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Spring Training Observations

by Jim McNierney

Yesterday, the other shoe fell on the plight of Jose Reyes. Fans were told yesterday that the Mets medical staff has determined that the shortstop’s blood tests have revealed an imbalance that indicates that Reyes has a hyperactive thyroid condition.

Being prudent (and given the reputation of this particular medical staff with both the players and the fans… being prudent is the only thing they could be… Regardless, the way they handle this latest turn of events will be very much “under the microscope”), they have sent Reyes away from camp, suspended him from any physical activity pending the results of some further tests. The assumption is that what follows will be an ongoing treatment plan to contend with this condition based on the severity of the ailment.

Given Reyes’ importance to this squad, this latest bout with bad luck could be yet another crippling blow in the chances of this team getting off to any kind of a good start to the 2010 season.

Met fans have already had to accept that the best pure hitter on the squad, Carlos Beltran, will be unavailable until a minimum of May perhaps appreciably longer.

Given the horrendous string of injuries this club suffered last year, the impact of this news on the psyche of the club (and the fans) could be quite debilitating. It will be very important for the club to get through this phase of the spring contending with this quickly and effectively.

Because of the disappointing outcomes of the 2006 –2008 campaigns coupled with the disastrous 2009 season it seemed that getting this club to come together as a team, to solidify the squad and build on the strengths would be a priority. Thus far, the controversies around the first base position and the way they have handled the position of catcher has seemed to this writer unneeded distractions and counter productive.

The Mets went through the off-season very publicly looking for a catcher and never acquiring one that they thought was deserving of the starter designation. Then as training camp was commencing there was another public proclamation that Omir Santos was going to be the starter. Suddenly, from out of the blue, the signing of Rod Barajas changed all that. Now it seems that despite a pretty productive first year with the club, the young catcher is now destined to be starting the season at the Mets Triple A franchise in Buffalo.

Another late addition, Mike Jacobs, instantly created a controversy at first base. We heard the Mets’ GM Omar Minaya state at the public announcement of the addition that this would mean that there would be competition for the starting first base job. Almost in the next breath and within the next day or so we heard Manual state that the first base starting job was Daniel Murphy’s.

These distractions are only compounded by Manual’s continued insistence to consider Reyes for the third position in the batting order.

Hopefully all of this is indicative of a plan that is beginning to gel but, even from a casual outsider’s perspective, it more loosely resembles a team and a camp in disarray.

Change is constant within any organization but how change is handled (particularly on a very public stage) is indicative of the health and effectiveness of an organization. The changes that the Mets are undertaking will obviously be judged on how successful they become. However, I question how strategic these changes truly are and what the longer term plan for this franchise truly is with all of the last minute maneuvering this club has undergone in the last four weeks.

It smacks to some degree as more desperation than effective and consistent management.

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