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It’s Not Early

The Mets are 2-5, and Gary Cohen’s advice is not to jump off bridges. It’s early, after all.

I agree nobody should be jumping off bridges. (Ever.) But when you think about the problems afflicting the Mets, they’ve been obvious a lot longer than seven games.

* Gary Matthews Jr. and Mike Jacobs have shown themselves as clearly inferior players to (respectively) Angel Pagan and, well, anybody over the small sample size of seven games. But Mets fans didn’t start saying that — or questioning how the Mets construct rosters — in the last seven games. Fans have been saying it since approximately midwinter. Judging by the cherry blossoms and the daffodils up and down my street, midwinter was a while ago. These are not early concerns.

* Concerns about the starting pitching haven’t exactly been limited to the first seven games of the season. John Maine was horrible tonight, but then he was horrible all spring and not so good the last two seasons. Oliver Perez was bad in his first start, awful all spring and mind-bogglingly terrible last year — the first year of the three-year, $36 million contract Omar Minaya gave him in the face of determined counteroffers from … somebody. These concerns existed this winter, when Joel Pineiro seemed to want to pitch for the Mets and the Mets reportedly couldn’t simultaneously manage signing Jason Bay and picking up the phone to express interest in him. These concerns existed last month, when Nelson Figueroa — a useful swing starter who’d had a good spring and was out of options — was let go in favor of guys who’d had bad springs, weren’t suited to duty as swing starters, and had options remaining. These concerns existed last month, when Jenrry Mejia was anointed a short man despite no record of success above the Florida State League, sidetracking his development as a starter. These aren’t early concerns either.

* Surveying tonight’s wreckage [1], Keith Hernandez talked about Plan B. But the epitaph of the Minaya regime should be the stubborn absence of a Plan B. Plan B for the shaky starting rotation? It’s in Anaheim, Philadelphia, and miscast in the bullpen. (At least Pat Misch is still around. Oh my God, I actually just typed that.) Plan B for backing up the varsity? That’s been a concern since Jose Valentin failed to bottle lightning twice in a row and Moises Alou was first felled by the impact of an errant raindrop. Plan Bs are apparently false hustle, a category that also covers remembering your ace had elbow problems in spring training, correctly judging the market for gregarious but useless middle infielders and taking steps to avoid looking like a fool by publicly spouting bizarre conspiracy theories about the motives of beat writers. No, concerns about Omar Minaya’s ability to do his job have been around a lot longer than seven games.

* The job security of Minaya and Jerry Manuel is a hot topic seven games into the season — every fan who called Gary and Keith tonight asked some variant of “When do they get fired?” But calls for their heads from fed-up fans are not new, and neither is the obvious lack of enthusiasm for them in the owners’ suite. The Wilpons, one hopes, are not having early concerns about whether it’s finally time to clean house. Because we’re far beyond that point.

Did I just say it’s time for Omar and Jerry to get pink-slipped? Yes I did. Are we just seven games into the 2010 season? Yes we are. But I would not say I have early concerns. I’ve been concerned since last summer, when the Mets turned a season of bad luck into a pitiful farce. My concerns intensified in the offseason, when Minaya and his lieutenants operated without the slightest evidence that they were following a coherent plan. My concerns became impossible to ignore in spring training amid bizarre roster decisions and apparently willful ignorance that the starting pitching was a disaster in the making. The first seven games of the season have been just the latest bead on a depressingly long string.

It’s just seven games into the season, but it’s not too early for someone with the last name Wilpon to say enough’s enough.

If anything, one wonders if it’s too late.