Jerry Manuel's Medieval Fantasy Camp

Injury after injury does nothing to change Manuel's outlook

Crying over spilled milk isn't going to do anything to put a better sheen on the Mets season. What's done is done, and the only thing you can do is try to learn something from what's gone down so that you can do everything possible to avoid a repeat of it in the future. That means doing a better job at filling out spots 10-40 on the 40-man roster and doing a better job of avoiding the mental mistakes that had the team heading in the wrong direction before everyone started getting hurt.

Increasingly, it's also looking like it's time to make a change at manager. Jerry Manuel has some qualities you like in a big league manager, but one of them is not the way he deals with injured players. He's from a school that thinks rubbing a little dirt on it and gritting your teeth is all it takes to get through an injury, a school where you complain when medical professionals step in and say that a player is hurt too badly to continue playing.

"I think what we have to be careful of is that anybody that could play, would play, and wants to play," Manuel said. "We've had some people that want to be out there, on the field, in the battle, in the fight. It's just unfortunate that sometimes it's out of their control, as well as mine and the coaching staff also."

Leeches and prayer shall heal us! 

Recall Manuel's comments after David Wright's concussion, the ones about how he's a different animal from former Met Ryan Church because he wanted to keep playing despite taking a fastball to the brain. And then recall the fact that Church could never find his way out of Manuel's doghouse before he was traded to Atlanta. You think maybe that affects how much a player is willing to let on that he's injured when Manuel is the manager?

Or take the case of Johan Santana. No manager has the ability to see inside his pitcher's elbow, obviously, but they can sit back and see when a pitcher isn't performing up to his standards. Santana's seven post-All-Star starts found him striking out fewer batters and getting hit more than he had previously in the season. Manuel knew Santana had complained of discomfort in his elbow and knew that something was off in the way he was pitching, yet didn't do anything to change the usage or protect the team's ace.

That decision may have come from above Manuel in the food chain, a chain that's got no shortage of damaged links, but it doesn't change the very clear impression that Manuel is putting other things ahead of the health of his players. No matter what changes are made to that group of players this offseason, the Mets can't continue to treat them as disposable parts. The first line of defense on that front is the manager, which should be a big part of the evaluation process.

Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City and is a contributor to and in addition to his duties for

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