Inside Randolph's Firing (cont.)
Bernazard, VP of player development. Never has a VP of player development been more vilified. But it's difficult to say whether it's deserved. In his role as Minaya's chief lieutenant, he is supposed to provide counsel, after all.
Bernazard's Mets bosses love him. He is very bright, extremely hard working (he is alleged to have called 80 straight days in his attempt to get Carlos Beltran to come to the Mets -- of course, the $119 million didn't hurt, either), and he built a major-league career despite his small stature (he's listed as 5-foot-9, 160). However, some are suggesting now he has used his scrappy nature to work to get what he wanted, which was Randolph's ouster.
There's little doubt Bernazard was an early critic of Randolph in closed-door meetings. And while Bernazard never said one negative thing publicly, it's true he could have been a little more discreet in his other associations. Occasionally, he'd have very long conversations on the field with Acta, the ex-Mets coach. It surely would have served him better to have appeared as close to Randolph as he was to the Nationals' manager.
Randolph was also leery of Bernazard's obviously excellent relationship with Beltran and Delgado, and meetings were held between Randolph and Bernazard where Randolph expressed reasonable concern as to whether Bernazard's close association was hurting the manager's message. But reports suggesting Bernazard would repeat private comments Randolph may have made about the pair to the two star players seem far farfetched and are unfounded. Beltran is actually said by a clubhouse source to have initiated a closed-door meeting with the manager in an attempt to improve clubhouse communication between him and Randolph.
Despite appearances, it's possible Bernazard was simply an honest early detractor of Randolph and merely doing his job in his negative appraisals of his work that began early in 2007, and maybe even before that. Bernazard is believed to have been one of the critics of hitting coach Rick Down that led to the firing of Down last summer and the hiring of Rickey Henderson, a seemingly smaller decision that became a landmark mistake; the Mets began to tank shortly after that change was made. But as to whether Bernazard was wrong about Randolph and Manuel, well, that remains to be seen.
Around the Majors
The Mariners are getting ready to make almost everyone available, including Carlos Silva, Erik Bedard, Richie Sexson, Adrian Beltre, Jose Vidro and Jarrod Washburn. Almost everyone, but not their main man Ichiro. Beltre has a limited no-trade clause, but the Angels could be a possibility. Sexson is likely to be released if there are no takers (and it's hard to imagine anyone trading for him now).
Cito Gaston's hiring by the Blue Jays is believed to be an "organizational pick,'' not solely the choice of GM J.P. Ricciardi. There's speculation around the game that Ricciardi is in trouble, and his ill-conceived knocks on Adam Dunn don't put him a good light. But the fact he wasn't swept out with John Gibbons may give him hope.
The Indians have begun scouting the Yankees' system to see if they can find anything to interest them in case they decide to trade C.C. Sabathia. They have told teams they have to get better than the two draft choices they'd get if Sabathia left as a free agent. Sabathia, who's likely just a rental pitcher (though a great one), is believed to be interested in a "Johan Santana contract.'' Good luck there. Sabathia's a nice kid and he's lefthanded, but he should get into Johan Santana shape before anyone agrees to give him six years. The Dodgers, Red Sox, Phillies and Cubs also are believed to be interested.
Freddy Garcia's rehab is said to be progressing nicely. Last Tuesday he threw 25 pitches hard and felt no discomfort. The Mets, Yankees, Red Sox, Astros and Rangers are among many who have shown interest.
Nothing short of desperation caused the Yankees to bring back troubled pitcher Sidney Ponson. They'll need a sixth starter since they have a day-night doubleheader vs. the Mets Friday, and Ponson appears likely to get a start.
The relief market looks like it may be pretty limited. The best relievers available may be Colorado's Brian Fuentes and whatever the Orioles may offer up, starting with George Sherrill, Chad Bradford and Jamie Walker.
The Reds have to get their act together. In two days (and two victories), Paul Bako, David Weathers and Joey Votto lost track of the number of outs.
Alex Rodriguez entertained 2,000 underprivileged kids on Saturday at Macombs Dam Park, adjacent to Yankee Stadium, by throwing out the first pitch at the finals of the Alex Rodriguez Cup. A-Rod also donated $20,000 to the cause.
The Yankees' victory Sunday was their first over the Reds at Yankee Stadium since the 1961 World Series.
Despite his mouth, personality and general egomania, Curt Schilling is a Hall of Famer in my book. Three words: Impact, not stats.