The Mets played four games in San Diego this weekend, although with the Red Sox in the Bronx they could just as easily have been in Borneo for all the attention they received. With the Yankees moving on, though, people paid some attention to the Mets on Monday night. To nobody's surprise, they found a team of modest talent making a series of mental blunders that made winning a baseball game impossible.
After the game, Jerry Manuel ripped his team. He ripped Mike Pelfrey's pitching performance, he ripped them for mental errors and, more than anything else, he ripped them for their complete lack of effort. He then made it clear why a team going nowhere at a million miles an hour should care enough to give it their best.
"This is also a time of evaluation going forward," Manuel said. "You got to say, hey, does this fit or does this not fit, and you have to react and respond accordingly."
Monday night's issues included Daniel Murphy not covering first base on a double play. That would be okay if he weren't, you know, a first baseman whose primary job is covering first base. That reflects badly on Murphy, obviously, but it's happened too often, this year and last, for Manuel to escape any blowback. When the Mets had all their best players, they still played like a stupid baseball team. It's just more noticeable now because no one is good enough to overcome it.
That statement above, then, works just as well with Manuel as the target rather than the originator. Handicapped as Manuel is by injuries, it's hard to hold him totally responsible for the team's winning percentage but it is easy to hold him responsible for the fact that his players approach their jobs like nagging chores that get in the way of playing XBox or going to the mall.
That's the thing about evaluating Manuel, and Omar Minaya for that matter. Losing can be explained by injuries, but the way the Mets have lost and the way they've managed the team following those injuries has given more than enough evidence of their weaknesses.