New York Mets: Fire Jerry Manuel?

Andrew KahnCorrespondent IJune 16, 2009

NEW YORK - MAY 13: Manager Jerry Manuel of the New York Mets looks on against the Atlanta Braves on May 13, 2009 at Citi Field in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

There are reports that the Washington Nationals may fire manager Manny Acta in the very near future. What does this mean for the New York Mets?

Well, if possible, the Mets should look to re-acquire Acta, the third base coach for them in 2006. It would make sense to replace Razor Shines, as he has done an inadequate job coaching third for the Mets this year. Seriously, it’s not good if fans notice you are doing a bad job coaching a base, but that’s exactly what’s happening with Shines. He was sending everyone home early in the year; lately he’s been a bit too cautious.

Shines should be replaced regardless of whether Acta is fired by Washington and acquired by the Mets. But getting Acta would also add someone to the staff who really knows the division and, equally important, has managerial experience. If the Mets continue to struggle and manager Jerry Manuel gets the axe, the Mets would have the luxury of promoting from within.

That leads to the question: Should Manuel be fired?

I’ll answer the question with another: Would replacing him do any good? Unfortunately, probably not. Manuel can not be blamed for the Mets’ slew of injuries, but if they continue to lose games the way they often have this season, his dismissal has to be considered.

Would a different manager have caused Carlos Beltran to slide into home or Fernando Martinez to run to first? Would he have prevented Ryan Church from missing third base or Luis Castillo from dropping a popup? Probably not, but you can’t cut Beltran, Martinez, Church, and Castillo. You can fire the manager, though. That’s just how baseball works.

A veteran—and a three-time Gold Glove winner no less—like Castillo should simply know to use two hands on a pop fly, and I’m not sure Manuel ripping into him or benching him would make a difference. Remember, the Mets weren’t always playing smart baseball, nor were they always hustling, when Willie Randolph was the manager.

Face it, the head coach isn’t all that important in professional sports, especially baseball. Arguably his most important role is to keep the players happy—or keep them in whatever mood will elicit their best play. In that regard, at least from an outsider’s perspective, Manuel seems to be doing a better job than Randolph.

But could someone be doing a better job than Manuel? If so, could that someone be the last manager to take the Mets to the World Series?

It appears that Bobby Valentine won’t be retuning to manage the Chiba Lotte Marines next season. Fans in Japan are petitioning to keep him, but that likely won’t change upper management’s opinion that Valentine is too expensive to retain.

Valentine took an overachieving bunch to the World Series in 2000. How would he fare with a team that has several stars and has underachieved the last couple of seasons?

There’s no sense in discussing it too much this year, since the Japanese season extends just as long as the MLB season. But if the Mets fail to meet expectations again in 2009, bringing back Valentine might be a good idea.