Posted September 23, 2010 | comments Leave a comment

Eller: Torre's interest a boon for Mets

By Brian Eller - beller@nvdaily.com
A day after admitting he was "curious" about the possibility of managing the New York Mets, soon-to-be unemployed Los Angeles Dodgers manager Joe Torre apologized, saying his comments weren't intended to "make people believe I wanted to manage the Mets."

Current Mets manager Jerry Manuel graciously accepted, realizing that no matter what comes out of Torre's mouth, Manuel is still the one in charge of New York's "other" ballclub.

But while Torre has learned the actions of his apparent Freudian slip, I hope the Mets organization learned something, too. It may have just been an innocent remark, but it does show Torre would be open to moving back to the Big Apple, and if I'm Mets general manager Omar Minaya, I'm making a big push this offseason to bring him in.

As it stands today, the Mets' future is anything but promising. In fact, with the Phillies and Braves vying for postseason berths, the Marlins preparing to open a new stadium and the Nationals still salivating at their collection of youth in Stephen Strasburg, Bryce Harper and Jordan Zimmerman, the Mets appear to have the least appetizing situation in the division.

The past few seasons have been the worst. Following a 2006 postseason run to the NLCS, the Mets have stumbled to a 321-316 record and are on pace to finish fourth in the NL East for the second straight year. Injuries, questionable signings and underachieving superstars have compounded matters, but for Mets faithful in the Big Apple, things are rotten.

Unfortunately for Manuel, the road to recovery begins with his end as manager. In his nearly three seasons at the helm, Manuel has managed, rather mis-managed, the Mets to a mediocre 199-207 record and zero trips to the postseason, despite fielding the team with talent like David Wright, Jose Reyes, Jason Bay and Francisco Rodriguez.

Granted, that talent has certainly not lived up to the hype. Bay is on pace for his weakest offensive season since 2003, Reyes has become a concern with injuries while K-Rod isn't even being associated with the organization following an altercation with a member of his family last month. There is plenty of blame to go around in Queens. That won't save Manuel, however. May I refer you to the old adage, "players win, coaches lose."

So, if and when the Mets relieve Manuel of his duties, the new man for the job should be Torre. Fans will immediately cringe at the idea of Torre, the man who for years tormented the Mets from his ivory tower in the Bronx, leading a dynasty to four titles in five years, becoming the next head guy for the blue and orange.

But what those same fans need to do is stop living in their own fantasy world. Just because the word "Mets" is preceded by "New York," fans have become accustomed to believing their organization belongs in the discussions with elite franchises. Big-name talent? Yes. Deep pockets? You betcha. World Series championships? Um, we'll get back to you on that one. Right now the Mets are playing second fiddle to their baseball brethren 10 miles away and they need their Charlie Daniels to take the reins. The Mets need a guy who knows how to win.

Torre is that guy.

His name is synonymous with winning. In 29 years as a manager -- five of which he spent with the Mets, by the way -- Torre has collected 13 division crowns, six American League pennants, and four world championships, and his more than 2,200 wins ranks fifth among the all-time leaders. Critics will maintain he did it with the late George Steinbrenner's wallet and, while true, he still had the enormous responsibility of dealing with a boss who demanded perfection in a city drenched in winning history with a number of high-profile athletes.

His past also proves that while with the Yankees, Torre was able to manage in arguably the toughest media market in the country and withstand constant pressure to turn in winning ballclubs. And with a franchise that seems to be unsure which direction it's moving in, Torre can be a voice of stability in that clubhouse. He can be the man who takes the Mets back to the postseason.

He can be the Charlie Daniels this team needs. Just give him that fiddle.

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