Problems in the Big Apple

A year ago, I placed the Mets at #5 on my list of the healthiest organizations in baseball.

My bad.

Yesterday’s he said-he said recounting of the events surrounding Carlos Beltran’s surgery are just the latest sign that the organization is a ship without a captain. Even the most conservative reading of the events looks really bad for the Mets – at best, their front office lacks the ability to communicate their desires to their team’s best player, at worst the player has reached the point where he simply doesn’t care what they say.

And then there’s the handling of the news. Word began to leak out on Wednesday that Beltran had surgery and that the Mets front office was extremely angry about it. It’s one thing to do a controlled leak of news that will come out eventually, as most teams in baseball do – it is entirely another to bring reporters into what should have been an internal issue. Then, to cap it off, the Mets held a conference call (necessitated by the leaks) that was run by Assistant GM John Ricco, ostensibly because Omar Minaya wasn’t able to find a working phone in the rural back-country known as Phoenix, Arizona.

More likely is that the Mets just didn’t want Minaya on that call for fear of what he might say. Say what you will about Minaya’s roster construction (and I have), but when you don’t trust your GM to meet with the press, you need a new GM. A significant part of the General Manager job is to handle the relationship with the press about the affairs of the team. The Mets apparently do not believe Minaya is fit to fill that role any longer.

Ricco’s handling of the conference call only goes to further confuse the chain of authority in Queens. Minaya is clearly not in charge, as the Wilpons continue to exercise more than a usual amount of influence on the front office. But they won’t willingly admit to running things either, leading to a nebulous power situation where there is simply no clear leader.

This is dysfunction on a large stage. Much like the last days of Jim Bowden’s reign in Washington, you have to wonder whether they’ll be able to escape growing evidence of a lack of control in the front office – never mind the questionable decisions Minaya has made spending the Wilpons’ money.

At this point, they just need to start over. The current situation isn’t working and it’s getting worse, not better. The team has a new ballpark in a huge metropolitan area and some terrific pieces to build around – they should be contenders. They should be well-run. But they aren’t. It’s time for some wholesale changes before things get any worse, if that’s possible.

Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.

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Minaya has to lose his job before they’ll rebuild though.