As soon as Terry Collins, fighting back tears, stepped down as the Mets manager, it became all the more clear how important this next hire is for general manager Sandy Alderson. Two years of watching the cornerstone of Alderson’s rebuild, the young power pitchers, break down and struggle and this season’s uninspiring slog of injuries and poor play has left the Mets with little excitement and little to be hopeful about in 2018.
So Alderson, who confirmed he will be back leading the organization, needs to make a splash with his manager’s hire. He needs to bring in someone who will turn the page and make people curious and hopeful about a new beginning for the Amazin’s.
That makes me feel like he needs to think outside-the-box on this hire.
The safe pick is someone who cut his teeth someplace else, learning to manage in a smaller market. The expected pick is an analytical savant who speaks the language that the data-driven Alderson has become known for.
It won’t be an easy hire. The Mets manager needs to be able to win, but also must communicate and speak to players and fans and the public through the media on a daily basis.
So far the names associated with the job include three “safety”picks in former managers Bob Geren, Chip Hale and Robin Ventura and three outside-the-box new candidates like Kevin Long, Joe McEwing or Alex Cora.
Sunday, Alderson seemed to indicate that he wouldn’t necessarily be looking for a former major league manager.
“Experience is a positive, but it may be outweighed by other positives, if that experience doesn’t exist,” Alderson said. “You have to look at the total individual. … Experience has to be taken in a larger context also, its not just about managing at the major league level. It’s not just managing at the minor league level. It’s exposure to contemporary trends in the game.
“It’s not surprising you’ve seen managers in recent years not just from the minor leagues and major league coaching staff, but the front office,” Alderson continued. “Experience can be defined in a broader sense than we typically thought of it.”
So Alderson has opened the door for the likes of Long, McEwing and Cora.
Long is believed to be an intriguing candidate to the Mets because of his work as the hitting coach for them over the last two years. He speaks the analytics that Alderson’s front office is so fond of and he’s proven he can communicate them to his hitters. He’s won the trust of Mets players he has worked with and the respect of the organization. Long managed one season in Class-A for the Royals organization. He also is uncertain about returning if not elevated from his current position.
McEwing is another candidate that would excite the front office and the fan base.
He brings experience on the field as a major league infielder/outfielder for nine seasons, including for the Mets from 2000-2004. He also has experience on the bench as the current bench coach for the White Sox and as a minor league manager for three years in their system. McEwing has strong ties to the organization through close friend David Wright, who he took under his wing as a rookie in 2004.
McEwing, a native of Pennsylvania, is quickly becoming one of the hot names for teams looking for managers. The Phillies have already expressed interest in talking to him about their opening.
Cora, the bench coach for the Astros, is also a hot name. After a 14-year major league career, including a stint with the Mets, Cora has been an analyst for ESPN and he he was a general manager of a team in his native Puerto Rico.
Cora’s ability to communicate with the core of Latin American players like Amed Rosario and Yoenis Cespedes effectively in their native language could be an edge as well.
While the Mets need to bring some excitement with this hire, more importantly they need to get someone who can regroup a team that finished 70-92 and get it back on track.
” We’re looking at the ability to do the job as a professional, to do the job as a manager at the major-league level,” Alderson said. “From my standpoint, as we were looking for when Terry was hired.
“As well as the personal qualities that will allow a competent manager to sustain relationships over a period … as long as seven years.”
After the mess of a 2017 season, this is a critical hire for Alderson and the Mets.