That's Debatable with Rob Neyer
Is Willie Randolph to blame for the Mets' problems this season, or is he a scapegoat for underperforming players and bad decisions by the front office?
THE CASE AGAINST WILLIE RANDOLPHPerhaps the Mets simply haven't recovered from their historic collapse last September. They had a seven-game lead on September 13, but lost 12 of their last 17 and six of their last seven, falling one game short in the final standings. Afterward, everyone said all the right things, but the Mets this spring have played like a team with a serious hangover. Willie Randolph obviously doesn't have much control over the roster, but when you see a listless, mistake-prone team it's hard to not wonder if the manager's getting everything possible out of that roster. And is the roster really so deficient? We know the Mets have the National League's highest payroll, and before this season all the numbers suggested the Mets would win 90-some games.
THE CASE FOR WILLIE RANDOLPH
THE VERDICTOf course Randolph's a scapegoat. Pitching coach Rick Peterson and first-base coach Tom Nieto are scapegoats, too. When a franchise jettisons the manager and his coaches, the message is loud and clear: "Blame them, not us." Is that fair? It rarely is. One thing I've noticed over the years, though: When a team wins, the manager generally gets a great deal of credit. More to the point, while the Mets' losing record might not be -- almost certainly is not -- strictly Randolph's fault, it's fairly obvious that something had to change. Willie Randolph might be a fine manager, but he does not seem to be the right manager for this team, right now. Maybe this team isn't good enough to win, no matter who's calling the shots in the dugout. But there's only one way to find out.
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