The rumors of Willie Randolph's demise as manager of the New York Mets have quieted for now, but more losses like Monday's could very well put the fourth-year skipper back on the hot seat.
After the Mets suffered their seventh loss in eight games just hours after Randolph's meeting with team brass, they'll try to snap out of their funk as Johan Santana takes the mound against the Florida Marlins on Tuesday night at Shea Stadium.
Oddsmakers from Sportsbook.com have made New York -191 money line favorites (MLB Odds) for tonight's game, the over/under has been set at 8 total runs (Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 58% of bets for this game have been placed on New York -191 (View MLB Bet Percentages).
Randolph sat down with Mets owner Fred Wilpon and his son, Jeff, the club's chief operating officer, as well as general manager Omar Minaya on Monday to discuss the state of the team, which entered the day two games under .500 despite its $138 million payroll.
Though there was speculation that the meeting would mark the end of his tenure, Randolph got the support of the higher-ups.
"Willie's job was never in danger going into this meeting," Minaya said.
"Willie has my support. He has the support of our ownership," Minaya added. "There is no limbo period. Willie is the manager."
That vote of confidence, however, is not a guarantee that Randolph will keep his job for the rest of the season.
"No, they didn't say that," said Randolph, who has been blamed for the club's current slump as well as its failure to make the 2007 playoffs following one of the worst late-season collapses in baseball history.
After his two-hour meeting with management, Randolph had a closed-door talk with his team. New York (23-26), however, responded with a flat offensive performance and several defensive miscues in a 7-3 loss to Florida (30-20).
"A lot of stuff was taken care of," Randolph said, describing his entire day. "Now, we move on and try to win some ballgames."
Santana (5-3, 3.36 ERA) is a good candidate to get the Mets back on track. New York had won six straight games started by the left-hander before Thursday, when Santana was reached for four runs - three earned - and a career-high 12 hits in seven innings of a 4-2 loss at Atlanta.
Despite his sub-par outing, Santana wasn't the only player at fault.
"My job is to give my team a chance to win," he told the Mets' official Web site. "I think I did that."
Santana has won all three of his career starts against Florida, posting a 1.96 ERA and striking out 24 in 18 1-3 innings. That includes his first start in a Mets uniform on opening day March 31, when he held the Marlins to two runs in seven innings of a 7-2 victory.
New York won two of three in that season-opening series in Miami, but since then, Florida has emerged as the best team in the NL East. The Marlins have won six of their last seven to reclaim the top record in the league.
"They have a lot of distractions going on for that ballclub right now," said Marlins outfielder Luis Gonzalez after the team opened a 10-game road trip against division rivals Monday. "Going from here to Philly and from Philly to Atlanta, it's an opportunity for us to show that we are a serious contender."
Andrew Miller (4-3, 5.33) has been key to the Marlins' recent success. In his first year with Florida, the left-hander struggled early - a slump that included an ugly 13-0 loss to New York on April 2. But he's 3-1 with a 1.44 ERA in his last four starts, including a 4-0 win over Arizona on Thursday in which he held the Diamondbacks to five hits while striking out nine in seven innings.
"The way I was pitching the beginning of the year, it's nice to be able to go out and give these guys some good outings," said Miller, who's 1-1 with an 8.38 ERA in two career starts against the Mets.
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