn't going anywhere either. About the only thing a manager can do to screw up a team that badly is to be an elbow-grinder with the starting staff a la Dusty Baker. (Jerry is following the Cox model pretty much exactly: baby your starters and your closer, work the crap out of your middle relievers.) That, and treat your veteran players like children, to the point where they actually point and laugh at you.
    If you want them to play better, you get them help so they're not pressing to the point where their heads are about to explode. I'm not opposed to getting decent prospects for Schneider, Church, et al, but I certainly wouldn't give them away for nothing. And right now everybody wants something for nothing.

  • Anonymous

    Word. No one outside the handful you mentioned should be untouchable. But Omar's been bad at making the small moves for roster depth, as my man Cannotar discusses here:
    http://sheahey.blogspot.com/2009/07/everybody-loves-parnell.html

  • Anonymous

    When you look at Dunn's HR, RBI and OBP totals for this year, he is indeed having a great year–and on a crappy team. Despite what James says, it's entirely plausible for a team that has struggled so much offensively, that having Dunn's stats instead of Tatis/Murphy/Evans would have resulted in three more wins. Go back and see how many games they came up short by a run or two. And that having Dunn protect Wright, both in the lineup and psychologically in terms of shouldering the burden after Beltran went down, would have helped Wright (and all the other hitters in the Mets lineup), providing another couple of wins. And, voila, first place. Not entirely ludicrous at all.