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Davey Johnson Should Be Considered For Mets Manager

If the Mets really want to flip the script and get people excited about this team, perhaps they should make a bold and daring decision when hiring a manager to replace Carlos Beltran.

To that end, people have floated names like Dusty Baker and Buck Showalter.

With Baker and Showalter, you’re getting a manager who is a name which should drive up some excitement with Mets fans. They’re also established managers with a very good track record of success. More than that, they’re respected throughout the game.

Mostly, with Baker or Showalter, you get instant credibility. Of course, they’re also older managers, especially Baker, so they’re presumably very short term fixes. Although, Showalter could presumably be around longer.

In the end, if the Mets are going to go the route of a short-term fix who will excite the fanbase and give the team some instant credibility, why don’t they see if Davey Johnson would like to return to manage the Mets in 2020?

Johnson has the most wins as a manager in Mets history (595), and his .588 winning percentage remains the best all-time. To put into perspective of how dominant a run he and the Mets had in the 1980s, that winning percentage equates to a 95 win team, which unlike the 1980s all but ensures a postseason berth.

No, hiring Johnson doesn’t guarantee 95 wins. However, it speaks to what Johnson did with extremely talented Mets teams. The 2020 Mets could be one of those teams with Pete Alonso, Michael Conforto, Jacob deGrom, Jeff McNeil, Brandon Nimmo, Amed Rosario, and Noah Syndergaard.

Johnson is also no stranger to handling intense media scrutiny during a season. After all, he was the Mets manager when Keith Hernandez was dealing with the drug trials, and Dwight Gooden was suspended for cocaine.

No, Davey wasn’t perfect, but he was good. For his faults, he was a players manager who has always been open to using data and analytics to make the best decisions possible. As evidenced by Bryce Harper speaking well of him, even at his age, he’s been able to reach the modern player.

When you look at it, it’s Johnson’s age which could be the biggest impediment. Typically speaking, you don’t see many 76 year old managers, not unless they are team legends like Jack McKeon (Marlins).

However, as a short term fix, you’d be surprised if the Mets found Johnson’s age to be an impediment to his being a 1-2 year stopgap. After all, this is the same team who elevated 82 year old Phil Regan to be their interim pitching coach last year.

The real issue with Johnson’s age is whether at 76 he wants to manage again.

Back in 2014, after he was fired by the Nationals, he said, “If someone called me and said, ‘You wanna work?’ ” Johnson said, “I’d look at it and maybe take it. I might. It would have to be a big challenge.” (James Wagner, The Washington Post).

Recently, Johnson wrote a book entitled Davey Johnson: My Wild Ride in Baseball and Beyond, which at least sounded like a coda to his career in baseball. His interview with Mathew Brownstein of MMO also gave that impression.

Still, his co-author, Erik Sherman told The Hardball Times, “Yes, I think Davey would have liked to keep managing for a while longer.  He still watches Nationals games on television whenever he can.”

We also saw Johnson not get elected into the Hall of Fame. While he says he doesn’t care that much about that, being passed over may still sting, and he may want to find his way into Cooperstown. One great year with the 2020 Mets could do that.

In the end, the Mets are in an almost impossible situation. They don’t have a manager with less than a month before Spring Training begins. Their credibility has taken yet another massive hit, and no matter who they hire, that new manager is going to face intense scrutiny and be a referendum on the front office.

Hiring a veteran manager could help insulate the Mets from criticism, and a veteran manager can handle some of the messaging and deflect some of the negativity. Ideally, that manager could create excitement for the fanbase.

If he wants the job, and the Mets are willing to go in that direction, Davey Johnson could be everything the Mets and their fans need and want from their manager. If nothing else, that should at least prompt a phone call.

23 thoughts on “Davey Johnson Should Be Considered For Mets Manager”

  1. Mike Reuther says:

    Davey Johnson? Why not?

    1. metsdaddy says:

      As far as I see it there are only two reasons why:

      1. Davey Johnson is retired and doesn’t want to return

      2. They’re hiring Luis Rojas

      1. Rich Hausig says:

        I want to flip the script too
        Bobby V.
        When you need to manage drama you call in an expert. Hed win with this group.

        1. metsdaddy says:

          I’m here for Bobby V

  2. LongTimeFan1 says:

    Oh sure, Davey Johnson who turns 77 in 10 days and is 40 years older than the Mets oldest player. Managing in the majors in 2020, and especially in New York, is a 24/7 365 exhausting job. It’s been 7 years since Davey last managed, hanging it up at 70.

    Who’s MetsDaddy’s next headline? Queen Elizabeth?

    My bet is on Hensley Muelens. He’s as ready as any coach to take that next step. Three rings working with no-doubt Hall of Fame manager Bruce Bochey. Bench coach, hitting coach, played in New York, plus outside managerial experience. Red Sox are reportedly interested as well.

    1. metsdaddy says:

      Yes, the same Johnson who was able to connect with a broad spectrum of player suddenly cannot anymore because, well, there has to be some example, right?

      Because dismissing someone’s ability to do a job just because of age, especially after seeing Phil Regan in action, would be pure nonsense.

  3. LongTimeFan1 says:

    I’m not an advocate for age discrimination but there has to be some realism that aligns with the nature of the job. Phil Regan at 82, took over for several months and was pitching coach, not manager. Being manager in 2020, and in New York is a whole other animal. Regan did great job but rather than retain him as head pitching coach, Mets turned to 34 year old Jeremy Hefner.

    Age does indeed factor in certain jobs, ones that are exceedingly demanding like managing in New York which is 24/7 365 job, reams of travel, 18, perhaps 20 hour days if that manager is truly dedicated to it.

    This isn’t 1986, or even 2013 when Davey last managed. Two formal press conferences a day, bloggers, social media, local and national beat writers, outside events, unplanned happenstance and crisis, reams of analytics and data to digest, daily collaboration with front office, large coaching staff, medical personnel, 40-man and 26 man rosters of empowered players to get to know and communicate with. At 77, he’d be more than twice the age of his oldest player who may not be able to relate to him.

    Furthermore, and perhaps most crucial, how long do you think Davey could manage? 78, 79, 80? How many times do we look for new manager rather than settling into one qualified, good fit who can lead for long time and with continuity? Could Davey Johnson at 77, 78, etc, throw batting practice, participate in drills or work with players on skills that managers do even today? Beltran was surely going to work hands-on.. If Davey takes over for Beltran, who’s our base-stealing, base running coach?

    1. metsdaddy says:

      Personally, I’d hire Davey for one year, and I’d use it as a grooming opportunity for Rojas.

      Overall, if he’s up for it, I’d eminently trust him.

  4. Dr. Hyperion says:

    Davy Johnson is not a bold enough choice. Let’s go with Casey Stengel’s head in a futurama jar for manager. Guaranteed sell outs and playoffs.

  5. Blair M. Schirmer says:

    Showalter is 14 years younger than Davey, has handled franchises in crisis, and at 63 might still have the juice to handle the contemporary workload LongTimeFan1 so ably described.

    Could Davey do it? Maybe, but I wouldn’t bet on it. He’d almost certainly have to do less than that. And even if he can at the start of the year, what do you do if and when he has to miss time? What if it’s a lot of time? It’s not that unlikely, so why invite it? If you’re going the route of “guy who has been around a long time, is respected around the game, knows his stuff,” why not go with Showalter?

    If it comes down to Johnson’s connection to the 1986 Mets versus Showalter being under 75, I’d take the latter as the better bet. If Davey was 63, then sure. See what he’s doing these days. But, unfortunately, he’s not–and the Beltran blunder wasn’t so catastrophic that the Mets need to roll the dice so precipitously.

    It wasn’t so catastrophic that, if I’m the Mets FO, I don’t just go with my second choice–assuming I had one. That this is actually dragging out tells me there wasn’t a second choice, that Beltran was a compromise candidate, and now they don’t know what to do.

    1. metsdaddy says:

      Look, if the Mets actually want Buck and let Buck be Buck, I’m 100% onboard.

      That said, I don’t think they want that, so the question goes what can you actually do.

      All told, I’m still of the position an Interim makes the most sense, and if you, as a franchise, want to make that splash, Davey Johnson should be in the conversation.

      Hiring him takes a lot of the heat off, and it flips the narrative. You’re also going to get an extremely excited fanbase.

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