Take a good, long look at the above picture of Willie Randolph and New York Mets' owner Fred Wilpon. It may be one of the last ones of its kind.
Baseball guru Buster Olney joined Charlie Steiner on XM Radio's MLB Home Plate channel on Friday afternoon to discuss the Mets, as well as Randolph's future with the team, given his recent remarks and relationship with management.
Most Mets fans may point to the team's recent performance, locker room bickering amongst players, and lack of team leadership as the primary reasons for Randolph's imminent departure.
However, Olney claims that the main reason Willie should get ready to clean out his desk lies in the remarks he made in an interview with Ian O'Connor of the Bergen (N.J.) Record claiming that he is disliked because of his race, and that the team's own television network, SNY, has not been portraying him accurately in the dugout.
Despite the fact that Randolph apologized to the Mets' organization and SNY in front of the media and to WFAN's Ed Coleman, Wilpon and his son Jeff, the team's COO, have not been returning Willie's phone calls.
When Steiner asked Olney if he would bet the family farm that Randolph would be gone as Mets' manager by the time next week rolled around, Olney cited the above silent treatment given by management as his justification for an affirmative response.
Although Olney seemed to indicate that a strong series in Colorado may help elongate Willie's tenure, the main reason he has not yet been let go is that the Mets do not have a good replacement in mind.
Bench coach Jerry Manuel's name has been tossed around, but the feeling in Met-land is that Manuel's personality is too similar to that of Randolph and that when a team is looking to change their manager, they tend to look for somebody that has the opposite (or at least a different) style.
Olney claims that the Mets have been considering Jim Fregosi as a potential replacement for Randolph.
Fregosi last Major League gig was with the Toronto Blue Jays in 1999 and 2000 when he managed them to two straight third place finishes and a .515 winning percentage. He has previously managed the Philadelphia Phillies, Chicago White Sox, and California Angels.
His best season came in 1993 when he led the Phillies to a 97-win season and the World Series, only to fall to his future employer, the Blue Jays. Despite some success with the Phillies, Fregosi has a career .484 winning percentage as manager during the regular season, and a .412 winning percentage during the postseason.
Olney claims that Fregosi would be a welcome change from Randolph in that he is good with the media and that he could be helpful in helping get Jose Reyes back on track after four months worth of up-and-down baseball.
It is said that Randolph and Reyes do not have a great relationship. Shocking!
However, the always reliable Wikipedia claims that, "One general criticism of Fregosi was that he was a manager who relied on veteran players and was unable to develop younger players."
Is this the direction that the Mets are going in?
In the words of Willie Randolph, "Huh? It smells a little bit."
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