Mets manager Luis Rojas understands he might as well be the interim manager this past season.
He realizes once the owners approve Steve Cohen’s $2.5 billion Mets purchase, he could be a goner along with his general manager Brodie Van Wagenen. He knows Mets COO Jeff Wilpon is a goner since Cohen wants nothing to do with him and Wilpon’s father (Fred Wilpon) won’t have any role with the Mets. He gets how the business work by being around the game with his father, Felipe Alou managing the Montreal Expos when he was a kid.
Tough break for Rojas, but he knew what he got himself into when he got the managerial job after Carlos Beltran resigned for being involved in the Houston Astros sign-stealing scandal as an Astros player.
The elder Wilpon expressed a sense of urgency in selling the team before Beltran was hired. Rojas knew only a playoff appearance would keep him employed under Cohen.
The Mets manager couldn’t lead his team to the playoffs despite an eight-team league playoff format. He could only have done so much with a flawed roster. His relievers struggled, his starters stunk and his hitters failed to put on a big inning. Not even a great manager could have done anything about it.
In the end, Rojas looked beaten down by the losing and bad baseball. That’s the life of a manager. The grind and losses take a toll when all is said and done. Just a few months ago before the season started, he radiated optimism and positivity. Now he wonders if he will ever manage in Major League Baseball. Not many teams will rush to hire him after a 26-34 season. It could be he needs to manage in the minors and work his way up before he can manage in the big leagues again.
Rojas is only 39 years old, so he has time. Maybe he can manage in the Mets’ farm system to get some seasoning. He certainly could learn from working in player development. His qualifications came from being a quality coach. That’s not a way to bring a guy to manage a team in a market like New York, even though teams hire anyone willing to collaborate with the general manager on managerial decisions rather than hire anyone with major league experience.
He just wasn’t qualified to manage the Mets. He was hired because the Mets needed to hire someone before spring training started after Beltran resigned. Plus, Van Wagenen hired him so that he can be more involved with the manager making decisions. In other words, Rojas couldn’t offer hope.
The Mets hope he could have made it work. It wasn’t meant to be for him and the Mets.
Rojas can’t say if those 60 games serve as an experience for him. In a pandemic season that featured Marcus Stroman opting out and Noah Syndergaard being out for the season, he managed on the fly, not knowing who he can rely on in the starting rotation outside of Jacob deGrom. He received results from David Peterson, but he received nothing from Michael Wacha, Rick Porcello, and Steven Matz. Pete Alonso suffered a sophomore slump as he couldn’t put anything together with his bat this season. The bullpen blew so many leads.
Maybe the team could have settled down if this was a 162-game season. Rojas will never know.
He hopes he can get another chance by Cohen or someone else. He feels he can be a good manager. He knows how to work with people, which is an important trait of being a head coach or a manager. His even-keel approach rubbed off on the players.
All he can say is he tried his best. Hard to say here what he could have done differently.
His best chance of staying on as manager comes if the owners don’t approve Cohen’s sale or the sale is approved late. Either could happen.
It will be hard to hire a manager right away weeks before spring training and work with the players. Maybe then we could see how good he really is.
If not, he will be thankful for his opportunity and be on his way to the next chapter. This is the life of a baseball lifer he chose.
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