After Carlos Mendoza was introduced as the 25th manager in New York Mets history on Tuesday, he quickly sold himself in a press conference that received widespread approval from the Mets media, and even gave a glimpse of hope to fans that felt disillusioned by the idea that David Stearns' first managerial hire is a rookie manager and not Craig Counsell.
In Tuesday's presser, Mendoza mentioned managers that inspired him to be the type of coach he is and considered longtime Yankees;' spring instructor (and former Mets player and skipper) Willie Randolph as a mentor, and didn't rule out the possibility of hiring him to be his bench coach.
Randolph managed the Mets for three and a half seasons and compiled a record of 302-253 in his stint from 2005 to 2008, and led the Mets to winning seasons in each of the first three before being fired nearly halfway through the 2008 season. He also finished his playing career with the Mets in 1992.
Former New York Mets skipper Willie Randolph would make an amazing hire to the Mets' bench coach, as he brings coaching experience and a no-nonsense attitude.
Willie Randolph's move to Queens from the Bronx in 2005 corresponded with a dramatic shift of attitude within the Mets' organization after missing the playoffs each year following their 2000 World Series defeat to the Yankees, where he served as the third base coach that year.
Randolph understood that a no-nonsense approach in the spirit of George Steinbrenner was the key to a turnaround and that's what got the Mets as close as a win away from the World Series.
However, the most recognizable moment of Willie Randolph's tenure as skipper was its bizarre ending. Just hours after netting a quality win against a really good Angels team in Anaheim, the Mets fired their skipper just after 3 a.m. Eastern in his hotel room, which received universal backlash because of the timing. It was reported that his firing was orchestrated behind his back by team executive Tony Bernazard, (yes, the same guy that once challenged minor leaguers to a fight that one time).
Willie Randolph deserved so much better treatment than that. Randolph was painted as the scapegoat for the Mets' underperformance in the first half of 2008, but was the victim of inconceivable organizational dysfunction where the wrong people were given the decision-making power.
Randolph will not have to deal with the arrogant, spoiled brat in Tony Bernazard in Flushing, or Jeff Wilpon, the guy that enabled Bernazard. He is a coach that would demand respect by players and fellow coaches. He would offer great insights to a rookie manager who he knows well using his experience as Mets manager. He will help balance the analytics-driven nature of today's game with old school, situational baseball that the Mets were lacking in last year.
Randolph would be the Mets' version of what the Atlanta Braves had with Ron Washington for the last seven years, a former manager with a track record of success as skipper who was painted as scapegoat for a team's failure (Washington led the Texas Rangers to two pennants and was criticized for not replacing Nelson Cruz in the outfield for defense in the ninth inning of Game 6 of the 2011 World Series), who later made a positive impact with talented young players by making them better.
As for the Mets organization that he would join, one vastly different from the one that failed him in 2008, it now has a real owner, a legitimate baseball operations department, and a thirst for winning. Those were hallmark traits of George Steinbrenner's run as Yankees owner that netted seven championships, of which Randolph was a player or coach in six of them.
With ownership that has sought to correct the injustices of the previous administration, bringing Willie Randolph back to serve as bench coach would right another wrong. And this one should be a no-brainer.