The Mets fired Bobby Valentine today and are set to repeat as the cellar dwellers in the NL East in 2003. I have no problem with letting Bobby V go. Frankly, I find him to be overrated and self-important. Hire 'em up a good Triple-A manager and no big whoop.
But what's more important is what the Mets did not do. They did not fire GM Steve Phillips. Phillips made wholesale changes to the Mets in 2002, ones that invariably did not pan out. Phillips acquired Mo Vaughn, Robert Alomar, Roger Cedeno, Shawn Estes, and Jeremy Burnitz in the off-season increasing their already substantial payroll by $10 million, and none of them lived up to expectations. Now, whether all or some of those expectations were properly set is one issue, but Alomar was coming off of a brilliant season (4th in the AL in MVP) at least and Burnitz had been a steady run producer for the previous 4-5 years. Clearly, a good deal of bad luck came into play. But the Vaughn for Appier deal looked bad on paper and on the field.
At best, Phillips undermanned his pitching staff and created a very mature lineup. At worst, he saddled New York with an aging albotross of a team. Given that this is a veteran ballclub, firing the manager seemed the most ineffectual avenue left for the Mets. So of course they took it. During the Mets' drug-gate fiasco at the end of the season, the prevailing impression was that the Mets management was upset with Valentine for not taking the issue more seriously. I'm not sure what Valentine could hae done about it, but Wilpon seemed quite miffed at him. That perception seems to have a good deal to do with his firing, which is a shame: Valentine deserved to be fired because of his performance as a manager. But the tail that required the first and the biggest boot was Phillips and apparently he will be allowed to serve another year. And that too is fine with me: I'm a Phillies fan and I'd liked to see as many of their competitors as possible ran as shoddily as they are. I wish Phillips well.