June 20, 2008

Will the REAL "Tony B" Please Stand Up!

For over 2 years, I've heard all of the rumors about how Mets Assistant GM, Tony Bernazard, GM Omar Minaya's right-hand man, has been counseling players behind former manager Willie Randolph's back. I've heard some alleged "inside" information, and never ran with it, because not only is it something that I didn't witness, but with the way things are distorted and manipulated, it's hard to be third party to info like that and remain objective. Calling Willie Randolph a bad manager is acceptable, because I watch from 155 - 162 games per year, as Jon and John do, and based on his on-field moves, we can comfortably say that many of the moves that Willie made during his near 4-year tenure were mind-boggling. Describing what Tony Bernazard might or might not have done behind the scenes would have been mere speculation on our part. It might have made for "sensational copy" but we couldn't confirm it, so never ran with it. I've never met or spoken with Bernazard, and, as opposed to Willie, the tangible results of Bernazard's tenure aren't readily seen.

That being said, in the last few days, on the heals of Willie's firing, much has come out regarding Bernazard's behind-the-scenes mechanations, from very reliable sources, much of which justifies what we've been told the past few seasons. Some of the more interesting reports are as follows:

From Ken Davidoff of Newsday, in an article entitled Perception on Mets' Bernazard: He's a bad, bad guy:

The truth, however, is that Bernazard's reputation has taken a pummeling. Take this for what it's worth, but Wednesday, I received two phone calls from industry contacts -- the first, a longtime friend of many Hispanic players, and the second, a scout from an American League team. Both, unsolicited, brought up Bernazard, both professed to not know him and both offered the same sentiment: "I hear he's a really bad guy."


And early Tuesday morning, when the hatchet fell on Randolph and the two coaches, Bernazard could be seen in the team hotel, giddy as a schoolgirl with a new dress.That's a heck of a lot of perception to overcome.

Wow! Calling someone a "really bad guy" is a strong indictment of someone's character, and not the kind of thing that a fan wants to hear about the number two baseball man in the organziation that they root for. And yet, where there's smoke, there's usually fire, and another excellent source, Gotham Baseball Magazine, had this to say about Bernazard, from the always insightful Mark Healey:

Unlike Goldis, whose agenda to usurp any influence that newly-minted GM Jim Duquette (after spending half a year as the interim GM after Steve Phillips was fired) began the day he was hired, it took Bernazard a year before he got himself promoted to VP of Player Development, despite having not a shred of scouting, coaching or front office experience. That's quite a trick. But hey, his resume clearly indicated his fine work on the World Baseball Classic.

He never wanted to undermine his good friend Omar Minaya, but his actions and behavior have had the same result. Even better, like Goldis, he has – for the most part -- put enough of his cronies in place so that any criticism – or corroboration – is virtually non-existent.

Healey's article reaches back to the Scott Kazmir trade, and the inner-workings of the most reviled trade in recent Mets' history, including the real culprits behind this horrible deal.

Healey continues, painting the blame for Willie's dismissal firmly in GM Minaya's hands, removing the Wilpon's from the decision:

Now to Randolph. Undermined by Bernazard, the lack of any real confidants on his coaching staff (interim manager Jerry Manuel was an Omar hire), and all of the mistakes made by the front office doesn't change the fact that he wasn't a very good manager. He deserved to be fired last year, got a chance to redeem himself, but didn't deserve to get fired the way he did. Blame Omar Minaya for the clumsy way he handled this entire situation. Blame Omar Minaya for his assistant's constant open-door policy with the Latino players, which hurt the skipper's credibility. But stop blaming Fred and Jeff Wilpon for stuff they didn't do.

Again, fascinating reading from Healey!

Finally, taking a different tact, regarding the same subject, in todays NYDailyNews, writer Adam Rubin speculates that, if Omar is fired, Bernazard might be his eventual replacement.

From Rubin:

The political climate that swallowed Willie Randolph may ultimately consume Omar Minaya as well, with VP Tony Bernazard in prime position to assume the GM responsibilities if Minaya is ousted, insiders tell the Daily News.

In the Mets' highly political environment, the no-nonsense Bernazard appears to have gained the trust and respect of chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon.

After reading the prior articles, the last thing most fans want to hear is that Bernazard might be Omar's eventual replacement! Once again, Mets' fans are left speculating on what could be, and that future that's being speculated on isn't looking bright, the way it did when Omar and Willie were put in place almost 4 years ago! All things considered, I think even those fans who are not in love with Omar would prefer him to a team run by Bernazard.

So where does the real truth lie? Well, there's no black and white answer here, sad to say, and fans will just have to sit tight and see how the season plays out before speculation can begin as to Omar's job security. One would have to believe that if Omar were to be replaced as GM, it would come from someone outside the organization, rather than from an unproven, in-house commodity. I still hope, however, that Omar will be given additional time to make his plan work in Queens, his hometown, and that somehow this team will turn itself around under Manuel's guiding hand. Admittedly, I don't have the faith I did entering this season, but as we've said so very many times, being a Mets' fan means always being the underdog, regardless of what is predicted for us. We're just not lovable losers anymore, and with a $137 million dollar payroll and higher ticket prices on the heals of CitiField's opening next season, the current level (or lack of) success just isn't tolerable anymore...

Hey, there's still 91 games left, and the Phils are only 5.5 games ahead of us- as OUR collapse last season showed, 5.5 games isn't exactly an insurmountable lead!!!

Let's take 2 of 3 in Colorado and keep winning series...and as always, LET'S GO METS!!!

1 comment:

Mr Mets Ugly Brother said...

I read those articles, and I have to agree that it's impossible to know what's really going on inside the Mess (I mean Mets) front office unless your last name is either Wilpon, Minaya or Bernazard. It's great that these reporters have "inside" information, but that's usually just one side's trying to wrest control from the other and therefore the truth always lies in the "grey" area. I give you guys credit for not falling into the trap of reporting what you hear just for sensationalism, and the articles you've cited are, indeed, interesting yet I'm sure they don't tell nearly the complete tale. We'll never know, but like you, I hope Omar stays!