After I've had a day to think about the reduction in manager candidates that happened yesterday, I'd have to say I'm really disappointed. Long shots or not, Jim Leyland and Wally Backman were the two best guys that Minaya had mentioned as potential candidates. I realize Leyand was never asked in for an interview, but I think it is a foregone conclusion he will be the Phillies manager if they offer him the job. As for Backman, I suppose it was really strange that he was a top three finalist for the Diambacks job and he was setting up an interview with another ballclub before they made their decision. He could have hurt his standing with the D-Backs by saying he wanted the Mets job. I had thought that Minaya was doing a great job looking for managers, and he did sort of, but part of it is getting the best guys in and being able to hire them. Unfortunately, the seemingly best two guys got away and that is a failure in the end.
Now my focus shifts completely back to Willie Randolph and Rudy Jaramillo. I've written here time and again that I'd choose Rudy over Willie. I only know what read, but what I've read overwhelmingly favors Rudy. People have trouble with Rudy for the reason that he was a hitting coach in Texas for 10 years and never once occupied the manager position for that team. I'm not so concerned with that for a one major reason. There was never really a shot for him to. I believe Rudy came into that position in 1995. That is the year that Johnny Oates started managing the Rangers. Oates managed Texas through some very successful seasons before being relieved of his duties mid-season in 2001. He was replaced by Jerry Narron, who was presumably the bench coach. It stands to reason the bench coach takes over since he is the next in charge. Jerry Narron managed Texas in 2002 before being replaced by Buck Showalter in 2003. Now Buck is a very, very, very good manager. He helped the Yankees build their championship team and helped the D-Back build their team that won the World Series. In both instances he was removed from his post before each of those teams title runs. In my opinion, Rudy never really got a shot at the Texas job. One would have to believe that if there was no Showalter, then Rudy may have gotten a look. I'm sure he got a look anyway, but if Texas had a shot to bring in Showalter, they had to do it. Besides, maybe he wanted to stay by his home. Bud Black turned down an interview with the Mets because he did not want to leave home, does that mean he is incapable?
The Mets went sadly wrong when they hired Art Howe. Buck Showalter was available and he is noted for being a guy that can help build an organization and work with young talent. The Mets were heading towards a youth movement so he made a lot of sense for the Mets in 2003. Texas nabbed him, but the Mets should have thrown everything at him and that is the bottom line. I do not care that Lou Pinella got away, Buck getting away is worse. He would not have cost anything in terms of compensation. Now, during this entire managerial search, at no point have I heard Ken Oberkfell as a legitimate candidate. I've already written a post on that topic, so no need to go into depth into that again. I do not know much about Oberkfell, except for the fact that he won the championship with St. Lucie and took Binghamton to the playoffs in the following year. He is obviously a good manager, but he did have stacked teams. Maybe he is too laid back or there are some glaring problems the we do not know about, but he seems like someone that should have garnered attention.
The bottom line is that the Mets have made a lot of mistakes. Howe should not have gotten hired, Showalter should not have been passed up without a real fight, permission to speak with Leyland should have been asked the day he said he is considering returning, and Oberkfell should have been a major candidate. Oberkfell with HoJo on the bench next to him would certainly have been something Met fans would have enjoyed. All those mistakes do not matter now. The only thing that matters now is the fact that the Mets are down to two guys. Rudy Jaramillo, the latin speaking guy with 10 years pedigree as an accomplished hitting coach who has some spunk and managerial experience a long time ago and Willie Randloph who was a long time 3b coach and one year bench coach who is mild mannered and suggested that Don Zimmer will be brought in as his bench coach. A few weeks back, the NYPost described Rudy as a commanding, in-your-face kind of guy and when he talks, people listen. Rudy has also gotten a nice vote of confidence from Pete Incavilia and Alex "fem slap" Rodriguez. I have not heard anything about Willie from anyone but Joe Torre. Not even from A-Rod who threw his weight behind his old coach. In fact, just yesterday, the NYDaily News reported that insiders believe Randolph is Minaya's preference, but the GM may have reservations because of doubts expressed by baseball executives in other organizations. That is a negative to me. What doubts were expressed?
Obviously Minaya and the Mets have a ton more info than I do, but from everything that has been circulating around, I do not see how you can not go with Rudy Jaramillio at this point out of the candidates that were brought in. If you are worried about his lack of managerial experience and his lack of time spent around the NL style game, then give Wriggleman or Collins the bench coach position. They are NL guys that may be open for the job. The Mets have made a lot of mistakes when it comes to the manger spot on this team over the last few years, I just hope they can stop themselves before they make another one.
There was one curious name among those who filed - New York Mets first baseman Mo Vaughn, out most of the last two seasons with an arthritic left knee. Vaughn, who completed an $80 million, six-year contract, filed to get off the Mets' 40-man roster.
I sure hope that he is not sitting by the phone waiting for his agent to call him with some offers. I'm pretty sure there will not be one coming.
The conventional wisdom was that the Mets would target Magglio Ordoñez to bolster their limp lineup. But Mets people tout new general manager Omar Minaya's "outside-the- box" thinking, and a potential blockbuster involving either Ramirez, from Washington Heights, or Sosa could be the first prime example.
What does that mean? "Outide-the-box" thinking means idiotic move? I like Ramirez. If all else fails, and the Mets cannot land, Beltran, Ordonez, or Drew, then by all mean, bite the bullet and make your move on Ramirez. But for all that is holy, just say no to Sammy. I just cannot express how horrible a move it would be for the Mets to land Sosa. I want to think Minaya knows what is good for this team, but if he is honestly looking into Sosa, he is clueless. This could all be reporters making crap up, but I have come to expect the worst from the Mets. This move would certainly be Wilponderous.