BY LESLIE MONTEIRO
(Photo credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports)
Hiring Buck Showalter as Mets manager was the only choice.
With due respect to finalists Tampa Bay Rays bench coach Matt Quatraro and Houston Astros bench coach Joe Espada, it would have been a hard sell to hire either of them to manage the Mets after hiring three unproven managers that flopped in Mickey Callaway, Carlos Beltran (yes, he did not manage, but the Mets hired him knowing he was involved in the Astros sign-stealing cheating scandal) and Luis Rojas.
Here’s why Showalter was the only choice: He brings gravitas and credibility to an organization that really needs it. He was a three-time Manager of the Year for his work with the Yankees, Texas Rangers and Baltimore Orioles. After 20 seasons and 3,069 games of managerial experience, he saw everything that he didn’t see before. He also will bring respect that his predecessors couldn’t bring.
Quatraro and Espada are unknowns. Showalter is a known commodity in the sense he can handle the New York media and spotlight. He understands what’s coming. He is the only guy that can eliminate distractions or problems that can creep in the clubhouse by bringing in professionalism in the dugout that has been lacking since Terry Collins departed as the Mets manager. We know what we will see from Showalter is what we get because he knows what he’s doing.
The Mets can be taken seriously as a playoff contender under Showalter. You can bet they won’t be outfoxed, outworked and out managed. He gives the Mets the best chance to win.
Showalter knows how to manage a bullpen as he demonstrated as the Orioles manager during the 2014 postseason. A mark of a manager stems from putting guys in a position to succeed, and managing a bullpen fits that criteria. He has a good feel for the game in the sense he can observe what’s going on during the game and make adjustments. He knows how to scout and develop players.
There can be no question he is driven. We know most managers are driven to win, but not to the level Showalter does to the point it may have been too much for the players and his bosses in the end. But with the Mets, his style is a great thing. This team needs a culture shock badly. In recent years, the clubhouse atmosphere turned out to be a country-club atmosphere where playing hard is optional and winning games were not that important. Too many times, players such as Marcus Stroman, Pete Alonso and Jeff McNeil may have been worried about stats than wins.
Some say managers don’t matter in today’s baseball because the front office influenced most of the decisions. This is true, but in New York, managers matter more because of the media scrutiny and fan pressure that infiltrates the clubhouse. There has to be a manager out there who can handle it and take the heat that goes with the territory of managing a New York team. This can’t be overlooked. This was where Callaway and Rojas failed badly there, and it would have been foolish to try another inexperienced manager again.
This is a win-now team in the sense this team has to make the playoffs at least. I don’t know if they can win a championship, but they have a fighting chance with newly signed Max Scherzer, Jacob deGrom, Francisco Lindor and Alonso. This is where Showalter helps them a lot more than an inexperienced manager would in this situation.
He also can bring a fresh perspective of what plagued the team and organization from a distance. He was an analyst for the MLB Network and YES Network. There’s no doubt he watches baseball games, and even if he was not on television, he would have watched baseball because he is a baseball junkie. There’s no question he has to know so much about the Mets or else he wouldn’t have been hired in the first place.
Critics scoff at Showalter only winning one playoff series in his managerial career. If that’s his only crime, it could be a lot worse.
This was an opportunity to hire a proven manager that knows what he is doing. Opportunities like that don’t come often. Showalter being available was something Mets owner Steve Cohen couldn’t ignore. He couldn’t regret not hiring him when he was out there.
Showalter comes home after starting his career with the New York Yankees. He likely will finish his managerial career in New York by managing the Mets. This is his last chance to show he can win a championship, and he has that opportunity with an owner who will spend big to win as he demonstrated by signing Lindor to an extension and signing Scherzer as a free agent.
Showalter’s homecoming is about making good and doing good. It’s about winning a championship in a city where he started. It’s about bringing the Mets a much-needed championship that they lacked since 1986. It’s about him having a chance to be in the Baseball Hall of Fame if he can win a championship with the Mets. He has an incentive to take the job other than just being back in the game and doing what he loves.
If he can win a championship with the Mets to finish off a great career, it would be a wonderful story.
Not only he has a good chance to win with the Mets, but they can win with him.
This choice only made sense to hire him as the Mets manager.
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