Mets Fire Phillips

steve_phillips.jpgIt was five years ago today that the New York Mets fired their GM Steve Phillips.

At the time, the Mets were in last place with a 29-35 record, 15 games behind the division-leading Braves. They had finished last the previous season as well, and had brought in Art Howe and signed several free agents in an effort to turn it around.

Quoted from the ESPN article at the time of the firing:

Wilpon said all the money he’s spent on the team doesn’t ensure success. “We’ve learned that painfully,” he said.

The Mets (28-35) got off to a bad start and never recovered, hurt by injuries and inconsistent play by their stars.

“This has been a very disappointing season,” Wilpon said. “We will attempt to energize the team … by getting younger and more athletic.”

I’m not suggesting anything here, just bringing it up. Ironic, though, isn’t it?

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. debmc June 13, 2008 at 8:41 am
    I just love the quote from Fred about getting “younger and more athletic.” I suppose by that, he meant in the persons of Jose Reyes and David Wright, as if they alone would fulfill the mandate in his words. When you at it, there really isn’t much of a difference between Minaya and Phillips; both have used Wilpon money to acquire big-time names and free agents, trading away most of the decent young prospects in the bargain, in a “win now” mentality, and thus ensuring that the Mets will have little choice but to continue in this manner, not having any other real option due to the deccimation of the farm system and the continuing cash flow provided by the Wilpons. It’s kind of a sick mess, when you think about it, and the term “throwing good money after bad” really comes to mind here.

    I’m not sure anybody connected to the Mets, from the lowliest vendor to the office of Freddy himself isn’t suffering from a serious delusion that money, itself is the answer to everything.

  2. Micalpalyn June 13, 2008 at 12:43 pm
    …………..I was reading “5 questions for . . .” in the New York Post today, and they interviewed John Kruk. The third question: “Q: Are the Mets in trouble? A: The Phillies could win this division by 10 games. You let that powerful offense stay around and they will come back and win games. And I don’t see that with the Mets at all. You talk to players around the NL and they seem to think if you get ahead of the Mets then you’ve got them. ……………sk

    1. Joe: May i suggest a strong Vodka tonic 4u? I reference Sk above and massive kudos for that sublime reference. THAT basically says t5hat the Mets have no ‘balls’….or mental toughness…obviously a prime leader is Wagner ..who u neglected to mention….

    2. I have been down on aaron, and not fairly so. Wagner gets paid 10Mil per yr to make saves. in 2006 in the NLCS he muffed some big ones. this yr his 4 blown saves look big considering where we should be.

    3. Beltran. No one is Arod. Arods yanks have won nothing despite his making near two times the salary of the next highest paid player (Ok there are about 5 players near the 20M mark) but Arod has been making 25M per MOST of this decade.

    4. You are a blatant DW apologist, but again CB is miscast as David ortiz AND that is a managerial flaw. Looking at Metsblog, i see similar views to mine: That is to make this line up more exciting, (change things up) I’d like Reyes-CB-Wright-Alou(/Church) Del, Castillo-Ramon-Endy-P.
    If Alou Plays he cleans up. if not its Church. If Endy plays he hits 8th.

    5. In this post you CORRECTLY point out SP was fired AFTER BV was fired and 1 season of Art howe was endured. Going with this logic, a persona change (similar to that in Philly, Chicago & arz) in the3 managers OFFICE IS PRESUMABLY next. i MIGHT ADD sWEET lOU HAS HAD BASICALLY THE SAME PLAYERS (AND PAYROLL) as the previous manger. Bob Melvin was unceremonious dumped by Seattle after they added Sexson and beltre with no results, he is a last minute replacement for Wally BaBackman and his team has flown.
    IOW: The season is well in reach but a manager shift is essential and maybe someone that MOTIVATES players, yells at umpires & tells Omar ‘no’ is the person we need………I think Wally has paid his dues.


  3. joe June 13, 2008 at 1:56 pm
    Mic, my retorts:

    1. Vodka is often the salve of choice. Gin’s even better. This team, however, drives me to 110-proof Chartreuse. I’m not ready to criticize Wagner’s mental toughness. If anything he is trying to do too much — both on the field and off. A few more blowups though, and I may reconsider.

    2. Aaron needs a break, away from Shea. He also needs to go back to starting. This relief thing was supposed to be a stepping stone, not a career change.

    3. Beltran is not A-Rod, and he’s not a New York superstar — few people are. That said, it was a huge mistake for the Mets to give him a franchise-shouldering salary. Beltran would have been better off signing with the Yankees, where there were many leaders he could hide behind. He’s not happy here, and it shows.

    4. A blatant DW apologist? This is at least the third time you’ve accused me of such a thing, and I don’t get it. Wright is a 25-year-old kid trying to be Derek Jeter, Tom Seaver, and Chipper Jones all rolled into one, on the biggest stage on the planet. He’s first or second on the team in nearly every offensive category, and he’s played every inning of every game. Why do I need to apologize for him? Wright needs some real veteran leadership, which he’s not getting from the dollar-chasers known as the Carloses. At least Wright WANTS to be on the big stage, whereas the Carloses would be happier collecting their paychecks in a small town with warm breezes and only one local newspaper.

    I don’t know that Beltran in the two spot is going to change anything, but at the same time Willie does need to change something. Bat him leadoff, for all I care … his OBP is higher than Jose’s.

    5. Wally will never manage the Mets as long as the Wilpons own the team. If it were me in charge, and I thought the team’s performance was all Willie’s fault (I don’t), then Wally’s in there, but it’s not happening. Better luck hoping for someone like Buck Showalter.

    Start comparing the Mets’ ACTIVE roster to the others in the NL, and suddenly it’s obvious the problem is not the manager, but the collection of miscast characters he’s been handed. For example, no other team in MLB pins its offensive hopes on a 42-year-old who lives on the DL and a first baseman with a .400 SLG %. And few teams in the NL start lineups that fall off so drastically after the cleanup hitter.


  4. isuzudude June 13, 2008 at 4:03 pm
    I agree with your final paragraph of your response to Mic, Joe. I hear from a lot of people on this and other blogs that the Mets have more than enough talent to be a winning ballclub, all the injuries included, thus it must be Willie’s fault for their struggles because he is either failing to motivate them properly, or utilizing them incorrectly. But if this logic holds true, a straight up position-by position comparison to the Phillies SHOULD show us, then, that the Mets have the majority of better players. So let’s see:
    LF – Alou vs. Burrell. Phillies 1-0.
    CF – Beltran vs. Victorino. It should be Beltran, but Victorino maximizes his abilities more than anyone else in the game. And Beltran is clearly a player not properly cut out for the NY lifestyle. Wash.
    RF – Church (when healthy) vs. Werth/Jenkins. The Phils’ have 2 legitimate starters for one position, and the Mets have a guy who is constantly concust. Phillies 2-0.
    3B – Wright vs. Feliz. Phillies 2-1.
    SS – Reyes vs. Rollins. If last September taught us anything, it’s that the Mets do not have the best SS in the NL. Phillies 3-1.
    2B – Castillo vs. Utley. Phillies 4-1.
    1B – Delgado vs. Howard. Phillies 5-1.
    C – Schneider/Castro vs. Ruiz/Coste. I don’t see a clear cut advantage either way.
    SP – Pedro’s always hurt, Perez and Maine can’t last over 5 innings, Pelfrey is hit or miss. On the flipside, Eaton never loses to the Mets, Moyer has a 4.12 ERA for a 44 year old, Hamels can match up just fine with Santana, Kendrick is no worse than Pelfrey, Myers no worse than Maine. Phillies 6-1.
    Need I get into the bullpen, where the Phillies have the lowest ERA in the league?

    If the Phillies are the class of the division, the Mets are by no means nipping at their heels. The differentiation of talent between the two clubs is immense, and that is no fault of Willie Randolph’s. In which case we need to start looking at Omar for putting together such a pretty cruddy team with a whole lot of wasted money, or look at the players for falling well short of our desired expectations.

    As I’ve said before, I could care less if Willie gets fired. If the team believes that kind of move will get the ball rolling in the right direction, then by all means do it. My allegiance is to the orange and blue, not to Willie Randolph. But again, as I’ve also said in the past, if you all think firing the manager is the only thing needed to turn this season around, you are all terribly mistaken. Huge contracts can not keep being handed out the aged (Alou, Duque), fragile (Pedro, Castillo), uninterested (Delgado, Beltran), and un-tested (Wagner), while kissing goodbye first round draft picks and highly touted prospects. On paper these players make up a very strong team – but in real life, they mesh terribly, handle pressure poorly, and collapse at the mere mention of contraversy. And Willie, or any manager for that matter, can only motivate and will is team to win to a certain point. He can’t change personalities, he can alter egos, and he can’t force a team to care as much as we do. And that is exactly what has been going on since the Mets came face to face with pressure last September, and has stayed with the team throughout the first 2+ months of this year. Wake up and smell the pine tar.

  5. Micalpalyn June 13, 2008 at 4:09 pm

    1. we’ll skip bar tabs…

    The bullpen: Yes- i think we agree on Aaron, BUT wags has NO excuse. Dirty had 2 yrs off but has immediately assumed set up. Little Joe is not blameless, but his WHIP/BAA against say maybe he is our best reliever.

    beltran: Is not a slugger. A list of sluggers more appropriate to the #5 slot include Carlos Lee, Manny Ramirez, Paul Konerko. In 2005 this was identified and CARLOS DELGADO brought in to be that #4 hitter. Omar NEVER intended for CB to be that #4. Then in 2007 He brought Alou to protect Del. I was living in Seattle when the Mets visited and puked as I saw the Mariner sweep the Mets in much the same way. In fact in 4 years Willie’s teams are relatively the same…I thought the 2005 Mets should have made that WC.

    DW: Is not the problem. CB is not the problem. Even Reyes is not the problem. As you astutely put it (with Metsblog’s help) each is producing. CB is by far the best CF we have ever had. DW might already be the best 3rd baseman. I pointed to DW whereas i would not in the past. At 26 (this yr), he is a 5 yr Vet and more than mature enough to be the leader of the team both on and off the field. It does not have tio CB or CD or Marlon having players meetings. Dw is a media darling in NY..perod. I hope he breaks out of his Atlas syndrome (trying to hold up the world) and just play loose, letting his TALENT do his talking (btw- Chipper had much to say about Dw’s gold glove…that should be his personal fuel).

    Agreed it wont be Wally. It might be Jerry Manuel at the all star break. I know u are not wielding the Willie hatchett, but I cant help looking at the philosophy of managerial changes….why is it that a change of manager (EVER) brings about a change? The Cubs were a joke before last yr…desopite salary and other committments. Why has Sweet Lou turned that team around?

    . I disagree on the team and the farm: I think some subtle changes to the pen and the bench and this team moves from a .500 ballclub to a .550-550. Bottom line is the quote sk handed us….its not the stats…its the fact that the Mets cant rise under pressure. Look at the anatomy of the last 6 losses all late and attributable not lack of ability to get runners home (with less than 2 outs), or BP meltaways.

    Willie: Omar’s clear philosophical upgrade was NOT to get the mediocre high upside FA (the Loopers, Bensons etc) but to get more premium talent Pedro, CB, Del, Wags). As we know Del, Wags have had their AWOL moments, but Willie has barely ever benched or publicly chastised anyone, except Reyes. Frankly- I’d have platooned Del and I would announce a BP by committee until futher notice. Willie needs to exert himself and needs a shorter fuse. If you demand excellence or performance thats what you’ll get.

  6. Micalpalyn June 13, 2008 at 4:21 pm
    Isuzu: The Phils lost Rowand & added Lidge. The Mets added Santana. Yet the Mets LED these Phils untill the last 3 days of the season. The last month Utley has carried the Phils. The Mets are 5 games back not 15. (funny how we swapped stances in the last month)..they dont need Alou, Pedro or El Duque…church would be nice though. also running Endy at Marlon out as Starters certainly gives the opposing pitcher a huge mental lift.

    I agree that Willie’s is not the entire issue. but on motivation…what happened in Chicago last yr? Was not Zambrano reined in and Barrett extricated? Did it or did it not send a clear message that still resonates…..

    I think anyone who has had a drill saergent experience might disagree with you.

  7. joe June 13, 2008 at 4:39 pm
    well Mic if the rumors are true, you’ll get your wish much sooner than the all star break. It sounds like it will take a miracle for Willie to last the weekend. Too bad, he’s a good man who was asked to make a london broil look and taste like a porterhouse.
  8. isuzudude June 13, 2008 at 4:56 pm
    I know exactly what is going to happen. Willie will get fired after the Rangers series, in which the Mets will either get swept or lose 2 out of 3. At which point Jerry Manuel will be the new manager. However, when Manuel proves just as unsuccessful at turning water into wine as Randolph, all of the Willie bashers will become Jerry bashers for again “failing to properly motivate,” “not getting in the face of the veterans,” and all that jazz. Actually, Willie bashers will only be satisfied if Wally Backman becomes the new Mets manager, which has the probability of happening of 1-1,000,000. So they will continue to moan and complain all season that it’s the manager’s fault for misguiding the players, instead of the player’s fault for failing to perform up to standards.

    But what will be for sure is that the philosophy of “anybody but Willie” will be proven wrong. I guess I’ll be one of the few who will be able to say I TOLD YOU SO.