The 2020 Metropolitans are coming into focus as the offseason rolls on into January, with Spring Training reporting dates right around the corner.
The state of the Mets will be a five-part series, divulging into each area crucial to the 26 man roster, covering the starting lineup, the pitching rotation, the bullpen, the bench, and coaches.
Part one will focus on the most significant transition to the team, which is the coaching staff. Only four coaches remain on the big league staff from 2019, Luis Rojas (quality control), Gary DiSarcina (third base coach), Chili Davis (hitting), and Tom Slater (assistant hitting).
This post will take an in-depth look at the staff Brode Van Wagenen assembled reviewing their experience as players and experience in coaching/mentoring and how they fit into this team’s direction moving forward.
Manager: Carlos Beltrán
Carlos Beltrán was named the 22nd manager of the New York Mets in early November. Beltrán was one of the greatest Met positional players ever to put on the orange and blue. In his 20-year baseball career as a player, Beltrán built up a substantial baseball resume that could punch him a ticket to baseball’s pedestal, the Hall of Fame. He compiled a 69.6 overall WAR, which is 8th all-time for the centerfield position. His career stat line was .279/.350/.486 with a .837 OPS. He finished with 2,725 hits, with 1,078 of those being extra-base hits, which is 24th all-time. He hit 435 home runs with 312 stolen bases. He was the 1999 rookie of the year, a nine-time All-Star (5 with the Mets) and two-time silver slugger (both with the Mets), a three-time gold glove winner (all with the Mets), the 2013 Roberto Clemente Award winner, and was a part of the 2017 world champion Astros.
Following his retirement in 2017, Beltrán interviewed for the vacant Yankees managerial position, which ultimately went to Aaron Boone. The next year, the Yankees hired Beltrán as a special advisor to the general manager, where he got a better sense of direction where baseball is heading and learned the importance that analytics, or as he calls “information,” has on the game. Beltrán has stated since being granted the managerial position about creating a culture around the team that creates lasting impacts that bleed to outside the organization, that will lead to other players to have a high interest in joining the organization due to its culture. He wants to be an effective communicator and keep the players informed of their roles and expectations and consistently check-in if they are meeting these expectations.
As a player who has accomplished so much and has career earnings over 220 million dollars, Beltrán has put himself to the side and wants to give back to the next generation of players and find the opportunities to mentor those to take their talent to the next level.
As he states in a one on one interview with SNY’s Steve Gelbs, “I want to serve the players in a positive way…..I know how to relate to them, I know what is important to them, and it’s not about me anymore. I already did what I had to as a player, and now it’s about them. It’s about how I can use the knowledge that I have from the game of baseball and transfer that to the players.”
I believe the Beltrán signing can immediately impact the 2020 team in three ways. One is that he has a keen eye in picking up tendencies opposing players have, including pitch tipping that could serve well with in-game adjustments. Also, being a Latin born player, Beltrán can effectively communicate with players on a more intimate level with those whose first language is Spanish while also reaching those who only speak English.
Lastly, it’s not common to have a manager that has had a baseball career such as Beltrán’s, which will immediately gain the respect of the clubhouse due to the player he was and the length he had played in the majors. What will be interesting is to see Beltrán navigate managing a bullpen, media, and in-game situational thinking as a first-year manager with no prior experience.
Bench Coach: Hensley Meulens
One mistake that doomed Mickey Callaway’s short tenure as Mets manager was the inexperience at bench coach to aide in his in-game management. Callaway was known as one of the most reliable pitching coaches in the game with Cleveland before joining the Mets and didn’t transition well when taken over a whole team. Van Wagenen is pairing Beltrán with a profoundly experienced option, Hensley Muelens.
Muelens played in parts of 7 seasons with the Yankees, Expos, and Diamondbacks. He began his coaching career in 2003 with the Bluefield Orioles of the Rookie Appalachian League. He’s worked his way up the minor leagues to landing an MLB coaching job with the Giants in 2010 as a batting coach. In his first five years with the team under Bruce Bochy, the Giants won three world series. He also has managerial experience and success with the Netherlands World Baseball Classic Team, which finished fourth overall in 2013 and 2017.
Interestingly, Meulens speaks five languages Spanish, Dutch, Japanese, English, and Papiamento, furthering the Met’s goal in being better communicators with their players.
Pitching Coach: Jeremy Hefner // Assistant Pitching Coach: Jeremy Accardo
One of the most exciting highers of the offseason was adding former New York Met, Jeremey Hefner (33). Hefner, in his two-year career, pitched 50 games to a 4.65 ERA in 224.1 innings. He began his coaching career as an advanced scout for the Minnesota Twins. He was promoted to an assistant pitching coach in 2019, which he assisted Wes Johnson in leading the Twins to the 5th best ERA in the American League.
Hefner was said to show a high relatability to the players, being so young and having recently played in the league. He is known as someone who can present analytics to players in a way that’s comfortable and tangible. Hefner will be relied on heavily, with Jeremy Accardo in managing the bullpen and getting players such as Edwin Diaz and Jeurys Familia’s back to their 2018 season production.
Hitting Coach: Chili Davis
Chili Davis was a pivotal coach to be retained as the Mets offense showed great strides last year. Davis, a career 38.3 WAR player with most notably the Angels and Giants, was a career .279 hitter with a .360 OBP and a .811 OPS. Davis was a hitting coach for the Athletics, Red Sox, and Cubs before joining the Mets.
The Mets were able to re-sign Davis, 59, to a multiyear deal who was receiving strong consideration in joining the Philadelphia Phillies staff. The Mets showed plenty of improvement offensively under Davis. They raised their team batting average from 2018 at .234 to .257 in 2019, which was 5th in the league. They had the 4th most hits in the National League with 1,445 and hit the 5th most home runs in the league with 242. Also, importantly, the Mets found themselves on base more frequently, with a .328 OBP, which was 6th best and a 16 point jump from 2018.
The Mets also saw great offensive seasons with many of their young, controllable players with Jeff McNeil, Pete Alonso, J.D. Davis, and Michael Conforto. Another year under the same guidance of Chili Davis, along with Beltrán’s insights, can lead to even more improvement with this young offense.
Overall, Brodie Van Wagenen has made some exciting moves in regards to the coaching staff, that will be more analytically focused. There may be inexperience with Beltrán and Hefner, but there are some veteran aides with Muelens and Davis that can support guidance and support when needed.
With coaches already reaching out to players and working with specific players already, it will be interesting to hear the player’s feedback and expectations when players get acquainted with the coaches during spring training.
Feature Image: Seth Wenig/Associated Press