ANAHEIM _ The inevitable became reality tonight when the Mets fired the embattled Willie Randolph and made Jerry Manuel their 19th manager on an interim basis.
The Mets also fired pitching coach Rick Peterson and first base coach Tom Nieto, and added Ken Oberkfell, Luis Aguayo and Dan Warthen to the coaching staff.
The Mets made the announcement at 3:14 a.m., ET, roughly two hours after the team had beaten the Los Angeles Angels, 9-6, their third win in four games.
General manager Omar Minaya will hold a 2 p.m., PT press conference.
Randolphâ€™s job had been on shaky status since the Metsâ€™ dramatic collapse at the end of the last season when they blew a seven-game lead with 17 remaining to lose the National League East on the final day of the season.
Two days after the season, general manager Minaya said Randolph had his, and ownershipâ€™s endorsement, and the franchise entered spring training with renewed enthusiasm after the trade for Johan Santana.
“Weâ€™ve put last year behind us,â€™â€™ Randolph said during spring training.
However, such talk never showed itself on the field and the sluggish spring training turned into a slow start compounded by losing Pedro Martinez with a strained left hamstring.
Inconsistency marked the start of Randolphâ€™s fourth season and eventually led to this afternoon.
On April 19, the Mets were in first place by a half-game at a season-high four games over .500 at 10-6 following a five-game winning streak.
But, the best theyâ€™ve been able to do since is a three-game winning streak and three two-game streaks.
However, theyâ€™ve had two five-game losing streaks.
Randolphâ€™s future was placed under the microscope after the team seemed to turn the corner with two victories at Yankee Stadium, when he said he believed criticism of him was racially motivated and he thought the teamâ€™s television network, SNY, sought to portray him in a negative light.
Randolph attempted to clarify the next day, and the day after that made a public apology to owner Fred Wilpon, chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon, SNY and to his team for becoming a distraction.
The backdrop for the apology was being swept in a four-game series at Atlanta, and the downward spiral continued by losing two of three games in Colorado.
Randolph received a vote of confidence when the team returned from Denver when he met with the Wilpons and Minaya. However, the endorsement didnâ€™t include the promise of finishing the season, let alone his contract that expires after the 2009 season.
The Mets appeared to turn things around when they won five of seven games during a homestand against Florida and Los Angeles.
However, they sputtered during a West Coast trip when they lost five of seven at San Francisco and San Diego, including being swept in a four-game series against the Padres, with three of the losses by 2-1 scores.
The breakdowns during the Padre series was mostly attributable to the offense and bullpen, which included Scott Schoeneweis walking the bases loaded and hitting a batter, and Billy Wagner giving up a three-run homer in the eighth inning to Tony Clark.
Wagnerâ€™s skid included blowing back-to-back save opportunities that cost victories to Mike Pelfrey and Santana.
Many times when a team slides as the Mets have thereâ€™s finger pointing in the clubhouse toward the managerâ€™s office, but that hasnâ€™t been the case.
“The problem isnâ€™t in there,â€™â€™ David Wright said pointing toward Randolphâ€™s office. “Itâ€™s the players. Weâ€™re not getting the job done.â€™â€™
Because of injury and poor performance, the players havenâ€™t gotten the job done.
Injuries have cost the Mets Martinez, Moises Alou, Brian Schneider and Ryan Church for extended periods.
In addition, the Metsâ€™ core players have not been producing. Wright and Jose Reyes arenâ€™t playing to their levels; Carlos Delgadoâ€™s decline from last year has continued; starters John Maine and Oliver Perez, 15-game winners each last season, have been inconsistent; bullpen stalwart Aaron Heilman has been hit hard as has Duaner Sanchez; and only recently has Carlos Beltran started to produce.
When the Mets were being swept in Atlanta, Randolph said he understood the landscape.
“Iâ€™m the manager,â€™â€™ he said. “Iâ€™m responsible.â€™â€™
Taking a quick glance at the new guys.
JERRY MANUEL: Currently served as bench coach. â€¦ Was Mets first base and outfield coach in 2005. â€¦ Managed White Sox (1998-2003) and named 2000 Major League Manager of the Year.
KEN OBERKFELL: Manager of New Orleans Zephyrs of the Pacific Coast League, his fourth year managing the Mets Triple-A affiliate. â€¦ Previously managed Double-A Binghamton Mets.
DAN WARTHEN: Was Oberkfellâ€™s pitching coach in New Orleans after serving two years as bullpen coach for LA Dodgers. â€¦ Coached in Mets minor league system from 2003-2005. â€¦ Was pitching coach for the Detroit Tigers (1999-2002), San Diego Padres (1996-97), and Seattle Mariners (1992).
LUIS AGUAYO: Mets Field Coordinator in spring training for minor league teams and Mets fall instructional league team. â€¦ Played with the Cleveland Indians (1989), New York Yankees (1988), and Philadelphia Phillies (1980-88).
Not totally, of course, but this is how it works.