Ok, the time has come. The Willie Randolph era has officially ended and we can now look forward to the rest of the 2008 season under the watchful eye of Jerry Manuel. I wanted to outline the rest of the season and what he needs to do in order to succeed in New York.
First of all, let me start by saying that I think Jerry Manuel will do a fantastic job as manager of the Mets. He is an experienced, winning manager who is able to fire up his players—and the media—when necessary.
So on that note there are a lot of things that need to happen in order for the Mets to get this season turned around. I think that going into Citi Field next year, we will have a very strong team.
The first thing that needs to happen is regarding Carlos Delgado. I heard one of the more funny things listening to Carton and Boomer in the morning on WFAN. They called what Carlos Delgado did last night, a "Carlos Delgado." I think that should stand as a saying for someone who goes at least 0-4 with at least 1 strikeout and 1 error. Yes that is how bad he played last night.
I think the obvious solutions are internal. There are a number of options for the first base position. None of them are great, but they are all better than an aging Delgado.
Those options include minor league first baseman Mike Carp, current utility players Trot Nixon or Fernando Tatis, or pending his return from the DL, Angel Pagan or Moises Alou. Any of these players would bring a new sense of youth and exuberance to the position.
The next thing he has to do is recognize if this is a winning team or not and get his players to understand this. If this is a playoff caliber team then they need to realize that very quickly.
It will be important to get the outfield set the way the team wants it. When Ryan Church comes back I assume he will go back to right, with Nixon moving into left.
One thing that Manuel must not be afraid to do is to sit his veterans. We all know that Willie was from the school that veterans will teach the younger players. I'm not sure what Delgado has taught anyone, and I'm not sure if that type of coaching will stick now that Joe Torre is really out of New York (Willie and Joe).
Finally, the pitching staff will need to be stretched out. Although I am a huge supporter of Rick Peterson and have already written an article about his firing, I do believe that with the right guidance this new staff can get the starters into form.
There isn't much that needs to be done with the staff, except tread water. They need to keep things the same. Over the first half of the season, Johan has been exceptional (bullpen and lack of run support have been his downfall), Pedro in the starts he has made has looked great, Maine has been solid, and Perez has had his ups and downs.
Looking towards the future I hope that the Mike Pelfrey era has finally arrived. He has looked great in his last 5 starts or so, and hopefully can continue this into the second half of the season.
The bullpen does need some work, but given the veteran nature of this pen, I don't think it wiil become a huge issue. I can't say for certain wheather I think Heilman should remain a Met, but if there is something out there, Omar needs to take it. He clearly has wanted out of New York, ever since Omar said the word bullpen to him.
I am really looking for Manuel to shake things up, and coming out and pulling Reyes out of the game yesterday was a sign of that. The fact that he stood up to a superstar on the team, on his first day on the job, is making a statement.
I'm not saying that he should act like that every night; its just good to see that the manger has legs, unlike our former.