Willie Randolph has an appointment with destiny at the end of the month regarding his job security. The owners will meet with Omar Minaya and I assume Willie Randolph, to evaluate the team’s performance as well as Willie. <begin humming Taps>
Like the majority of fans, I like Willie a lot. I think he’s accomplished many great things for the Mets in the short time that he has been here. Unfortunately though, he has rustled a few feathers and rubbed some people the wrong way during his tenure. It’s not that he has an attitude problem, it’s more like a bad case of stubbornness. It’s so prevalent that it can be perceived the wrong way by many. While he has been praised for his ability to communicate with his players, it may be his ability to communicate with the fans and the media that may eventually be his fatal flaw.
There are many stubborn managers in the game today, and it includes some of the games finest in Bobby Cox, Tony LaRussa and Jim Leyland. They are loved by their fans and the media. However, unlike those managers, Willie has a tough time pulling it off. Whenever he is second-guessed he becomes very defensive and gives you either a terse retort, or he insults your judgment with a less than adequate generalization or analogy. Either way it just continues to add to the building frustration that surrounds him.
To be quite honest, I was shocked he wasn’t let go after last season. In fact, I guarantee you that Omar Minaya put his own job on the line by convincing the Wilpon family to give Willie one more chance. Whatever happened during that meeting last October 2nd, the fact that Willie kept his job was certainly not a joyous occasion as evidenced by a press conference that was filled with tension so thick you could cut it with a knife.
Hey look, let’s not kid ourselves, we all expected the Mets to come busting out of the gate this season and they certainly haven’t, even with the addition of the best pitcher in baseball. More often than not, they look exactly like they did in ’07. In fact, many of the players are off to even worse starts than last year. We can blame the players for playing uninspired or unmotivated baseball, but isn’t it Willie’s job to inspire and motivate?
Willie is on a very short leash, but at least he was on a leash. Certain aspects of his management style does not work with the current blend of veterans and younger players on this team. He was made aware of that in a face to face meeting and he even admitted as much last October. He said he learned a valuable lesson. So what’s up Willie?
As a show of faith in Randolph, I’ve comprised a very short to-do list for him.
1. Stop resting or benching players who are in the middle of a hot streak.
2. Stop presuming there is no benefit to arguing a bad call by the umps. Your presence on the field may not change the call, but it certainly gives your players a vote of confidence and a show of support.
3. Stop getting so creative with your in-game strategy. They wrote the book so new mangers like you can manage by the book. Nine times out of ten you guess wrong when you stray from conventional wisdom, and the worst part is you can’t defend your actions at the press conference.
4. Stop utilizing double standards between your young and veteran players. It’s the best way to lose the respect of your players. All your players should be accountable for maximum effort at all times.
5. Get back to basics! This team is fundamentally flawed and consistently exhibit a poor grasp of basic fundamental baseball. Your coaches are doing a poor job of positioning outfielders and infielders, teaching patience at the plate, making the right calls on the field, throwing strikes, etc. If it’s going to take extra batting practice, fewer days off and daily infield practice, so be it!
Hey Willie, Good luck to you at the end of the month. Whatever happens, happens… I’m still a believer no matter what. With or without you it’s full steam ahead.