2008_05_randolphjobsecurity.jpgTwo and a half weeks ago, Willie Randolph appeared to be on the precipice of being fired. The Mets, especially general manager Omar Minaya stood by him, and Randolph lived another day. Now, another poor stretch of play has prompted perhaps the strongest rumors yet. If SI.com's Jon Heyman is correct, and his sources are usually reliable, Randolph -- and half his coaching staff -- could be gone by the end of the weekend.

Unfortunately for the Mets, changing managers wouldn't solve the main problem: The team may just not be that good. Sure, Randolph makes questionable lineup and bullpen decisions and his preference for useless veterans is well known. His clubhouse has seen its share of controversy, and his relationship with the media has gotten rocky at times. So there's no compelling reason to keep him.

But what will change if Jerry Manuel, the current bench coach, becomes the manager? Is Carlos Delgado going to revert to a serviceable Major Leaguer for the first time in two years? Will Carlos Beltran stop underperforming? Will Oliver Perez stop being a headcase? Will anyone in the bullpen start getting outs? The team's roster is flawed.

That's why Minaya has stuck by Randolph as long as he has. So long as the manager isn't motivating or getting through, maybe the collection of players isn't the problem. But Minaya is probably most to blame for last year's collapse -- why was Brian Lawrence starting games last year? -- and this year's struggles. For all the money he's thrown at Pedro Martinez, Johan Santana and Carlos Beltran, Minaya has shown a lack of attention to the periphery of his roster. Of course, the players could be performing better, but Minaya is ultimately responsible for bringing in the right guys.

Photo of Willie Randolph by AP/John Bazemore