Tag Archives: Willie Randolph

IMAGINE IF THE METS DID NOT WANT TO TREAT WILLIE WITH RESPECT

                                            Kallas Remarks by Steve Kallas

The Willie Randolph saga just won’t go away.  Somebody (Omar Minaya? Fred Wilpon? Jeff Wilpon?) made a huge mistake in judgment in handling this very defensible firing.  But it’s only gotten worse in the last 48 hours.  Armed with a very easy schedule (Colorado and Seattle are a combined 35 games under .500), the Mets have been unable to get off to a good start under Jerry Manuel (2-2 against these awful teams, 3-3 overall).   Manuel, an intelligent guy, immediately got multiple cases of foot-in-mouth disease with his now-famous (misunderstood?) fertilizer comments and I’ll cut him comments and gangster (oops, I mean gangsta) comments.  He should know better.

    

Speaking of knowing better, let’s turn to Mets owner Fred Wilpon.  Another very intelligent guy, maybe he just gets a case of brain lock when the cameras start rolling.  How about this Monday comment from Wilpon:  “The intent here, clearly, was to respect Willie and to respect his feelings and to do it in person.”  Of course, this flies in the face of the multiple reports that state that Willie asked Minaya point-blank, before getting on a cross country flight, whether he was going to fire Willie and, if the answer to that was yes, “do it now.”  Minaya, who had already spoken to Wilpon once (twice?) about firing Willie, didn’t fire Willie then under the now-famous “I wanted to sleep on my decision” defense.  Instead, he showed his “respect” (I guess) by allowing Willie to fly out to Los Angeles, win a game against a very tough Angels team (third win in four games) and THEN fire him in person after midnight.

    

Which takes us back to the (alleged) respect factor.  Willie and everybody else would have had a lot more respect for Minaya and the Wilpons if they had fired him before the flight to California.  Once the “we wanted to do it in person” analysis took over, things went from bad to worse.  The final scenario (firing him at 3 a.m. Eastern, as if nobody would notice in the internet age), unless the Mets have an incredible turnaround, will be discussed for years to come.  While Wayne Gretzky once made the mistake of calling the New Jersey Devils a “Mickey Mouse” organization (although one could argue they were at the time), one can only wonder what he would have said about this situation.

    

As if all of this wasn’t bad enough, Fred Wilpon had to tell the media that their reports on the barren Mets farm system are simply wrong and that “it is obvious that they have played well” since Willie was fired.  Well, only time will tell about the first although, by objective reports, it certainly seems that the Mets don’t have much in the minors.  Besides, how would Fred Wilpon really know anyway?  He’s simply regurgitating what someone (Minaya?) told him about his farm system.  As for the Mets playing well, we’ve already stated (See Kallas Remarks, 6/17/08) that the timing of this change was partially  due to the weak schedule (three games v. Colorado and three games v. Seattle) the Mets had coming up (because it would have been impossible to fire Willie if he had done well in that six-game stretch).

    

At 2-2 against these weak teams, it’s hard to say that the Mets are “obviously” playing well.  In fact, it’s fair to say that the Mets are still stuck in the same rut they were in last week, last month and last season.  Will this change?  That remains to be seen.

    

But it’s hard to believe that Fred Wilpon believes that the “clear intent” in this firing was to “respect” Willie Randolph.  Imagine what would have happened if they didn’t respect him?  Unfathomable.

© Copyright 2008 by Steve Kallas.  All rights reserved.

AMATEUR HOUR IN QUEENS — WILLIE RANDOLPH FIRED AT MIDNIGHT

                     Kallas Remarks by Steve Kallas

It’s hard to argue with the fact that Willie Randolph was fired by Mets General Manager Omar Minaya Monday night.  The best you could come up with if you’re a Randolph guy is that the Mets have won three of their last four and four of their last six.  Maybe they’ve turned the corner.  But the stench of last year’s epic collapse (a seven-game lead with 17 to play and they didn’t even make the playoffs) never went away and the maddening inconsistencies of this season look like they might never go away. 

    

But the amateurish nature of the firing – around midnight out on the West Coast after a 9-6 Mets win over the Angels – won’t soon be forgotten by Mets fans and critics alike.  It’s hard to believe that Fred Wilpon, who seemed to have a clue and who went to high school in Brooklyn with the great Sandy Koufax, would allow this, let alone sanction it.  But it really is amateur hour in Queens – Jeff Wilpon is on his way to becoming James Dolan (that should make Mets fans quiver with fear), Omar Minaya often seems to have brain lock as he’s trying to sidestep legitimate questions about the Mets, and the whole team, with a $140 million payroll, seems to have forgotten how to play the game.

    

You know the old adage – you can’t fire all of the players so the manager has to go.  And you can bet that Minaya is looking over his shoulder because he’s next if Jerry Manuel (Willie Randolph II, maybe?) can’t turn things around.  Did Randolph elect to go down with the ship when Minaya wanted to fire a couple of his coaches?  Well, that could be what happened, although it remains to be seen if that info will get out.  Could Willie have stayed if he allowed the sacrifice of pitching coach Rick Peterson and first-base coach Tom Nieto (what exactly did he do wrong?) or did he say if they’re going I’m going, too?  That remains to be seen.

    

But what we never saw was Jose Reyes (have those comparisons to Derek Jeter stopped yet?) bust it on every play.  What we never saw was Carlos Delgado make much of an effort to field balls near him at first.  What we never saw was any consistency from the talented Oliver Perez (what happened there, Rick Peterson?).  What we never saw was the Human Disabled List, Moises Alou, stay off the disabled list.  Willie Randolph couldn’t go out and do these things for these players.  A star and multiple World Series champion as a player and coach, Willie was and is a classy guy who simply couldn’t get the message across to these guys.  How will Jerry Manuel be different?

    

Nobody said that Willie Randolph was Casey Stengel.  Nobody said that Willie Randolph was Billy Martin.  But you don’t have to be a brilliant X’s and O’s guy or a fiery (outwardly, to satisfy the fans and media?) manager to lead a team to a World Series.  Remember, nobody accused Joe Torre of either when he came to the Yankees in 1996.  And, frankly, everybody questioned Torre’s moves more and more after first, Don Zimmer, and then, Mel Stottlemyre, left the Yankees because of George Steinbrenner.  But Torre had the four rings in the bank as Yankee manager, something Willie never had as Met manager.

 

IT’S THE SCHEDULE, STUPID

 

     Take a good look at the timing of the firing – not the bush-league midnight (3 a.m. in New York – what, the Mets thought they wouldn’t get hammered as much if they did it at 3 a.m.? – Of course, they’ll get hammered more for that) firing but the timing of their schedule.  After two more against the Angels, the Mets play six as easy as you can get games: three each against woeful Colorado (28-42) and more woeful Seattle (24-46).  You can bet that Minaya considered this because it will be very hard for Manuel to get off to a bad start with this kind of schedule.  Conversely, if he let Willie manage the next eight games, there would be a good chance that he and the Mets would go on a “hot” streak, caused, of course, by the weak schedule.  After that, however, four against the Yankees, including one of those make-up day-night doubleheaders in New York.  Very interesting, no?  

    

Could the Mets have fired Willie after last year’s historical collapse?  You betcha.  Credit to them for giving Willie the chance to come back this year.  Could he have righted the ship this year?  Well, we’ll never know the answer to that now. 

    

It’s not so much that the Mets did it.  Of course, it’s the way they did it.  Amateur hour is alive and well in Queens and, with the departure of Willie Randolph, most of the class in the organization has left the building.

 

 

© Copyright 2008 by Steve Kallas.  All rights reserved.

 

CLUELESS JOE MORGAN

                                                                            Kallas Remarks By Steve Kallas   

It’s hard to believe that ESPN’s Joe Morgan, who you always think should know better but often doesn’t, could be so clueless about the New York managerial situation.  But when Morgan and Jon Miller parachute into town to do a Mets-Yankees game, you just know something stupid will be said about the Mets and/or the Yankees.  This past Sunday night (May 17), it was the managerial status of Willie Randolph and Joe Girardi.

    

It started off innocently enough, when Miller started talking about the notion, talked about for weeks (months?) in New York, that Willie Randolph is in danger of losing his job.  Miller also pointed out that, even though the Yankees were doing poorly, nobody was talking about Joe Girardi losing his job.

    

Here’s what Joe Morgan had to say about that:

 “I would question that, Jon.  If it’s Willie’s fault on the other side of  town, why is it not Girardi’s fault on this side of town?  I think you have to look at both of them in the same, you know, way.  I mean,  the Mets are 1 1/2 games out of first place.  The Yankees are in last  place.  So, I would say you have to look at both of them and use the same microscope.”

Yikes!  There’s a lot to say about the above, but the notion that you can look at any two managers exactly the same is absurd.  Look at Joe Torre.  Because he got his four titles in his first five years as Yankees manager (after what could best be described as a mediocre managerial career before that), he was able to withstand presiding over the greatest collapse in post-season baseball history (2004, up 3-0 v. Boston, lose the series in seven games) and losing in the first round of the playoffs in 2005, 2006 and 2007 and STILL received an offer for 2008 (we can argue all day about whether it was “insulting” or not but that’s irrelevant).  Had Torre not had those World Series rings on his fingers, he probably wouldn’t have survived 2004.  In fact, it’s safe to say that if 2004-2007 had happened BEFORE his titles, he would never have managed for a long period of time in New York.  That’s just the nature of the managerial beast, especially in New York in either league.

    

But, according to many knowledgeable Met fans, Willie Randolph’s success rate (even with a 2006 playoff appearance) has been rather low.  The Mets organization has stepped up big-time and signed players and spent a ton of money and given Willie and the fans a great opportunity for huge success.  In 2006, it’s hard to believe that the Mets didn’t make it to the World Series.  In 2007, Willie presided over arguably the greatest collapse in the history of the regular season (up seven games with 17 to play) and failed to make the playoffs.  This year, before the two-game sweep of the Yankees, the Mets were piddling along at around .500, something nobody expected.

    

Nobody’s going to accuse Willie of being a brilliant tactician.  And he’s been hammered left and right for his perceived lack of outward emotion.  He’s starting to lose the media fight (when he tells Mike Francesa and Chris Russo on WFAN that they’re “clueless,” Willie, better than anyone, should know that’s a fight that’s almost impossible to win (although Michael Strahan has won it, certainly against Russo, see HBO’s Costas Now where Strahan embarrassed Russo)).  And, for better or worse (probably worse in the eyes of Met fans), Willie was (is?) a Yankee.  This part of it is similar to Islander legend Bryan Trottier when he became coach of the New York Rangers.  Had Trottier won, everything would have been wonderful.  When Trottier lost, he was just another miscast Islander in the eyes of Ranger fans.

    

What about Joe Girardi, though?  Well, Girardi’s very brief managerial resume includes the 2006 NL Manager of the Year.  He also has played on Yankee World Series winners, he was Joe Torre’s bench coach and he even announced Yankee games.  Even though he’s a Chicago guy, Girardi is, unlike Willie as a “Met guy,” viewed to be a “Yankee guy.”  Like it or not, that’s a huge difference. 

   

Other factors in Girardi’s favor for not getting heat yet (although the drums are starting to beat in New York) include the fact that A-Rod and Jorge Posada are on the DL.  While A-Rod won the MVP last year (remember the year before when ESPN’s Steve Phillips told us that the Yankees should trade A-Rod?), some knowledgeable Yankee fans thought that Posada was the MVP of the Yankees.  Throw in a couple of young Yankee starters who can’t get out of their own way (and that interesting stat that no team has won the pennant in about forever with two rookies in their rotation) and you can see that Girardi has been granted a brief honeymoon period.  But that, of course, could come to an end sooner rather than later. 

   

Girardi also has his own managerial issues (hard to believe he would let Mike Mussina pitch to Manny Ramirez with first base open earlier this year) and, again, the honeymoon will be brief in New York for him.  But the pressure on Willie is as much (or more) a result of last year’s collapse as it is due to this year’s inconsistent play.  This is Willie’s fourth year as manager of the Mets.  Met fans think they’re seeing a broken record now.  Girardi is only in his first year, but there’s already trouble brewing in the Bronx.  For him, we’ll have to wait for the return of A-Rod and Posada and for Brian Cashman to do something about the pitching.  But it’s already starting to look like Joe Torre got out in the nick of time.  We’ll see.

        

And as for “Clueless Joe” (Morgan, not Torre), he’ll just have to do a little more research to understand what’s going on before he shows up at a game.

       

© Copyright 2008 by Steve Kallas.  All rights reserved.