Friday, May 2, 2008

Spring Cleaning

There's an article in today's New York Sun, by Tim Marchman, which calls for the head of Willie Randolph. Should the Mets sweep or get swept this weekend in Arizona (and either one is a distinct possibility), Marchman believes Willie should be fired.

Marchman is pretty much right on just about all of his points. I've made my case for firing Willie in the past. Jason at Faith and Fear agrees with Marchman as well. Willie, despite being a very nice, amicable and talkative person, has not been able to accomplish what has been required of him as the Mets Manager, and has consistently fallen short of the goals set forth for him in his 3+ seasons at the helm (You can give him a partial pass for 2006, based on the injuries to the pitching staff, but even so, the Mets should have filleted St. Louis and everyone knows this—they just won't admit it).

It's become my belief (and the theory of my insane co-worker) that Willie Randolph is, for the most part, an over-glorified and flashier version of Art Howe. He's very calm, unfazed, and looks real sharp standing in the dugout with his shades on.

But let's take it a step further. A common argument you might hear against this particular stance is that the Manager can only be as good as the players he has to work with. Of course, it doesn't help that players like Delgado and Beltran have been underachieving, pitchers like Perez, Sosa, Heilman and Schoeneweis are routinely hammered and, overall, guys seem to play like they're in a fog. Any Manager in the Major Leagues will have to deal with his share of malcontents on their team. But when it appears that the roster is overloaded with guys who have cashed in on "trade high" status, it's time to question the guy who put the team together.

That would be Omar Minaya.

Willie is pretty far from blameless in this equation, but Omar should shoulder the brunt of the blame. You can hail Omar as a genius for bringing in guys like Pedro Martinez and Johan Santana, but it's not as though these moves were made out of some great wizardry on Minaya's part. A large number of the gambles that Minaya has made haven't paid off. Sure, one might say, the Nady for Hernanadez/Perez deal was a heist. But the reality is that the deal wasn't necessary. In making the deal, the Mets gave up one of their more solid righty bats (and, yes, the Mets did hit that season, but not when it mattered most) for a reliever that they didn't need and didn't use in the Postseason, and an erratic starter who has mixed brilliance and misery, sometimes within the same game. Sure, one might say, the Bannister for Burgos deal was a wash. Bannister hadn't shown anything, and Burgos had a great power arm. Nobody knew Bannister would go to KC and light it up or that Burgos would get hurt. But, again, it was an unnecessary deal. Burgos wasn't going to make or break the Mets bullpen, and they were already short starting pitching. Bannister deserved a better chance, at the very least.

The point is, and I'll steal the theory brought up in yesterday's Bill Simmons column, that Minaya has made a lot of "Critically Acclaimed" deals. Trades and signings that involved names to light up the sky, but either didn't require a lot of thought (and sometimes a little dumb luck in the case of the Santana deal) or calculated gambles that worked in the short term, but proved to be long term failures. Omar's stock can trade high because he likes to take these risks, but a closer examination would reveal that they rarely have paid off well.

If Willie is going to take the fall for this poor start and the underachieving of past seasons, Omar has to do so as well. Freddie and his Boy-King ought to be smart enough to realize this before things spiral completely out of control.

It's Time To Fire Willie Randolph
[New York Sun]

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