It's Time to End the Jerry Manuel Era

The Mets have gone from last to first and back to last

By Josh Alper
|  Monday, May 17, 2010  |  Updated 11:34 AM EDT
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It's Time to End the Jerry Manuel Era

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Sunday's loss to the Marlins was a fitting epitaph for Jerry Manuel's tenure as Mets manager.

The team committed a pair of errors in the third inning, avoided a third by the grace of an official scorer with a soft spot for a team that has no interest in fundamentally sound defense and lost their starting pitcher to a hamstring injury.  By the time it was over, the Mets were down 6-0 but they'd fight back. They cut the score to 7-6, but still wound up losing their fifth straight game when Fernando Nieve gave up a three-run homer to a guy slugging .240 coming into the at-bat.

Nieve's been struggling recently, no doubt because he's been worked like a mule in the first two months of the season. That's on Manuel, as are the volumes of other sketchy in-game decisions he's made over the years. So is the endless sloppy play since Manuel has continually stressed fundamentals and failed to deliver.

It's nice that the team fought back, something they've done regularly since Manuel replaced Willie Randolph. Effort and intent always matter less than winning and losing, however, and we've been seeing the same movie play out for far too long to point to them as signs of anything that bodes well for the future. It might be noble to take your beatings standing up, but finding a way to avoid the beatings would feel a lot better. It's time to see if someone else can pull that off.  

To say Manuel is the sole reason for those losses would be ingnorant of larger issues. He wasn't handed a team that was a lock to make the postseason by any means -- the reasons why Omar Minaya should be replaced are another topic for another time -- but with the spotlight of the dugout come the spoils and perils. That means you get a nice pat on the back for winning 10 of 11, a pat on the back that can't overshadow the fact that you're 8-19 otherwise and still heading in the wrong direction.

It's impossible not to notice the vast swaths of empty seats at Citi Field this season, even after the Mets shot from last to first at the end of April. Letting Manuel go is a reasonable baseball decision, but it is also a strong business decision for a team that needs to sell their customers something other than more of the same. 

Bobby Valentine would be the absolute best way to do that. Not only would he appeal to the fanbase because of his past with the Mets, he's got a track record of getting more wins out of his teams than the talent on hand would indicate. The National League wild card isn't going to take a ridiculous record this season and it's worth rolling the dice that Valentine could squeeze out enough wins to get the team to the finish line.  

Sadly, it seems unlikely that the Mets would be that bold. If Manuel goes, it looks like Bob Melvin is the next man in line and that's pretty much going from having your ice cream in a cup to having it in a cone. It's change, though, and that's what's called for with the Mets right now because it won't matter a bit how you hold your treat if it melts before you get around to eating it.   

Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City and is a contributor to FanHouse.com and ProFootballTalk.com in addition to his duties for NBCNewYork.com. You can follow him on Twitter.

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