Now that the 2007 season is over for the Mets, it is a good time to look back at various aspects of this year's performance (and unlike many mainstream media sources, I actually plan on paying some attention to the first 145 games of '07). Yet one cannot merely live in the past. Looking ahead to the future - what it could be, what it should be, what it probably will be - is at least as important. Over the next few weeks, I'll be taking a look at each part of the Mets, and since it has already been announced that Willie Randolph will return as manager for 2008, I figured that this was a good place to start.
A Look Back
After leading the Mets to the best record in the major leagues in 2006, Willie Randolph did not fare quite so well in 2007. Even last year, Willie's in-game management was not a strength, but his ability to handle the clubhouse overshadowed that. This year, in a tighter division, the strategic mishaps were more glaring. The bullpen did not have the same level of talent as last year, but Willie could have gotten more out of it had he done a better job of recognizing and handling the strengths and weaknesses of each individual reliever. He was often too compliant towards veteran players (letting
However, Willie does have his strengths. Moreso than many managers, he recognizes the importance of giving bench players enough playing time to stay fresh, and with the exception of putting
As for the rest of the coaching staff, Rick Peterson may not have been able to work miracles with some of the relievers, but
A Look Forward
We already know that the manager will be back, and there has been no indication that the hitting and pitching coaches are in danger of losing their jobs. Rickey Henderson may be made into a fall guy for the late-season collapse, but that would be a shame given how helpful his work with Reyes during spring training has been over the past couple of years. Perhaps the biggest change in the coaching staff will be the departure of bench coach Jerry Manuel, who has said that he will leave for the opportunity to manage again. While Manuel is a good coach, the Mets should treat his departure as an opportunity. A bench coach with a better grasp of in-game strategy than Willie could be very helpful, but it would have to be someone that Willie would listen to and not feel threatened by.