Wow, this is nuts. Imagine my surprise to happen upon this story, the night after a Mets win no less. The Mets have apparently announced the firing of manager Willie Randolph, ending weeks of speculation that he would be canned. I guess now we know why Omar Minaya made the trip out to the West Coast. And if you thought Randolph’s head would be the only one chopped, you were wrong. In a massive purge, pitching coach Rick Peterson and first base coach Tom Nieto were also fired. Jerry Manuel will serve as interim manager, with three other men joining the staff (mostly promoted from the minors).
I just can’t understand the timing of this move. Why now? Why after a win? Why the day after the team started a road trip? Why not last week, why not after getting swept by the Padres? The timing doesn’t make sense to me in either the short-run or the big picture. If you were going to fire the guy, I have maintained, you should have done it after last year’s collapse. That was enough ammo to bring out the execution squad. It’s like a death penalty; you preside over such a debacle, you should be gone. But if you decide to hang onto the guy and let him try again next season, give him a legit shot. Don’t just bag him and make his life miserable for 70 games with the team injury-plagued and hovering around .500. What would you prefer, to be up 15 at this point like last year and have everyone recounting stories of the collapse?
Since the Mets decided to give Willie another shot, which was probably a bad idea to begin with, they did Willie and themselves a serious disservice by not giving him the full year. Now things are a mess and a new group of guys are coming in. At least the speculation about job security will be gone for the moment. Additionally, who’s to say the below average start was all on Willie this year? I do believe that Pedro, El Duque, and Moises Alou were all Omar Minaya signings. Aging players who spent serious time on the D.L. this year can’t exactly help Randolph on the field. And Willie’s not the one who signed Delgado to a big deal, a player who’s massively underperformed. Sure people can rave about the payroll, but that doesn’t mean it was all money well spent. Some of this falls on Omar, and if the team fails to right the ship, he’ll be gone, too.
Note: In his press conference on Tuesday to explain the process, Minaya said that he decided on Sunday night he was going to fire Randolph but wanted to sleep on the decision. Minaya didn’t change his mind and by Monday morning he was set on firing Willie, and only waited until after the game to do so. Minaya also didn’t show any favoritism towards individual reporters, sending a blanket statement to the press.