The Case Against Omar (Part 1): The Hiring of Willie

I definitely think that Randolph should be fired immediately based on his performance over the last few years and certainly his statements made this week. But I think there are problems that loom much larger with the Mets than just Randolph.

The Mets are in all sorts of disarray and Willie Randolph is just part of the problem. Before the Wilpons sign off on the firing of their manager, they should take a step back and look at the bigger picture.

The Wilpons need to ask themselves why this team is what it is: an highly paid, underacheiving, oft injured, mismatched group of players with a paranoid, delusional, ill equipped to succeed manager

The answer is: Omar Minaya, the Teflon GM.

Before a new manager is hired, the Wilpons should fire Minaya and hire the guy who will be the manager’s boss. What good is hiring a manager right now when there are far more problems with the Mets beyond the manager?

Minaya is the person who hired Randolph, even though 12 teams with a total of 15 managerial openings over the course of several years (see left sidebar here) did not think Randolph was the answer to their needs.

Randolph maintains that many of these interviews were token interviews because of the color of his skin and Bud Selig’s mandate that minority candidates be interviewed. Randolph added:

“I don’t know why I didn’t get any of those jobs. Maybe it’s because I didn’t schmooze. I know people like hiring people they’re comfortable with, but I don’t know if it was because of the ‘old-boy network’ or what. You can’t always assume or speculate. I’m not comfortable throwing out blanket accusations.

“All I knew is that when I walked out of that door after an interview, even knowing I wasn’t going to get it, I thought to myself: ‘Your loss. You’re hiring the wrong guy.’ “

If you look at the facts, you see that most of these teams already had minority managers before Randolph interviewed with them and several others filled the same opening that Randolph was interviewing for with another minority manager.

While we can’t get into the heads of some of the GM’s that interviewed him and I would be naive to think that race didn’t come into play with some of GM’s decisions, it seems clear that other factors were at play with Randolph.

One thing is definitely clear, Randolph’s arrogance and paranoid delusions date back years before this week’s Ian O’Connor interview.

The first team Randolph interviewed with was the Blue Jays in 1997. The Blue Jays were seeking a replacement for Cito Gaston, an African-American who had a 9 year run as the Jays’ manager. Obviously, they had no problem with race.

In 1999, Randolph had interviews with the Brewers, Orioles, and Rockies.

The Brewers ended up hiring Davy Lopes, also an African American. The Orioles previously had an African-American manager, Frank Robinson. The Rockies also had already had an African-American manager, Don Baylor.

In 2000, the Phillies, Reds, Blue Jays (again), and Pirates all interviewed Randolph. The Phillies have never hired a minority manager but the Reds had already had Lou Pinella (Latino) and the Pirates ended up hiring Lloyd McClendon (African-American) instead of Randolph.

In 2001, the Twins interviewed Randolph and have never had a minority manager before or since.

In 2002, Randolph interviewed with the Brewers (again), Mariners, Tigers, Devil Rays, and Mets.

Pinella was already the Mariners’ manager and he ended up getting the job with the Rays (who previously were managed by Hal McCrae, an African-American) . The Tigers never have had a minority manager and as for the Mets, it was reported that Randolph went into that interview unprepared and that is why he wasn’t hired.

The vast majority of teams that Randolph interviewed with clearly had no problem hiring minorities, they just had a problem hiring Willie Randolph. Surely the arrogance and incompetence he has shown as Mets manager were the reason why he didn’t get hired for most of these jobs.

When he was the Yankees third base coach, Randolph was widely regarded by fans as making bad decisions when sending runners home. They called him “Windmill Willie”.

The Yankees wanted Randolph to become a Minor League manager, so as to groom him to be the potential future manager of the Yankees. He refused.

Granted, Willie is not the first Major League manager not to have Minor League experience. But when you start to examine Willie Randolph as a person and a coach, you start to see someone who is probably not equipped to be a manager or a leader.

So what exactly did Omar Minaya see in Willie Randolph that so many other GMs before him did not?

Part 2 of this piece can be found here.

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5 Responses

  1. Corey, I consistenly come to this blog because of its content, and this piece did not disappoint. You make very good points, and indeed, ONCE RANDOLPH IS GONE, and not before that, I believe the Wilpons will take a closer look at Omar. Right now, I don’t think Omar is more than a blip on the Wilpon Radar Screen.

    Come on over to my blog (The GBU) and read my take on the Willie situation. Thanks. 🙂

  2. I’m not on board with firing Omar yet. To fire both manager and GM in the middle of the season doesn’t seem like a good plan. He’s made enough good moves in his tenure to allow him the opportunity to fix this mess, but he’s definitely on thin ice if he can’t salvage the season.

    willie (still protesting), on the other hand, can’t be fired soon enough for me. I’d go the route of getting an interim manager for the rest of the season, then re-evaluating the manager and GM positions in the off-season based on what happens the rest of this season. Which is why willie should be fired more sooner than later. The sooner he’s fired, the more time you have to evaluate his replacement and how the team reacts.

    I always thought they called him “Wave ‘Em Home willie” when he was 3B coach for the Yankees. Same difference, I suppose.

    I’m looking forward to Part 2.

  3. Xpress–

    I meant to mention this to you the other day.

    You have Willie & Luis Sojo’s nicknames combined/mixed up.

    Willie was “Windmill Willie”
    Sojo was “Send Em Home Sojo”

  4. I’m not sure I have them mixed up. I’m well aware of Send Em Home Sojo but I always thought it was just a continuation of or homage to Wave Em Home willie. I just looked it up and I’m not alone in this, the net is littered with references to Wave Em Home willie. I guess he was such a bad 3B coach, he earned two nicknames.

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