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.
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.