The Mets Are a Franchise Heading Nowhere, Full Steam Ahead

Dave Hudgens, hitting coach.

Dave Hudgens, former hitting coach.

“I am not a hitting coach” – Sandy Alderson, after firing Dave Hudgens

As I mentioned yesterday, I went to the game, and sadly the game was just one more example of the wreck of a team that Sandy Alderson has assembled. We all know the script by now. Good starting pitching, no hitting, and the bullpen blows the game at the end. Believe it or not, I had a good time. I analyzed the situation with the Mets a lot yesterday. Years ago, on a trip to Pittsburgh to see the 2009 Mets play, I thought about what if I lived in Pittsburgh. Could I enjoy watching the Pirates, knowing that for the most part, year-in and year-out, there was no way the team was going to be any good. And I remember thinking, yes. It wouldn’t be the same, but in the end, I love the game. I would watch, and enjoy any excellent players that passed through my town, including visiting players. And root, root, root, for the home team, because even bad teams win their share of games. It wouldn’t be the same, but it is better than nothing. Basically, relax and accept the situation.

Well, today those same Pirates were at Citi Field, and sure they had a few days of playoff baseball for one year last year, but now they are back where tiny market baseball usually brings you. The Pirates are back under .500, and when I look at them, I can see why. For starters, they actually wanted Ike Davis. But this is not really about the Pirates, except for the fact that seeing them again got me thinking about the whole thing. It’s more about knowing that the Mets are now one of those teams themselves, the ones who go into every season with nothing more than a lucky puncher’s chance. Somehow, thanks to Bernie Madoff, the Wilpon family, and Bud Selig (pick your own order), the New York Mets are a small market mess. And so there was nothing to get too stressed about during the game. There were a few nice plays, and deGrom looked good. I got to see Andrew McCutcheon as he passed through town. And when Jose Valverde did what Jose Valverde does, well, how upset can you get?

That’s me, of course. Because after the game, driving home, WOR cut to Sandy Alderson who had two announcements.

1. Jose Valverde was released.

2. Dave Hudgens was fired as hitting coach.


This is all part of it too when you root for a franchise mired in quicksand, the annual broken Deloreanscapegoating. Hey, I would have fired Hudgens a long time ago myself, but the problem is Hudgens is just an extension of Alderson. And when it comes to the team’s deeply flawed hitting approach, I expect it to continue. That flawed approach is coming from Sandy himself, stuck in 1988 like a bad scientist with a broken DeLorean. Forget Bobby Abreu, maybe Sandy can sign Jose Canseco. He would cover just as much ground in right.

But Sandy isn’t even the big problem, as much as he aggravates me. It’s the owners, of course. How does that change? I just don’t know.

So in the meantime there is this. A franchise heading nowhere full steam ahead. Today Dave terry-collins1-400x268Hudgens gets whacked as a distraction. Maybe Collins, who sounded frantic after the game, is next. Also keep in mind that Hudgens was Sandy’s guy all the way, so maybe Alderson himself is now on shaky ground. Notice he has not been extended. If indeed Alderson is not long for the Mets world, will that even help? Probably not too much, unless it’s a new bunch of owners showing him the door. I do think it is about the only thing left to root for, that a young innovative GM can do something in this situation. It’s not likely, but it’s more likely than expecting Alderson to pull it off.

And that’s all we can do as fans, root, root, root. And try to figure out how to enjoy ourselves. Hey, I had a better time at the game yesterday than Dave Hudgens. After the game, for sure. Take care, Dave, I can’t say I will miss you, but we did have one moment together in Atlanta that I will never forget. So thanks for that.

If nothing else, baseball can always give me that, fun and unique moments. Even the Wilpon family can’t take that away from me.

Try as they might.

 

 

 

 

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26 comments

  1. It is borderline hysterical that the moment this franchise realized a letter, with franchise greats apparent approval, basically admonishing the fan base for “not showing up”, the team goes completely AWOL.

    There cannot be a player in that clubhouse who believes a word Terry Collins, Sandy Alderson or anyone connected with the “managerial operations” of this franchise says at this point.

    They are grown adults, some may have various forms of arrested development but nevertheless they are at least wide awake to know when a system in place for four years is a total disaster with only signs of getting worse, not better.

    At this point I would fully anticipate that if Collins is not fired, he will resign out of shear mental fatigue in trying to keep the act up.

    If anyone can point to the last time a Mets GM operated under four consecutive losing seasons with not a whisper of change on the horizon I’d like to see it.

    The next four weeks will be the tell-tale sign of whether the Mets owners have any lingering control of their franchise, or if as we mostly all suspect are just willing puppets in a shadow game, being kept afloat, barely, by friends.

  2. RAFF says:

    Pointless. The hitting coach gets canned, but the organization’s “approach” will remain the same. Just find a TEACHER who’s better at schooling guys to keep a bat on their shoulder until they’ve got that pitcher right where they want him him — a nice hitter friendly 2 strike count— In the Cross-hairs-HUNTING that last strike— where the lack of talent and experience dictates that any old outside and low ball in the dirt will do nicely for a flailing 3rd strike swing or a little roll-over tapper for a double play. F88king BILLIANT!

  3. Michael Geus says:

    Hudgens, by the way, did not leave quietly, taking shots at the SNY booth and the fans on the way out.

    • Hudgens exposed himself for a fool with those parting shots. He never achieved any results. No success stories. So he blames the fans and the announcers. Pathetic.

      • Patrick Boegel says:

        Exactly.

      • Michael Geus says:

        The shots at the fans lately are as valid as the hitting approach. I was at the game yesterday, being at Citi Field is like bring in a library. Due to that, any scattered boos by a handful of fans will be heard, but the environment is very tame.

        If Sandy and his small market friends think these crowds are tough they are in the wrong line of work. This group has been treated very gently considering how little they have accomplished, both in the media and in the stands.

  4. I was actually feeling pretty good about the Mets yesterday. I saw a young pitcher making a strong play to be a good starter or for this year a good addition to their bullpen. I was looking at Mejia as a good closer. Mejia since he has been closing in addition to Dice K, Torres and Familia have a combined era of 2.5. The came Valaverde and the example of Met stupidity. Does anyone in Mets fandom or in the organization think that Valaverde was living on borrowed time. Why do you bring up Vic Black on Sunday and send him down immediately when you had the opportunity to DFA valaverde and have Vic Black close yesterday against his former team. Never proactive always reacting.

    • Well said, Michael Black. That’s the biggest frustration this season. The progress constantly undercut by the obstinate, tone-deaf stupidity. Clinging to Valverde — using him in a close game — tells us all we need to know about Sandy Alderson’s team. The Mets GM is anti-fan. Maybe even anti-player. You think that Hudgens and Sandy would rather go down into the basement and roll dice.

    • Michael Geus says:

      Sending a fresh Black away when he was needed only to bring him back the next day is incompetence.

      • Within 24 hours, Black flew from Vegas to NY, back to Vegas, then back to NY. Genius. There’s no plan, they are flailing in the wind, protecting phony-baloney jobs. The sheriff just got shot in Rock Ridge??!! We better do something! In this case, it was only Jose Valverde pitching like he’s pitched for the past three years.

  5. Eraff says:

    I’m not going to question or condemn an “Approach” that says WAIT FOR YOUR PITCH….. it’s been packaged as if these guys Invented the idea of pitch identification and selection—Such Genius!!!

    And why hasn’t anyone before them discovered the value of of Great Pitching???!!! If ONLY the Mets teams of Seaver,and Koosman, Gooden and Darling and Cone Had been built around Pitching!!!!—oh!,,,wait….. well, at least DON’T tell the Braves, The Rays, The Cardinals about the Value of Great Young Arms—OH!—hmmm…wait, again…..

    4 years in—- Duda, Tejada….. $17 Million in CY and Colon……

    …..and they have “:enough” good young arms to compete…..NOW!!!!

    I realize that the GM is dealing on a limited budget, but given his selection and decisions….

    Would you want him to do more??????

  6. tdonner says:

    As gut-wrenching as Monday’s loss (and even worse, Sunday first game of DH) were, Michael Black is close to the truth. Farnsworth and Valverde were remnants of past futility, but watching Montero and De Grom added to the existing starting staff, and Mejia and Familia fulfilling their promise in the pen, provides serious hope for a franchise that’s always been built on pitching. We are also finally gonna find out what Lagares, Flores. TDA, Duda and Black (and to some extent Campbell and den Dekker) really are and proceed accordingly. The CY experiment should end shortly, but with DW and Murphy as the foundations (and maybe, just maybe Granderson), we may just be one or two bats away from real competitiveness.

  7. wkkortas says:

    It’s a mediocre team that is playing wretched baseball right now, which is not a good combination. I found Alderson’s comments on crap-canning Hudgens in favor of Lamar Johnson impressive double-speak even by Sandy’s standards. You mentioned the Pirates, circa 2009; the Mets remind me a great deal of the Pirates of, say, 2004, who were owned by Kevin McClatchy, a very nice man who demnaded zero accountability from his field and front-office staff, had Dave Littlefield as GM (possibly the only other GM in history who could hold his own with Sandy when it comes to saying a lot and absolutely nothing at the same time), and featured any number of mediocre veterans while having virtualy no help on the way in the system. The Pirates went nowhere until the franchise was gutted from top to bottom; the Mets have no hope until they do the same.

  8. IB says:

    A little semi-intelligent managing and decent D would have won the game yesterday. Abreu’s zero range and Duda inexplicably not stretching helped lose this game. Someone tell TC to never allow Rice to start an inning. Then he opts for Valverde to bail them out. Collins gave that game to the Pirates. Horrible piece of managing. Firing Hudgeons is nonsense. Duda should be fined for just complete lack of effort.

    My frustration keeps mounting. I’m exhausted with losing baseball.

    • Michael Geus says:

      The thing is there was only a handful of pitchers available yesterday, due to the doubleheader the day before. That is the problem with a guy like Rice being on the roster, he has to give you an inning yesterday, but he can’t. He is not worth a spot, except there isn’t anybody better to replace him. Why Abreu is starting games in the outfield is beyond me. Why he is finishing them out there when we have a lead is worse.

      But the real question is why was Black, a fresh arm, sent across the country yesterday when he could have went two innings? Only to be recalled after the game. That is very reactive GMing.

      Does anyone still think Alderson has a plan?

  9. Patrick Boegel says:

    Perhaps it is just me being optimistically naive, but I do have faint hopes that Hudgens dismissal will actually allow some change, because I’ve feared for a while that his articulation of process and implementation are at odds with what the professional athlete can understand. I think he feels he was saying the right thing the right way with clear purpose, but I get the sense he was basically talking a foreign language to the players who simply felt compelled to say “yes we get what you are saying Dave”.

    • Patrick Boegel says:

      That is to say, basically, I think he over sciences it all. In an effort to be a profound teacher he adds layers of confusion that simply are not harmonious with reality.

      The whopper he dropped when the crazy PR induced “Hunting Strikes” campaign was unleashed, about borderline or marginal strikes and hitting into double plays was the ultimate false diagnosis of medicine in search of a non-existent disease.

      • Right. I think an instructor can know these things, but it’s not necessarily useful to give all that data to the student. I tried to spoof this earlier, but in a different I could see a player walking away from him in befuddlement, thinking it seemed more like math class than a hitting lesson.

  10. IB says:

    Michael – “…why he [Abreu] is finishing them out there when we have a lead is worse.”

    Yeah, exactly. WTF manager does that?

  11. Reese Kaplan says:

    Firing the hitting coach hopefully is a signal to TC that the ice he’s currently on couldn’t support Kent Tekulve. or Freddie Patek.

  12. Eraff says:

    78-83 wins—I’m sticking with that. A full scale collapse is tough to “achieve” with competitive depth on the Starting Pitching Staff.

    The Hitting, will get better—I’m expecting an uptick from Wright and big improvement from Granderson. I’m also expecting SOMETHING from d’Arnaud.

    They need to move away from some mistakes and show some willingness to make a move or two to build the roster NOW…at the MLB level.

    • Everything they do is on a delay. At this point, you can look at the moves they’ve made this season and thought, “Yeah, that’s about right.” Montero, deGrom, Mejia, Campbell, Farnsworth, Valverde, etc. It’s just that they are so slooooooow to make the clear call to action. Duda has been killing them of late, and as for d’Arnaud, I’m very glad Dave Hudgens isn’t around anymore.

  13. One last comment about the approach (ha!). Hudgens acts as if he invented the idea of getting a good pitch to hit. Or that its the essence of everything, purity in white. But I strongly suspect that “the approach” has effected this organization’s evaluation process. And that’s a huge problem. They like guys who have it, and don’t like guys who don’t demonstrate the preferred methods. Which is why, to name one example, they will cling to a hitter like Lucas Duda (who probably chases more balls in the dirt than any Mets). He takes pitches, rarely swings early in the count, and so on. Overall, they love his approach. He’s been here for Sandy’s entire tenure. Now he’s outlasted the hitting coach, too. With this group, there’s really no point for Lucas to start swinging now.

    • wkkortas says:

      I’m sure you saw the graphic on SNY (which I’m sure the braintrust just loved) about what the batting average is in certain counts, and how Keith was surprised (and he wasn’t alone) at how low the averages were when the count was 2-2 and 3-2. It quietly (though it spoke loud and clear between the lines) put the lie to the value of hitting in deep counts.

      As an aside, I wonder how long it will be before ownership, it its never-ending search for scapegoats, decides the SNY booth is a little too indpendent for its liking and they are replaced by some Kay/Sterling/Leiter/O’Neill clones.

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