Casey Stengel is a beloved figure in Mets history. Shoot, my daughter Casey may or may not be named after him. Stengel was a baseball lifer. Those guys always get my respect but the difference between Stengel and your typical guy who stays involved in the game for 50-plus years was his wit and his intelligence.
Perhaps my favorite Stengel quote is this one:
“The secret of successful managing is to keep the five guys who hate you away from the four guys who haven’t made up their mind.”
Although all of us failed in our quest to be the Mets’ manager, let’s see if we can apply this quote to our fandom. Who are the five guys you don’t like – you know, there’s too much “hate” in the world – and who are the four guys you haven’t made up your mind about? Here’s my list:
Gerson Bautista – In the movie “Good Will Hunting,” there’s a scene where Robin Williams’ character finally has a breakthrough with Matt Damon’s character and he tells him over and over again, “It’s not your fault.” While it feels like that applies to Bautista – it’s not his fault he was in the majors when he clearly didn’t belong there – the memory of opposing batters playing the role of the Gas House Gorillas in the conga line around the basepaths against the ineffective pitcher for the Tea Totallers is just too much for me to shake.
Wilmer Flores – He can’t field, he can’t throw and he can’t run. And the bat doesn’t make up for all of the things he can’t do. There’s another Stengel quote which applies here – “I don’t like them fellas who drive in two runs and let in three.”
Juan Lagares – Watching him charge balls in the outfield and throw on the run is a treat. But waching his inability to add anything offensively besides singles has been a major disappointment. Maybe the fly ball approach will pay off this year. But my advice would be not to hold your breath.
Jacob Rhame – It’s great to throw hard but you’ve got to bring something to the table besides that. A 1.573 WHIP and a 2.2 HR/9 simply do not inspire confidence.
Paul Sewald – My freshman roommate in college was an excellent basketball player. He was a student at NCSU but he really should have played at a lower level D I school. His friends told me that his high school coach had it in for him and that racism was likely the reason why. Anyway, there was one basketball court in the gym where the top guys played and whenever Donald played, he was the best guy on the court. Around 95% of the guys on the court were black but there was one white guy who played there regularly. Not sure if he was much older or just prematurely gray but we used to call him gramps. For whatever reason, Donald kind of liked gramps, even though he had no business playing on that court. And Sewald is like gramps. He may have the moxie to play with the big guys but he just doesn’t have the talent.
Kevin Plawecki – My take on Plawecki is that when he sets up in the batter’s box, he looks like a hitter. But the results haven’t been there. But he’s gone from a guy who couldn’t throw a ball to a base without bouncing it to a guy who makes pretty decent throws. So maybe he can turn things around in the batter’s box, too.
Dominic Smith – In a way he’s like Lucas Duda in that he just needs a chance to play every day and be left alone and let his talent shine through. But it’s hard to be a big advocate when he’s done so little in the majors and there’s a better prospect at the same position just about ready for his shot in The Show.
Jason Vargas – It seems weird to be on the fence about a guy who’s been in the majors as long as Vargas has. But I understand the logic about the signing and what made it a reasonable idea last year still applies today, even with the horrific performances we witnessed for about two-thirds of last season. That lousy performance should be enough to put him in the “Five Guys” category. But he was really good his last eight starts and thus the dilemma.
Daniel Zamora – While there’s too much hate in the world, I can’t get past using that word to describe my feelings for the LOOGY gambit. Zamora, a lefty, appeared in 16 games and totaled 9 IP. If given a chance, can Zamora get RHB out, too? In 17 PA against righties last year, he limited them to a .466 OPS so maybe he can. Hopefully there will be a culture change with a brand new GM and a relatively new manager and Zamora can get the opportunity to be a reliever sent in regardless of what batter is due up at the plate.