After weeks of speculation, the hatchet finally fell on Willie Randolph this morning. Randolph was fired as manager of the New York Mets along with pitching coach Rick Peterson and first base coach Tom Nieto. Randolph is being replaced on an interim basis by bench coach Jerry Manuel. Ken Oberkfell and Dan Warthen have been promoted from Triple-A New Orleans Zephyrs and will replace Nieto and Peterson respectively. Luis Aguayo will also join the coaching staff.
Randolph had been the Mets skipper since 2005. In 2006, the Mets came within a heartbeat of reaching the World Series losing in 7 games to the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Championship Series. The Cardinals went on the win that year's World Series. Last year, the Mets were well on their way to post season glory. In mid-September, the Mets enjoyed a 7 game lead on the Philadelphia Phillies. The Mets then proceeded to lose 12 of their final 17 games while the Phillies won 13 of their last 17 games. The Phillies won the National League East and the Mets went home suffering one of the worse collapses in the history of Major League Baseball.
Yet many believed the Mets would triumph in 2008. This was mainly on the basis of their acquisition of two time Cy Young Award winner Johann Santana from the Minnesota Twins. But when a team undergoes a catacylsmic collapse like the Mets did it takes more than a single off season to recover from it. Indeed, the tensions remained high between Randolph and the Mets front office, most notably Assistant General Manager Tony Bernazard. Randolph also came under fire when he accused SNY (the Mets television station) of racism in their coverage. There have also been tensions between players like Billy Wagner and David Wright on one side and Carlos Delgado and Carlos Beltran on the other. In my article on the 2008 MLB season, I picked the Mets to finish 4th in the NL East well behind the Phillies. (www.intellectualconservative.com/2008/03/25/my-2008-mlb-predictions/) Well, it's June 17th. The Mets are 34-35 and in 4th place in the NL East, six and a half games behind the Phillies.
I'm not sure if Manuel will do much better. Manuel did manage the Chicago White Sox for six seasons and led them to an AL Central Division title in 2000. But in New York, one is expected to win and win right away. Every once in awhile, a managerial change brings about dramatic results. The 2003 Florida Marlins come to mind when Jack McKeon replaced Jeff Torborg and won the World Series. I think it would be a lot to expect the Mets to do very much this season. In which case, the Mets would need to overhaul their roster and not just their coaching staff and hope for better results in 2009.