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Dumb Things Willie Randolph Said or Did Today
Saturday, August 20, 2005
What a Maroon!
Topic: He Says Something Dumb
Great win for the Mets last night, riding eight shutout innings from Jae Seo to a 1-0 win over the Nationals. Victor Diaz singled home Ramon Castro for the game's only run and the Mets held on even though Willie tried to blow it by removing Seo in the ninth for the soon-to-be ex-Met Braden Looper. One can almost hear Willie thinking, "OK, we have a lead of three runs or less in the ninth and Joe always told me that you bring in your closer when that happens. Braden Looper is our closer. I should bring him in." Yes, he is that creative.

The Diaz RBI was particularly interesting; here's how the Daily News recapped the play.

"Castro was chugging for home the whole way on Diaz's hit. Jose Guillen threw the ball in from right field to cutoff man Nick Johnson, who was able to find Jamey Carroll to tag Diaz between first and second for the second out of the inning. Diaz said, 'I thought he would score, but I figured I'd be sure of it if I got caught in a rundown.' However, Willie Randolph saw it differently: 'That was not a good play.' "

Oh Willie. Ramon Castro runs only slightly faster than me, and I run slower than Jessica Simpson trying to add numbers without using her fingers. Jose Guillen has one of the best and most accurate arms in baseball. That's a pretty good recipe for a 9-2 punchout at home plate. If Castro is going to try to score, Diaz ABSOLUTELY MUST break for second and try to draw a throw. I just watched the replay courtesy of MLB.com and it appears Castro would've scored on a reasonably close play at the plate. But Victor Diaz, rounding first after a single, CAN'T POSSIBLY KNOW THAT. What he does know is that if he breaks for second and the cut-off man goes after him instead, Castro will CERTAINLY score. So Victor does the smart and selfless thing, which is to give himself up to allow the go-ahead run to score, and his own manager tells the press it wasn't a good play. Unbelievable.

Posted by Jack at 12:59 PM EDT
Sunday, August 7, 2005
Thinking Outside the Box
Topic: Questionable Strategy
The Mets won a thrilling game yesterday, beating the Cubs 2-0 at home. It was Jae Seo's first major league start in three months, one more shining example of the backwards thinking pervasive throughout the organization. Willie, of course, did not fail to disappoint: he yanked Seo in the eighth with one out and a man on second so Mr. Koo could face two upcoming lefties.

Seo had dominated throughout the game, but Willie had to go "by the book" and bring in his lone lefty reliever, the man who has been putting lefties on base at about a 38 percent clip this season. Koo failed, as usual, to get the outs required of him, which left Willie in a dilemma - two outs, two on and the unstoppable Dereek Lee striding to the plate. Can't leave Koo in there at that point, so now he has to go to a right-hander. But who does he go to? Hernandez, of course.

You know, I must've missed the memo that closers who are asked to record more than three outs will break out in hives and have their arm fall off, because the common sense move here is to bring in your best reliever (and with Looper, that's a nominal term only!) and ask him to get you out of the jam. Our boy Willie instead brings in a 40-year-old who had already pitched in four of the previous five games and just happened to get torched in nearly all of them. Of course, Willie got a pass because the move actually worked out (Hernandez struck out Lee), but just because something works out doesn't mean it was the right move to make.

There was no need to go to the well with Hernandez AGAIN in that situation. It's not like this team has legitimate playoff aspirations anyway, but Willie is going to blow out his bullpen (indeed, watching Hernandez lately there are signs he already has) by overusing his best guys. If you don't have enough confidence in your closer to get the other team's best hitter out in that situation, then he shouldnt be your closer. Looper was more rested and, if there is any logic at all to the Mets' bullpen set-up, supposed to be our best reliever. Not using him so you can use an old and overworked set-up man AGAIN instead of just giving him a day off to rest his arm is short-sighted and indicative of a lack of understanding of optimal baseball strategy.

Oh, and what did Willie have to say about Seo's inexplicable three-month stay in Norfolk at the expense of Kaz Ishii's foibles? "I never second-guess myself," Randolph said. "I never do that."

That's why the rest of us are here, Willie. We pull our hair out over your mistakes, and you never learn from them.

Posted by Jack at 11:43 AM EDT
Tuesday, June 28, 2005
Jesus, Willie, Don't Overthink!
Topic: Questionable Strategy
The Mets are cruising along tonight and beating the Phillies 8-1 in the top of the seventh. Heath Bell is on in relief after a 5-inning, 100+ pitch outing from Victor Zambrano. Bell gets through the sixth and the first out in seventh - and Willie yanks him to bring in the lefty specialist Royce Ring! Apparently Bobby Abreu and Jim Thome are batting .841 against right-handers (Kelly Leak numbers!)

First of all, don't even get me started on the concept of lefty specialists. I'm of the opinion major league pitchers should be able to get out major league hitters, period. But for Christ's sake, Willie, we have a seven-run lead! Why can't Bell take his chances against Abreu and Thome!? Why are you going to use Ring for two batters and go to Danny freakin' Graves in the eighth!? Would Heath Bell's arm have fallen off if he was asked to complete the seventh inning?

It's like watching strategy culled from the side of a cereal box. I can't believe Willie is a major league manager.

Posted by Jack at 10:03 PM EDT
Wednesday, June 22, 2005
Welcome!
Yes, I am a New York Mets fan and no, I don’t like Willie Randolph.

It’s nothing personal, actually. Willie is probably a very nice guy. He’s certainly a better baseball player than me and he is a New Yorker, so he certainly isn’t all bad. No, my biggest problem with Willie Randolph is that he manages the Mets and I do not. My second biggest problem with Willie Randolph is that he manages the Mets and any number of other people that could do a better job do not. I would, as one would expect, like to see this change.

For what it’s worth, I have not been a proponent of Randolph’s hiring even before he got the job. I’m attaching of something I wrote in another blog late last year (original post here) that sums up why I didn’t want the Mets to hire him.

But here we are, nearly halfway through the 2005 season, and Randolph is at the helm of a ship going nowhere. This blog, like the title suggests, will simply be a collection of dumb things Willie says or does at any given time throughout the course of the season. I know I’ve missed a lot so far, so feel free to remind me of anything I may have missed already in the “Comments” section.

One final note before the fun begins: this isn’t necessarily Willie’s fault. Baseball strategy is become so inflexible and dogmatic that I find myself constantly infuriated by the lack of creativity and insight today’s managers and general managers show. Everything from basic strategy to lineup construction seems to be carried out by such convoluted logic that it makes me want to pull my hair out. So while Willie saying and doing dumb things will provide plenty of fodder, you can expect some more generalized barbs thrown in other directions as well.

Posted by Jack at 11:51 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, June 22, 2005 11:54 AM EDT

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