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Wilpons think that Mets stink because they’re too analytics-heavy

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There’s a story in the New York Post today about the Mets search for a general manager to permanently replace Sandy Alderson. A potential candidate is named — Gary LaRocque of the Cardinals — and some explanation is given for why someone like him, who is 65, and not one of the now familiar 30-something sabermetric, Ivy League whiz kids is being considered:

Multiple individuals connected to the team have indicated Mets patriarch Fred Wilpon, 81, is unlikely to hand the organization’s reins to a young, purely analytics-driven GM with whom he would perhaps have difficulty connecting. The growing belief is Wilpon will look toward a more traditional baseball person . . . There is thought among team officials that perhaps the Mets became too analytics driven in recent seasons under Sandy Alderson’s watch, and a veteran leader with a pure baseball background would help shift the organization toward the center.

Know what? I think it’d be a totally defensible position for a team which experienced poor results under an analytics-heavy GM to want to go in a different direction. Indeed, I think that, in many respects, we’ve gone too far in considering only those now familiar 30-something sabermetric, Ivy League whiz kids for top baseball operations jobs.

The Mets, however, are not most teams and it seems pretty dang clear that there are a LOT of things other than analytically-based decisions which have caused them to suck.

Those things, for the most part, are Fred and Jeff Wilpon and their treatment of the Mets as a 1990s-era small market team in which most moves they authorize are aimed at salary relief and bargain basement savings. Most moves the Mets make — almost all of which are likely approved and/or micromanaged by Jeff Wilpon — are seemingly made to answer the question, “how will this improve the Mets immediate cash flow” as opposed to “how will this help the Mets win baseball games?” or “how will this better position the Mets to win baseball games in the future?”

Sandy Alderson may very well be a sabermetrically-oriented guy, but it is not an excess amount of analytics that have put the Mets in this place (quick: what’s the sabermetric justification for keeping Jose Reyes on the roster?). “Baseball men” may, actually, be undervalued in today’s game, but any baseball man hired by the Wilpons will no doubt be forced to operate under their top priority — optimizing cash flow — rather than be given a mission to win games, first and foremost, same as Alderson was.

The problem with the Mets is not the general manager. The problem is Fred and Jeff Wilpon.

Max Muncy and Matt Beaty step on Rhys Hoskins’ ankle on consecutive plays

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In the 10th inning of Game 4 of the NLCS last year, infielder Manny Machado — then with the Dodgers — stepped on the foot of Brewers first baseman Jesús Aguilar. Aguilar, understandably, wasn’t happy about that and both teams’ benches spilled onto the field. It was a continuation of a tumultuous series for Machado, who was also vilified for not hustling and sliding hard into Orlando Arcia twice. The Machado-Aguilar dust-up served as a referendum on Machado’s character until he finally signed a 10-year, $300 million contract with the Padres.

Recently, Machado criticized the analysts on MLB Network for holding double standards. Dan Plesac and Eric Byrnes argued with Greg Amsinger about the Jake Marisnick collision at home plate with catcher Jonathan Lucroy. Amsinger felt Marisnick was in the wrong; Plesac and Byrnes defended Marisnick. On Instagram, Machado said if he had been the one who bulldozed Lucroy, Plesac and Byrnes wouldn’t have defended him, in part because he is Latino. Diamondbacks outfielder Adam Jones said earlier this year that Machado would “one hundred percent” be treated differently if he were white.

With that context in mind, something interesting happened in the fourth inning of Thursday afternoon’s game between the Dodgers and Phillies. Leading off the top of the fourth inning against Aaron Nola, Max Muncy grounded out to shortstop Jean Segura. As Muncy crossed the first base bag, he stepped on first baseman Rhys Hoskins‘ ankle. On the next play, Matt Beaty beat out an infield single hit to third baseman Maikel Franco, shifted up the middle. As Beaty crossed the first base bag ahead of the throw, he tripped over Hoskins’ ankle. MLB.com hasn’t posted video of the incidents yet, but here’s a look at both plays from @jomboy_ on Twitter:

We rarely see runners tripping over the feet of first basemen, but here we have it happening on back-to-back plays. Hoskins’ footwork around the bag was textbook given the situations. The commentators on the exclusive YouTube broadcast gave the runners the benefit of the doubt. Other than that, there has surprisingly been little discussion of these plays. A July 18 game isn’t exactly Game 4 of the NLCS, but look at how much conversation the Marisnick-Lucroy play generated and that was less than two weeks ago. These plays deserve a “Was it dirty?” conversation.

One wonders what the conversation would have looked like if it had been black or Latino runners stepping on Hoskins’ ankle on back-to-back plays. Would they have gotten the immediate benefit of the doubt like Muncy and Beaty? Would malicious intent have been ascribed to them instead? That, really, is Machado’s point about the double-standard applied to non-white players. It doesn’t excuse any of his obviously terrible behavior, but if we’re going to criticize players for bad behavior, we should do so evenly and fairly. Muncy and Beaty deserve criticism for their poor, sloppy, dangerous base running. Frankly, Major League Baseball should consider fines and/or suspensions. Machado was fined for stepping on Aguilar.