Times have been tough for the New York baseball team that won’t see October for a third consecutive season.
Written by Alison Golberg
If you didn’t know the identity, that team would be the New York Mets. Even with the likely Cy Young Award winner (Jacob deGrom) and definite Rookie of the Year (Pete Alonso), and an outstanding finish to the season, the Mets dug too deep of a hole for themselves to earn one of the two coveted wild card spots. When the season ended, the big question was whether or not manager Mickey Callaway would return for a third season.
Well, on Thursday, the Mets made it official. His time in Flushing has come to an end.
Hired at the end of the 2017 season, Callaway finished his stint at Mets’ manager with a 163-161 record. A former player for Tampa Bay, Anaheim, and Texas, Callaway rose to prominence as the pitching coach for the Cleveland Indians. When he was hired, Callaway was viewed an up-and-coming managerial star, credited with helping Corey Kluber become one of the dominant pitchers in the game. But his time in New York was full of controversy. He was often questioned, ridiculed and criticized for many of the moves he made as a manager. In particular, Callaway’s management of the rotation and use of the bullpen made Mets games extremely difficult to watch for fans. Starters were being pulled way too early, certain pitchers were brought in at the wrong time, and the aces were often used incorrectly. And this was all coming from a PITCHING GURU!
He might have done great things with the Indians’ rotation, but he just never seemed to possess the same magic in New York. In fact, there are many baseball experts who believe the Mets’ roster was plenty strong enough to compete with the best teams in the National League, and it was Callaway who was actually hurting the club. If it weren’t for his poor decision making, the Mets would still be playing in October.
Now it looks like the entire Mets’ coaching staff will need to be reassembled. Remember that in late June, the Mets fired pitching coach Dave Eiland and bullpen coach Chuck Hernandez and replaced them with interims Phil Regan and Ricky Bones respectively. It is still to be determined if these “new” additions will be asked back, but more than likely, the new manager will have his choice of assembling a coaching staff.
But for now, while Yankee fans enjoy the thrill of October baseball, the Mets will be entirely focused on filling the managerial opening. Will it be a veteran? A former player? Someone already in the organization?
Here are my opinions on rumored candidates…
Although this would be a great hire, it is highly unlikely for the Mets. Of course, Maddon would make a great manager wherever he ends up. And the game needs him. He has an overwhelmingly strong resume including serving as manager of the California/Anaheim Angels in 1996 & 1999, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in 2006 through 2014, and most recently with the Chicago Cubs from 2015–2019, where he led the Cubs to their first World Series in 108 years. He has won three manager of the year awards as well. I have no doubt that every team with an opening will be contacting Maddon, one of his former employers, the Angels, quite possibly looking to reunite with him.
Now, this is a name that Mets fans should get excited about. It is certainly one that I like very much. Girardi being hired by the Mets would be a dream come true for me. He has already demonstrated that he has what it takes to succeed in the intense New York sports environment. He also has the drive, energy, and desire to win. He’s used to the media and attention that New York brings as well. Girardi understands and accepts the role that analytics has played in baseball lately (re: Astros!) He can perform under pressure and is a very good in-game manager, which would be a refreshing change from what we witnessed under Callaway. With Girardi making the calls on the Mets’ lineup, rotation and-hopefully revamped-bullpen, the Mets would be a major threat in the loaded National League East. According to MLB Insider Jon Heyman, Girardi is “keenly interested in the Mets.” Hopefully, it leads to his hiring.
Now, this one may take some mending in the relationship to become a reality, but it is certainly a possibility. Beltran has recently received some interest from the Padres, so he is clearly on the radar of MLB teams. He interviewed for the Yankees job two years ago as well, although that is also when he retired, so a lack of experience could hurt his resume. He does, however, know today’s players and would probably relate well to them. Beltran is known for the way he shared his advice with the younger players as an older, well-respected member of the clubhouse, including his presence on the 2017 World Series Houston Astros squad. He could be an intriguing possibility.
Luis Rojas is an in-house candidate. He’s been with the Mets organization since 2007. He has coached and managed throughout the farm system. In 2019, he was brought up to take the new role of “quality control coach”. Rojas has a lot of experience with the Mets organization and is highly regarded by many. His current role has him implementing strategies and in-game plans.
Rojas’ experience in that role will be critical to his candidacy for the job.
Tony DeFrancesco was only hired by the Mets recently, managing their Triple-A affiliate for the past two seasons. DeFrancesco’s experience includes serving as an interim manager for the Houston Astros, one season with the Oakland Athletics as a third base coach, six seasons as a manager for the Sacramento River Cats and a minor league coach and manager in the Oakland Athletics farm system for fourteen years.
Although he never made it to the majors as a player, he definitely has the qualities to make it to the majors as a manager. The traits he has shown most recently in the Mets organization could be just the right fit.
Cone’s most recent time in Major League Baseball happened to be as a player for the Mets, in 2003, although his most memorable time with the club was from 1987 to 1992. He is a five-time All-Star, five-time World Series champion and Cy Young Award winner (1994). Cone has been a television analyst, host, and announcer. He’s enthusiastic when it comes to sabermetric statistics and is a fan of Fangraphs.com.
Paying close attention to statistics and numbers is a huge part of today’s game and could help Cone build a strong case for himself. When asked about the position, Cone was quoted as saying, “It’s not an interview I would turn down.”
Another valuable veteran manager the Mets could consider is Buck Showalter. His managerial experience includes managing the New York Yankees from 1992 to 1995, the Arizona Diamondbacks from 1998 to 2000, the Texas Rangers in 2003 through 2006 and, most recently, the Baltimore Orioles from 2010 through 2018. He is a three-time AL Manager of the Year Award winner (1994, 2004, 2014).
I believe that Showalter shouldn’t be at the top of the list for the Mets, but definitely a consideration. He hasn’t been too adamant about modern statistics, which is something necessary for the Mets to consider as they search for a new manager. Buck would “like to be talked about” for the position.
The new manager for the New York Mets will inherit an extremely talented roster of some of the best pitchers and young position players in the game.
Will it be one of the names I discussed or will a dark-horse candidate emerge? Hopefully, the front office will make a good decision as the 2020 season, and beyond, it depends on it.
Featured Image: SNY