I don’t hate the Mets by any stretch of the imagination, but I have to admit I’m fascinated by the frequency and ferocity of their self-immolations over the past few years. The latest has team brass cracking down on Jerry Manuel cracking wise about the team’s injury situation, while VP of Player Development Tony Bernazard simply cracks.
Three ugly incidents involving Bernazard have been reported over the past two days. In the first one, he took his shirt off and challenged a minor leaguer to a fight, leading one wag to remind readers that Bernazard once endured an 0-for-44 string of futility, tied for the longest in the majors by a non-pitcher: “Odds are he wasn’t going to hit anybody even if he tried.”
In another incident, he engaged in “a profane verbal exchange” with closer Francisco Rodriguez, and now a third has come to light, in which he got in a shouting match with a Diamondbacks scout:
These incidents have been common knowledge around the Mets for days – as was the ugly, very public exchange Bernazard had with Diamondbacks scout Carlos Gomez in the box seats behind the plate during a recent home stand at Citi Field. For Minaya to say he’s “investigating” the matter is either an insult to our intelligence or an acknowledgment that all of this despicable behavior by his assistant is somehow news to him.
In the confrontation with Gomez, Bernazard screamed at the scout for sitting in his seat and angrily demanded him to move. Then when one of his own baseball operations men attempted to intercede, suggesting that they wait until the end of the inning for everyone in the scouts section to shift seats, Bernazard went ballistic and began cursing at his own man in front of all the other scouts.
Gomez, you may recall, is the indy-league sidearmer I interviewed a few years back for Baseball Prospectus. Alias Chad Bradford Wannabe, he was hired by Arizona in late 2007 after writing a popular series on pitching mechanics for Baseball Think Factory. Somehow I have a feeling he’ll still have a job long after Bernazard is fired, a dismissal that’s richly deserved, as even Bill Madden figures out:
It would be one thing if Bernazard, despite his temper, was doing an exemplary job at developing talent for the Mets. But the hard facts are the Mets’ farm system is among the worst in baseball. All you need is to look at what has transpired this year where the best the system has been able to offer in the face of all the injuries are Argenis Reyes, Nick Evans, Wilson Valdez, thrice-released Angel Berroa and Fernando Nieve, a March waiver claim from the Astros. On that alone, Bernazard deserved to be the first fall guy for this Mets mess.
The Mets’ Triple-A affiliate, the Buffalo Bisons, are an International League-worst 35-58 at this writing, and the Double-A Binghamton Mets are 37-59, two losses away from holding a similar claim on the Eastern League. Ouch.