Mets Fire Willie Randolph


The Mets fired Willie Randolph in the middle of the night, only hours after winning a ballgame on the Left Coast that ended around 1:20 am EST. The timing and gutlessness was reminiscent of the Baltimore Colts’ move to Indianapolis in the wee hours of the morning back in 1984.

There are so many things wrong with this move I’m not sure where to start. First and foremost, Willie Randolph might be part of, but is the least of, the problem with the Mets this year. He was given a fragile roster of hasbeens and asked to make it into a championship club. The people — both inside the organization and the pundits — who believe the Mets “have the talent to go to the postseason” either haven’t seen any teams outside New York or are lost in a time warp. Yes, if this were 2003 or 2004, then a roster headed by Pedro Martinez, Orlando Hernandez, Carlos Delgado, Luis Castillo, and Moises Alou would certainly be expected to go places. But all of those players are well past their prime — yet somehow people expect them to play like they’re 29 again (and healthy).

Beyond the ill decision is the timing. I’ll play “master of the obvious” and point out that it was unprofessional, illogical, and downright stupid to fly Randolph and his coaching staff cross-country, knowing full well they were going to be let go within 24 hours. The fact it was done in the middle of the night, while most of the Right Coast was dead asleep, speaks volumes about the front office’s lack of media savvy — which is a problem when you are headquartered in the media capital of the world. MetsToday reader “Walnutz” said it best:

the only thing missing surrounding the NY Mets lately is the Ringling Brothers theme music.

If you knew you were going to fire Willie Randolph, why make him make the trip to California? You didn’t want to spoil Father’s Day? Because your team is so gosh-darn “family friendly”? Newsflash: Father’s Day is a made-up holiday invented by Hallmark to sell greeting cards — so you don’t have to plan your personnel decisions around it. Firing Willie on Sunday meant nothing to the fathers — particularly the ones who had to feel like schmucks when they had to tell their kids, “sorry, you can’t run around the field like I promised”.

Also, how do you fire a manager after he’s just won three out of the last four games? Another MetsToday reader, Isuzudude, shares my thoughts exactly:

Sometimes I get the feeling that the Mets like to make it difficult to be a fan of their teams’. Willie finally starts showing a little personality, the team finally starts showing some spunk, and now is the time they decide they’ve seen enough?

And then some.

Finally, Mike Pelfrey begins turning a corner, and appears to be grabbing the bull by the horns and taking a rotation spot. Finally, Pedro Martinez returns from the DL and looks like he might be a valid #3 starter. Finally, Carlos Delgado starts hitting — and hustling. Finally, Luis Castillo is approaching his career average of .295. Finally, Carlos Beltran is hitting like a $119M man. Finally, Aaron Heilman puts together three consecutive strong relief performances. Finally, the Mets are hustling, keeping up the “fight”, and coming from behind to win games late. Finally, the Mets add a long-needed “gamer” in Trot Nixon.

Finally, Willie has most of the tools to win ballgames, has a team that cares again, and NOW you let him go? Absolutely despicable.

And I echo Isuzudude’s comment — the Mets DO make it tough for me to root for their team. Had they fired Willie Randolph last week, after losing four games in a row in San Diego, I’d have been more accepting. Not happy, but at least I’d be able to understand. To ax him now, right when the Mets look like they’ve found some passion and starting to “run on all cylinders”, is a major letdown. I’ll continue to watch every game, but I’m going to have a hard time caring one way or the other for a while.

Best of luck to Willie and Tom Nieto (and just what did Nieto do wrong coaching first base? ah, forget 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. RockStar78 June 17, 2008 at 8:42 am
    This should have been done right after the 4 game sweep in San Diego. It would have been the perfect time and there would have been absolutely no complaints then. It’s apparent that Omar didn’t want to fire him, but had no choice once everything started to leak out to the media.
  2. JIMMYJ723 June 17, 2008 at 9:01 am
    I didn’t like how it went down but this was long overdue. I was really hoping for a new manager from outside the organization, such as Bobby Valentine, Wally Backman or Buck Showalter, but we’ll probably be stuck with Manuel till the end of the year. This whole situation was bush league, but in the end, I’m happy we’re moving past the Willie Randolph era.
  3. sincekindergarten June 17, 2008 at 9:24 am
    It’s entirely bush league. As for what Nieto did to get fired, I think that it was an excuse to get the three–Oberkfell, Wharton, and Aguayo–up to Shea (Aguayo as the bench coach). Oberkfell was dearly needed, but he didn’t have a slot to go into (Wharton and Aguayo did). Someone else had to go.

    I want Wally Backman!

  4. Micalpalyn June 17, 2008 at 5:13 pm
    Actually i think the 4 game sweep in Atl was randolph’s season low. But then again the Mike & Mike lynch mob would have said it was too early. As it is it might be too late. But I will go on record as saying that with ONLY 36 losses the Mets are more than capable of making a run with this roster.

    When was it that Jerry….the most affable person on the staff got thrown out of a game when clearly it should have been Randolph?

    Clearly though there was no good time. People point to the SD series but firing him while on the West coast, a place that is difficult to win. After the Dbacks game where we blew a 4 run lead? As it is The Mets ARE playing their best ball of late though there are 7 losses that should have been wins in the last 2 weeks.

    So Jerry Manuel has momentum. I LOVE that Oberkfell is here and on his staff, I love Warthen on his staff, though i dont think Peterson should have gotten the axe….but note Peterson was the Mets second choice havinng not being able to lure Leo. Now they might go after him again and i belive he does not have a job.

  5. joe June 17, 2008 at 5:29 pm
    ONLY 36 losses? Surely you jest. For the Mets to win 90 games this year, they’ll have to play 20 GAMES OVER .500 !!!

    I could be wrong, but it will take at least 90 to get to the postseason. Maybe they’ll get lucky and need only 87-88, but even that is playing well above what they’re capable of doing as currently constituted.

    The fact this team has been .500 for a full season is not all Randolph’s fault (some, surely), and suddenly turning into a .610 team will take more than a managerial change. Further, Manuel will have to play a role out of character to manage in a different style from Willie. He might go out to argue with umpires more often, but otherwise this was a switch from Sprite to 7Up — not enough difference for anyone to notice, and both are pretty bland.