I find myself thinking of two scenarios, as the Mets hit this point of transition. One has nothing to do with a manager change, though Jerry Manuel is marginally involved. The other is all about how things can turn around after a mid-season manager change.
2003 FLORIDA MARLINS
The Marlins in 2003 are that example - Jeff Torborg was the manager to begin the season, and after a 16-22 start, he was fired and replaced by Jack McKeon. Under McKeon, the Marlins were 75-49 the rest of the way, and the 'rest of the way' resulted in a Marlins world championship.
The big difference between the 2008 Mets and the 2003 Marlins, though, is age. The 2003 Marlins had some veteran leaders, but were mostly a young team. The 2008 Mets are mostly veterans, with a couple of young leaders. Another difference - the 2003 Marlins vanquished Moises Alou's team...the 2008 Mets can't get Moises Alou to stay healthy enough to play two games in a row.
So it's unlikely, but obviously, it's the best-case-scenario to compare the 2008 Mets' managerial change to the change the Marlins made in 2003 - that's what everyone hopes for when they make this type of change during the season.
Unfortunately, I get the feeling the Mets will end up more like the 1997 White Sox:
1997 WHITE SOX
I know this team didn't change managers, but after the season they did, and I'll get back to that.
This was the White Sox team that was 52-53 at the trade deadline, but more importantly, just three games back of division leader Cleveland, when they traded three of their best pitchers, and before that, one of their top hitters, for minor leaguers. (By the way - I can't believe that was 11 years ago - I fully expected that the "White Flag" trade took place while Manuel was managing the White Sox - in actuality, he took over in 1998 and was manager until Ozzie Guillen came aboard in 2004.)
One of those trades netted some decent players, but I'm not here to debate whether or not the White Sox did the right thing in 1997. I'm here to wonder if this is where the Mets are headed.
Right now, the Mets are 6.5 games behind Philadelphia in the division...and 7 behind St. Louis for the wild card. Unless they turn it around fast, they'd be better off as sellers than as buyers come the trading deadline. And as I wrote yesterday, it stinks that I'm already having to think about 2009, but 2008 is looking worse and worse, and if the Mets don't do something in 2008 to prepare for 2009, their first season at Citi Field will look a lot like their last at Shea Stadium.
In other words, the roster as it looks right now is old, and it might be time to blow it up. There are problems, I know - who wants some of these old guys? Well, there's a chance a team will take a chance on a guy like Moises Alou for a stretch run, if he's healthy for the month of July. And maybe Billy Wagner is expendable. Maybe the Mets can get some young replacements/replenishments for the farm system in return. It's unlikely that anyone would take Carlos Delgado, but he's not going to be back next year anyway.
The real shocker here is that I am once again going to advocate a trade of Jose Reyes. Tuesday night was a disgrace. Say what you want about him wanting to stay in the game, but his childish display, showing up his brand-new manager like that, sets the wrong tone. I don't care if he's not happy about coming out (not as a punishment, mind you, but in his best interests), he's got to have a sense of how it looks to an observer - it looks like he's being disrespectful and prima-donna-ish. It's only going to start rumors that the new manager has no control over one of his star players, much like the rumors that the old manager couldn't control him, or at least get through to him. I wouldn't mind seeing Reyes go to another team - provided the Mets get a ton for him in exchange. At the very least, last night's antics once again made me think that there's no way Reyes ends his career in a Mets uniform. (Incidentally, they were also another reason I was surprised the Mets didn't change the entire coaching staff.) I think Reyes will be with a few teams before his time is up, whether or not he gets traded.
The bottom line is that this year is looking like a failure, and the Mets have some options before the trade deadline - keep everything as is, and run the risk that next year turns out the same way, or shake things up in the hopes that some new faces in 2009 bring some better results. If it's the former rather than the latter, I suspect that one of the new faces in 2009 will end up being in the general manager's office.