Originally written March 06, 2013 on Taking Bad Schotz:
For this upcoming season, the New York Mets are projected to have a starting outfield consisting of Lucas Duda, Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Mike Baxter. Last season, none of these players had a batting average above .265, and they hit 25 home runs combined. It is clear that there is a lot of work to be done with these three. Photo Credit: ADAM HUNGER/Reuters However, while it is one thing for the public to make fun of this far-from-stellar trio, I do not think it’s appropriate for Mets GM Sandy Alderson to make jokes about them, even if the jokes were lighthearted. In November, Alderson was asked this whether outfield would be his top priority in the offseason. Alderson answered ““Outfield? What outfield? We’re probably gonna have to bring the fences in another 150 feet!” While I did not want Alderson to say that this is a top outfield in the league (it’s clearly not), it doesn’t do any good to let players know that their general manager does not believe in them. When people in positions of authority believe in their players, good things can happen. Take Jim Harbaugh and the San Francisco 49ers, for example. Before the 2011 NFL season, the 49ers hired Harbaugh, who previously was the head coach for Stanford. At that time, the 49ers had not had a winning season since 2002, and had a quarterback who was considered a major bust. Alex Smith, who was drafted first overall in the 2005 NFL Draft, struggled mightily in the first six seasons of his career (though some of that can be attributed to the fact that he had five different offensive coordinators in his first five seasons). Harbaugh could have aggressively gone after another quarterback, but instead, Harbaugh stuck with Smith, and was rewarded.  That season, Smith passed for 3,144 yards with 17 touchdowns and only 5 interceptions, and led San Francisco to the NFC Championship Game. The 49ers continued their resurgence in 2012, when they reached the Super Bowl. The defining moment of their season was when Harbaugh replaced Smith, who was having a very good season, with second-year quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Though slightly different than Alderson’s case, Harbaugh always had complete faith in Kaepernick despite the media’s criticism, and that confidence (as well as Smith’s support) undoubtedly helped the young quarterback play as well as he did. As every football fan knows, Jim Harbaugh loves to whine, but in these situations, he sent a message to the players and fans that he has the team’s best interest in mind. I love Alderson and all that he’s done to try to fix the mess he inherited. But if he has no faith in his team, why should we long-suffering fans devote our time and energy to them? Spring training is a time for optimism, and while we don’t want false hope, there is nothing good (other than an increase in Twitter followers) that comes out of publically making fun of players in a non-constructive way. -Hollenberg
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