May 17, 2008

Mets hold L-O-N-G team meeting; Olney Asks WHO Could Manage This Team?

Buster Olney, reporter/blogger extraordinaire from ESPN, discussed the team meeting the Mets held Friday, the day their first game against the Yankees was rained out:

The Mets held a team meeting Friday, which is not unusual. What was unusual was how long they took to hash out whatever it was they hashed out. Sometimes team talk for five minutes, or 10 minutes, or 15. Sometimes they'll meet for a few minutes, but keep the doors closed to reporters for awhile, for a cooling off period. But the Mets talked and talked and talked for 35 minutes, which is akin to a 1,000-page novel in the baseball world.

Olney, on why the meeting was called and Willie's status:

They are a team on the edge, a team seemingly without an edge, and in this spring after the Mets conducted arguably the worst collapse in baseball history, Willie Randolph is managing for his job.

More Olney, on who might be in line to take over if/when Willie is fired:

There is one pertinent question to all of this: If not Randolph as manager, then who?
There is no obvious answer, no John McGraw or Tony La Russa waiting in the wings. Not that this will necessarily deter the Mets; they fired hitting coach Rick Down last summer without really having any strong notion about how to replace him.

But the dynamics of this job make it among the most difficult in the sport: It's New York, with the inherent pressures; it's a team of some rising stars, but also a team of many veterans in decline, with their window of opportunity closing by the day; it's a team that probably is not going to win unless one of its core players, Jose Reyes, develops a connection with his manager; and it's a team that sways in the face of media and fan base pressure more than any other, with factionalized and knife-wielding management.

Who would be perfect for this job? Well, Vince Lombardi. But he's not available.

Tom Kelly? He has enjoyed his work since walking away as manager of the Twins, and I can't see him having patience for either the New York maelstrom, or for the necessary coddling of Reyes.

Mike Hargrove? Not a chance. He said last summer he was burned out, and that feeling would probably return after two hours with this team.

Jerry Manuel, one of the Mets' coaches? No way.

Ken Macha, former Oakland manager? No way. It couldn't be Phil Garner, for former Astro manager. Bobby Valentine is not available, and even if he was, it's unclear whether he would want the job, or that he would be wanted.

Cito Gaston? Well, he's been waiting more than a decade for his next chance, but it wouldn't happen with the Mets.

Olney asked if any Mets' fans have any ideas, and Jonathan offered this combo: Ken Oberkfell for manager, Whitey Herzog for bench coach, and Leo Mazzone for pitching coach- does that combo sound familiar?

If you aren't already an ESPN "Insider" I'd advise you to become one- that's the only way to read the daily columns by Olney, as well as Peter Gammons, Rob Neyer, Jayson Stark, etc., and Olney's daily recap alone is worth the price of admission!!

As I write this, the Mets are beating the Yankees 6-3 - crap - make that 6-4 - Santana has given up his third homer today!!! Ugh!!!


Anonymous said...

I LIKE it!! Oberkfell, Herzog and Mazzone- and add some young latin coaches, and we've got something good going!!! It won't happen, but nice to dream!

Anonymous said...

WAGNER put his money where his mouth is, like he always does, and saved the game today!!!!

Maybe the clubhouse meeting meant something!!!

I sure hope so!

Great win!

Anonymous said...

I will take that win all day long!!

That's one- now we REALLY need tomorrow's game!!

Anonymous said...

My dad knew Gil Hodges, and thought he was an amazing person. He agrees that Gil wasn't a "demonstrative" manager, but he was one of the very best leaders in the clubhouse and was NEVER out-managed on the Willie, you're NO Gil Hodges- but if you win 10 of the next 12, the fans will be much more forgiving...put some victories where your mouth is and we'll all back off...I've been watching this team as long as they've been around, and went to the polo grounds as a young man, and this team has had no guts for a very long time...prove us ALL wrong and make something happen for ONCE!!!!