Willie Randolph Handed His Walking Papers: Shea It Ain't So

Gershon RabinowitzContributor IJune 18, 2008

    The three and a half year tenure of Willie Randolph as manager of the New York Mets has reached its conclusion, in one of the most classless acts in the history of Major League Baseball. At 3:15 am, two hours after the Mets 9-6 victory over the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Willie Randolph was told via email from Omar Minaya that he was relieved of his managerial responsibilities. Many Mets were calling for Randolph's dismissal, but not in the way that Minaya handled it. But some questions remained. For instance, who was to blame for the underachievement of the New York Mets this season, was it Randolph's fault or was it Minaya's? Also, did the collapse of 2007 season lead to Willie Randolph's downfall?

    Willie Randolph was hired in November 2004, to bring an end to the disastrous end to the Art Howe era of Mets baseball. This was a new era, a new beginning, or the "New Mets", as they would like to be called. Willie Randolph brought instant credibility to the Mets in 2005, after 11 seasons on the New York coaching staff. The Mets experienced a twelve game improvement in 2005 coupled with the acquisitions of Carlos Beltran and Pedro Martinez in the off-season. The 2006 season seemed like a season of destiny for the Mets. The Mets won their first division title since 1988 and were poised to win their first world championship since 1986. However, injuries to Orlando Hernandez and Pedro Martinez dampened hopes. The Mets were able to withstand the Los Angeles Dodgers in three games. The next step was the NLCS and the eventual World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals. The series went the maximum seven games, where in game 7, Oliver Perez pitched a gem for New York, but the team wound up losing 3-1, in a classic pitcher's duel with Cardinals pitcher Jeff Suppan. The game ended when Carlos Beltran struck out looking to end the Mets' season. Despite the disappointing result, Willie Randolph was the toast of New York, narrowly losing the NL Manager of the Year award to Florida Marlins skipper Joe Girardi. In 2007, the Mets were determined to win a world championship, but it was all for naught. The New York Mets suffered one of the most monumental collapses in baseball history, blowing a 7 game lead with seventeen to play, surrendering the division to the Philadelphia Phillies on the regular season's last day. Despite disastrous results, Randolph was brought back as manager and when the Mets got off to a slow start in 2008, Willie Randolph's fate was sealed.

    Willie Randolph was not the primary source of the Mets' failures. I believe General Manager Omar Minaya should have gotten the pink slip. Since Minaya  took over as Mets General Manager, he has assembled a roster of aging players who were well past their prime, leaving the team the oldest in Major League Baseball. The disastrous acquisitions began with the signing of then 33 year old Pedro Martinez to a five year contract. After staying healthy for the 2005 season and for the duration of 2006, the injury bug bit Martinez hard in 2007 and 2008, leaving the Mets with the likes of grey beards Nelson Figueroa and Orlando Harnandez to take his place. More bad moves continued in 2005 when the Mets traded up and coming first baseman Mike Jacobs to the Marlins for Carlos Delgado, who has the compiled a less than stellar averages below .250 the last season and a half. It's been said that "History repeats itself", someone should have told that message to Omar Minaya in 2006, when instead of acquiring outfielder Alfonso Soriano, one of the top 15 players in Major league Baseball, sign Moises Alou. Saying that Alou is past his prime is an understatement, to say the least. Alou has been decimated by injuries throughout his Mets tenure. Another horrendous deal was the trade of youngster Brian Bannister to the Kansas City Royals for Ambiorix Burgos, who has barely pitched above Triple-A.

    Omar Minaya has deflected every criticism about job he has done and has not taken any accountability or responsibility for it either. Minaya, instead has used Willie Randolph as his personal scapegoat, a whipping boy, perhaps. It is time for the Wilpons to fire Omar and start of fresh. While I don't believe that Willie Randolph should have been fired, he has made some questionable moves, for instance taking out Mike Pelfrey and Johan Santana while the tandem was pitching shutout, only to see closer Billy Wagner cough up the lead right in front of their lives. When will Omar Minaya learn? Randolph's dismissal was one of the most classless acts I ever seen in my entire life. Why did Minaya let Randolph make the trip to Anaheim instead of firing him after the road? What makes Minaya think that Interim Manager Jerry Manuel will do a better job than Randolph. The ship titled, the New York Mets is sinking fast, proving many notions that the 2006 campaign was a fluke. The longer this goes on the fans will be longing for 2006.