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.

6 comments on “Analyzing candidates to manage the Mets

  • Wobbit

    Seems you pretty well nailed it, John. I do appreciate your prioritizing experience over anything splashy or sexy. Beltran is a huge no for me… let him be a savant for some other team… and please no surprises like… er…um… David Wright, Mike Piazza, Robin Ventura, or … Bobby Valentine…

    I want to win baseball games, which takes technical skill, in-the-trenches experience, and an emotional stamina for 175 games plus the pre-season.
    I like any of your top three mentions above, and while I like Buck, I can’t imagine he would get us there… too many “not quite” experiences… for good reason… I think he lacks the “emotional stamina”…

  • Metsense

    It was a fine job presenting the various candidates but the POBO and the GM should select the manager so that their on the same page. Let’s face it, the manager has one vote and he isn’t autonomous anymore when it comes to lineup and pitching use. Dave Robert’s said that he didn’t want the recent bullpen game in the playoffs the he only had one vote. Your point that a manager has “tactical control” based on “analytical data to guide decisions ” is spot on.

    • TexasGusCC

      I had not heard that quote from Roberts on only having one vote. I did witness him pulling relievers in the middle of an inning that retired all their hitters and had no one on base. I did witness him pitching to a white hit Escobar instead of facing the cold Duvall behind him. I did witness that he used Scherzer unnecessarily in Game 5 when Kelley Jansen was rolling and losing Scherzer for Game 1. The Dodgers should have killed Atlanta, and yet they couldn’t get out of their way in geniusness and so Atlanta moves on.

      Whenever I read someone writing that a manager or a coach isn’t that big a deal, I just shudder. More talented teams lost because of a bad manager, than talented teams that won despite a bad manager. Same in coaching in any sport. The best thing Theo Epstein did when Maddon became available was to fire the manager, Rick Renteria, he had just hired the month before to grab a superior manager. That’s why they won.

  • Wobbit

    Any FO honcho worth having understands that a good manager is very important and not to be overlooked. I stand behind my assumption that the good managers inordinately win games that the bad managers cannot. If a third of the games played are essentially toss-ups (54 games), the good managers go 36-18, and the bad managers suck the exhaust. And while one cannot give the manager all the credit for those wins, I know that games are won in any of the nine innings and that team attitude and professional preparation and execution is the difference.
    I estimate conservatively a 10-game difference in the W-L record. Debatable, I know, and impossible to measure… blah blah

  • T.J.

    -11.5,-9,-11,-13,-27. These are the games back the Mets have finished over the last 5 seasons. That -9 was accomplished in a 60 game season.

    I would like the Mets to hire a great manager. They certainly haven’t had a great manager in a long time. But it is hard to believe that a great manager alone would make up those annual deficits, especially with the way baseball and baseball games are run in the modern day. It strikes me as more perception than reality, but perception should not be completely dismissed. For this reason I would prefer an experienced manager.

    This was a good outline of potential candidates, and there are some others I’m sure, and plenty with experience. Hopefully, whomever is making the call, will match the right guy to this team, its personnel, and its market.

  • Wobbit

    Maybe hire Showalter or Bochy for 2 year deal and let him run the team 100%, with absolutely no interference from the FO. It could be the “grand experiment.”

    I happen to think the starting pitchers want to go deeper into games, not be yanked after x number of pitches. Old school may be old, but it doesn’t mean it’s still not the best way to play the game.

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