Mets Rumors & News
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It’s time to take the interim tag off of Jerry Manuel. The Mets are no lock to make the playoffs and could fizzle out the rest of the season, but Manuel has proven that’s he’s the man for the job. If they don’t get into the post-season, it will be because of their leaky bullpen. It doesn’t matter who’s in what role or how they’re mixed and matched, the fact is, the Mets relievers just aren’t that good. And that’s on Omar Minaya, not Jerry Manuel.

Manuel has a rapport with the players that seems to lead to success. The sulking Jose Reyes we saw under Willie Randolph is gone. The surly Carlos Delgado is gone. There’s no more finger-pointing in the clubhouse. There’s no more calling out teammates in the media. When the players see their manager out on the field arguing with one umpire after another, getting kicked out of one game after another (he probably just doesn’t want to stick around and watch his relievers blow another game), they know he has their backs. You don’t think the players notice that? He’s also not afraid to make his players earn their positions or spots in the batting order. Not everybody would have Fernando Tatis hitting higher in the batting order than Delgado. Or taking Carlos Beltran out of the cleanup spot and moving him around in the order. It will be interesting to see what Manuel does with Luis Castillo when he comes off the DL.

The Mets have started playing together as a team under Manuel. He actually has them hustling. Who would have guessed that would have happened back in May or June? And he doesn’t let devastating losses (are there too many of those to count now?) turn into back-breaking losing streaks. The team usually shrugs it off and starts winning again. The makeup game at Shea against Pittsburgh was ugliness in its truest form. And they followed that up with a six-game winning streak. Manuel is comfortable in his own skin and doesn’t panic, and the players feed off that. The looseness in the clubhouse follows them onto the field.

We already know that Jerry Manuel can handle New York. He’s a quote machine, and is breezy, entertaining and funny with the media. If they question any of his moves, he doesn’t get defensive the way Willie used to. He accepts criticism without being thin-skinned about it. But don’t always believe everything he says. He stated he would find a different role than the ninth inning for Aaron Heilman after the reliever blew the game at Shea vs. the Pirates, and maybe it was time to try Eddie Kunz as the closer. But there was Heilman standing on the mound in the ninth inning against Pittsburgh four days later. And Kunz was used once in a blowout and then sent back down to the minors. And he anointed Fernando Tatis his starting left fielder only to announce a few days later that Daniel Murphy and Nick Evans would start there. I guess he has the right to change his mind, doesn’t he?

Will there be a better manager available in the off-season for the Mets to hire? One who won’t be intimidated by New York? There won’t be a Lou Piniella or Mike Scioscia out there. So unless Gil Hodges rises from the dead, Jerry Manuel is the right choice for the Mets.

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