While the Mets have reportedly called a players-only meeting prior to this evening’s game in the Bronx, the Bergen Record’s Bob Klapisch claims the club is awfully close to “reaching a tipping-point moment, when Jeff Wilpon calls Omar Minaya and Willie Randolph into his office and says: one of you two is fired. You choose.” Presumably, only Minaya’s opinion will count.
The manager didn’t assemble this team ” Minaya did ” but it was Randolph’s job to get the most out of his players. He gets an “F” having steered the Mets to exactly a .500 record since last May 19. Willie hasn’t been able to get through to Delgado or Jose Reyes, can’t seem to motivate Beltran (who still looks as if he’s heartbroken the Yankees never made him an offer four years ago) and otherwise can’t make nice (read: soft) guys like John Maine and Aaron Heilman and Oliver Perez realize it takes more than skill to get to October. At some point, winning players have to become emotionally invested in the wins and losses. That’s a formal way of putting it. Here’s a simpler expression of the truth: the Mets need an edge. Wagner says, “There needs to be other guys that are accountable” and not leave the explaining to the same teammates every day. That creates “tension” in the clubhouse, because it creates the impression that certain cliques don’t care about winning or losing.
So how did the Mets become this divided? That’s what Wilpon soon will be asking Randolph and Minaya. The owner isn’t about to pull a Hank Steinbrenner, allowing himself to be quoted all over town. But Wilpon’s unrest with the Mets is just as massive as Hank’s is with the Yankees. The only difference is, the Yankees are ready to accept their fate as also-rans in 2008, ushering in a new era in 2009 without Jason Giambi, Mike Mussina and GM Brian Cashman. The Mets, on the other hand, are built to win in ’08; it’s why they stripped the system for Santana and fattened the payroll to record levels.
Wilpon isn’t going to let the Mets become an 80-something win team, not this year. Not when the NL is so homogenized that even the Marlins can climb to the East’s top spot. Wilpon will be asking Minaya for an honest assessment of the manager, with everything riding on his answer. If Minaya backs Randolph and the Mets cough and wheeze their way to a .500 finish, they’re both gone. For that reason, Minaya may jettison Randolph just to preserve his own position at Shea. In a savage, corporate world, it might be the GM’s only way out.
Dodger Thoughts‘ Jon Weisman notes that Mark Bellhorn was just promoted to Double A Jacksonville. Said note appears just a few weeks after Bellhorn’s 2004 Boston teamate Trot Nixon came through Central Texas, patrolling right field for the PCL’s Tuscon Sidewinders. Which lucky minor league club — affiliated or otherwise — will be the first to lure David McCarty out of retirement?