Not like this is any surprise, but Jon Heyman at SI.com is reporting that Jerry Manuel and Omar Minaya will not return in their current roles next season. Manuel, will not be returning at all as his contract will not be renew. In other words, his ass is fired. Minaya on the other hand, reportedly will be removed from his role as general manager and given the option to remain in the organization is some capacity or part ways with the Mets. It doesn’t hurt that Omar has two years left on his deal that will pay him at least $1 million annually. In any case, there will be a full-scale change at the top of the Mets hierarchy and thank f’ing goodness for that.
Let’s start with departure of the manager. I like Jerry Manuel as a man and he definitely had some early success in the dugout, but his time had come. Manuel was a part of the two horrific September collapses of 2007 and 2008, one as bench coach and one as manager and he presided over the disaster that was the 2009 season. As much as I will miss Jerry’s laugh and good rapport with the media, this team needs a fresh start and a fresh voice.
You’ve heard the names. The most prominent ones that will likely come to the surface are Wally Backman, Bobby Valentine, and yes maybe even Joe Torre. My vote is for Bobby V. Despite his prickly demeanor at times, it is clear that he is a brilliant baseball mind and gets the most out of his roster. That was evidence when he took two Mets teams of with a mediocre talent pool to the playoffs, one all the way to the World Series in 2000. After his stay with the Mets was through after 2002 season, Valentine returned to Japan (where he managed in 1995) in 2004 and became a hero with the Chiba Lotte Marines. He won a title in 2005 and was eventually fired in 2009, despite the protests of his legions of fans.
Yes it didn’t end famously with Bobby V. and the Mets in 2002, and there would certainly have to be some fences mended with the Wilpons, but this guy is a flat out winning manager. In the 12 years he managed a full 162 games with the Mets and Texas Rangers, his team’s finished with an above .500 record 9 times. The Mets need some juice to try and put fannies in the seats next season (because lord knows they won’t have the finacially capability to upgrade the roster to do that) and Bobby V. will get that done. I like Wally Backman and loved his scrappy nature when he played for the Mets but to ask him to make the jump from low Single-A ball to the majors is just too much
As for the GM slot, the Mets need to go outside the organization and hire a bright, young mind. No, that does not mean promoting John Ricco, who has served as the team’s assistant GM under Minaya. You hear that Jeff Wilpon? The fanbase does not want any more internal hires. Time to sail this ship in a differnet direction and if you have to spend a few extra bucks doing so, you damn well go ahead and do it. Lord knows the loyal fans who buy those tickets and have put up with garbage for the past few years now deserve it.
So, this means bringing in a guy like the highly regarded Josh Byrnes, recently of the Arizona Diamondbacks, or stealing Queens
native Jon Daniels away from the Texas Rangers. My vote here is for Daniels. I am told by someone close to Daniels, that he grew up a die-hard Mets fan (the dude is from Bayside, Queens so I would hope so). What better opportunity could there be for the 33-year old wunderkind than to try and fix the fortunes of his childhood team? Too much added pressure? Maybe, but I’d like to see if the kid has it in him and I assume the Mets do as well.
Unfortunately, they may not get the chance. Daniels, has an “out” in his current deal with Texas, but it is widely assumed with the Rangers ownership structure now firmly in place after many months of disarray, they aren’t going to let him go. Daniels has orchestrated many good trades in his five years at the helm in Texas, which have culminated in the Rangers winning the AL West title this season. He brought in Neftali Feliz and Elvis Andrus in a deal with the Braves for Mark Teixeira 2007. He pilfered likely AL MVP Josh Hamilton from the Reds in 2008. Even the trade of Eric Gagne to Boston at the deadline in 2007 which netted a very productive David Murphy has gone under the radar.
Bottom line is, I want this guy running my team. Question is, does the Mets brass have the balls and cash to make a bold play and snatch him away from a club he helped build into a World Series contender?