You saw that strange news conference that basically announced that Willie Randolph was not going to be fired, where Willie looked extra lost without the mustache.
You saw Omar Minaya keep up his end of the bargain by acquiring one of the best pitchers in baseball (of course, I'm talking about Brian Stokes.)
So the question must be asked: What happens if the Mets start the season by falling behind the Braves, the Phillies, and even the Nationals by a good amount of games ... then what? When a team on paper as good as the Mets have, assuming that a slow start isn't caused by a key injury or two (or five), what's the quickest way to improve the team?
Do you make a trade? With the bulk of the top minor leaguers gone in the Johan Santana deal, good luck getting an impact player back.
Fire a coach to send a message? Rick Down would like to remind you that they've tried that already.
Raise ticket prices mid-season? Don't tempt the Wilpons.
That leaves one option: Willie Randolph.
He has to know. He's got to know. After last season's news conference, he's gotta know that his job could be on the line ... even if his job shouldn't be on the line. Because if that 3-8 start comes to fruition, somebody in the mainstream media is going to write it (and that someone will no doubt be Wally Matthews). And once that happens, the onslaught will snowball (too many metaphors?) to the point where Willie is going to feel the heat every day even if he never lets you see him sweat.
If that 3-8 start comes to fruition, you could probably read the comments before anybody writes 'em.
- How could Willie take Santana out in that situation, Omar only paid $137 and a half million for him! He's gotta go!
- Marlon Anderson to the plate against a lefty when you got Damion Easley sitting on the bench?
- Willie can't handle a small child much less a bullpen!
You know how I know those comments are coming if the Mets start 3-8? Because the comments would be there if the Mets start 8-3! A slow start combined with, say, Jimmy Rollins reminding everybody why he's the reigning N.L. MVP, and the Willie Randolph watch begins.
So I'll be the first to ask you this (because someone has to): Is Willie Randolph on the hot seat right now ... before the season even begins?