— Days Without Shea —

596px-Willie_RandolphWhat does Willie Randolph and Loge13 have in common?

At the moment, neither of us have seats in Citi Field next year.

Willie was fired early this morning in Anaheim, ending months of speculation. Rick Peterson and Tom Nieto also “have been relieved of their coaching duties,” according to the press release.

Was Willie the best field manager in Mets history or in  baseball today? No. And we said back in March that Willie would be in serious trouble in May if this team got off to a bad start. Randolph is a baseball man. I’m sure he knew that too.

But my estimation of Willie Randolph will always be skewed due to the rotten way his departure was handled.

Go back to November 2007. After The Great Collapse, Omar Minaya called a press conference to say Willie wouldn’t be fired, and dragged the manager out in front of the cameras. There was no unconditional show of support for the manager, no definitive expression of loyalty. The event did nothing to help the manager in the esteem of the media or the players. This was not a smart press conference.

And it was just the first of many non-commital statements from Mets management and ownership. In the past two months, Willie’s job status buzzed over the team like a LaGuardia-bound 767 above Shea Stadium. Mets ownership could have grounded the noise at any time, by just saying, “Willie’s fired.” Or “Willie is our man in 2008.” Or even “Willie is our man until the All-Star break.” It’s a simple rule of managing people: always let employees know where they stand. It doesn’t matter if the employee is a manager, a ballplayer or a lowly Web editor. Letting Willie dangle could not have been good for team morale. It couldn’t have been good for Willie’s morale. So it had to affect his job performance.

But this is The Mets Treatment. In 103 days, The Mets play their last game at Shea Stadium. Thousands of loyal Mets partial-season ticket holders have still not been invited to renew their plans at the new ballpark. Up in the Bronx, partial season ticket holders are picking out new seats in Yankee Stadium. Is this how a franchise should treat fans who have been commited to their team for almost three decades? Is it smart business to leave customers clueless about their status? Apparently, that’s how business is conducted.

It is particularly troubling that the Mets waited until the team was in Anaheim, after beating the Angels before announcing the move. There can only be one reason: spin control. Do it early Tuesday morning NY time. That way, no local papers have the story. That way, Minaya can hold a press conference and get the “official story” out first. Classy.

Good luck to Jerry Manuel.

Here is the official press release, from 3:18 AM EST this morning:

The New York Mets today named Jerry Manuel interim manager, replacing Willie Randolph. Manuel, in his fourth season with the Mets, had been bench coach since 2006. The Mets also named Ken Oberkfell, Luis Aguayo and Dan Warthen to the coaching staff. Rick Peterson and Tom Nieto have been relieved of their coaching duties.

Mets general manager Omar Minaya will hold a briefing with the media Tuesday, June 17 at 2:00 p.m. PT (5:00 p.m. ET) in the media room at Angel Stadium. Mets manager Jerry Manuel will meet with the media immediately thereafter.

The 54-year-old Manuel served as Mets first base and outfield coach in 2005. He was manager of the Chicago White Sox (1998-2003) and led them to an American League best record of 95-67 in 2000. He was named 2000 Major League Manager of the Year by Associated Press and American League Manager of the Year by the Baseball Writers Association of America and the Sporting News. He previously was bench coach for the 1997 World Champion Florida Marlins following six seasons as third base coach for the Montreal Expos.

Oberkfell was the manager of New Orleans Zephyrs of the Pacific Coast League, his fourth year managing the Mets Triple-A affiliate. He previously managed the Binghamton Mets (AA) of the Eastern League after leading the St. Lucie Mets (A) to the 2003 Florida State League championship in his second season in the Mets Minor League system.

Warthen returned to the organization this year joining Oberkfell as pitching coach in New Orleans following two seasons as the bullpen coach for the Los Angeles Dodgers. He was a coach in the Mets Minor League system from 2003-2005. Warthen was pitching coach for the Detroit Tigers (1999-2002), San Diego Padres (1996-97), and Seattle Mariners (1992).

Aguayo, as Mets field coordinator, oversaw Spring Training for the Minor League teams, extended Spring Training, and the Mets' Fall Instructional League team. A 10-year Major League veteran, he played with the Cleveland Indians (1989), New York Yankees (1988), and Philadelphia Phillies (1980-88).

[June 17, 2008 9:16 AM]  |  link  |  reply
Ron Hunt said

What a classless organization the Mets are!!! No matter where you stand on Willie, this was the worst way to handle it. As was the Art Howe episode. We seem to be taking lessons from Cablevision!

[June 17, 2008 10:16 AM]  |  link  |  reply
Mike said

Horrible. The Mets have turned Willie into a martyr.

[June 17, 2008 11:10 AM]  |  link  |  reply
Eli said

The Wilpons have been horrible owners. Everytime they open their mouths, I never feel they are being honest. Fred is more concerned with revenue streams than with baseball. Nelson Doubleday should have bought out Fred. Classless.

[June 18, 2008 12:57 PM]  |  link  |  reply
Rachel Stanton said

Dont worry Willie, there are lots of high paying jobs if you know where to look -


$75K, $100K, $150K .....you'll be back in the game in no time!

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