The Mets were one of 10 teams to replace their manager this past offseason. Let’s check in and see how those clubs are doing. The first number will be the team’s winning percentage in 2019 and the second number will be the 2020 winning percentage:
Angels – Joe Maddon: .444, .408
Astros – Dusty Baker: .660, .500
Cubs – David Ross: .519, .592
Giants – Gabe Kapler: .475, .489
Mets – Luis Rojas: .531, .438
Padres – Jayce Tingler: .432, .640
Phillies – Joe Girardi: .500, .511
Pirates – Derek Shelton: .426, .298
Red Sox – Ron Roenicke: .519, .367
Royals – Mike Matheny: .364, .408
Five teams have improved with their new manager while five teams have taken a step backwards. It’s at least interesting that the three teams that changed managers due to the great 2017 Astros cheating scandal — Astros, Mets, Red Sox — have all seen their records fall this year. While the Astros didn’t have much of a shot to improve from last year’s 107-win team, both the Mets and Red Sox had similar records with a win total in the mid-80s. Both teams lost key members of their 2019 club – the Red Sox traded Mookie Betts while the Mets let Zack Wheeler leave as a free agent. And both teams were hit with Covid defections and injuries to their pitching staff.
With the exception of Maddon, the Mets likely could have had any manager on this list. Shoot, they interviewed both Girardi and Shelton. Would it have made any difference? That all depends on how much autonomy you think the Mets manager has here in 2020.
Rojas started hitting Robinson Cano lower in the order. He made aggressive substitutions to put a better defensive team in the game in late innings. And he removed Edwin Diaz from the closer’s role early in the season. At least we think Rojas did these things – that might be giving him too much credit.
If the Mets had hired one of the guys with 1,000+ games managed in the majors — Baker, Girardi, Maddon or Matheny — do you think we’d have more than three things on the list of positives? If the Mets hired Girardi and the Phillies hired a guy with no MLB managerial experience – do you think the Mets’ record against the Phillies would be 2-6?
It will be a great day when the Mets hire someone as a manager based on what they can do to win games in the dugout, rather than their ability to carry water for the GM or their ability to talk to the press.
Rojas, Mickey Callaway, Terry Collins, Jerry Manuel, Willie Randolph — that’s 16 years of managers who never won a playoff game. And the guy who came before them – Art Howe – may not have been the first guy whose main job was to carry water for the GM but he certainly was the most famous one.
It’s nothing short of amazing that the team which values players who were good in another organization three years ago eschews hiring managers with the same qualifications. Sure, they went outside the org to hire Callaway but he was a pitching coach, not a manager.
Girardi won 91 games as a manager in 2017. Hiring him wasn’t a better idea than signing Adrian Gonzalez?
My sincere hope is that new owner Steve Cohen hires a new GM whose primary experience comes from working in baseball front offices. Think how different the Mets would be if they hired Chaim Bloom last time around. And an additional hope is that whoever that new GM is, that they hire a manager for his ability to think on his feet in the dugout and in the manager’s office – not on his willingness to blindly implement what the GM tells him to do 100% of the time.
There’s a difference between Girardi and Howe. It’s unlikely that the Mets will be able to hire someone as (relatively) young and as accomplished as Girardi in the upcoming offseason. But if somehow they are presented with that option, let’s hope they pounce on it.