The throes of a losing streak almost inevitably conjure up some of the best recommendations on how to improve the team. And Mets fans haven’t disappointed. I’ve heard someone say, ‘Sit Beltran, put Gomez in Center, play Ben Johnson in left’ (absolutely); And another, ‘trade Milledge for Roy Oswalt’ (simple enough). Some have even called for the return of Bobby Valentine. My favorite came from a caller on WFAN the other night. “I know what the Mets need to do…they need to bring Bobby Valentine back, this team needs a spark and Bobby Valentine can do that.” (brilliant!).
Bring Bobby V. back. Sure, I miss going to those Saturday afternoon games in July when Alfonzo, Olerud and Piazza were all getting the day off, and Jay Payton batted third, Benny Agbayani hit cleanup. This decision was so absurd you wonder if Valentine was just doing it so the beat reporters would write about his quirky style of managing. I also miss the days when Bobby V, sitting in the dugout, would disguise himself in sunglasses and a fake mustache. Those were good times.
Look, Bobby Valentine was a decent manager, a good strategist and did bring us to a World Series, but let’s be honest, he’s not better than Willie Randolph. If he was, then why isn’t he managing in the Major Leagues now, rather than being idolized (true story) in Japan?
Say what you want about Randolph, the guy is a leader. He commands respect from his players and they love him. Take a look at Pedro Martinez. A perennial club house cancer in Boston, Martinez comes to NY and is one of the best guys around. Can you question some of his in-game decision making? Of course, but you can do that with every manager. Heck, one move I was really annoyed with and to this day still makes no sense to me, was when he removed Mike Piazza in his last game as a Met, in between innings when he was due to bat in the bottom half of the inning. Fans at the game didn’t even realize there was a new catcher behind the plate.
Still, the Mets are much better with him than without him. I truly believe this organization, with Omar’s guidance, is building a tradition here. The foundation is in place and Randolph is the quintessential building block.
That Milledege for Oswalt deal sounds pretty good.