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There’s Something Happening Here…

And like the song said, what it is ain’t exactly clear. But whatever it is, I know I don’t like it.

I’m not referring to the Mets stumbling around the field, approaching at-bats like puppies lunging for a chew toy, and otherwise making the Astros look like world-beaters in every way possible [1]. Though I didn’t like that either.

Rather, I’m referring to a disturbing potential trend in how this club is being run — one that’s baffling, and that leaves you choosing between potential scenarios that are both awful.

Brad Emaus got DFA’ed and now heads for waivers — assuming he clears, he’ll be offered back to the Jays for $25,000 or the Mets can try to work out a trade for him, which folks closer to the team than I am say they don’t appear inclined to do. In other words, Emaus got pink-slipped and will now be stuffed down the memory hole. Discussing the move, Terry Collins said this was a tough league to learn how to play the game, while Sandy Alderson talked of an evolving situation at second.

Me, I just kind of gaped.

Emaus got exactly 42 plate appearances before he was declared a washout. Emaus who was a Rule 5 guy, meaning everyone knew he’d start off playing a bit above his head, and whose spring-training time was fitful because Luis Castillo was given the chance for a graceful descent into inevitable and merciful unemployment.

Did Emaus do well in those 42 plate appearances? No — he hit .162. But if that’s the criterion, he’s not lacking for company on the Mets. I’m no scout, but he looked like he knew how to work a count and was OK at second base. He looked like he might be worth hanging on to — or, more accurately, I didn’t see enough to conclude he wasn’t. Because, to emphasize, 42 plate appearances aren’t enough to tell much of anything about anything.

The saving grace of this season, I’ve told person after person after person, is that the Mets are being intelligently run, ensuring that while this may be a year of financial and roster retrenchment, the future should be brighter. I’d like to think that’s still true. But for smart guys, the new braintrust sure seems awfully impatient.

Why is that? I don’t like any of the answers I can think of.

Let’s boil this down to the central, awful question that inevitably comes up with the Mets: Are Alderson & Co. operating with full autonomy?

If they do have full autonomy, then they’re doing a bang-up job of undermining whatever confidence we’ve placed in them. If Emaus was obviously so hopeless that 42 plate appearances were sufficient to pass judgment on him, shouldn’t that have been equally obvious in December or March? I could ask the same question about Blaine Boyer. For smart baseball guys, Alderson & Co. sure look like they lack the courage of their own convictions and are panicking with 90% of the season still in front of them.

If they don’t have full autonomy, well, then the winter was a mirage and the Mets are right back to resuming their dismal transformation into the Baltimore Orioles. In this case, our best hope is that the Madoff disaster proves fatal to the Wilpons as owners. I don’t want to be a fan who thinks that way, for reasons that begin with common decency, but it’s preferable to being Angelos North. I was a fan when the Mets were the North Korea of baseball, and it was pathetic and awful. I never want to live through that again.

If there’s a third alternative, I’d love to hear what it is. I’m not being snarky in the least — someone please make the case. Tell me why these itchy trigger fingers are a good thing, are part of a coherent overall plan, and are leading us somewhere better. Because that’s the whole point, isn’t it?

Back in spring training, I made the case [2] that Alderson & Co. had done right in not placating the fans by speedily excising Castillo and Oliver Perez. I noted that by giving those two players every chance to succeed, they’d dealt with the fans like adults, covered for ownership and perhaps most importantly they’d sent a message to the rest of the clubhouse that guys would be treated with respect and given real opportunities. Except now guys haven’t been. You think Bobby Parnell sleeps easier knowing that Boyer got all of 119 pitches [3] with which to prove himself? You think Scott Hairston is relaxing at the plate thinking that at least he’ll get the 10 or so more PA that the braintrust needed to make a decision on Emaus?

Maybe Parnell would be better off in the minors — he’s certainly been terrible. Maybe Hairston would be better off as someone else’s property — he’s swinging at everything and playing the outfield like a blind man. But maybe the braintrust hasn’t seen enough of either guy — or any guy — to make that kind of judgment. Maybe they ought to be patient. Because they have full autonomy, right?