For better or worse, Omar Minaya has thrown his support behind Willie Randolph, who will return for his fourth season as manager of the Mets. This decision tells me that Minaya doesn't hold Randolph largely accountable for The Collapse. That blame likely rests on the players, who appearaed listless and disinterested for the better part of the last two weeks of the season. Surely, Randolph has to be somewhat responsible for that malaise, but Minaya seems willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. That, or he just doesn't think there is anyone better out there available to take Randolph's place. I think that it *does* take a certain type of personality to manage in New York, and I guess Randolph has it.
Randolph's in-game tactical shortcomings are well-documented. He often makes questionable personnel decisions with respect to his starting lineups and bullpen usage, and he is loyal to a fault (see: his inexplicable reliance on Guillermo Mota this season). It is generally accepted that the difference between a crummy manager and a great manager amounts to a few wins (or losses) for his team in a given year. Now, a few extra wins would have put the Mets in the playoffs this season, so I don't want to understate the importance of those additional victories. Having said that, the bottom line is that good players tend to play well and shabby players not so well and there is probably little that a manager can do to reverse that trend.
At all events, Willie is here to stay, at least for the start of 2008. He may be on a short leash, so look for rumblings about his future should the Mets get off to a slow start next year.
Having just pitched the worst game in his career in one of its most critical regular season moments, Tom Glavine may be done in New York. He expects to decline his 2008 player option within the next week, perhaps opening the door for a return to Atlanta. He seems reticent to discuss his contributions to The Collapse and the pull of his family in Atlanta might finally be too much to keep him with the Mets. For their part, the Mets are probably hoping Glavine will come back, if only because decent starting pitching is so hard to find. They aren't going to wait around for him to make a decision; once their offseason plan is in place they are going to move forward with it regardless if Glavine is on board or not.
It has been interesting watching Glavine evolve from mercenary to Met over the last five seasons, but there has to be something unsatisfying for everyone involved to have him leave with a fizzle like this.
Let the games begin. In Newsday, Jim Baumbach kicks off the hot stove season with a bang by suggesting the Mets trade Jose Reyes to the Twins for Johan Santana. This user journal at MetsGeek has generated more reaction than any other journal in the history of that site, and its basic premise is that the Mets should consider trading Reyes, period.
I'm open to all possibilities that might result in improving the Mets for 2008 and beyond, and finding out what kind of market there is for Reyes is one of those possibilities. I don't think Reyes is as bad as his August-September swoon, nor is he as good as his otherworldly April. He's somewhere in between, and the question becomes: What is that worth? Reyes is likely a .300/.350/.400 hitter or something thereabout, stealing a bunch of bases and playing a very good defensive shortstop. We all like to think he's a better hitter than that (say, .320/.380/.450), but there just isn't much evidence to suggest that he can sustain that level of performance over a full season. He *is* still just 24 and has plenty to learn about himself and about the game, but a lot of players fail to live up to expectations and Reyes might be in that group.
I don't think the Mets should, or will, trade Reyes. He is more important to this franchise than just his stats (though his stats are the most important thing) because there is something special about bringing a promising ballplayer up through your system and having him develop into a star (or a superstar). Signing or trading for great players is nice, but it means more when he is one of your own.
I *would* recommend that the Mets put a leash on Reyes and only let him run in certain situations. I think all of the stolen base attempts (99 official, plus untold attempts negated by foul balls) took a toll on his legs and his energy as the season wore on. It's very hard to maintain a terrific success rate when the opposing team expects you to steal every time you reach base. Case in point: Reyes's 78 steals came at a 79% success rate; David Wright's 34 steals came at an 87% success rate. It is likely that Wright was ultimately more valuable (or as valuable) as Reyes despite stealing 44 fewer bases. Force Reyes to pick his spots and become a better base-stealer and I think everyone will be better off as a result.