Willie's Lunacy is Contagious
There isn't any other way to explain the following, from mlb.com:
Floyd has, as he said, "done the math," and his figures add up to him batting sixth, directly after David Wright, two places lower than Carlos Delgado and the position from which he produced most of his numbers in 2005..."No way D-Wright's hitting sixth. And Willie doesn't want me right next to [Delgado] -- you can't have two lefties one after the other -- so I'm not hitting third or fifth. And you know I'm not hitting second. Sooooooo..."
Randolph has provided little insight into his thinking about the batting order other than stating last November that Delgado bats fourth.
I've also "done the math", and conclude the following:
1. Willie Randolph knows nothing about managing a baseball team
2. Willie Randolph is competely incapable of an original or fresh thought; his thinking is based on his personal experience alone, and can and will never change- even in the face of mounting evidence
3. Willie Randolph's manhandling of the lineup will cost this team wins- again
Last year, Willie took to the daily task of setting the lineup. I won't even get into his consistent (mis)placement of David Wright in the order- too easy. However, Willie had an algorithm last year for filling the top three spots in the lineup:
1. Jose Reyes
2. 2B- Kaz Matsui/Miguel "veteran professional leadership experience" Cairo
3. Carlos Beltran
In lean times, he never waffled, and never wavered from this algorithm. He never said to himself, "Beltran is clearly injured and playing under his potential- maybe a move to a less pressure-filled spot for a few games would do him good." I don't fault him for not realizing that Beltran's career numbers are far better from the 2 hole- this requires research, and "gut"s are notoriously bad at math. But I do fault him for not changing when change was clearly needed. He also never said to himself, "Cairo is one of the worst hitters in the league- with twin OBP and SLG [.269 and .270, respectively, over the crucial August and Sept months]- perhaps hitting him so high in the lineup and giving him so many at-bats would be detrimental to my team." Perhaps Willie could not see beyond the Yankee Cairo who'd produced effectively a year prior- but when he penned in Cairo day in and day out into that 2 hole, and saw those results day in and day out, you have to wonder how a man could be so in denial of facts.
Unfortunately it's looking like more of the same for 2006- lineup decisions using "baseball experience" and "gut", and seemingly set in stone. You have to wonder if Willie isn't setting Delgado at 4 just to justify his preferred lineup- Reyes, LoDuca, Beltran, Delgado, Wright, Floyd. Even poor Cliff has started to believe in the junky rhetoric of "lefty-righty-lefty-righty" always, no matter what. If Willie is married to L-R-L-R, why not then bat Delgado 3rd (with Wright 4th and Cliff 5th)? With Delgado "set" at 4th, Willie can shrug his shoulders and claim that the only sane lineup is the one he's planning. Unfortunately, it seems like the players are buying what Willie's selling.
I know there are Mets fans who disagree with me about Willie. We did, in fact, go from a 71-win laughing-stock to a respectable 83-win team in one year. However, the fact remains that based on our runs scored and runs scored against, our record should have been 89-73- not 83-79 - one tantalizing win away from a wild card berth. In fact, the Mets were the worst team in the NL in this regard- they lost more games than expected than any other team. Surely, luck and random variation have some role in this- but consider this: if each and every day, for 162 games, you use a lineup that is not optimal given your 25 men, you have to wonder if underachievement isn't also set in stone.
P.S. For an excellent article about the Mets' lineup in 2006, feel free to check out this article from The Metropolitans