09/20/2007 4:36 PM ET
Head to Head: Willie Randolph
Two SNY.tv analysts duke it out over Willie's future
By Dylan Butler and Marc Raimondi / MLB.com

Raimondi: Can't hang him yet

Marc Raimondi
SNY.tv baseball analyst

Willie Randolph has gotten a free pass this season from almost every member of the media except for me. I've criticized his use of the bullpen since midseason and I still think some of his in-game decisions are ponderous, at best.

His affinity for Guillermo Mota, who has to be his long lost love child, I won't even touch at this time. But there's no way -- whether the Mets make the playoffs or not -- that Randolph should be fired after this season. He's done too much in his three years as Mets manager to get the boot so quickly, even if he has to take most of the fault for this late-season collapse.

Part of the blame must go to Omar Minaya as well. Signing an aging, oft-injured Moises Alou was a poor choice and not re-signing Chad Bradford was an ill-fated decision. Scott Schoeneweis and Mota have been just plain awful. And the rest of the bullpen hasn't been that great, either.

One can also attribute some of the relievers' poor performance to Randolph, though. He loves to mix up guys' roles and push them to pitch more than one inning in an outing. We know you're old school, Willie, but this isn't the Bronx Zoo of the 1970s, this is the 21st century. We have stats now that can tell you some of your famous gut feelings are dead wrong.

More than all that, Randolph is responsible for getting his team to play hard. There's no doubt that the Mets have the best talent in the National League, but has the manager gotten the most out of it?

No way.

The past few weeks, it seems like most of these guys don't even care.

Did Bobby Valentine ever have this kind of talent? Not a chance. But he always seemed to maximize his players' talent. Remember Benny Agbayani, Glendon Rusch and Matt Franco? Those guys were borderline Triple-A players, but Valentine made them into key cogs on a team that went to the World Series in 2000.

There aren't too many players that Randolph has lifted up this season and he really hasn't needed too. The Mets have plenty of talent, they just haven't shown it. But it's hard to fire the guy after a few bad months, even though this team could be in the midst of a historic collapse.

Last year, Mets fans were ready to canonize Randolph a saint. Let's not hang him just yet.

Butler: He hasn't done enough

Dylan Butler
SNY.tv baseball analyst

Marc, I must thank you. Never, in all our years of doing this weekly installment for SNY.tv -- well, months, I guess -- have you ever more completely made my argument. Bravo.

Someone has to be held accountable for what could be one of the greatest collapses in baseball history. It won't be golden boy Omar Minaya, who is probably right next to David Wright and Jose Reyes as the most untouchable Mets employee.

Sure Minaya has made some dumb moves this year, like re-signing Guillermo Mota to a two-year deal and letting reliever Chad Bradford get away, but he's been the architect of the Mets renaissance. He brought in Pedro Martinez, Carlos Beltran, Billy Wagner and probably his best move was signing Wright and Reyes to bargain basement long-term deals.

And, although they have woefully underperformed since June, you can't get rid of the players. So that leaves one scapegoat and his name is Willie Randolph.

Randolph is a fine manager and has great knowledge of the game. It's hard to think he's terrible just one year after taking his team to the 7th game of the National League Championship Series.

He has, though, made some bad decisions this year, like constantly using Mota in key situations despite the pitcher's inability to do the job. In fact, another SNY.tv employee said I should just use the words "Guillermo Mota" for my argument. I thought of that, but then Marc wrote a little more.

And although he's criticized for not showing enough fire like his former manager Billy Martin did in the Bronx Zoo days of the Yankees, that's not Randolph's way. And, as Joe Torre told reporters before Wednesday night's game, if you try to be something you're not as a manager, the players are going to know you're full of it.

Unfortunately, it appears the Mets need that type of manager right now, a guy who will toss around a few expletives and a table or two in the clubhouse, who will get thrown out of games for getting in an umpire's face and kicking dirt on his shins. Just look at the way the Mets have lost lately -- by playing sloppy baseball, by booting and throwing balls away.

Perhaps the players are trying too hard, perhaps they're complacent. In either case, Randolph hasn't done enough to hold onto his team, which is teetering dangerously close to being knocked out of the playoffs after having a stranglehold on the National League East.

Marc Raimondi and Dylan Butler are regular contributors to SNY.tv.
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