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Willie Watch - On or off
Posted by Jan Levine at 6/13/2008 1:58:00 PM
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Depending on who you believe, the Willie Watch is in full bloom or dying on the vine. According to Adam Rubin of the NY Daily News, Randolph's tenure as Mets manager is in grave danger of ending this weekend and it's believed that bench coach Jerry Manuel would succeed Randolph. However, Jayson Stark reports that Randolph will not be fired and has GM Omar Minaya's backing.

Would all of this conversation have died down if Billy Wagner hadn't blown three straight games, two of which the Mets lost? Or would that have just masked in the short-term the problems surrounding this team that have been evident all year.

Is Randolph completely at fault for the team's sub-.500 record? While some of the blame has to be placed on him for his overuse of the bullpen, inability to motivate and failure to try and make things happen when the team is struggling for runs, a bigger indictment has to be placed on Minaya. When the team is forced to call up Abraham Nunez or Robinson Cancel or Raul Casanova because there is no available talent at Triple-A, that is the GM's fault. Yes, he did trade four prospects for Johan Santana and others for Carlos Delgado and Paul Loduca, but some of the smaller players dealt for Jeff Conine and that ilk and lopsided giveaways of Heath Bell and Matt Lindstrom have hurt the farm system's depth.

What about the contracts bestowed on the injury-prone Orlando Hernandez, was two years and $12 million necessary, $8 million spent on Moises Alou without having a serviceable back up, four years and $32 million on Luis Castillo? Allowing Tony Bernazard to go into the clubhouse and speak Spanish to several of the younger players undercutting Randolph as the main point of contact. His unwillingness to pay above slot for draft picks has robbed the team of its inherent NY, big market advantage, and partailly resulted in the constant stream of relief pitchers while other teams seem to have gotten better through wise drafting.

Say what you want about Randolph, but in my book, Minaya is just as or even more culpable for the team's poor performance.

Feel free to criticize or agree.


Minaya put together a team that -- if everything worked out perfectly -- would probably be among the top squads in the National League. And that's the expectation the Mets sold to their fan base.

Unfortunately, the "everything working out perfectly" scenario required several players on the down sides of their careers to a) stay healthy and b) stay productive. It's not Willie Randolph's fault that his every day lineup includes Carlos Delgado and Luis Castillo and Moises Alou and a pitching staff heavy on the likes of Pedro Martinez and Orlando Hernandez.

Now, I don't watch a ton of Mets games, so I won't comment on Randolph's in-game managing. It wouldn't surprise me if he has some of the same tendencies -- putting certain players in a "dog house" from which they can never escape, using his favorites in the bullpen until their arms are ready to fall off -- as his mentor, Joe Torre. I'm not ruling Randolph out as part of the problem.

But it seems to me that the Mets' biggest problem is that they were constructed to win big using a heavy dose of veteran talent, and that those veterans don't seem to have enough left in the tank. And that falls on the GM.

Posted by czegers at 6/13/2008 2:14:00 PM
Randolph certainly isn't the biggest problem here, but today it comes down to one critical question: Are your odds of turning it around better with him or without him? Fair or not, I would make a change.
Posted by spianow at 6/13/2008 2:32:00 PM
I am a huge Mets' fan, and watch most of the team's games on Direct TV (I no longer live in NY). I think the team needs a fall guy if the Daily News is correct. Randolph uses his bullpen more than any other manager in baseball, according to the commentators that cover the Mets' games. And, he doesn't outwardly show much emotion, but who knows what goes on behind closed doors. Lately, he has been acting deflated when the SNY captures him. I think Minaya is more to blame, however. He has overpaid for several players out of their prime: Delgado, Alou, Easley, Castillo, Glavine (who was a little over .500 as a pitcher for the Mets), Orlando Hernandez, and on and on. So, Willie does not have much to work with. But, Santana was a great pick-up. Pagan is solid prospect. Of course, Reyes and Wright are locked up for long term relatively cheap. And, Maine has been an asset since being acquired from the Astros. Well, I think if Willie goes, Minaya should share the blame and get a pink slip as well. My two cents.
Posted by jhermann at 6/13/2008 5:09:00 PM
Sorry, Maine was acquired from the Orioles. My wife was talking to me as I was typing.
Posted by jhermann at 6/13/2008 5:11:00 PM
Should have fired him long ago. Whether it's his fault or not, the team needs a jolt.
Posted by schoenke at 6/14/2008 5:33:00 AM

But, firing Willie might have an even worse negative jolt. Many players, including Wright, have stated publicly that they want Willie to remain mangager, and that it has been the players' collective fault, not the manager.
Posted by jhermann at 6/14/2008 10:02:00 AM
I'm surprised Willie didn't get canned after last September. I've been a Randolph fan since he came up as a second baseman with the Pirates, but "you can't fire the whole team" as the saying goes. Is it my imagination or does Minaya favor Latin players over others? How else can Luis Castillo's contract be justified at this point in his career?
Posted by jtopper at 6/14/2008 6:01:00 PM
Topper: It is terrible to say, but I have always suspected that Minaya shows favoritsm to Latino players. Before Delgado became a Met and was a free agent, Delgado remarked that Minaya wanted him to do the deal with the Mets because they were both hispanic. Absurd. Delgado went to the Marlins instead at that point. It is a sensitive topic, to say the least.
Posted by jhermann at 6/14/2008 6:34:00 PM
The Mets are a thoroughly incompetent organization- They need to fire Willie and Omar and shakeup the roster- adding some personality and toughness- If they could get fair value for Reyes and Beltran, Id pull the trigger.
Posted by djm1144 at 6/15/2008 11:06:00 AM

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