Willie's Bus Problem
Last night's semi-thrilling extra inning walk off victory over the Phillies may make this post seem untimely given the bipolar climate around the team with each win and loss. Ron Darling even called last night's win gutty or some other word meant to signify that a team has heart. But questions about Willie's tenure abound. Is his job in jeopardy with a slow start?
Michael Salfino's article, stunning in that it is on the SNY website, dissects the anti-Willie position. For me, Salfino makes two main points.
Willie cannot tear himself away from the script.
Willie's comments about players are ill-advised.
The first one is susceptible to a relativist rebuttal. Yes, he's a bad strategic manager, but what else is out there? And baseball geniuses don't always win titles. Managers of men do.
The second criticism is one I have long been making here and on the Deuce, and to my mind, is indisputable. The question is not whether Willie routinely throws his players under the bus. He certainly does. The only question is whether Willie's de-motivating verbiage is impacting the players. And maybe why the hell he says some of the things he says.
Here's some highlights from the past.
On naming a captain:
The Mets won’t name a captain, but Willie Randolph believes Tom Glavine would be elected by his teammates if a vote were held...As for a younger candidate, maybe David Wright or Jose Reyes, the manager added: “They’re kind of young for that.”
Randolph said this clubhouse doesn’t need a captain. Once someone is named, he added, others tend to defer rather than taking charge.
“I feel like right now I’m the leader, so to speak,” Randolph said.
[Ed. note: see how well this insight has panned out, so to speak]On Anderson Hernandez and game 7 of 2006:
" … You can look back, and I don’t, and think about what you could have done, should have done. The bottom line is that thing played out the way we wanted to. As a matter of fact, even better, because we had our best hitter, a Cardinal killer, at the plate, one hit from the World Series. I wouldn’t change a thing. Who knows? I could have put Anderson Hernandez in there in front of 50,000 people – a 21-year-old kid – and he could have ---- his pants.
On the fans (2006):
"I don't think fans should vote because they don't really know," Randolph said. "They don't know talent, they don't know who can really play, they don't really know who deserves to be there."
The problems is that Willie is a competent at best and inept at worst field general. I'm not sure he can manage young players not that the Mets have too many of those. Because of this, he needs to maintain a high profile as a motivator to keep his job. He needs to manage diverse personalities and get the players to buy into the goals he sets. Whether he is doing this is now a highly controversial issue.
Salfino argues that his handling of Milledge was criminal and his effect on Reyes is an on-going issue. I don't necessarily agree with what he says below (I'm a Gary man), but Salfino makes a compelling case that Randolph needs to shift tactics.
If Randolph wants to find a reason for Reyes' poor second half, maybe he can look back to his very public benching for not running out a ground ball. You can make a reasonable case that triggered his slump. Just because Gary Cohen considers failing to run out grounders and popups high treason doesn't really make it a crime. There's not a player around who isn't guilty of this. Why selectively enforce it in such a public way?
Salfino quotes none-other-than Can-o-Corn-meister Fran Healy as saying as a player, Willie was real real quiet. I think we now know why Willie was so successful as a player. Keep your concerns private. I am not overly thrilled with Willie and may never be, but I am also a believer in consistency in the front office. In the sober light of day I wonder what chances the team would have of overcoming the in-season NY turmoil if Willie was dismissed before the winter.
Shea favorite "Scott Schoeneweis' Ballsy Quote of the Week"
This guy is becoming such a good quote that we need to start paying attention. In today's quotation, he references his own salary!!
"But I got it on Opening Day. I think I'm still their [Shea boobirds'] favorite. But I was getting outs tonight before New York fans. They probably were surprised. You know I'm making $4 million. There's a reason for that. I've gotten outs before."