Someone would pay for the Mets’ 11-12 start.
It happened after the Mets’ 6-5 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals on Monday night at Busch Stadium. The Mets fired hitting coach Chili Davis and assistant hitting coach Tom Slater. Instead of actually hiring a real person of the name Donnie Stevenson, they named minor-league hitting coordinator Hugh Quattlebaum as the hitting coach and executive director of player development Kevin Howard as the assistant hitting coach.
It’s interesting the Mets fired Davis and Slater despite the team scoring 18 runs in the last three games. It’s also interesting since Mets president of baseball operations Sandy Alderson does not fire coaches or managers this early or during the season at all.
There’s no doubt this came from Mets owner Steve Cohen. Understandably, he wasn’t happy with the way the team played and hit so far. It annoyed him that the Mets couldn’t score runs when Jacob deGrom on the mound. He didn’t sign up to a start the Mets have. So while it’s interesting from a management perspective, it’s not surprising from an ownership’s perspective.
He feels firing Davis and Slater can give a jolt to the players. It wasn’t really a performance thing. It was more of players to start producing by using Davis and Slater as sacrificial lambs.
Make no mistake, though. This firing serves as a warning to Mets manager Luis Rojas to navigate the team out of a crisis now. If he can’t figure it out sooner rather than later, he will be fired.
Rojas knew he would be managing for his job this season with a new owner owning the team. He received another reminder of that after Monday night’s loss.
At the end of the day, the players need to execute, but it’s hard to fire all of 25 players. The manager takes the blame for the players. It’s on Rojas to have his player be sharp and ready to go. It’s on the Mets manager to have his team be fundamentally sound every game. It’s on him to have the guys play winning baseball.
I don’t know what to make of Rojas as a manager. No one can judge him after 60 games last season. Managing for 162 games should serve as a better gauge of what he is.
This 11-12 start does not help his cause. When the Mets keep wasting deGrom’s masterpiece, this does not reflect well on the manager whether it’s fair or not.
Rojas also needs to start holding players accountable. He keeps being optimistic that things are going to come around for the hitters. He offers useless cliches that get annoying for every Mets loss.
If anything, it would be nice if he can manage with a sense of urgency. He can start by giving the struggling Francisco Lindor a day off. Cohen’s offseason acquisition centerpiece continues to struggle at the plate as he struck out twice Tuesday night against the Cardinals. He is hitting .063 with runners in scoring position. He is hitless in his past 25 appearances, and he is batting .163 overall that would make Mario Mendoza wince.
Lindor is not helping right now. He can take a day off just to get away, and then when he comes back to play the following day, he shouldn’t be hitting in the No. 2 spot anymore. Put him to the fifth or sixth spot and see if he can get back on track from there.
At this point, Rojas can’t worry about Lindor’s well-being. He has to worry about winning games and managing for his job.
He needs to have a short leash on his relievers if they are not getting it done. Debate all you want about Edwin Diaz leaving with a bad back on Sunday night, it does not hide the fact Rojas took his closer out and used Jeurys Familia to close out the Mets’ 8-7 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies. This is what he needs to do. He needs to manage to win the game, and if he doesn’t like what he is seeing, he should make changes.
Rojas could also tell his players to play with a sense of urgency rather than be patient and hope everything works out. In a good NL East, the Mets need to focus on winning series each month, and not be bad. So far, they have been fortunate that their fellow divisional teams have been mediocre, but it won’t last forever. The Washington Nationals won four in a row to get to 12-12, so they could be making their move in the division.
The second-year Mets manager must push the right buttons now. There’s no more time to waste. The Mets are in crisis. They lost four of six, and they still have three games left against a good St. Louis Cardinals team. They need to get on a run sooner or later.
How Rojas navigates this team out of a crisis will determine if he gets a chance to last until the All-Star break.
The firing of a couple of members on Rojas’ staff has the Mets manager on the clock.