25 year old LHP Alan Merricks was buried on the Brooklyn Cyclones depth chart, but despite being warned by a teammate that if he asked the New York Mets for his release, “they will punish you”, he made that very request of ‘Lil Wilpons skipper Pedro Lopez on June 12. The events that followed seem very much in character, sadly, for deposed VP of Player Development Tony Bernazard. From Mike Silva’s NY Baseball Digest :
Alex and two teammates had attended Game 4 of the NBA Finals in Orlando. Merricks, a huge Lakers fan, knew that if the game ended late he would break curfew and incur a $250 fine. After all, Orlando was two hours away from Port St. Lucie. But Merricks said breaking curfew, and the resulting fine, was œcommon practice with the Mets. Merricks took full responsibility for the evening with the coaching staff, and his conversation with Pedro Lopez had been friendly.
Later that day, Merricks and the two teammates were brought into the office to have a conference call with Bernazard. Merricks knew he was wrong, but didn™t think it was an egregious offense. What happened totally blindsided him. He was told by Bernazard that œHe f***ed the New York Mets, now the New York Mets are going to f*** you! Merricks was suspended for 30 days without pay and fined $500.
During the next month, Merricks said he tried to reach out to the organization, but no phone calls were returned. Meanwhile, the other two players who went to the game were brought back after two weeks. Asked if he was surprised by this, Merricks said, œNo, because they just don™t seem to have it together administratively. Even after 30 days, he was unable to find out where the Mets wanted him to go.
He said that, although the conference call was his first experience with Bernazard, many of his teammates talked of fearing his presence. œEveryone is on egg shells because they don™t want to be on the receiving end of his tirades, Merricks said. Merricks was certain that Bernazard would make him an example and put him in baseball purgatory.
Merricks believes the root of the Mets™ developmental problems are Tony Bernazard and the culture of fear he has created. As Merricks explained the fact that some Binghamton players and coaches denied the Bernazard incident is more a product of them being œscared to death of the guy. Would you come out and say something?