So Far Manuel Has Read the Manual, but Does the Team Now Have Direction?

Brian HegtCorrespondent IJune 23, 2008

Many will agree that Omar Minaya did not handle the firing of Willie Randolph in a classy manor, some would even go as far as to say he was a disgrace as the face of the franchise looking as skittish as Mark McGuire in front of the United States Congress.

However, only a blind man would not be able to see that something has sparked a change not only on the field for the Metropolitans but clearly in the clubhouse as well. Manuel seems to have been rid of the black tie, New York Yankee demeanor that Randolph had learned from his mentor Joe Torre. The Mets seem to be much looser on the field which can ultimately mean that things are changed in the clubhouse.

However, Jerry Manuel seems to be pushing the right and Wright buttons, going away from Willie's status=playing time formula and dishing out playing time based on merit, as can be seen so far with Endy Chavez. While Manuel has also seemed to make more of an effort to be more on the level of the players, it is only a matter of time before the players start to say that he is too hands-on and are sick of him, in which case what was the point?

Although, in the time being, the hands-on approach seems to be working. The Mets are playing a nearly scrappy brand of baseball that forces even Carlos Beltran to make the rare appearance on the ground and get his jersey dirty. Ultimately, everyone knows that the catalyst of this offense is Jose Reyes, and the team goes as he goes, but Reyes will go as everyone else goes.

All of this being said, even if the team turns itself around drastically, is Jerry Manuel the long term answer?

Some will argue that hes not, especially after Omar Minaya's performance at the press conference last week. Omar has become a very sleezy, name crazed, power hungry general manager. Someone who (if he remains in his job) will most likely go after the most impressive, ticket-selling name (AKA Ozzie Guillen).

As the entire situation was unfolding, there was one name that by his choice went under the radar; Tony Bernazard. Many felt that Mr. Bernazard, who was Minaya's deputy was often seen around Randolphs clubhouse and often times would give much unnecessary information to Minaya. Minaya in essence would take this information and undermine much of what went on in the clubhouse. Bernazard, acted much of the time in his own interest in an attempt to jockey for position to replace Omar Minaya.

However, many baseball minds do agree that Bernazard is an outstanding talent evaluator and may be able to get the Mets away from their Los Mets hispanic image by cultivating the young homegrown talent.

Unfortunately, this leaves the Mets at a fork in the road with one way being to play to win now with the team and staff now, or to go down a road of re-building, in which case, Omar Minaya and Jerry Manuel will both be jobless.

So far it seems as if the team wants to play to win now, the players seem to be playing a better brand of hard nosed baseball, that in the recent years has proven to be a championship brand of baseball.

The pieces are in place and the manual has been written and read, now the question is, how does the product actually work?