You don’t have to say it.
It’s early. Words aren’t important; actions are louder.
The title of this post, “Not to overreact, but: SIZAFITZ! SHKLORTCH! BLORT!” is actually a piece of performance art. It is my impression of the Mets twitterverse exploding during baseball’s GM Meetings.
Collectively, we hear things and flip out.
Hopefully all those devastated, angry feelings will be rendered meaningless over time, another object lesson in how not to react to every puny utterance that is said in November.
I am referring, for example, to this minor item from a couple of days back:
“[On] Tuesday, Mets general manager Sandy Alderson hinted that finding an alternative backup catcher is not an important need.
“First of all, we like Anthony Recker as a backup,” Alderson said. “So if we were to get a more veteran guy, it would be in part out of concern that somebody is going to have to play every day if d’Arnaud gets hurt. Part of it might be a desire to have a little bit of mentorship for both d’Arnaud and Recker.
“The nice thing is we have a guy like [bench coach] Bob Geren on our staff, who had been very good at that himself. So the backup veteran catcher is not really a high priority for us. I mean, it’s nice to have. We’ve got some other need-to-have holes to fill.”
The management team that was content in 2012 with a backstop combination of Josh Thole and Mike Nickeas is now planning to leave their top-hitting prospect, catcher Travis d’Arnaud, without a mentor.
There’s been a lot of discussion about “The Plan,” writ large, but this is also a plan on a minor note. Penny-wise, pound-foolish. I hope it doesn’t play out this way in real life.
I believe it’s important to provide d’Arnaud with extra support to help ease his transition to the team. We know that he’s going to struggle behind the plate. He’s going to slump with the bat. He’s going to have to learn how to handle an entire staff — as a rookie catcher. There’s a lot weighing on his shoulders. It’s a huge task.
Think of what this organization has invested in Travis d’Arnaud. We traded a Cy Young award-winner for him. Think about a club that’s places its best hope on young pitching. Think of how Terry Collins kept rolling John Buck out there there first few months of the season, wearing him down to the point of uselessness. This man gets to steer the ship for another season. Because, you know, back-to-back 74 win seasons do not go unrewarded in Flushing.
The plan should be to support and help d’Arnaud succeed in every way possible. Pair him with a catcher who can show him the ropes. Who can reliably take a decent amount of starts. (It’s also another reason why he needed to start the season in Flushing . . . last year . . . so he could work with John Buck without the pressure of big expectations.)
The plan should not be, once again, to save a few crummy bucks at the catcher position. Anthony Recker seems like a good guy. He’s got some thump. But he’s not a talented backstop. He has little major league experience. Paired with Buck, he made sense. Paired with an equally inexperienced catcher? On a team that’s supposedly built around pitching? I don’t get it.
Of course, Sandy says that doesn’t matter, since the Mets have bench coach Bob Geren. He used to be a catcher! In fact, Geren started a total of 222 games in his rich and storied career. Think of that wealth of knowledge!
This is how I feel about NFL quarterbacks, too. If you’ve got a young guy who represents The Future, pair him with a veteran. A guide, a mentor, a confidant. Bob Geren is not a peer. He’s a coach, and he can only serve in that capacity.
Again, d’Arnaud is a key to the Mets future. If he’s the real deal — if he’s good behind the plate; if he hits anything near Charles Barkley’s weight; if he commands the respect of this staff — then the Mets will have filled a major piece of the puzzle.
Shouldn’t management do everything in their power to help this kid succeed?
Is this really the time to save a cool 0.75 million?
We’ve seen this movie before. Mike Nickeas backed up Josh Thole in 2012. The price was right. And the outcome was predictable.
Frustrating. And as eloquent as throwing in the towel.
If the Mets aren’t going to do the big things, then their strategies on the margins become even more critical. Small things matter.
In this aspect of team construction, I hope their actions are better than Sandy’s words.