Mets Have 2009’s Built-In Excuse Prepared

In 2007, it was bad luck.

In 2008, it was injuries to a depleted bullpen.

In 2009, what are the Mets going to claim prevented them from achieving success? If third baseman David Wright has nagging problems related to his WBC injury, it looks like Jerry Manuel is going to blame… the WBC.

The New York Mets third baseman stayed in Wednesday’s World Baseball Classic game against Venezuela, despite believing he’d broken his toe fouling off a pitch in the first inning. He realized he’d escaped with nothing more than a cracked toenail only after an X-ray of his left foot was taken after the game.

So the fact that Wright limped to the finish of a game that affected only seeding for the WBC’s final rounds didn’t please Mets manager Jerry Manuel.

“He probably shouldn’t have played if he felt he had a broken toe,” Manuel told reporters on Thursday. “No question about that.”

Another important question to ask is, “How will Omar Minaya overreact to the Mets’ failure during the season?”

Following the ’07 collapse, Minaya went out and signed baseball’s best starting pitcher in Johan Santana. During June last season, he fired Willie Randolph after a win in the first game on a West coast road trip. Over the recent off-season, he acquired not one, but two lauded relief pitchers in Francisco Rodriguez and J.J. Putz, a response to Billy Wagner’s injury that will keep him out for all of ’09 as well as the noxious odors emitted from the bullpen last year.

I’m going to wait for the Mets to really clutch at straws and say something like, “We’re not playing well because we haven’t adjusted to the new stadium yet. We’re so used to Shea.” I should probably copyright that phrase in case someone in the Mets organization happens upon it, at least I can collect royalties every time they use it.

Now that I think of it, I think a new category, “NL East Whining”, would be fitting given the complaints of Chipper Jones recently:

The third baseman, who left the U.S. team this week due to injury, blasted both the format of the tournament and the city that hosted his team earlier this month for the opening round.

“Just way too many days off,” Jones told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution about the event’s format. “We stayed in Toronto for a week and played three games. I don’t know if you ever stayed in Toronto, but it’s not exactly Las Vegas. To say that we were plucking our eyebrows out one at a time would be an understatement.

“You’re not getting the work in that you should. You’re getting reps, but you’re not getting the at-bats that you need.

“Getting to share a clubhouse with the guys and getting to know people on a different level is the cool part about it. But when you’re talking about a three-week tournament, and you could literally play eight games in three weeks, it’s just too much down time for spring training.”

Jones added he won’t play for Team USA again unless the format is changed.

Whining isn’t exactly a new thing for the Atlanta Braves. I’ve written about it twice back in 2007, though I’m sure there was plenty last year that went unnoticed.

This new category adds a whole ‘nother element to the NL East “rivalries”! I’m so excited!