My Facebook friend Mike Emeigh had an interesting post over at BTF the other day where he asked:
Wind back the calendar to 1975. If you could have told MLB then one thing about the game, what would it be?
It provided some interesting answers so I thought we should examine the same question from a Mets POV. But before we get to the Mets, let’s look at a baker’s dozen of the serious ideas the BTF community came up with in response to the question.
1. Make sure to get in front of PED testing
2. Work a little smarter with the MLBPA
3. Develop your international scouting
4. Dissuade placing a team in the state of Florida
5. Invest time, money and manpower in figuring out how to protect pitchers’ arms
6. Understand how runs are scored – work strike zone and don’t worry about strikeouts
7. Stay with the four-man rotation
8. Stay away from push-button bullpen
9. Make sure there are plenty of urban baseball fields and leagues for black players
10. 140-pitch outings are not necessarily a good thing
11. Get rid of the DH while the union is still willing to let you
12. Instruct umpires to call strikes as the rulebook states, not as a personal interpretation
13. Don’t let networks dictate TV coverage – Let the Masters (the golf tournament that keeps close control over its image) be your guide
Some of these obviously apply directly to the Mets, so I will not repeat them below. The following are what I would go back to January 1st, 1975 and tell owner Joan Payson – who would die on October 4th – and General Manager Joe McDonald, once I succeeded in convincing them that I had indeed seen the future and was a reliable source of information.
1. Mrs. Payson, you are a beloved icon but you will be gone by the end of the year. M. Donald Grant does not have the best interests of the Mets in the forefront of his mind and he should not be involved in the team once you are gone. And your daughter has no interest in being a baseball owner. Look to sell the team during the season while you’re still alive and insure that the club will have a local owner committed to doing the best for the team. Look up a book publisher named Nelson Doubleday and give him a ring. And tell him to keep away from Fred Wilpon.
2. Try to mend fences and re-hire Whitey Herzog. Offer him any position in the organization he wants, whether that is manager, general manager or farm director. He managed the Angels briefly in 1974 but should be open to coming back, especially if Grant is gone.
3. The success of the 1969 Miracle Mets is over. That team enjoyed success because the farm system cranked out good players on a regular basis. In the six seasons before 1969, the Mets added to their farm system: Harrelson, Jones, Swoboda, Koosman, McGraw, Boswell, McAndrew, Ryan, Renko, Seaver, Jorgensen, Frisella, Otis, Matlack, Gentry, Singleton, Foli and Milner. Herzog had a little something to do with that and hopefully his arrival can make that happen again sooner rather than later.
4. On-base percentage is more important than average. A guy who has a .224 AVG and a .337 OBP (let’s call him 1974 Wayne Garrett) is better than a guy with a .268 AVG and a .317 OBP (let’s call him 1974 Felix Millan).
5. You can help to determine if a guy is a fluke by looking at his BABIP. Most MLB players will put up a number around .300 and any number significantly above or below that line could be an indication of someone enjoying an unrepeatable hot or cold season. If a rookie comes up and posts a .377 BABIP, chances are that he was on a hot streak and not a future star. Especially if you combine that ultra high BABIP with a low OBP and no power, then there’s even more reason not to consider that player a future star. Let’s call that guy 1975 Mike Vail (.377 BABIP, .302/.339/.420).
6. It’s not a good idea to trade for a guy in his mid-30s and expect him to be a key member of the team. It didn’t work with Bob Aspromonte in 1971, it won’t work with Joe Torre in 1975 and it certainly won’t work with Mickey Lolich in 1976.
7. Plan a day at Shea Stadium in 1975 for Casey Stengel, who will go into the hospital in mid-September and die before the month is over. Honor him for his contributions to the Mets and his place in history as being the only man to wear the uniform of the Mets, Yankees, Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants.
8. Make Dave Kingman a permanent first baseman, tell him it’s okay to strike out as many times as he does as long as he throws a few more walks in there and wait for an epic 1976 season from him.
9. It’s okay to pay stars big money. People might complain about player salaries but you never get in trouble paying stars the going rate. You get in trouble by trading stars and playing stiffs – regardless of what they’re paid.
10. A thing called free agency is coming. It’s a chance to sign veteran players from other clubs. It’s not evil and if used with discretion it can be an essential part of building a winning team.
I am sure there are a bunch of other Mets-specific items to mention. What are some that you would include, with the understanding not to put out ones specifically mentioned by the BTF crowd already.