Mets Need a Gag Order

There are probably nights where Jerry Manuel bolts up in bed, startled from sleep by a thunder bolt of an idea. Some people keep a pad by the bed for such instances, so they can remember their midnight moments of clarity come morning. Manuel doesn't give off that vibe, though. He seems more like the type who grasps for his glasses and then grabs the phone to call a beat reporter.

"I'm thinking about using Francisco Rodriguez as a starting pitcher!" 

The next day brings a flood of headlines, then K-Rod responds via the media for another day until, finally, Manuel either drops the idea or comes up with some lame excuse to drop it.

That scenario is a figment of the imagination, of course, but it feels organic to the current Mets way of doing business. Johan Santana's Opening Day readiness is the latest example. On Tuesday, pitching coach Dan Warthen sets out a detailed plan that likely meant Santana doesn't start the first game of the season. It seemed reasonable, especially since he wasn't expected to miss a turn in the rotation. More than that, it seemed like the kind of decision that a team makes after consulting with everyone.

Not so. On Wednesday, Santana said that he's gunning to pitch Opening Day and Manuel said he's on board with that plan. That's the same Manuel who said the Mets were going to proceed with "extra, extra, extra" caution when it came to Santana. He went on to say that Warthen was just trying to protect Santana, an odd theory about the guy who made it a point to publicly blame Santana's secret World Baseball Classic agenda for his elbow injury.

Believing anything that comes out of Manuel's mouth at this point is done at your peril. His lineup shifting idea was apparently cancelled because of the WBC, which he knew was coming, and he's backtracked on just about every one of the bold ideas he's presented to the media.

Everybody's got big ideas. Sharing them and not following through, though, leads to one of two conclusions. Either you lack the courage of your convictions or you're a liar. Neither one does much to help a guy get taken seriously so, for Manuel's sake and the Mets' sake, it might be time to start keeping things in-house unless there's actually some substance behind the statement.

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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