One day, hopefully sooner than later, Mets fans will look at October 4th, 2010 as a great date in Mets history. As of today, it is a very sad date. Many fans have been clamoring for the day when the Wilpons would stand at Citi Field’s podium and announce the firing of Omar Minaya and Jerry Manuel.

I have to admit I was one of those fans. The key word here is “was”.

As Fred Wilpon stood at that podium, I couldn’t help but think back to September 30th 2004, when it was all smiles at the old Shea Stadium. The Mets were in a downward spiral as an organization, and Omar Minaya had been hired to right the ship. The positivity in that room was so strong that it jumped out of my television and made me believe again.

As I was remembering that day, I felt a pit in the middle of my stomach while Fred Wilpon announced that Omar Minaya would be relieved of his General Manager duties effective immediately and Jerry Manuel’s option would not be picked up. Don’t get me wrong, Minaya and Manuel deserved to be relieved of their positions, but as a fan, these days bring me down.

October 4th was a date where the Mets had to stand in front of the New York media and tell their fans that they failed and that it was time to start over. As Mets fans, we have experienced these type of days far too many times. It is difficult to buy into the Mets’ promises when all we have to do is turn the page in the sports section and read about the other team in town’s success. It is on that page that we see everything that we don’t have and it hurts.

Chicago Cubs fans have it rough, not having won a World Series in 102 years, but they don’t have the New York Yankees playing across town.

As hard as it may be, it is time for Mets fans to pick themselves up off the ground and pull themselves together. This off-season is going to be a wild ride, and I’ve broken down how the Mets and their fans should approach it. This must be done in three very large steps. They must forget about the past, create a new identity, and formulate a plan for the future.

When you stop and think about it, this is basic crisis management, but when you have as many questions as the Mets do, it is important that you go back to basics and make sure that this time you get it right.


Forget About the Past

Carlos Beltran staring at Adam Wainwright’s nasty curveball in Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS hurt bad, but we need to get over it. Blowing a seven game division lead with 17 games left to play in 2007 hurt even worse, but it’s time to get over it.

Scott Schoeneweis serving up a two run home run to Wes Helms to disgracefully close out Shea Stadium and end our playoff hopes was just as gut wrenching as the aforementioned, but just like those moments, it is time to get over it.

The Mets fans have a habit of hanging their heads when things don’t go their way, and I feel that this attitude has entered its way into the clubhouse. The last two seasons at Citi Field, I have noticed a lifeless attitude amongst the players when the team hits a bump in the road.

Baseball is a 162 game season, longer than any other professional sport, there are going to be plenty of ups and downs. There are going to be injuries as well. Players get hurt; it’s part of the game. Championship teams overcome injuries. The Mets have this woe is me attitude whenever a player gets injured. That attitude needs to be changed.

Does it suck when Jose Reyes is forced to the disabled list? You bet it does, he is a key to the team’s success, but you can’t let that ruin your season. In order for the Mets to have any success moving forward, they need to put together a group of players who can overcome adversity and make it through the rough patches that make up a baseball season. I hope that David Wright and Jose Reyes can answer the call.

Mets fans want to see homegrown players help the team win a championship. They want that feeling that they had in 1986 when Doc Gooden and Daryl Strawberry helped turn their offseason World Series proclamation into a reality. The fans and the organization want Jose Reyes and David Wright to succeed here. Nobody wants to see both traded and succeed elsewhere.

These two are the key to the Mets forgetting the past. They must be able to forget about the failures of previous seasons and look only at the present. It will be up to the new General Manager to ultimately decide if that is possible.

I feel that Reyes and Wright can move past 2006-2010, but I can’t be totally sure. I would love nothing more than to see them both be vindicated of past team failures and hoist a World Series trophy over their heads as the Mets parade down the Canyon of Heroes. Time will tell whether the Mets feel Reyes and Wright are part of their future or part of their past.


Create a New Identity

First thing’s first, before the Mets and their fans can formulate a plan for the future, they need to hire a General Manager who can evaluate the present and put a plan in place that will have this team competitive in two or three seasons with a new identity.

Joel Sherman of the New York Post put it best when he said that any candidate who “offers plaudits and rosy scenarios should be immediately dismissed”.

I could not agree more with Joel.

The question is, who is the right man for this job? A slew of names have been thrown around following the dismissal of Minaya ranging from ex-Diamondback GM Josh Byrnes all the way down to White Sox assistant GM Rick Hahn. Other candidates include former Royals GM and current Red Sox director of scouting Allard Baird, acting GM John Ricco, and Sandy Alderson, who is currently working for the MLB in the Dominican Republic. Long shot candidates include names such as the Dodgers Logan White, ex-Rangers and Indians GM John Hart, Tampa Bay executive Gerry Hunsicker, Twins executive Terry Ryan, and current Rangers GM Jon Daniels.

The New York Times is reporting that the Mets have received permission to interview Hahn and Baird next week. They are also scheduled to interview Byrnes some time next week. It is tough to pick a front-runner with so many candidates being mentioned, but I think Hahn could land the job. The White Sox have managed to keep Hahn the last two seasons, but he appears ready to make the jump from a promising executive to a General Manager with a vaunting task ahead of him.

There’s no telling who the Mets will hire until a round of interviews have been completed, but his first task is to hire a manager that will change the culture of the clubhouse. He must hire a manager that will implement an identity for how the Mets play the game.

Right now, people in baseball view the Mets as a runaway train. It will be up to the new GM to hire a manager that can put the brakes on and establish a new standard for Mets baseball. Fans are screaming for Bobby Valentine because he reminds them of when times were good. He reminds them of clutch Mike Piazza home runs and gritty starts by Al Leiter, but don’t forget that he lost control of his clubhouse to the point that fans were calling for his head.

Another popular candidate amongst the fans is Single A Manager Wally Backman. It wasn’t too long ago that Backman was introduced as Arizona Diamondbacks manager only to be fired days later due to some unflattering personal issues surfacing. He hasn’t managed a day in the big leagues, but Backman has a swagger that the Mets most desperately need. Think New York Jets coach Rex Ryan. I don’t like to compare football to baseball, but Ryan changed the culture of a franchise in turmoil in one season.

Am I saying that Backman can do that for the Mets? I think he can.

If you listen to him speak about the game, you can sense his passion and no nonsense demeanor. Wally ball is not about hanging your head when things start to go south. It is about playing the game with intensity, and most of all, it’s about playing the game the right way.

If you don’t? Well, Backman has no problem riding you on the bench. The Mets went from Art Howe to Willy Randolph to Jerry Manuel. All were good baseball men, but all three lacked the intensity that it takes to be a manager of a team that’s lost its confidence.

Will a colorful manager save the Mets? I can’t be sure, but I sure as hell know that a colorful manager would certainly help improve morale amongst the fans and players. 


Formulate a Plan for the Future

The Mets have seen a 17 percent decline in attendance since $900 million dollar Citi Field’s inaugural season. This type of drop off may tempt the Mets to throw money at a big-ticket free agent like Carl Crawford or Cliff Lee. This type of temptation must be avoided like the plague.

It is finally time for the Mets to not give in to the pressures of New York City and sell a youth movement to their fans. Will they probably have to trim ticket prices? Yes they will, but it’s a small price to pay.

2011 will most likely be a year of the Mets waiting for contracts to expire and taking a long look at the young inexpensive players they have in their organization. Will they be able to trade Luis Castillo, Oliver Perez, and Carlos Beltran? Not without paying a hefty percentage of the money owed to them.

Should the Mets do that? It depends how you look at it. Some might say that the Mets should just give it one more shot in 2011 before a full-fledged makeover of the team in 2012. With a core of David Wright, Jose Reyes, a healthy Jason Bay, and Carlos Beltran playing in his walk year, they may be able to fight for a Wild Card berth.

Others will say that the Mets should do whatever they have to do to move Castillo, Perez, and Beltran so that this can allow playing time for the younger players and give them a season without pressure to develop. I’m on the fence.

A part of me feels they should give it one more shot in 2011 because of the large amount of money set to come off the books after the season. Castillo, Perez, Beltran, and Francisco Rodriguez (assuming the Mets lose their battle to void his contract this off-season) will help the Mets shed roughly 44.4 million dollars in salary for the big free agent class of 2012.

They’ll have to re-sign Jose Reyes but they will have plenty of money to throw at free agents such as Prince Fielder, Adrian Gonzalez, Albert Pujols, Brandon Phillips, Grady Sizemore, Jose Bautista, Heath Bell, Jonathan Papelbon, etc.  

It’ll be tough to be competitive with staff ace Johan Santana sidelined for an undetermined amount of time, but they may be able to make one more run at a playoff berth in 2011, and if they fail, there will still be a light at the end of the tunnel due to the payroll flexibility they’ll have in the off-season.

The other part of me would like to see them move Castillo, Perez, Beltran, and serviceable players such as Pedro Feliciano for low level minor leaguers that will give the organization some depth while letting some young players develop with the big league club playing without pressure. I’d be intrigued at the prospect of Carlos Beltran gone and Angel Pagan full time in center field while Lucas Duda, Nick Evans, Fernando Martinez, and Kirk Nieuwenhuis battle to lock down the right field job in spring training.

I’d also be really excited to see Luis Castillo elsewhere while Daniel Murphy, Ruben Tejada, and former first round pick Reese Havens (assuming he makes a full time switch from shortstop to second) battle it out for the job at second base. What Mets fan wouldn’t love to see Oliver Perez off the team so that youngsters Jenrry Mejia, Dillon Gee, and Mark Cohoon can take those innings and establish a connection with catcher of the future Josh Thole?

The decisions that the Mets new architect faces will shape this organization for the next five to 10 years. The key to making the right decisions relies on the identity that he and Mets ownership want for this franchise and how far they’ll go to establish it.

The fans just want October baseball at Citi Field and a team they can look back on and brag about. Next season will mark the quarter century mark since the last Mets World Series. The fans are restless, and rightfully so. It is up to this franchise to take us from bereaving to believing again. 

Read more MLB news on