Despite all the rumors, the firing of Willie Randolph was still a shock. It came immediately after a Mets win, a win that meant the team had won three of its last four. It came after a weekend where Willie pushed all the right buttons – sometimes his team performed (see: Robinson Cancel), sometimes it didn’t (see: the entire bullpen). Willie made plenty of mistakes over the past three and a half years, mostly in his handling of the bullpen, but I have no reason to think that a change of
managers is going to make Carlos Delgado younger, or all the players on the DL healthier.
One thing is encouraging, however. In his press conference today, interim manager Jerry Manuel said he would stretch the starting pitchers out to 120 pitches, and assign defined roles for the relievers. While I agree with Dallas Green when he said, “The reliever’s role is to get outs,” in this day and age, pitchers are used to a certain routine before they enter a game. They need to know when they are coming in so they can stretch and warm up properly. Yes, pitchers are divas, but there’s really no getting around that now. I really believe that assigning roles to the relievers will help.
But I don’t believe it will be enough. The Mets players have to step up. Will they play for Manuel? Playing for Willie’s job didn’t seem to be enough. Will they be even less motivated now?
The Jerry Manuel era begins tonight, and we will find out if it’s a change for the better, or simply more of the same.