Jerry Manuel Has Great Year, Gets Fired By the Mets Anyway

Bye-bye, Jerry. Lost so far in the blizzard of post-Omar Minaya commentary is real discussion about whether or not Jerry Manuel should also have been fired. For those of us who like and respect Manuel and think he did a good job of keeping a potential circus atmosphere under control, the question is a legitimate one.

It's likely that the Mets were doomed from the moment Carlos Beltran announced last January that he had elected to undergo knee surgery -- or perhaps that needs to be said another way: when Beltran's doctors determined that he needed knee surgery. The Mets front office reacted as if Beltran were somehow being selfish in making this decision, as if playing all season with a bad knee, and possibly risking the rest of his career, were an option.

In any event, Beltran was a non-factor for the Mets this season, playing in just 64 games and hitting only 7 home runs with 27 RBIs. If you factor in a normal season for Carlos, you could estimate that the Mets could have probably have won 2-4 more games.

Then figure in the huge disappointment of Jason Bay, who had 36 home runs and 119 RBIs in 2009 with the Red Sox but in just 95 games for the Mets, turned in 6 home runs and 47 RBIs. Would reasonable performances from Bay combined with a typical season from Beltran and a full season from Jose Reyes, who missed 29 games, have put the Mets several games over .500?

Did the 5 or 6 starts Johan Santana missed down the stretch have meant a couple more wins? Would K-Rod have saved a couple more games if he hadn't torn a ligament in this thumb punching out his girlfriend's father, taking himself out for the last 46 games of the season?

Put all these together and it probably wouldn't have been enough to make up the 14 games difference between the Mets and the Braves and a Wild card playoff berth.

But that wasn't the only bad luck Manuel had this season. Who could have predicted, for instance, that John Maine and Oliver Perez would have gone a combined 1-8 and Luis Castillo would play in only 84 games and lose 68 points off his 2009 batting average? And that the Mets front office or farm system -- except for Ike Davis, practically the only bright spot in the season -- would do virtually nothing to plug any of these holes?

In retrospect, given the tools Jerry had to work with, it should be considered something of an achievement that on September 16 the Mets were one game over .500. How good a manager he was or might have been if given the front office support he deserved we'll never know, but it's a good bet that whoever succeeds him will be looking back on Manuel's 2010 record of 79-83 and wondering if he did it with mirrors.

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