Unpredictability Could Be Jerry Manuel's Downfall

When Jerry Manuel bluntly stated that Daniel Murphy is a better hitter than Ryan Church on Sunday, it wasn't all that surprising. This was a man who threatened to cut Jose Reyes after his first game as manager, after all, so tact isn't something he prizes. That means he's got a lot in common with Governor David Paterson of New York. Both of them zig when others might zag, both of them lack a filter between their brain and their mouth and both men were lauded as breaths of fresh air when they replaced their predecessors.

Both Willie Randolph and Eliot Spitzer were smug, humorless and secretive guys who treated anyone who criticized them like they were insignificant. Because of those personality traits, they rarely came across as truthful and many people rooted for their comeuppance, which, ultimately, both got in dramatic fashion. Manuel and Paterson, on the other hand, won praise for their openness, ability to laugh at themselves and willingness to tell the truth. Both of them also seemed to revel in doing the unexpected, wheras Randolph and Spitzer came off as rigid.  

The bloom came off Paterson's rose though, because it soon became clear that what seemed like organized chaos was, in fact, a man flailing about without a real plan. The endgame for his popularity may have been the decision about filling Hillary Clinton's Senate seat, when Paterson said 20 different things a day about his intentions and wound up looking like a man who had no control over what was going on around him. The worst part is that he did it all in the press, making it impossible to walk himself back from missteps.

Manuel hasn't reached that point yet, but his love for making bold statements and then changing direction will eventually rub people the wrong way. Anthony Reiber of Newsday points out several big pronouncements Manuel made in 2008 that fell by the wayside moments after he made them, and, on Monday, Manuel seemed to do the same thing by telling Church that he was the rightfielder, no matter what.

The Church/Murphy machinations come on the heels of Manuel's bold claim that he'd be shaking up the lineup. All reports maintain that both Luis Castillo and Jose Reyes are happy with the idea, but what happens when Manuel goes back on this the way he's gone back on so many other things in his brief Mets tenure? It's a dangerous game, but Manuel told Bob Klapisch of the Bergen Record, "I don't mind adversity once in a while."

He'll surely get it. The longer you play games with the media, the more certain it is that one days somethings going to catch up with you. All's well that ends well, and Manuel should be fine so long as the Mets win. If and when they hit a rough patch, though, and Manuel unpredictability comes off as the the lack of a clue, his entertaining ride will come to a swift end.

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.

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