It's Time: Mets Manager Willie Randolph Must Go

Andrew MeesAnalyst IMay 15, 2008

One of my favorite columnists, ESPN's Bill Simmons, recently wrote in an article that you should never write anything down while you're extremely upset.  That includes, he states, letters or emails to bosses, ex-girlfriends, or in his case, columns about your favorite sports team that has recently sent you straight to a bottle of whiskey.

This didn't stop him from writing a great column about his Celtics (it's right on ESPN's front page, I suggest you check it out), in which he destroyed his beloved team by stating what everyone in Beantown's been thinking about their playoff performance.

The Mets performance today has infuriated me to the point where even I cannot hold back anymore. 

Having played baseball at the college level, I have at least a somewhat better understanding than the average fan of how hard the game can be, and how hard it can be to play the game well.  It's because of my experience with the game that I'm able to understand the ups and downs of a major league season, and the struggles and slumps that go on over the course of 162 games.  And most importantly, it allows me to not read too much into them, because I've been there, and I understand.

But all of that has gone out the window.  It's time to say what everyone who loves this team has been thinking since the end of last season, Willie Randolph needs to be fired, and he needs to be fired now.  

Today's game against the Nationals, at least for me, was the final straw. 

Mike Pelfrey gives the club arguably the best outing of his young career, even carrying a no-hitter into the seventh inning.  He ends up giving up one run over seven and 2/3 innings, and surrendering only three hits.  He pounded the strike zone all game long, and challenged the Nats' hitters from the start.  

When you get this type of outing from your number five starter, you need to win the game. 

Oh, and did I mention the Mets were facing the LAST PLACE Washington Nationals, and facing a pitcher who had an ERA over 11 before today's start? 

Granted, Bergmann threw the ball very well today; he was getting on top of his curveball and it was breaking sharply out of the zone, which helped him to strike out eight Mets.  But he was going to the same pitch over and over with two strikes.  How about an adjustment fellas?  Maybe pick up a tendency one time?  The guy's ERA is over 11, his stuff can't be THAT good.

Good teams win games like this.  Championship-caliber teams, which everyone in the Mets clubhouse seems to think they are, win games like this.  The fact the Mets lost a game 1-0 to a last place team isn't even the main issue, though.  Those sort of things happen over such a long season.

But take a closer look at how they lost: With Castillo on first base and two outs, David Wright hits a fly ball to right field.  Austin Kearns comes over towards the line to make the play, but drops the ball.  Castillo, thinking the play is routine, coasts around second base, just waiting to be told the ball's been caught.  Once he realizes the ball's been dropped, he speeds up and gets to third.  Could he have scored on the play?  We can never really be sure, but the play would have been awfully close if he had been busting it around the bases.  

But the blunders on the basepaths didn't stop there: In the eighth inning with no outs and Jose Reyes on first base, Castillo lays down a bunt that third basemen Ryan Zimmerman fields and throws to first for the out.  Seeing that no one was covering third, Reyes broke for the bag, trying to make an aggressive play.  I'll never fault a player for being aggressive, but Guzman had already broke to cover third, and Boone made a solid throw to get Reyes and get the Nats a double play.  This killed a potential rally for the Mets, with their three-hitter, Wright, coming up to the plate.  Understand the situation, Jose.  Your three-hitter and best RBI guy is coming to the plate, with one out if you stay put.

Then, the clincher: Beltran on third, bottom of the ninth, one out.  The Nationals actually play the shift on Delgado, essentially giving the Mets the tying run.  Deglado lines a ball right at Boone at first base, and Boone fires the ball back to Zimmerman at third, doubling off Beltran and ending the game. 

Normally, I'd be fuming at Beltran, because anyone who's played baseball above Little League knows you freeze on a line drive, and see it through the infield before you advance.  But as Willie Randolph just stated in the postgame press conference, Beltran was going on contact, a play Randolph called. 

Going on contact?!  In the ninth inning?!  With one out?! I'm just now picking my jaw up off the floor.  

These type of blunders are a microcosm of the Mets' entire season to this point.  Poor base running, lack of hustle and fire, and poor in-game maneuvers.

All of these things fall squarely on the shoulders of Willie Randolph. For a man who preaches discipline and accountability, his players for the most part do not embody any of those things. 

Reyes' approach at the plate wavers from game to game, something that Randolph has been "working on," since his arrival in Flushing.  Players are not running the bases hard, and making bonehead mistakes when they're actually attempting to be aggressive.  

And let's not forget the overall complacency of the majority of the players on the roster.  Does anybody actually think Delgado, Castillo, or Beltran thought for even a split second they'd be benched if they weren't performing?  They didn't, which is the problem. 

This team plays with no fire, no intensity, and it's obvious even to the casual fan.  And it comes from their "stoic" manager, Mr. Randolph.  Do you remember the last time Willie Randolph was thrown out of a game?  Do you remember the last time he got in a player's face when he made the wrong play?  Me neither.  

Those type of things are not Randolph's style, and that's fine, but his style's not right for this club.  There is a fine line between being "even-keeled" and complacent, and the Mets have gone to the negative side of that line. 

They used to coast through parts of the season, now they are just coasting period.  Newsflash, boys:  YOU'RE NOT GOOD ENOUGH TO TURN IT ON AND OFF.  YOU HAVEN'T WON ANYTHING.  You would think that after their epic collapse last season, they'd have come out on fire this season, looking to kill anyone in their path.

But that hasn't happened.  The Mets have just gone 3-4 on a seven game homestand, against two last place teams.  They are 20-19 on the season, and are a 500 team since June 1 of 2007, all while having one of the five highest payrolls in the game.  If those numbers don't show a change is needed, I don't know what does.

Willie Randolph's team is complacent, they don't hustle and when they actually do, it's making stupid baserunning decisions.  They also don't beat the teams they should beat. 

When you add in the fact that he may be the worst manager in the game in regards to managing a bullpen, the writing is on the wall: Randolph needs to go.  The sooner, the better.


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