Mets Holiday Shopping - Part 4 - Offense
The Mets Must Resist the Temptation to Overpay for Players

Mets Holiday Shopping - Part 5 - Team Chemistry

Analyzing baseball and predicting results has become a stat-oriented excursion through Sabre-Metrics and although I do think there is an appropriate level of utilizing statistics in projecting players' numbers, I have always agreed with Vin Scully on that when he said, "Stats can be like an drunk leaning on a lamp post in that they are used a lot more for support than illumination." That brings us to Part 5 of our Met 5 part series--Team Chemistry--and I promise you I will utter one statistic today.

Team chemistry is a hard concept to quantify because when you see it, you know it and when you do not see it, you know it is not there. But what makes up a team's chemistry? Well, I think it starts in the manager's office because he sets the tone. The Bobby Valentine-led Mets always played with passion whether they won or lost. They also knew how to have fun and even in the most trying of circumstances, they let their emotions do the talking. And that was a direct by-product from the manager's office because that describes Bobby V's persona--passionate, focused, and very engaging.

To be perfectly honest, I am not sure what the personality of Jerry Manuel can be characterized as--he is certainly a nice man who is friendly with the media but I sometimes wonder if his messages get through to his players. And I think that level of uncertainty filters down into the clubhouse and may make certain stars reticent to lead which inhibits the growth of team chemistry.

How can he fix that? To be perfectly honest, he should be more direct with his players. Consider the case of Ryan Church. There was something Manuel did not like about Church and it was obvious to all of us-including Church. But he never communicated what it was. What he did do was give indirect remarks to the media who then were forced to play cat and mouse with both Church and Manuel. And it started way back in spring training when he insisted Daniel Murphy was a better all around hitter versus southpaws than Church. A player who had the grand total of 40 career major league at-bats versus lefties.

That type of communication must stop and it may mean that Jerry Manuel will have less friends in the media because it will give the Met beat writers (including myself) less to chew on but in the long run, it will help the team.

But chemistry can not only come out of the manager's office--it needs to come from the players as well. The 2006 Mets got tremendous leadership from Jose Valentin and it was very helpful in their quest for a divisional title. Star players must step forward as well and I think guys like Johan Santana and Frankie Rodriquez provide leadership but you really need an every day player to do it--some one who is on the field every day.

Can it be David Wright? I think he took a giant step forward towards that in 2008 but a sub-par year short circuited those plans last year. Still, David held himself accountable for a poor season and that is first step towards leadership. Jeff Francoeur and Alex Cora were also 2 members of the team that seemed to welcome a position of leadership and the team will need them to step forward.

When you look at the Mets chief competition in the division, you realize the Phillies have a plethora of leadership in guys like Jayson Werth. Shane Victorino, and even a guy like Jamie Moyer whose contributions are now much greater off the field than they are on it. Sure, their star players like Rollins and Howard are "born leaders" but an understated star like Chase Utley leads by example more than anything else and that is OK because there is more than enough vocal leadership from the other corners of the clubhouse.

So, when Omar Minaya begins to assemble the 2010 Mets, he must be keenly aware that in addition to bringing in guys "with the numbers," he must also bring in guys that have the intangibles that this Met team has been missing since 2006. Those players are out there but not always easy to find. Re-signing Alex Cora is a great first step but the Mets need more of those kind of men--leaders that the team can lean on when tough times hit and then accept nothing less than 100% in those moments. It is the secret sauce that all winning teams possess and the Mets must find it this off-season.
And if you are beginning to think about Christmas gifts, why not something from your favorite team? For Mets fans out there, check out these New York Mets Holiday Gift Ideas


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