Prior to last night's Mets game, I stood in the Phillies' clubhouse and chatted for a little with Tom Verducci, and we discussed just how bad the Mets' baseball operations leadership has been in the last 20 years or so.
All you need to do is run down the list of Mets managers and general managers since their last World Series title, in 1986. See what the people on the list have done since the Mets let them go:
1. Davey Johnson. Fired in 1990, he went onto to get three more big-league jobs - Cincinnati, Baltimore and the Dodgers. Great hire by GM Frank Cashen, back for the 1984 season.
2. Bud Harrelson. Fired in 1991. Yeesh. I don't think he ever got so much as another interview.
3. Mike Cubbage. Finished out the 1991 season after Harrelson's dismissal. We're including him just to be polite. He never had a real shot at the full-time job. Interestingly, his only other managing "opportunity" came in 2002, when he babysat the Red Sox for a couple of weeks in spring training between Joe Kerrigan's firing and the arrival of Grady Little.
4. Jeff Torborg. Fired in 1993. He's the one guy, post-Johnson, who did get another chance at managing. The context is not impressive, however. Torborg was a longtime pal of Jeffrey Loria, then the owner of the Expos, so he got to replace Felipe Alou in Montreal in 2001. Then he accompanied Loria to the Marlins for the 2002 season.
He's now best-known in Marlins history for being the guy whom Jack McKeon replaced in the middle of the 2003 season, as Florida went onto defeat the Yankees in the World Series.
5. Dallas Green. Fired in 1996. Has been a senior adviser with the Phillies since. Green had his strengths as a manager, but it's no shocker that he never got another sniff to lead a team. His time had come.
6. Bobby Valentine. Fired in 2002. I've made it pretty clear here, over the years, that I think Valentine is a fantastic manager and maximized what he had with the 1996-2002 Mets. And he did manage the Chiba Lotte Marines in Japan from 2004 through 2009, becoming a cult figure there.
So why has he not yet run another MLB team? Mutual wariness on the part of teams and Valentine, IMO. If you hire Bobby V., you have to be prepared for some turbulence en route to success. No club has reached that comfort level - and same for Valentine with prospective employers - and at this point, it wouldn't surprise me if Valentine enjoyed a nice, long run with ESPN.
7. Art Howe. Fired in 2004. Next.
8. Willie Randolph. Fired in 2008. If Randolph couldn't get even an interview from his longtime friend Doug Melvin, when the Brewers' GM conducted a manager search - after Randolph spent two years as Milwaukee's bench coach - well, that doesn't bode very well for his managerial future.
He's Buck Showalter's bench coach in Baltimore now, so maybe he still has a chance if the Orioles overachieve this year.
9. Jerry Manuel. Fired in 2010. Yeah, I'm pretty sure he's done managing at the MLB level.
1. Frank Cashen. Stepped down after the 1991 season. We all know how brilliant he was in putting together the '86 champions. We also know that his performance declined precipitously in the ensuing years. His only other run as a GM came in the fall of 1998, when he oversaw the Mets for a week while GM Steve Phillips dealt with, um, an off-the-field issue.
2. Al Harazin. Fired in 1993. An unmitigated diaster. Out of baseball altogether now.
3. Joe McIlvaine. Fired in 1997. McIlvaine wasn't terrible at all, and he also did all right for himself in San Diego prior to taking the Mets gig. More than anything, he was miscast. as a GM He's more of a talent evaluator, as he has been with Minnesota since 1998, and less of a department head.
4. Steve Phillips. Fired in 2003. Never got another job in the industry. He has been a media member since, when he hasn't been entangled in other ugly episodes.
5. Jim Duquette. Demoted in 2004. Even though he was technically the GM for over a year, the Mets never seemed to regard him as the full-time guy. Omar Minaya was in the back of their minds all along. Duquette left the Mets for Baltimore after the 2005 season, helped run the Orioles for a couple of years and is now a host/analyst for MLB Network Radio.
6. Omar Minaya. Fired in 2010. Like McIlvaine, he had some strengths but was miscast. It's hard to see him getting another shot to run a club.
There you have it. Not a great track record, is it? By choosing ineffective leaders, not giving people enough authority, forcing together bad GM/manager mixes or some combination of all three, the Mets haven't come close to maximizing their resources, despite making the postseason in 1999, 2000 and 2006.
The more we watch Sandy Alderson in action, the more apparent it is (to me, anyway) that he's their best hire since Cashen, and that he will ensure that the Mets get the most out of what they have; ironically, what they have financially isn't as much as it once was.
Terry Collins? So far, so good. As we keep saying, let's see how he looks after a five-game losing streak. But at the least, he is capable of running a ballgame. Even when you disagree with a move, you at least understand why he made the move.
--Here's my column off the Mets game.
--The Yankees lost to Minnesota, and as Erik Boland reports, Rafael Soriano didn't stick around to discuss his poor outing with the media. This might not seem like a big deal, but it is. We're sticking around the clubhouse until we get someone to talk to us, so if Soriano flakes, that passes the ball to Russell Martin, David Robertson and whoever else.
This sounds like a job for Mariano Rivera to speak to his charge about accountability. It'll be interesting to see if Soriano - who, as Boland documents, is well-known for being a bad teammate - expresses any contrition.
--The Yankees' attendance is down, Neil Best reports. The prices - of parking, of gas - have to be a factor, I'd think. It's something to monitor as the weather warms up.
--Jim Baumbach has the latest on Derek Jeter. I didn't see last night's game, since I was in Philly, but I thought Jeter looked better on Monday night, hitting the ball with authority. There's no doubt, however, that Jeter's situation remains a concern unless/until he goes off on an old-fashioned hot streak.
--While the Phillies dropped out of the undefeated club, the Rangers and Reds maintained their membership. On the other side of the ledger, meanwhile, the Brewers picked up their first win. The Red Sox, Rays and Astros (naturally - they lost to the Reds) remain winless.
--Dodgers officials met with Major League Baseball officials Tuesday, Jon Heyman reported, in an effort to save Frank McCourt's ownership. Like most issues of this nature, it speaks most of all to the power Bud Selig wields over the sport. If Bud doesn't like you, as is obviously the case with McCourt, then you'd better not need his help. If you do need his help, it's some serious upstream swimming.
And the obvious contrast, once again, is Fred Wilpon, who has such a strong relationship with the commissioner that Selig will do whatever he can (which, at the end of the day, very well might not be enough) to keep the Wilpons and Saul Katz in charge of the Mets.
--OK, we've got a contest coming up, and tonight, I'll be at Twins-Yankees. Let's be careful out there.