A blog dedicated to the New York Mets with some other baseball thrown in.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

An Example of How to Not Run a Franchise

Rob Neyer checks in on the Mets.

"Willie has my support. He has the support of our ownership," Minaya said. "Willie's job was never in danger going into this meeting."

If not, why not?

Yeah. Winning would be good. You can't read anything about the Mets these days without seeing a reference to their payroll: $138 million. And it's worse than 23-26. Over their last 162 games -- Randolph's last 162 games -- the Mets are 79-83. The Mets, with the largest payroll in the National League, have a losing record over their last season's worth of games.

I know that's cherry-picking. It's not arbitrary cherry-picking; 162 games is not a meaningless number. But I'll bet I could find a 162-game stretch when Joe Torre's Yankees lost more games than they won.

Well, maybe not. But close, probably. Usually, I would acknowledge the possibility that Randolph's team simply has gone through a 162-game stretch of tough luck, and anyway it's the general manager's fault for not spending that $138 million on the right players.

But last year Randolph presided over one of the worst collapses in major league history. His team is losing again this year. With the exception of David Wright (who's unflappable) and Ryan Church (who wasn't around last year), nobody on the roster is doing anything extraordinary and a lot of guys are struggling. Jose Reyes, now in his sixth major league season, seems to do something silly on the bases every other game.


Reyes is not the problem, but something is clearly wrong. Would getting rid of Willie solve the problem? We have been over this and it might not. However, what else can you do and what other move is as simple?

Publicly, the players complain that Randolph shouldn't be held accountable for their struggles. But if not him, then who? The owners aren't going to fire themselves, or Omar Minaya. They can't fire the players. But a message must be sent to the players, somehow.

Unfortunately, the owners seem to have decided to send exactly the wrong message, which is that nobody's accountable for this mess.


And it is a mess. The Mets resume their place as the joke of baseball and I am left wondering just how a team that was supposed to be so good is so bad. Rob Neyer had called them the best bet to win 100 games and now they are wallowing around in fourth place and knocking on last place's door.

As if the Mets needed another distraction at this point because they seemed distracted prior to this managerial mess, it is only adding to the ridiculousness that has become Met baseball. Right now, the Mets have two of batters being too heavily relied on with a sub .400 SLG% and should be buried at the 7th and 8th place in the batter order and yet they remain entrenched where they are.

However, much like what the Mets front office is doing to rectify the problem, which is nothing, a similar approach is being taken with the day to day management of the players. In not so unrelated news, that was also the same approach used while this team was in a free fall at the end of last season.

I had titled a post steady as she goes the other day when I thought the Mets were about to turn things around a bit, but it is more applicable to their demise. Steady as she goes straight down into the shitter with no action taken. Brilliant. I think Neyer said it best the other day:

I like Willie Randolph. When I see him interviewed on TV, he strikes me as sensitive, thoughtful, and intelligent. He might be the perfect manager for the Brewers, or the Indians, or the Mariners or the Reds or the Pirates. But with each passing day that the Mets lose and look bad doing it, he seems like the wrong manager for the Mets.

* * *

  • This all seems like a fictional comedy story, but it is not.

    When a manager is not fired, as Willie Randolph was not after a long meeting yesterday with Mets owners Fred and Jeff Wilpon and general manager Omar Minaya, it is usually not news. Managers are not fired all the time. Only rarely, though, can a manager for a team with a $140 million payroll lose more games than he wins for a full year, wax paranoid about racist camera angles, follow that up by losing six of seven games, and then keep his job. This is why yesterday's press conference was carried live on ESPNews. What baseball fan, given the chance, wouldn't gawk at this bizarre spectacle?

    Hey, but he thought the racism remarks were off the record. I'm not sorry I said it, I'm just sorry I got caught, right? Also, let us not forget accused SNY for painting him in a negative light and trashed the fans.

    Bureaucratic dynamics aside, not firing Randolph is a perfectly sound reaction to the team's lousiness. While I've written a lot about all the reasons why the skipper should go, no obviously better manager is around, and anyway, the main problems are that there are lots of bad players on the team, and lots of decent players being used badly. These problems can be at least addressed, if not fixed, without getting rid of the manager.

    Decent players used badly could be rectified without changing the manager? How so? He is the one using the players incorrectly.

    This may all be tinkering around the edges, in total disproportion to the gravity of the team's plight, but by not firing the manager, the Mets have made it clear that they're not going to do much else, and there's nothing and no one to trade for a cure-all anyway. Now the right play is to minimize the damage the weaker players on the team can do and get some flawed younger players into situations where they can contribute to the limits of their skills. The Mets are what they are, which is apparently not very good, or at least not as good as most people thought they were. I still suspect, though, that there's a baseball team lurking somewhere under the spectacle.

  • Klap says why not now? What did Randolph say to save his job?

  • Wright predictably says it is not Randolph's fault and we know the players have some blame on their shoulders. However, one change is easy and the other is not.

  • Another notable piece on Willie.
  • Labels: ,

    27 Comments:

    Anonymous Chris said...

    Sigh.

    I just caught myself thinking about how great it's going to be when this ship gets righted and steams its way through the playoffs.

    Then I realized I was telling myself how much sweeter the champagne was going to taste after all this bullshit.

    Then I threw up in my mouth a little.

    I hate this trainwreck right now.




    What time's tonight's game?

    12:00 PM

     
    Anonymous benny blanco from da bronx said...

    Interesting news about former pitcher Geremi Gonzalez, the poor man died a couple of days ago, he was struck by lightning, just bizarre and a bad way to go.

    FOr as much as I hate Willie, (and I shake my head as I say this) but I don't think he's the problem. It's not even Willie.
    You know what, I have come to terms and accepted the fact the problem is Carlos Delgado. He's done. I think it's taken me longer than others to acknowledge it but he's the problem and he's done, he's never coming back, the swings he's been taking and the approach he's had for the past year is just disgusting.
    Then you have Luis Castillo and his deteriorated range, but hey, atleast he has a .361 OBP, even if he's useless at getting anything out of the infield. He MUST bad last. He others nothing else other than a walk or a slash hit.

    A good step in the right direction is Nick Evans. Fuck it, just let him play, I mean what's the worst that can happen, the Met lose while he bats .250 with a .330 OBP with few homers and RBI's?
    Oh wait--- that's already happening and he'd be outproducing Delgado with those numbers.

    Jay Bruce - Welcome to the Big Show!

    Thinking about the Draft, I have come to accept the fact, Yonder Alonso won't be there for the Mets at 18, he's the guy I really want but he's not lasting that long.
    Talk about the Mets going after Ike Davis and/or Jason Castro, both of those guys are VERY good in my opinion. I like them.
    Also, alot of things I've read about Cutter Dykstra, most scouts aren't high on him, but I think he can develop into a good ball player, I'd like him but not in the 1st round, maybe take advantage of those extra Tom Glavine picks and select Cutter.

    12:12 PM

     
    Blogger mr. met said...

    I keep thinking they will turn it around, but nothing. Now I am starting to think this sis the ready deal. Scary. I have no idea how they can be so bad when their pitching has actually been pretty good.

    Wow. Geremi got struck by lightning? Weird.

    Delgado is a problem, but not thee problem.

    I would take Evans over Delgado at this point anyday. At least there is some upside there, but doesn't this fall on Willie shoulder's a bit? Isn't he writing the lineup card and sticking with Castillo in the two hole?

    Cutter is not a first rounder from what I am reading. The Mets need to knock this one out of the park.

    12:26 PM

     
    Anonymous Chris said...

    I think the problem is that there's so damn many problems. Yeah, Willie's a problem, but he's not the only one. Same with Delgado, Castillo, Heilman, et al.

    The thing is, I'm beginning to think there isn't a quick fix. Fire Willie? Sure, why not? He's certainly got it coming. Will it "fix" the team? Probably not, but what the hell else are you going to do?

    I just don't know any more. Nobody's taking Delgado or Castillo off your hands. I don't see any player out there the Mets could get their hands on that would make much of a difference.

    Fire HoJo? Sure, what the hell?

    I've had glimmers of "Pedro will help!" and today a little "Valentin will help." What the hell?

    Something's got to change, but I'll be damned if I have any ideas what it is.

    I just don't know if there's a tonic to soothe this team. Maybe they just suck.

    12:42 PM

     
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    It's all a circus to keep us entwined.

    They'll come back from some ridiculous number of GB to win.

    1:20 PM

     
    Blogger mr. met said...

    Yup. A lot of problems, but nothing being done. I agree there are things that can be done. Fire Willie. Letting Pascucci platoon with Delgado..whatever. Start someone. Do something.

    Anon...you are quite an optimistic fellow. I think they will be better than this, but we are 50 games in. No small sample size here.

    1:58 PM

     
    Blogger Sidd Finch said...

    If Willie goes, then the Padres should fire their manager too. Remember, all they had to do is win one of their last two games to be in, and they blew leads in both games.

    I think that the Padres, Tigers, and Indians are all more disappointing than the Mets. Willie's unfortunate comments put him in this position, the others are doing just as poorly

    Speaking of unfortunate comments, why does Gary Carter have to apologize when asked if he would take the Mets job if asked?

    I think John Maine, Billy Wags, and Pedro Feliciano need to be added to the list of Wright and Church doing good stuff......

    2:27 PM

     
    Blogger mr. met said...

    There are a lot of managers that could be fired, but I only really care about the Mets. I think it is fair to say that Leyaland could be fired as well as Bochy.

    However, the Mets payroll dwarfs the Padres and they had higher expectations and didn't have a manager pointing the finger everywhere else but at him.

    He is not the right guy for this job and that is all that matters.

    2:30 PM

     
    Blogger Sidd Finch said...

    I agree that Willie hasn't been great, but I think he's been singled out this season.

    I hope that the next manager is in the Davey Johnson / Gil Hodges / Bobby V mold, and not the George Bamberger / Art Howe / Joe Frazier / Buddy Harrelson mold.

    2:46 PM

     
    Blogger Anthony said...

    I was at the game last night. I've gone to basically at least a game a week throughout since the season began and have witnessed the fans reactions from the start to now (mine included). It started out with cautious excitement at the beginning of the season, then went to very bitter, pissed off and angry. Then last night for the first time, the stadium had somewhat of a feel of depression. Some anger obviously still, but more depression and despair. People are losing their emotions and giving up. This should scare the crap out of the Wilpons because the next step is...irrelevant. The fans are not going to care any more and are going to stop showing up if this keeps up. This could turn into a catastrophic nightmare for ownership if this happens going into the new stadium next year.

    If these guys think that leaving things "as is" is the answer and that they somehow are going to rise above, they are sorely mistaken. They should've fired Willie yesterday. Not because that will make everything better but because it's time to shake things the fuck up. They should also release Delgado. I am happy to hear Valentin may be coming back. If he's healthy, his hard nosed, old school attitude will help at least to bring some life into this lifeless team. It can't hurt. Wright, Church, Schneider, Valentin, Evans, guys who want to play hard and earn their money. That's what they need more of. Hopefully that attitude can rub off on Reyes, Beltran and get them playing back up to their talent.

    Fortunately, I still believe that Santana, Maine, Ollie, Pedro (I still think he'll play this year and be above avg with 15-18 starts), Vargas along with Wags, Sanchez, Feliciano, Scho, Smith (fill in blank to fill out pen) is more than good enough pitching to keep this team competitive and in the race.

    The key is not to sit back and do nothing. Which is what they are currently doing. You've got to shake things up. Make a statement and start to roll. There is a base of what could be a good team here. You just need to wake up.

    3:00 PM

     
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Here, stare at Jessica Alba for two minutes and wash all your cares away...

    http://www.ibeatyou.com/competition/86a130/the-stare-no-blinking/entry/75e48f/bring-it

    See? All better!

    3:02 PM

     
    Blogger Sidd Finch said...

    anthony, we are all feeling depressed and helpless right now. I'm saying 'Did I get DirecTv to watch this crap? Oh, and changing business trip plans to be in Denver when the Mets are out there? How PATHETIC is that?

    3:17 PM

     
    Anonymous tc said...

    Interesting shit in Gammons' insider blog today, where he suggested that Minaya needs to just blow something up. He offered something like Beltran, cash, and "pieces" to the Jays for Rios and Burnett as an example.

    Spot on with the irrelevant comment above. I purchased full season tickets earlier this season and planned on going to 85% of games (no one realistically can hit all 100%) ... and now, I don't even feel like wasting fucking gas to drive out to Shea, pay $15 for parking, and watch them get their asses absolutely handed to them by the Florida $20,000,000 Marlins.

    I just don't care anymore, and it's sad. Pedro's coming back? So what. Stache? Whatever. They need a shakeup desperately, and that transcends Willie right now.

    3:19 PM

     
    Blogger mr. met said...

    Mmmmm....Jessica Alba...

    Anthony, well said. However, all this happiness for Valentin scares me! I mean, should he even be on the team? Wow...wow....wow.

    I do think this pitching is very good and has been very good. They need an injection of life. Maybe no more Randolph, Pedro, Hattenberg's high OBP, Valentin, Santana picking it up in the 2nd half, Reyes hot playing, etc. will spark the team. Maybe not....but it is a start. This entire hands off thing is really scaring me.

    TC...I am in the same boat. Going to games for me almost seems like it is not worth the hastle. If there is something else going on that day, I have no problems missing out.

    3:32 PM

     
    Blogger Anthony said...

    True on Valentin. Too much happiness...I digress. I don't think he should be a major component. But he could be a solid back up and nice bench guy. Similar to the way he got rolling in 06'.

    Sidd, whenever out of town biz plans are changed for the team and it goes likes this, that's just brutal.

    And yes, these comments are exactly what I'm saying. Us losing interest in going to the games. And we are hard core fans who read and write stupid shit every day about this team. Imagine the average fan how they feel. The Wilpons are treading extremely dangerously right now.

    4:05 PM

     
    Anonymous seattle steve said...

    I won't dwell on the past but compared to teams in our division what we need is a good old fashion 10 game winning streak but is this team capable of doing it, its almost June 1st and the team looks like its already making plans on where they will go this off season, to say this up coming draft isn't important is an understatement, forget about slotting, take the best player who is ready within the next 6 months NOW!!!!! It isn't to late to get it going but everyday that it doesn't happen is like watching a slow death.

    5:48 PM

     
    Blogger almar said...

    I think Willie should be fired. More so because of the overall bad match/chemistry between him and the team, than his managerial misgivings (which come in at a close second).

    That being said, an very strong argument can be made that Minaya is the culprit when all is said and done. A snippet from today's NY Times article by Harvey Araton who makes a great point that we should take heed if not already:

    "Did Minaya take shortcuts to fulfill the Wilpon mandate to make the Mets matter again, and not a season too soon? Absolutely. He embraced the Madison Square Garden method of anointing the first available very good player (Carlos Beltrán) a superstar and paying him accordingly, by going after players at the end of or past their primes (Pedro Martínez, Carlos Delgado, among others) to get the franchise cooking in the microwave.

    His Mets were built to win, not necessarily last, and the results this season suggest last September’s self-destruction was no historic aberration; it was the collapse of a house of cards.

    How can that solely be the fault of a manager whose clubhouse standing was already being compromised last season when the front office fired his hitting coach? Only when the evaluation is made during a season supposedly about redemption. Only when straws must be grasped in a desperate attempt to make Beltrán grow into his paycheck and José Reyes grow up, and when jittery owners finally convince themselves that a fresh breeze in the clubhouse is the only way to invigorate too many old, battered bodies.

    By October, the modified view of Minaya’s preseason juggernaut might make Willie Randolph a widely perceived scapegoat."

    8:02 PM

     
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Yeah Mike, I am still optimistic. While I'd rather they just start winning now and get ahead for good, I'll take a surprising comeback.

    I am most worried about Church right now. He was going so well and jut want to see him return and able to play a full game and season without any lingering effects.

    Willie should keep playing the hungry players right now, the ones giving their all.

    Will (anon)

    11:26 PM

     
    Anonymous Will said...

    Wow...thanks for the Alba video. I never felt like staring at my screen so much before.

    Oh wait, I've been doing that watching the season so far.

    But THAT is so much better!

    11:32 PM

     
    Anonymous Will said...

    I am asking for too much...3 wins in a row please.

    8:08 AM

     
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