It seems that Omar Minaya is the reason Willie is still the Mets' manager. Since June 1, 2007, the Mets are 86-90, and Omar has been loyal to his hire, Willie, despite a growing demand by many, for a change.
In an article by Bob Klapisch, of the Bergen Record, Klapisch states that Minaya has been given the authorization to fire Randolph, meaning that the Wilpons, financially, are willing to pay Randolph more than a season and a half of salary, to NOT manage the Mets.
Randolph's contract runs through 2009 and calls for him to be paid $2 million this year and $2.25 million next year.
Accoring to our friend, Steve Popper, also of the Bergen Record, "That is a major step in the process because until now ownership had expressed a reluctance, according to sources, to pay off Randolph after being saddled with nearly $5 million in a payout to Art Howe after he was ousted in 2004."
Minaya is the one assuring the Wilpons, the media, and the fan base that Willie should continue to manage the Mets.
Our friend, Adam Rubin, of the Daily News, adds, "Willie Randolph's managerial tenure again is on life support, with Fred and Jeff Wilpon believed to have consented to the firing of the fourth-year skipper as soon as this weekend if lone holdout Omar Minaya recommends the move, sources told the Daily News. Pitching coach Rick Peterson and first base coach Tom Nieto also appear targets of the purge, but hitting coach Howard Johnson is expected to be spared. Bench coach Jerry Manuel, a one-time AL Manager of the Year with the White Sox, would be expected to take over as interim manager. Triple-A New Orleans manager Ken Oberkfell and pitching coach Dan Warthen would be expected to join the staff."
Peterson is signed through next season, but otherwise the coaches are under contract only for the remainder of this year.
Is it self preservation ? If Randolph goes, and Jerry Manuel, rumored to be the interim manager if Randolph leaves, also struggles, then the focus clearly shifts to Minaya, and if he should stay as the Mets' general manager.
I'll give Minaya credit. Mets fans know that Minaya is always working the phones, constantly trying to play "Let's Make A Deal." Last night, he acquired outfielder Trot Nixon from Arizona, as a probable starter for RF (while Church is out) or LF (while Alou is out).
How long will Randolph remain as the Mets' manager ? What else is Minaya working on ? Stay tuned...we'll keep you updated...