Back in 1998, Nelson Doubleday went down the hall and told Fred Wilpon the New York Mets were going to go out and get Mike Piazza. When Wilpon brought up the injured Todd Hundley (lost for most of that year), Doubleday said they were getting Piazza.
That was the way it was with Doubleday. He made sure the Mets went out and got the best players. He was in charge when they got Keith Hernandez and Gary Carter. Sure, it led to disaster with Bobby Bonilla, Vince Coleman, Eddie Murray, and Bret Saberhagen, but the team was always trying to bring in the best players.
Being fair to the Wilpons here, they did learn their lesson after they let Mike Hampton walk in free agency, and the team refused to go out and get Alex Rodriguez. When that 2000 pennant winner blew up with those decisions, they went out and got Omar Minaya and pivoted.
When Carlos Beltran and Pedro Martinez were free agents, Minaya made sure they were Mets. Then, the Madoff scandal happened, and the Mets would not bet the Mets again until Steve Cohen took over the franchise.
When the Wilpons were faced with having to sell, they hired Brodie Van Wagenen to completely mortgage the future and try to win one last World Series before they had to hand the franchise to someone else. Their big move and big salary they took on was Robinson Cano.
That was partially because Cano wanted to come back to New York, and Van Wagenen was doing a favor to his former client. It also helped the Seattle Mariners were eating money on the contract regardless of whether or not Cano was eligible to play.
That same offseason, Bryce Harper was a free agent. Harper was a player who belonged on the biggest stage. Harper loved the Mets pitching and was highly complimentary of them during the 2018 All-Star Game:
For a player that wanted to win, the Mets would have been in the conversation if the team pursued him. Instead, the Mets were set with Cano, and then they tried to sell us having no $30 million players is the same thing as having two.
With that, Harper went to the Philadelphia Phillies with him really having no other realistic suitors. Since that time, he has won the 2021 NL MVP and 2022 NLCS MVP. He has completely altered the trajectory of the Phillies franchise who is in consecutive NLCSs.
Helping Harper and the Phillies get there is Zack Wheeler. Van Wagenen tried to sell us they replaced Wheeler in the rotation with Marcus Stroman despite both pitching in the same rotation in 2019. He then went on to tell everyone Wheeler was only good for two halves of his entire career despite his being the best free agent starter on the market.
Wheeler asked the Mets to stay after he was almost traded to the Milwaukee Brewers. He asked to stay for less when he hit free agency. He didn’t want to uproot his New Jersey family making it between the Mets and Phillies for him. The Mets didn’t want him. Instead, we got Rick Porcello.
Wheeler has been a Cy Young caliber pitcher with the Phillies. He has been a postseason ace. With Harper, he has the Phillies back in the NLCS.
This never should have happened. This was Wilpon and Van Wagenen incompetence. Fortunately now, the Mets have an owner that is not going to let this type of nonsense happen again.
When the World Baseball Classic rolls around, there is a fear it is going to negatively impact the players. Certainly, Buck Showalter has spoken out about that recently. If you are a defeatist New York Mets fan, you can point to J.J. Putz participating in the 2013 WBC before having the worst season of his career.
However, to be fair there, Putz was already injured. As had been reported, Putz wasn’t really given a physical, and that he was pushed to pitch through a painful bone spur which hindered his performance. That was back in the days of Jeff Wilpon making medical decisions which included forcing an injured and shut down Pedro Martinez to pitch and attempting to prevent Carlos Beltran from having career saving knee surgery.
Going back to Beltran, he participated for Puerto Rico in the inaugural 2006 World Baseball Classic. In fact, the Mets had a heavy contingent of players at that event, which included:
- Carlos Beltran (Puerto Rico)
- Endy Chavez (Venezuela)
- Carlos Delgado (Puerto Rico)
- Pedro Feliciano (Puerto Rico)
- Jose Reyes (Dominican Republic)
- Duaner Sanchez (Dominican Republic)
- Jose Valentin (Puerto Rico)
Looking at that list, each and everyone one of these players had a great 2006 season, and their great seasons started by playing in the World Baseball Classic.
Beltran went from the biggest free agent bust in baseball history, even worse than Bobby Bonilla. Beltran probably should have won the 2006 NL MVP as he was an All-Star while winning the Gold Glove and Silver Slugger. He probably should have won the MVP award with his finishing second to just Albert Pujols in WAR. Arguably, this remains the single best regular season in Mets history.
Chavez would also have a career year. He was always a great fielder, but he could not hit. He would have a 101 wRC+ while playing great defensively. We still talk about that catch robbing Scott Rolen of a home run to this day.
Delgado had a very good year in his first year with the Mets. However, he would be special in the postseason hitting four home runs.
Feliciano was almost left off the Mets Opening Day roster after returning to the organization after a year in Japan. He stayed on the roster, and he would have a breakout season which led him on a path to becoming the best LOOGY in Mets history.
Sanchez was a reliever Omar Minaya gambled on when he traded Jae Weong Seo to get him. Minaya looked like a genius as Sanchez might’ve been the best set-up man that season, and if he didn’t get in that cab, the Mets probably win the World Series that season.
Entering 2006, Reyes was still this great raw talent who had not been able to harness his ability. That 2006 season was the season which Reyes became that dynamic lead-off hitter and shortstop the Mets knew he could be. He learned plate discipline, hit for power, and of course, stole bases. He was a first time All-Star, and he had what proved to be the best season of his career.
Finally, there was Valentin. In the previous season with the Los Angeles Dodgers, the then 35 year old looked done as he hit .170/.326/.265. To be honest, things didn’t look all that great in April for Valentin. However, due to a myriad of injuries at second base, he was given the job, and he was the missing piece that roster needed. He capped off a great season by hitting two homers in the NL East clincher.
That Mets team was a special team, and it still goes down as one of the best regular seasons in team history. For that to happen, they needed almost everything to break right, and it did. That process all started with these Mets players participating in the WBC.
Looking forward to 2023, the Mets are sending a heavy contingent of players including very important ones like Pete Alonso, Edwin Diaz, Jeff McNeil, and Francisco Lindor. If 2006 is any guide, this should be a springboard for these and the other Mets participating meaning we are about to see another great Mets season.
When the deal with the San Francisco Giants fell through, Steve Cohen acted immediately to sign Carlos Correa. Cohen thought the New York Mets needed another bat, and his family really wanted the Mets to sign Correa. It all came together quickly with everyone exhilarated.
That was until it fell apart. Apparently, this wasn’t Carlos Gomez‘s hips. Both the Mets and Giants agreed there was an issue on Correa’s ankle. This wasn’t Five Days in Flushing where Yoenis Cespedes was going to come crashing through the door. This was more like purgatory with all of us waiting for the other shoe to drop.
Fact of the matter is we will never know how bad Correa’s leg really was. Maybe it was an insurance issue. Perhaps, it was doctors trying to ascertain just how long until it will impact Correa’s ability to play like an elite player or play at all. We don’t know, and in all honesty, it’s a real possibility we won’t know during his playing career.
What we do know is Cohen has earned out trust. This wasn’t the Wilpons trying to nickel and dime Vladimir Guerrero with his back. It wasn’t even them ignoring the medicals on J.J. Putz to execute that deal. Really, this is nothing like the Wilpons ever did because Cohen is unlike the Wilpons in nearly every way conceivable.
This Mets team was already past the Cohen Tax threshold before Cohen sought to sign Correa. He did all he could to make Correa a Met, but at the end of the day, Cohen listened to his medical professionals. He didn’t force an injured Pedro Martinez to take the mound or try to stop Carlos Beltran from having career saving knee surgery.
This was purely a baseball business decision. He went after Correa because it made sense for the team. He backed off because the physical indicated it no longer made sense for the team. It really is just that simple.
As fans, we are just left with a smart baseball owner whose sole concern is making the Mets the best team in baseball. Mets fans have needed that for over a decade. We now have it with Cohen, which again makes this the biggest difference between he and the Wilpons.
Due to circumstances beyond my control, I had to listen to Boomer and Gio. During that time, the subject of Max Scherzer arose, and well, there’s a reason I no longer listen to WFAN (nor should any respectable sports fan).
Per Gio, Scherzer was terrible, and he should only be known for three things:
- Failing against the Braves and Padres
- His oblique
- Making $43 million
Somehow, some way, Gio was able to reduce Scherzer’s year to two starts. Nothing else matters but those two starts.
Of course, those starts were massively disappointing. It was shocking. It was reminiscent of Tom Glavine. Just another future Hall of Famer from a division rival who failed the Mets in a big spot.
However, much like Glavine, Scherzer was much more than that one start.
Scherzer coming to the Mets was an immediate culture change. Not only did Scherzer add an ace, but he was a known fierce competitor. Mostly, the Mets were adding a Hall of Famer pitching near the top of his game.
In some ways, this was adding Pedro Martinez in 2005. With him came instant credibility for the franchise. It changed the narrative for the Mets. They were now a destination. They now meant business.
Much like Martinez, Scherzer backed it up. On the season, he was 11-5 with a 2.29 ERA, 0.908 WHIP, 1.5 BB/9, and a 10.7 K/9. He had a 5.3 WAR, 169 ERA+, and a 2.62 FIP.
Even with the oblique injuries, he was 12th in the majors in innings pitched. He still averaged 6.1 innings per start.
His FIP ranked third in the National League. His WAR was sixth. His K% was third. His K-BB% was second best in the majors.
In every sense of the word, Scherzer was an ace. That was of increased importance for the Mets with Jacob deGrom out until August.
This Mets team won 101 games, the second most in team history. Scherzer was a huge reason why the team was in that position. In fact, he ranked third on the team in WAR.
The end of the Mets season and Scherzer’s was disappointing. Both were in part due to Scherzer pitching through an oblique injury. That said, despite the oblique he battled most of the season, Scherzer was great.
Ultimately, the oblique might’ve robbed Scherzer and the Mets a World Series. This is not too dissimilar from how Martinez’s toe and shoulder helped rob the 2006 Mets of a World Series.
However, that doesn’t change how great Scherzer was in 2022. He was as advertised. He helped make the Mets a great team and pushed this franchise closer to a World Series.
If and when the Mets win next season, Scherzer will be a big part of that. The oblique will heal, but the guy who was an ace in 2022 remains. And yes, he was an ace. Look at the numbers and his impact on the Mets instead of people trying to lie to you because they had sour grapes about the end of the season.
Scherzer was great and will be great again next year.
Timmy Trumpet coming to Citi Field was a huge deal. Everyone in the stands and watching on TV were waiting with baited breath to see him play Narco with Edwin Diaz running in from the bullpen.
Instead of watching Timmy Trumpet blow his horn, we got to see Joely Rodriguez blow the game. The pitcher brought to the Mets specifically to get out left-handed batters out was beaten by them turning a tied game into a 4-3 deficit.
Keep in mind, that game was close enough to try to find a reason to use Diaz. Instead, Buck Showalter did the right thing and saved his arm.
That isn’t something that would’ve happened under the Wilpons. With Timmy Trumpet there, they would have forced the manager to make sure Diaz enters the game.
We know this because of Pedro Martinez.
As Pedro detailed in his eponymous book, Pedro, Jeff Wilpon ignored the advice of the medical and baseball professionals. Rather than let Pedro heal, Wilpon pushed him to pitch in a game against Dontrelle Willis in an attempt to generate a gate.
The end result was Pedro worsening his toe injury, and it might’ve been a contributing factor in Pedro’s eventual career ending shoulder injury. With respect to the Mets, it might’ve cost them the World Series in 2006.
That was a problem with the Wilpons operation of the Mets. Not all decisions were baseball decisions. In some ways, you could sell they were selling the Mets but not baseball.
This led to odd choices. In a juxtaposition with Timmy Trumpet, the Mets invited the Baja Men in 2000. Now, we get the far superior Timmy Trumpet.
Except, we didn’t quite get what we expected, and there was disappointment. Assuredly, the team wanted to make good on Timmy Trumpet blasting Diaz as he ran in from the bullpen.
From a fan engagement standpoint, that’s what we all wanted. From a baseball standpoint, it didn’t make sense to use Diaz. To a certain extent, that’s why Cohen’s Mets (in a move the Wilpons probably don’t make) are having Timmy Trumpet again as a guest in the hopes that this time the moment will happen.
Make no mistake here. Both Wilpon and Cohen are trying to get people to the ballpark. The key difference is Cohen is trying to do that with baseball first and everything else second.
That wasn’t always the case with the Wilpons. In fact, you could reasonably argue baseball never really came first under the Wilpons ownership of the Mets.
The Wilpons very likely don’t leave Diaz in the bullpen, and in a similar vein, they don’t bring back Timmy Trumpet. Part of the reason we know this is they didn’t hold Old Timers’s Games bemoaning the costs involved.
Ultimately, Cohen understands the best way to get fans engaged and happy is putting a winning team on the field. The other stuff is great and important, but it comes a distant second to winning. In the end, the baseball is the product.
Sadly, the Wilpons never got that. That’s why Pedro pitched, and Diaz didn’t. It’s also why the Mets are far better run now than at any point during the Wilpon ownership of the team.
One of the best things Steve Cohen has done in terms of fan engagement is Old Timers’ Day. The New York Mets now have their own history, and we now get the opportunity to celebrate it. Apparently, fans aren’t the only ones eager to celebrate it.
We have seen a number of players eager to return. Already on the docket are a who’s who of Mets greats including Mike Piazza, Keith Hernandez, Darryl Strawberry, Dwight Gooden, Howard Johnson, John Franco, Johan Santana, Pedro Martinez, Daniel Murphy, Mookie Wilson, and many, many more. Really, Mets players are coming out of the woodwork to try to attend this event.
With every name came more excitement and more fond memories. Then, the Mets announced Jose Reyes was returning.
While the Mets were blowing Game 4 of the 2015 World Series, Reyes was in Hawaii grabbing his wife by the neck and throwing her into glass doors. The altercation was so violent, the hotel would need to call the police, and his wife would need to be taken by ambulance to a local hospital to be treated for her injuries.
The Colorado Rockies (who also had Trevor Story ready) were so appalled they released Reyes. There was a debate whether Reyes would ever play a game again. After all, who in the world would want someone like that on their team? It’s one thing to deal with someone on your roster. It is a whole other to proactively go out and sign that player (or acquire him if you are the New York Yankees and Aroldis Chapman).
Well, frankly, the Mets were cheap morons, and their third base plan for 2016 was David Wright. That lasted until May 27. After that, the Mets were trying to figure it out on the fly. Instead of looking to make a trade, they opted to do the whole dog-and-pony show of trying to rehabilitate Reyes’ image.
Reyes was decent enough, and he had a big homer against the Philadelphia Phillies. The media acquiesced with the Mets demands and wrote the necessary articles (yes, they are 100% complicit) to support the Mets bold move to cheap out and take bad a wife beater. Everyone was so happy the Mets brought Reyes back.
Well, third base wasn’t good enough anymore for Reyes. With Asdrubal Cabrera‘s thumb injury, Reyes pushed his way to short. It was a bad year for Reyes, and it was apparent to the Mets, they needed to pivot. Amed Rosario was called up at the end of the year to be the shortstop of the future, and in the offeseason, they had to sign Todd Frazier to play the third base Reyes no longer wanted to play.
Reyes agreed to be the utility player. Anything to help the team. Again, just talk.
Reyes didn’t really put the time in to succeed in the outfield. He was terrible, and he stopped playing there. Then, the sham of the narrative he was going to mentor Rosario was exposed when he whined to the media about it. This came at a time when the baseball world was wondering if he was done and would soon be ticketed for being designated for assignment. Instead, he was rewarded with more playing time.
Despite the beating of his wife and acting bigger than the organization, he was given a big send-off as part of the Wright festivities. He got to retire as the Mets leadoff hitter and shortstop. He deserved none of this.
After he beat his wife, the Mets had kept throwing him olive branch after olive branch. None were good enough for him. He showed a complete lack of gratitude to this organization. And now, he’s going to be rewarded by being brought back for Old Timers’ Day like he didn’t beat his wife and wasn’t a completely selfish jerk on his way out?
Seriously? This is Wilpon level garbage and has no place in the Steve Cohen era. In reality, Reyes has no business being at Citi Field for Old Timers Day even if he bought his own ticket.
Due to site difficulties, this is going up a week later than anticipated, but fortunately (or unfortunately), all of what was discussed remains relevant. Players discussed during this podcast included Michael Conforto, Jeff McNeil, Pete Alonso, Melvin Mora, Mike Bordick, Brandon Nimmo, Mark Canha, Starling Marte, Billy Taylor, Jason Isringhausen, Matt Harvey, Dwight Gooden, Darryl Strawberry, Josh Hamilton, David Wright, Ike Davis, Jake Marisnick, Blake Taylor, Dominic Smith, Robinson Cano, Eduardo Escobar, Shawon Dunston, Craig Paquette, Pedro Martinez, Carlos Beltran, and many, many more.
As always, thanks to Timothy Rider. It was an absolute blast. Please take a listen to the Simply Amazin podcast (by clicking on this link).
With the institution of the universal DH, MLB has officially killed off National League Baseball. As such, the only real difference between the two leagues is their names. One just happens to be the American League, and the other just happens to be the National. Why are we even bothering anymore?
It’s not like changing up divisions and leagues is unheard of in this sport. Tom Seaver led the Mets to the first ever NL East title in 1969. Prior to that, there were no divisions in either league. Fast forward to 1994, and the Montreal Expos would have won the division led by players like Moises Alou, Cliff Floyd, and Pedro Martinez. Of course, that season didn’t reach completion because of the strike.
As a result, the first World Series with a Wild Card in the postseason was won by the Atlanta Braves with Tom Glavine taking home World Series MVP honors. The Braves would win the NL East as part of their journey. An interesting fact here is the Braves won the first ever NL West title, and they actually played the Mets in the inaugural NLCS.
Baseball has moved and changed teams and divisional structures as they have seen fit. When baseball expanded in 1998 to include the Arizona Diamondbacks and Tampa Bay Devil Rays, the Milwaukee Brewers were moved from the AL Central to the NL Central. In 2013, the Houston Astros, who were an expansion team the same season as the Mets, were switched from the NL Central to the AL West because baseball wanted six five team divisions.
Things change according to the random whims of the commissioner. We see that has happened with the institution of the universal DH, and we are likely going to see it again with MLB trying to increase the amount of postseason teams from the current five per league to seven per league. That is again completely radical, and it cries for the need for another correlative move.
Before delving further, one of the reasons for the push for an expanded postseason is increased revenues. It should also be noted the reason for revenue sharing and compensation systems is to address the (laughable) assertions owning an MLB franchise isn’t profitable and costs need to be reduced. One major cost which can be cut is travel fees.
To do that, you can more geographically align the divisions of baseball like it is done in the NBA and NHL. After all, we see MLB trying to more align their sport like those, so why not take a look at what that would look like:
- Baltimore Orioles
- Boston Red Sox
- New York Mets
- New York Yankees
- Philadelphia Phillies
- Pittsburgh Pirates
- Toronto Blue Jays
- Washington Nationals
- Atlanta Braves
- Cincinnati Reds
- Houston Astros
- Miami Marlins
- Tampa Bay Rays
- Texas Rangers
- Chicago Cubs
- Chicago White Sox
- Cleveland Guardians
- Detroit Tigers
- Kansas City Royals
- Milwaukee Brewers
- Minnesota Twins
- St. Louis Cardinals
- Arizona Diamondbacks
- Colorado Rockies
- Los Angeles Angels
- Los Angeles Dodgers
- Oakland Athletics
- San Diego Padres
- San Francisco Giants
- Seattle Mariners
Yes, this does call for the inclusion of two expansion teams. Let’s face it. It is well past time for MLB to expand. If the NHL can support 32 teams, MLB certainly can. There are markets in the United States and Canada which have been relatively untapped, and to a certain extent, the minor league retraction has created a void in many communities for baseball. At least geographically, the southeast with cities like Raleigh and Nashville makes sense, but MLB can look elsewhere and align differently if it makes more financial sense.
As for the blowing up of some rivalries, well, that’s a consequence. That said, it wasn’t a concern when the Brewers and Astros changed leagues. There is also the important consideration the geographical rivalries will be off the charts, and there will certainly be the development of new rivalries.
Now, the next step is especially radical, but then again, so was the death of National League baseball. Before delving further, we first need to acknowledge baseball’s crown jewel is the World Series. Baseball needs to do all it can endeavor to create the best possible World Series matchups to generate more fan interest. The best way to do that is to actually set up the best possible match-ups in the World Series.
For that, just eliminate the AL and NL in its entirety. Instead, just have the four divisions. If you want to keep an AL and NL for nostalgia stake and create new names for the other two divisions, fine. That said, the World Series should abandon the concept of the AL against the NL. Instead, it should be the two best postseason teams.
This is where MLB can borrow a bit from the NHL. Since MLB wants an expanded postseason, they can have the top three teams in each division make the postseason. After that, the next eight non-automatic qualifying teams, regardless of division and division rank, can play a one game Wild Card Game to qualify for the Division Series. The World Series will instantly become increasingly more interesting.
The potential match-ups can radically change. For example, one year, the Mets and Cardinals could meet in the World Series, and the next, they could meet in the Championship Series. As a bit of added intrigue, under this format, MLB could get their biggest dream to come true with a Yankees-Red Sox World Series. The ratings and revenues from that may set records never before seen.
Overall, MLB has been forever changed with the death of National League baseball. As a result, instead of trying to hold onto some vestiges of the NL, it is time to just let it go away entirely and focus on what would create the most interesting and exciting baseball. Creating a four league format would be refreshing, and it would create the best possible postseasons. From there, genuine interest (and associated revenues) would grow putting baseball in the best footing it has been in a century.
Heading into the 2020 season, Jacob deGrom was definitively the best pitcher on the planet. He was coming off back-to-back Cy Young awards, and he was doing things only Hall of Fame pitchers do. Certainly, the Hall of Fame was on deGrom’s mind as he told us all he wanted to be an inner circle Hall of Famer.
Certainly, deGrom was well on his way to carving a path to the Hall of Fame. After all, he was fifth all-time in ERA+. He was bettering Tom Seaver‘s New York Mets records. He was otherworldly great. Think Pedro Martinez in 1999 and 2000.
Then, the pandemic struck. The 2020 season was shortened, and deGrom would suffer an injury which would just about end his chances of winning a third straight Cy Young. deGrom would being the 2021 season pitching better than he ever has, which is saying something. However, again injury would strike limiting deGrom to just 15 starts. Despite the injury, he still finished in the top 10 in the Cy Young voting.
However, for deGrom, it isn’t about Cy Youngs. Well, it is in part, but that is just part of the larger picture. Really, when it comes to deGrom’s career, it is about two things: (1) World Series rings; and (2) the Baseball Hall of Fame.
As of this moment, he has a 43.4 WAR with a 40.8 WAR7 and a 42.1 JAWS. The average Hall of Fame pitcher has a 73.0 WAR, 49.8 WAR, and a 61.4 JAWS. That puts the 33 year old deGrom in an interesting position.
Right now, he is 39.6 WAR behind the average Hall of Fame pitcher. For WAR7, he is only 6.4 behind the average Hall of Famer. He is 19.7 behind the average Hall of Famer in terms of JAWS. In some ways, that is actually achievable for deGrom.
Consider from 2018-2019, deGrom AVERAGED an 8.9 WAR (pitching only). If he puts together another two year stretch like that, and as we saw last year, he can, deGrom would have a 61.2 WAR. That puts him within an ear shot of the 73.0 mark. More than that, his peak numbers will be through the roof. He will have a 51.7 WAR7, which would be a giant step above the current standard. His JAWS would then be 56.5, which would be a hair behind the standard.
Keep in mind, narrative matters. As we see with players like Sandy Koufax having an absolutely dominant peak at a higher level than anyone else matters. That would certainly describe deGrom if he can put 2-3 great seasons under his belt.
On that front, this could be where Max Scherzer helps him. Scherzer was a pitcher who did not look like a Hall of Famer until he turned 28. From that point forward, he put together a stretch of nine consecutive Cy Young and Hall of Fame caliber seasons. If there is anyone who knows what a pitcher needs to do from their mid-30s to stay dominant towards their 40s, it is Scherzer.
With deGrom having a true peer in Scherzer in the rotation, not only will deGrom have a better opportunity to win a World Series, but he will also increase his Hall of Fame chances. Whenever the lockout ends, deGrom’s path towards the Hall of Fame and a World Series title will begin anew.
The New York Mets seem to be narrowing their managerial search, and reading the tea leaves, it seems Buck Showalter will be the next manager. There are reports Steve Cohen wants him, and there are ties from the New York Yankees between new general manager Billy Eppler and Showalter.
If we are going to go back to Eppler’s old Yankees ties, the Mets could also look at Willie Randolph for the managerial role. With Randolph, there are two things which stand out in his candidacy: (1) he’s actually had success as the Mets manager; and (2) he has unfinished business.
When we look back at Randolph’s Mets tenure, people mostly remember the bad. There was the 2007 collapse, and he was fired one game into a west coast trip. There was the chasm between him and Carlos Delgado. Of course, many forget the 2008 Mets also collapsed, but this time under the helm of Jerry Manuel.
Really, Randolph had to deal with more as the Mets manager than most did. He never had the full backing and respect of ownership. Things got so bad Manuel and Tony Bernazard were going behind Randolph’s back to not only spy on him but to find reasons to remove him from the job. The shame of it was Randolph was quite good at the job.
First and foremost, Randolph was immediately challenged in his job by trying to find a way to graciously end Mike Piazza‘s Mets career. Randolph did it in a way where Piazza not only had a strong season, but he had his dignity during the course of the season.
Randolph was gifted an old foe in Pedro Martinez atop the rotation. Notably, despite the many battles between the two during the heyday of the Yankees/Red Sox rivalry, there was nothing but respect between the two. Randolph had tried to protect Martinez from the team, but to no avail.
Another challenge with Randolph was the Carlos Beltran situation. He helped Beltran navigate through what was a disaster of a 2005 season and get him playing at a Hall of Fame level. By most accounts, the two had a good relationship, which is something a smart manager will have with their superstar.
One important part of that is the ability to adapt. When Randolph first took over the Mets job, he initially tried to make the Mets more like the Yankees. Case-in-point was the restrictions on facial hair. That is something he eventually rescinded.The ability to adapt to the job is of vital importance.
There were other highlights from Randolph’s tenure with the most important being his development of David Wright and Jose Reyes. With respect to Reyes, he was able to help him hone his skills to develop a more sensible approach at the plate to help him become an All-Star. With respect to Wright, he admitted in his book, The Captain: A Memoir, Randolph helped him become the Major League player he wanted to be. If not for injuries, that would’ve been a Hall of Famer.
Looking at Randolph, one of the biggest skills he had was his working relationship with Rick Peterson. The two worked together to get the most out of the Mets pitching staff, and we saw them do some things which may now be considered commonplace. For example, Randolph had a very quick hook in the 2006 postseason, and he was not afraid to let his superior bullpen win him games. The Mets will be looking for something like that in 2022 with Jeremy Hefner being retained as pitching coach.
Overall, Randolph had strenghts and weaknesses as manager. As we saw with him, the strengths far outweighed the weaknesses. That’s a major reason why he’s second only to Davey Johnson in winning percentage. He was a very good manager, who for some reason, never got another opportunity to manage.
Perhaps at 67, Randolph no longer has any designs on managing. If he does, we need to remember he was a good manager for the Mets. Unfortunately, he never received a fair shake. All told, Randolph knows what it takes to succeed with the Mets. No, he’ll never get the job, but there should have at least been some level of interest.