June 17, 2008

As the Apple turns...: Willie Randolph is out as manager of the New York Mets, fired in the middle of the night 2 1/2 months into a disappointing season that has followed the team's colossal collapse last September. In the middle of the night? Seems pretty cold.

posted by GoBirds to baseball at 04:25 AM - 17 comments

Well, considering that "trade season" is starting in the not-too-distant future, it's not too surprising that on the heels of Bavasi, another team would axe a non-player. What is surprising is that the Mets, at 6.5 out of first place and just a half game off of .500, aren't really a "failure" when the All-Star break is still about a month away. They've had some injury issues, notably Pedro Martinez, and their bench depth is a key issue. I fail to see how Randolph is really the issue, nor that a mid-season replacement is going to do much of anything to improve their fortunes. I'm not saying Randolph is a great manager by any stretch of the imagination, but it seems more surprising than some firings due to poor performance; the statistical analysis suggests at best a manager can cause a swing of maybe 3-4 games in a year (although it's never clear how much a manager can turn a mediocre player into a good player via motivation/placement). Even if Randolph were the worst manager on the planet, and had through incompetence turned 3 wins into losses in less than half a season, the Mets would be 37-32... and still in third place. The Mets- who I don't follow closely, to be sure- are one short winning streak from contention. With Pedro getting healthy and starting to put together some quality starts, they have a 1-2 punch with Santana that could be strong in the playoffs. If anything, the GM Minaya has spent too much on pitching depth, and not enough on the hitting. The Mets are a middle-of-the-road team for both hitting and pitching, but that's largely because the pitching has had injuries, et al. I'd be curious to hear what Met fan Spofites think; I don't follow the Mets closely, not like the Red Sox or even Mariners, so I may be missing on some drama/elements that make Randolph's firing make sense.

posted by hincandenza at 05:03 AM on June 17, 2008

I have lost total respect for the Mets organization and ownership for the way they handled this situation. To make Willie travel all the way to the west coast after playing at home, just to fire him after a win, is a slap to the face. Now, I am a life long Mets fan and will continue to be so but it makes me sick to my stomach to see such a classy guy like Willie shown the door because of something that he has no control over. Most of the starters, from position players to pitchers, have been injured all season long. How is that his fault? Mets GM, Omar Minyana should be blamed for the downward spiral of the Mets since he is the guy to acquire most of these players. I'm so embarrassed for being a Mets fan right now so excuse me while I go shower up because I feel so dirty over this.

posted by BornIcon at 07:03 AM on June 17, 2008

Stay classy, New York.

posted by wfrazerjr at 07:14 AM on June 17, 2008

If you want to make the New York media mad, firing a local coach at 3:15 a.m. Eastern seems like a pretty good way to do it. What was Omar Minaya thinking?

posted by rcade at 07:34 AM on June 17, 2008

It all started last year. The Mets blew a 7 game lead with 17 to go. And the same symptoms appeared again this season: a decent starting pitching; horrible relievers that couldn't hold a lead; a closer that couldn't close; and a decent offense for the first four innings and nothing after that. No fire, no come from behind fight. They have blown so many leads during games, but nothing the other way around. I like Randolph, but this was the right move at the right time. The Mets are not too far off the lead to make a run for it with so many games remaining. They had no chance with him at the helm. Now they have one. It's up to them if they make it or not. Personally, I believe they will make it. They have a better team than the Phillies. Time will tell.

posted by gloglu at 08:01 AM on June 17, 2008

If the Mets hire Gary Carter for the job, get the popcorn out.

posted by NoMich at 08:38 AM on June 17, 2008

The fact that he was fired at 12:15 a.m. local time after a West Coast night game, while acknowledging that it is not doing the media any favors, is not as bad as truly firing him in the middle of the night. The worst part of it, as BornIcon suggests, is firing him one day after making him fly cross country. That's just awful. I think Joe Sheehan's take at Baseball Prospectus gets to the heart of the matter and is consistent with some of Hal's and BornIcon's comments.

posted by holden at 10:12 AM on June 17, 2008

Mets GM, Omar Minyana should be blamed for the downward spiral of the Mets since he is the guy to acquire most of these players. Next please.

posted by Howard_T at 10:26 AM on June 17, 2008

I'd be curious to hear what Met fan Spofites think My pleasure. I've been a fan of Willie Randolph since he played for the Yankees. He's a class act and a good guy. And the way they fired him was simply bizarre. I have no explanation for it. That being said, I think it was time for him to go. Last year, they suffered the worst collapse in baseball history. Blowing a seven game lead with 17 to play is reason enough for a lot of managers to be fired. But Willie wasn't. And I applauded that decision. I wanted Willie to stay. During the off-season, Omar stayed patient and brought in what the Mets needed (what any team needs), the best pitcher in baseball. But instead of exploding out of the gate to make up for the collapse last year, the Mets have played mediocre at best. They don't have timely hitting. Their bullpen blows leads. The clubhouse is in disarray (Idiots Like Wagner shooting off his mouth and then blowing saves). They're in fourth place in the NL East behind Atlanta and Florida as well as Philly. So it's time for Willie to go. I don't like the way it was handled, but it was inevitable given the lackluster way they are playing after the titanic choke job last year.

posted by cjets at 10:43 AM on June 17, 2008

If you want to make the New York media mad, firing a local coach at 3:15 a.m. Eastern seems like a pretty good way to do it. What was Omar Minaya thinking? They are killing the headline writers!

posted by bperk at 12:03 PM on June 17, 2008

New York has 2 baseball teams?!

posted by irunfromclones at 12:47 PM on June 17, 2008

rcade, you nailed it. This hoopla is about some senior writers getting scooped by the night shift intern on the news desk. These writers have been sniffing around the soon to be corpse and are mad they didn't get the first bite. For a myriad of reasons, isn't it common for these types of personnel decisions to be exercised on the road, or do I have a distorted memory of how professional sports franchises work?

posted by garfield at 01:41 PM on June 17, 2008

Most of the starters, from position players to pitchers, have been injured all season long. How is that his fault? BornIcon, Here is where we can put our teams aside. I am a Dodger fan, you are a Mets fan. Both teams are utterly disabled with injuries to key players. Why don't the "bosses in charge" go after their fitness coaches? If these players were in better physical condition, these debilitating injuries would not have happened. i.e., Furcal - lower back sprain; Nomar - calf muscle injury; Jones - knee; Schmidt - arm, and so on. If these players had been properly conditioned in the preseason, their injuries would have been minor and their absence from the lineup minimal. You can change the team and the names but the story is the same. Who does the fitness coach report to? That is right. Mets - reported to Willie Randolph; Dodgers - reports to Joe Torre. Who do I blame? Willie and Joe. They should have made sure their players were ready for the season and they did not. This does not make me any less of a Dodger fan, but it disappoints me that these professional athletes do not seem to take physical conditioning seriously any more. Maybe if they did not get paid for games not played due to a physical fitness deficiency they would come to the park better prepared. I am not talking about injuries due to an incident in the game, i.e., hit by pitch, collision at a base, just those due to improper conditioning. I have a personal friend who, as a rookie second baseman with the White Sox (In the late ninetys) was playing winter ball in Latin America. He came home early with a ribcage muscle sprain because he did not warm up properly beforing taking batting practice. He is now with the Giants and I can only root for him when they are not playing the Dodgers, but he knows the importance of physical conditioning and preparation for the game(s). Maybe those in charge will wake up and get after the right person.

posted by RAZORDODGER at 07:40 PM on June 17, 2008

RAZORDODGER -- putting aside the fact that the Dodgers are better off without Nomar in the lineup and a decline-phase Jones sucking up at bats, why do you assume that all of these injuries are preventable with better conditioning? Some guys, like Nomar, are just injury prone notwithstanding the fact that they are very well-conditioned and work out a ton. Furcal by all accounts has a chronic bad back; he's struggled with it dating back to his Atlanta days. Do you think when he has millions of dollars on the line (he's in his last contract year) that he's really going to report in bad shape and skip out on the conditioning? Others, especially pitchers, are going to break down with age and the fact that pitching is a highly unnatural act that puts a ton of stress on one's arm, shoulder, and body generally. Schmidt had a ton of red flags at the time the Dodgers signed him; his current unavailability has nothing to do with Joe Torre (considering he has not been right since before Joe came) and probably very little to do with the Dodger's training staff generally. Just because Ray Durham got religion and trains better now than he did as a rookie does not mean that the players or coaching staff are always to blame when injuries hit. Some things are just unavoidable -- and that applies to both chronic injuries and acute injuries.

posted by holden at 10:13 PM on June 17, 2008

If I recall correctly then Dodgers Manager Bill Russel was also fired late at night. Too late for the Sunday night news broadcast.

posted by Newbie Walker at 03:05 AM on June 18, 2008

Next please. Howard, if you don't mind, please explain what that means since you didn't provide any explanation and I have no clue as to what that means. Are you implying that Omar is or should be the next to go? Now why in the world would you say that...*cough* GRIMEY *cough*..? Excuse me, now where was I? Who does the fitness coach report to? That is right. Mets - reported to Willie Randolph; Dodgers - reports to Joe Torre. Who do I blame? Willie and Joe. RAZOR, I hear what your saying but I still can't agree with that. The majority of the injuries that took their toll on the Mets were with players that are on the older side, besides Ryan Church. Now, as a player, I love Moises Alou but Alou wakes up in the morning on the DL. When was the last time that he actually played a whole season? Anyone? That's right, he never has, look it up. Granted, he could also get a hit with one arm tied behind his back and blindfolded, but that's not the point. The Mets need to get younger...a lot younger. I don't blame the conditioning coach for these players being past their primes, age just caught up to most of them and Omar was the one to sign them.

posted by BornIcon at 06:28 AM on June 18, 2008

...and I have no clue as to what that means... Actually, I don't either. Seriously, Omar Minaya will be next. I honestly think he should have gone instead of Randolph. Look at the roster, and you see a bunch of late-career stars who are injury prone, and no depth to give them any relief on a temporary basis. To give a couple of examples of the "right" way, look at Tampa Bay and Boston. Both feature a lot of home-grown young talent supplementing the stars. Both have farm systems that keep churning out more and more prospects. Boston's pitching depth this year is unheard of, and with Ortiz out of the lineup (and Manny missing more than his share of games), the rest of the lineup is still getting it done. Yes, it costs money, but the last I looked the Mets weren't exactly a small-market team.

posted by Howard_T at 05:20 PM on June 18, 2008

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