Tuesday, June 17, 2008


Free Willie

Well, the Mets "freed" Willie Randolph from his job as manager.

Sometimes I wonder whether there's always an "inside story" of managers kind of like there is with married couples... when they get divorced I always say, "well, you never really know what goes on between two people."

Though maybe the better analogy is a wealthy playboy who changes his trophy girlfriend whenever he gets tired of the incumbent.

I liked Willie a lot. He didn't strike me as obnoxious and stupid like Dallas Green or hapless and ineffectual like Art Howe. He pulled the levers competently in games, and at least until last year's meltdown, it seemed as though he brought an ethos of hustle to the team.

Was it too much hustle that wore down Jose Reyes? Other than possibly that, I see no performance issues that can be laid on him. Carlos Delgado is aging out fairly normally and has reached a level where he's badly hurting the team, but we're stuck with him and his big contract for now. Carlos Beltran is very, very streaky, but I also think going through a natural age progression of a couple of so-so years after his career year (2006). He's in the trough between the two peaks of his "whale curve," and he'll have one more big year next year or the one after.

The starting pitching is playing at a very unsurprising par. John Maine and Oliver Perez are good but inconsistent #3 starters, Pedro is broken down, Mike Pelfry is figuring it out, and Johann Santana is steady but yields an ungodly number of solo homers -- his 15-13 season last year is probably closer to who he is now than his previous dominating years. It seems to me that the major problem since last year has been massive bullpen inconsistency. Had they blown three fewer saves last year the Mets would have comfortably made the playoffs, and four fewer this year they'd be in second place and 2.5 games out -- and Willie would still be the manager.

As to that, do you blame pitching coach Rick "I Can Fix Zambrano in 10 Minutes" Peterson? Or is it simply that an overperforming bullpen in 2006 and half of 2007 has returned to its statistical norm?

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