Come On Manuel, Light Their Fire

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I was looking through some of the Philadelphia papers this morning to see what the Philly sports writer’s there are saying about the Mets. I was actually surprised to see considerably less venom than anticipated. In fact, aside from a John Gonzalez column in the Philadelphia Inquirer, there was no derision at all.

So much for trash talk.

One article I read, Mets arrive burdened with problems by Ray Parrillo of the Philadelphia Inquirer, had two quotes that I found to be telling about the current psyche of the Mets. The first is by Mike Pelfrey, who opens the weekend series with the Phillies against Chan Ho Park.

“It’s not time to panic or be overly concerned,” righthander Mike Pelfrey said after the Mets put many of their warts on display in a 4-3 loss to Florida on Wednesday at brand new Citi Field. “If we continue to work hard, get this thing figured out, I think we’ll get on a roll and get back into it. The talent is there. We have everything it takes.”

True enough. Keep that confidence up, Pelf!

The second quote was from Jerry Manuel regarding the slumping David Wright:

“It’s been a tough go for him,” Mets manager Jerry Manuel said. “But I’m very confident he’s going to get out of it and hit .300 and do his thing, get over 100 RBIs and those types of things. I do believe there will come a time when he will be as hot as he is cold at this period with runners in scoring position. We’ll be patient and wait for that time.”

I agree with both quotes. It’s too early to panic about anything on this team. Not too early to tweak things, such as making a change in the starting rotation, but too early to make sweeping roster and coaching changes. When you have a good team that’s going through a bad stretch you don’t want to do anything too drastic that could make things even worse over the longer haul of a major league season. Even George Steinbrenner learned that lesson.

And let’s get real about Wright. In four full major league season he’s averaged 106 runs, 29 home runs and 112 RBIs per season. He’ll come around at some point and make good on those numbers. Let’s hope he starts tonight. (As an aside, it’s a crime to be booing him. Especially this early in the season. I understand there’s been little from him to cheer about but as fans we need to support the players and give them a lift. Not boo them and make them feel bad.)

What I’d like to see out of Manuel is a little more fire. Far too often this season we’ve seen him making excuses for the poor play on the field (most notably Daniel Murphy) or a managerial decision that didn’t work out the way he wanted (like having Omir Santos pinch hit for Ramon Castro the other day). He needs to take a page out of the Herman Edwards coaching handbook. Say what you will about Edwards (he wasn’t the best head coach ever) but through most of his tenure with the Jets he was great at getting his layers to rally around him. When he talked to the media he had you so fired up that you’d take a bullet for him. (Okay, maybe not that much but you know what I mean.)

This team has talent and heart but it seems to lack some fire. Manuel needs to channel his inner Herman Edwards, light a fire and fan the flames.

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