The Mets are in a somewhat common position for them, that is going into the offseason needing to hire a new manager. They’ve had three in just the past three seasons, with Mickey Callaway skippering the team in 2019, then Carlos Beltran for about a nanosecond, and Luis Rojas then managing for the past two seasons. They are of course also looking for a President of Baseball Operations, and it is logical that whoever gets that post will want a manager that he is comfortable with. That being said, it is still possible to analyze some of the better potential managers and to rank the top choices.
The leading candidate should be Mike Shildt, the recently relieved Cardinal manager. He started working for St. Louis in 2004 and worked his way up through the organization. Shildt started the 2018 season as the Cards bench coach, then took over at the helm mid-season after Mike Matheny was replaced. Shildt and the Cards won the NL Central in 2019 with Shildt being selected Manager of the Year. St. Louis won a wild card spot each of the next two seasons against some pretty good competition in the Central Division with Milwaukee fielding strong teams as well as the Cubs, at least for the first few years of his tenure. His overall record is 252-199 for an excellent .559 winning percentage.
The Redbird Rant blog noted that “the players loved him”, that they played hard for him, and that he stressed fundamentals. That sounds like exactly what the Mets need in a skipper. Of course he was let go by Cardinal management, the reasons for that not being clear. Officially the vague “philosophical differences” was cited. There does not appear to be any scandals or accusations of impropriety about him that I could find.
There are other managerial openings, and there may be more coming. Shildt will be a hot commodity with lots of competition for his services. The Padres have already shown interest and they have some excellent players on their roster including Fernando Tatis Jr. If Shildt can be lured to New York, the Mets should grab him.
Bob Melvin is another very intriguing possibility. He’ll be 61 next year, and has managed in the Majors since 2003. He’s managed Seattle and Arizona, and since 2011 he’s run the Oakland club. He has a .514 winning percentage, and he won three AL West titles and got his teams into 3 wild card games. He’s also a three-time Manager of the Year.
He is a native Californian and he seems comfortable in Oakland working with Billy Beane. But there is an intangible reason why he might be interested in the Mets, besides Steve Cohen’s moneybags. His off-season home is in, of all places, Greenwich Village. He moved there over five years ago when his daughter was going to college and taking acting lessons, and apparently he and his wife have accommodated well. They enjoy the culture and the restaurants of the Big Apple.
The one downside to Melvin is that he is under contract to the A’s through 2022. The Mets would likely have to trade a prospect to pry Melvin away from Oakland, and that could be painful. The team has done that kind of trade before, with Gil Hodges coming from Washington, and that sure seemed to work out well.
Ranking number three in my humble analysis would be Bob Geren, aged 61. Geren has been the Dodger bench coach since 2016, so he has plenty of postseason experience. He also managed Oakland from 2007-2011. In between he was the Mets bench coach, including during the memorable 2015 season when the Mets won the pennant before falling short in the World Series. He obviously does have a connection with Sandy Alderson in that regard. He’s probably blocked from advancing higher in the Dodger hierarchy by manager Dave Roberts, so a return to New York as the skipper of the Mets might appeal to him.
A few longer shots would include Joe McEwing, a popular and fiery utility player for the Mets at the turn of the century. He’s 48, he is the third-base coach of the White Sox, and he did previously interview for the Mets managerial job. Another possibility would be another ex-Met, John Gibbons, 59. He managed the Blue Jays for 11 seasons, amassing a 793-789 record and an AL East title in 2015.
There are a few others that have been mentioned in the press that would have too many question marks. Ron Washington has been a successful manager in the past and is a coach with Atlanta. He will turn 70 near the start of next season so he is long in the tooth. He’s got some baggage with past drug use and a sexual assault allegation. More importantly, he does not appear to be totally on board with modern metrics. Buck Showalter has also been a successful manager in the past. There is something to be said for an old school approach, But Showalter seems to carry it too far, and probably would not relate well to the modern player.
Then there is Carlos Beltran, whose over-before-it-started Mets managerial career was derailed by his involvement in the Astros cheating scandal. Besides that cheating baggage, Beltran has no MLB managing experience and I don’t think the Mets are interested in another on-the-job learning process.
Hopefully whoever gets hired will have tactical control of the team with of course plenty of analytical data to guide decisions. We certainly do not need a repeat of the Brodie Van Wagenen style of micromanaging from the front office.