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New York Isn’t Place For Retread Managers

Seeing the reactions to the Mets hiring of Luis Rojas, you think people have confused the lyrics of Frank Sinatra’s anthem to be, “If you can’t make it there, you can make it anywhere.”

From Keith Hernandez to other media members, Rojas was met with skepticism because he’s never managed at the Major League level. We see responses this job required a veteran manager, as we saw with many, like ESPN‘s Chris Carlin, “This isn’t supposed to be the place where you learn.”

Even with Carlin taking a beating from Mets players like Pete Alonso and Marcus Stroman for his criticisms of Rojas, it’s fair to say Carlin wasn’t alone in that position. Overall, there is a prevailing notion New York is not a place where you can hire a new manager or coach and expect him to succeed.

This is complete and utter nonsense, and there are plenty of examples which prove it.

In 1984, the Mets hired Davey Johnson to be their manager. He had a similar managerial background to Rojas, and he would also usher in the greatest stretch in Mets history.

In 1995, after Pat Riley resigned from the Knicks, the team moved quickly to hire Don Nelson, who was about as poor a fit as you could have for the Knicks roster. He was replaced by Jeff Van Gundy, who proved to be one of the best head coaches in Knicks history.

The New York Giants had success and went to a Super Bowl under Jim Fassel, who had no previous head coaching experience, and the team flopped under Pat Shurmur, who had previous head coaching experience with the Cleveland Browns.

Obviously, there are examples in the reverse.

Bobby Valentine was a terrific manager for the Mets. Tom Coughlin won two Super Bowls with the Giants. John Tortorella brought the New York Rangers back to prominence.

Joe Torre was the manager for the last Yankees dynasty, but by the same token Aaron Boone, who had absolutely no previous managerial experience, has led the Yankees to consecutive 100 win seasons.

Therein lies the point.

New York isn’t just a tough place to play or manage. It is a place which demands the best. Somehow along the way, people have misinterpreted that to say you need people who have failed elsewhere.

For the Mets, that means people believe Rojas was not the right guy for this job, and the team instead should have hired Dusty Baker or Buck Showalter.

Both Baker and Showalter are justifiably respected baseball men. They’ve developed players and in many instances outperformed expectations in each and every stop. If you hire either one of them, you’re in very good hands, and you’re lucky to have them.

One thing with both of them is they’ve yet to win a World Series. You don’t hear that now, but it’s something you’ll hear if the Mets are fortunate enough to be in the postseason.

The point there is narratives shift and emerge as fit. If Dusty or Buck came to the Mets and won, they’d be a great story about finally winning. If they didn’t win, we’d hear how neither can win the big one, and the Mets need to move on from a manager who lifted Russ Ortiz too soon or one who didn’t use Zack Britton.

Even the best of managers available have their flaws. Ultimately, that’s why they’re available. The best any team can do, be it a New York team or a team anywhere else, is look at the candidates and make the best decision possible.

That can be someone like Buck or Dusty, and it can be someone like Rojas. For the Mets, they rightfully opted on the manager who knows this team inside and out, has their respect, and has shown he can get the most out of their talent. This is very similar to when the Mets hired Davey Johnson, who was not a retread, but rather, a first time Major League manager.

Ultimately, with Johnson, Parcells, Coughlin, and Van Gundy, and everyone else who has passed through this city, we’ve learned the only qualifications which matter for a manager or head coach is who is the most talented and who is the best fit for the roster.

Any other consideration is just noise, and oft times results in a mistake.

49 thoughts on “New York Isn’t Place For Retread Managers”

  1. LongTimeFan1 says:

    I think Rojas’s extensive family pedigree as well-known baseball lifers, fuels the massive support he has among beat writers, and even fans.

    Otherwise, Rojas would be a no-name, very young manager the players love, but everyone, including most vocal fans mock as Luis “who?”and that he’s manager because Wilpons are cheap and Jeff and Brodie want to control in every way.

    Instead, he’s universally supported.

    And that’s fine with me. He seems to have the skills, intellect, respect, communication abilities, minor league managerial background, player support and leadership to succeed.

  2. LongTimeFan1 says:

    Just to respond to the tiff between Old Backstop and MetsDaddy, Buck Showalter at 35, was promoted by the Yankees to manage the big league team. He had no big league experience.

    1. metsdaddy says:

      And there you have it

      1. LongTimeFan1 says:

        Just to clarify, Showalter never managed above AA, but was a Yankees coach for 2 years prior to becoming manager. Like Rojas, never played in the majors.

        He was also 3 years younger than Rojas, when first managing,in majors, played longer in the minors, had less coaching/managing experience in minors, but a year more coaching in majors, but didn’t come from a well known baseball family.

    2. Blair M. Schirmer says:

      Worth noting, too, that the Yankees were coming off 5th, 7th, and 5th place finishes out of 7 teams. There was, sensibly, an opening for Showalter, a young guy who had come up through the NYY system, managing extremely well and getting excellent results, with records of .705, .766, .616, .515, and .657 in low A, A ball, and AA.

      The MLB Yankees had not make the postseason in a *decade* at that point. Handing over the reins to a veritable kid and trying something very different for the 1992 season where little was expected of the team–that was a smart move. If there was ever a time to make that kind of move, the 1992 season in Queens was precisely that time.

      I think it’s a very different situation with a team like the Mets who are watching the window close, rather than open, and are expected or at least are trying to win now.

      1. metsdaddy says:

        If you’re trying to win now, isn’t the manager who has proven he can manage this group effectively the exact right guy for the job?

        1. Blair M. Schirmer says:

          Effectively? Well, if that’s your criterion, it must be pointed out that Rojas, in eight years of managing in the Mets system, from 2011 through 2018 has finished:

          8th, 6, 4, 2, 7, 5, 2, and 9th.

          1. metsdaddy says:

            I’m not sure how the minor league records and finishes are a reflection on his ability to manage players, especially the players on the Mets roster.

          2. Blair M. Schirmer says:

            @metsdaddy – If you have a better criterion than finishes I’m all ears, but you did say “effective,” after all, and these 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, and 9th place finishes are not on their face examples of effectiveness (on the contrary), particularly in the context of these teams having had at least enough talent to usefully feed the 2015, 2016, and 2019 major league Mets teams.

            What example more concrete than the above is on offer that presumes to demonstrate Rojas’ effectiveness as a manager?

          3. metsdaddy says:

            Look at the development of his players.

            Minor league team records are nothing more than noise

  3. Blair M. Schirmer says:

    Because I’m not an optimist by nature:

    The Mets won 86 and added Michael Wacha, Rick Porcello, Jake Marisnick, and Dellin Betances.

    The Braves? They won 97 and added Will Smith, Cole Hamels, Travis D’Arnaud, Will Harris, Chris Martin, Adeiny Hechavarria, Darren O’Day,* Nick Markakis, and Marcell Ozuna.

    *career ERA+: 168, 2nd all-time if he had enough ip.

    1. LongtimeFan1 says:

      If I’m not mistaken, Mets had the best second half in the NL East and showed unrelenting heart and resiliency after a disappointing first half.

      This Mets team is very good and I think deeper now than when season ended.

      Both the Braves and Nats lost key offensive players – top third basemen – Donaldson and Rendon.

      We have a hungry, strong core who came close to the playoffs and are determined to get there.

      1. metsdaddy says:

        I think this Mets team is not as good as the one which ended the 2019 season, but I still think it could compete even if I think they’re the fourth best team in the division.

        1. LongTimeFan1 says:

          The only consequential subtraction was Wheeler, but I think the depth and hunger in Porcello (born and bred as Mets fan) and Wacha, plus upgrades from Betances, Marisnick, and hopefully healthy return of two proven players in Cespedes and Lowrie, essentially replacing Frazier, make us stronger.

          Then replacing Callaway with Beltran/Rojas, Riggleman with Meulens, adding the very, very smart Hefner while retaining Regan in the organization as he has for years and will be there in Spring Training, – these are all meaningful steps forward.

          1. metsdaddy says:

            Going from Wheeler to Porcello is a huge downgrade, and Wacha isn’t all that good.

            I like Betances if he’s healthy, and Marisnick is just another Lagares, except now, he’s not getting the signs.

            I think the only place this team is better is manager and bench coach. Let’s hope that’s enough.

      2. Blair M. Schirmer says:

        @LongTimeFan1 – I’d like to agree, since I’d much rather root for a 92 win Mets team than an 84 win team, but that’s the very definition of cherry picking. To make that argument successfully, you have to be able to say why the second half was more credible and representative of the talent on hand than the first half, and why we should project the 2020 Mets based on the 2nd half of the 2019 season rather than the 1st half–particularly in the face of the unfortunate truth that basing a team’s projection on its *entire* season is historically what returns the most accurate results.

        But there’s no basis beyond preference for going by the 2nd half rather than the 1st half, or to go by the 2nd half rather than the entire season. This wasn’t a young team that figured out how to play in MLB and took off in July, or a team missing good, injured players who came back after the all-star break. It was a team a little older than the average who got about as lucky in the 2nd half as it got unlucky in the 1st half.

        Look at the performance, overall. Player by player this was a team that did a little better than they projected to do, got a little luckier than we could have expected, and even then they only won 86 and were never a strong bet to make the postseason.

        If there’s credible information showing veteran teams that stepped it up without any major additions in the second half then carried their 2nd half performance into the following season, I’d like to hear it, since as I said that’s the Mets team I’d like to root for in 2020–but as far as I know that information doesn’t exist because that’s not what happens. Veteran teams are projectable based on entire seasons, not half seasons.

  4. LongTimeFan1 says:

    I’ve been diehard Mets fan for 50 years and have no problem with the promotion of Rojas as manager.

    His background, history, intellect, passion, communicative abilities, old school/new school combo, plus broad support from the players, front office an other inside and outside the Mets, givesme confidence he’ll do the job well. I don’t think a retread such as Buck or Baker is necessary.

    Furthermore, Rojas has massive endorsement from Bruce Bochy who knows him since he was a kid. And Bochy’s right hand man with Giants,, Hensley Meulens, will be alongside Rojas collaborating.. I was skeptical about Rojas until I did further research to learn more about him and what those who know him say.

    1. metsdaddy says:

      As I said elsewhere, just look at who is saying what about Rojas.

      Baseball people LOVE this hire

      1. LongTimeFan1 says:

        A lot of them indeed do. He’s no ordinary 38 year old minor league manager. His pedigree since he was a kid, is off the charts. Felipe, Jesus, Matty, Moises.

        I’ve seen all of them play the game really well. Rojas was born into this family and learned from them since he was a child.

        He then incorporated those lessons into his coaching and managing while also becoming highly adept at sabermetrics.

        He has history with most, if not all our homegrowns. He’s nurtured them as players and people and then re-united with them last year in the majors.

        Furthermore, he’s now the Mets new manager and we all ought to rally behind him, welcome him into the helm and support him as he works his butt off to help bring home a championship.

  5. LongTimeFan1 says:

    I have lots of confidence in both Wacha and Porcello. Both still young, both having had some fine seasons which includes Cy Young, all star games and postseason.

    Marisnick is better defensive player than Lagares, is faster, healthier, is still in his 20’s, was a Top 100 prospect. Still has upside.

    Did he sign steal on offense, or benefit? I don’t know, but even assuming so with improved power in 2017, none of that helped his biggest problem – high K’s. That’s where he needs to improve. If Mets help him do so, he’ll be on base more with his fine abilty to steal bases with the same foot speed as Rosario per Statcast.

    1. metsdaddy says:

      Personally, I think Porcello has a nice bounceback year, but I don’t see him as good as Wheeler.

      I have less than zero expectations for Wacha, but I hope you’re right about him.

  6. LongTimeFan1 says:

    According to Mets press release, Rojas played minor league ball from 1999-2005 for Orioles, Expos and Marlins. Baseball-Reference lists 2001-2004.

    According to what I read in the NY Post,, he retired early as a player at 23, due to injuries.

    https://nypost.com/2020/01/22/who-is-luis-rojas-new-mets-manager-is-rising-star-with-baseball-in-his-blood/

    Rojas was also quoted as saying he grew up loving the managerial side and wanting to be part of that more than playing.

    For those who don’t know, Luis Rojas managed in winter ball and according to Felipe Alou, is tough job and he always won.

    https://nypost.com/2020/01/22/felipe-alou-my-son-luis-rojas-is-ready-and-wont-cheat-the-game/

    https://nypost.com/2020/01/23/chili-davis-happy-to-help-luis-rojas-he-loves-the-mets/

    The Rays apparently viewed him as rising star and wanted to hire him last offseason for major league coach so Mets promoted him to the majors as both outfield and Quality Control coach.. If I’m not mistaken, wasn’t the very well-regarded Chaim Bloom the Rays GM at the time?

    1. metsdaddy says:

      He was.

  7. LongTimeFan1 says:

    According to Mets press release, Rojas played minor league ball from 1999-2005 for Orioles, Expos and Marlins. Baseball-Reference lists 2001-2004.

    According to what I read in the NY Post,, he retired early as a player at 23, due to injuries.

    https://nypost.com/2020/01/22/who-is-luis-rojas-new-mets-manager-is-rising-star-with-baseball-in-his-blood/

    Rojas was also quoted as saying he grew up loving the managerial side and wanting to be part of that more than playing.

    For those who don’t know, Luis Rojas managed in winter ball and according to Felipe Alou, is tough job and he always won.

    https://nypost.com/2020/01/22/felipe-alou-my-son-luis-rojas-is-ready-and-wont-cheat-the-game/

    https://nypost.com/2020/01/23/chili-davis-happy-to-help-luis-rojas-he-loves-the-mets/

    The Rays apparently viewed him as rising star and wanted to hire him last offseason for major league coach so Mets promoted him to the majors as both outfield and Quality Control coach.. If I’m not mistaken, wasn’t the very well-regarded Chaim Bloom the Rays GM at that time?

    1. LongTimeFan1 says:

      To Blair M. Schirmer,

      In response your 1/23/20 post at 11:22 pm.

      Of course second halves matter. Finishing strong carries into the next season, and the in-season break between the halves is a form of renewal. The 2019 team showed incredible resiliency when some teams would have folded after a rather disappointing first half. There’s indeed a reason why statistical splits include first and second half performance for both player and team and is referenced many times by fans, players, teams, media, statistical analysts, player agents.

      The Mets still relatively young core of position players discovered how good they can be together and that a poor first half is no reason to fold up the tent. Players grew and matured together. Conforto grew as a quite leader and Alonso cemented himself as the go-to guy, looking like future Mets captain should he be bestowed that honor down the road.

      As for concrete second half events, Mets essentially replaced the blah Vargas with the energetic, dynamic, big competitor, locally born Stroman who finished strong after initial struggle as Met.

      Robinson Cano had a bounce back second half after an outlier first half.

      Brandon Nimmo returned healthy and was his old self.

      We obtained Brad Brach who was solid pen addition and bleeds orange and blue growing up Mets fan.

      Zach Wheeler pulled off his second consecutive strong second half netting a huge contract. He’s obviously not returning to us, but I’m happy with the 2-pitcher depth we’ve added in Porcello and Wacha for rotation options.

      Porcello also bleeds orange and biue having grown up Mets fan.

      Degrom’s second half propelled him to his second consecutive Cy Young and he’s hungry for a third and a ring.

      Amed Rosario had an eye opening second half, definitive progress in his development on both sides of ball.

      JD Davis proved he’s a quality, bona fide big league hitter even when teams adjusted to him.

      I don’t view 86 wins as “just” 86 wins. That’s 10 games over .500 after two consecutive losing seasons and in first season of the Brodie regime. They fell several games short of wild card but now these players return excited to get things going and play both halves well. They recognize that just a few games at any point in the season can be difference between playoffs and going home. Now they take these important lessons into spring training, and the 2020 season.

      Moreover, they now have a 3-time World Series champion bench coach, a new manager they love who helped shape them as players and men in the minors, a very bright young pitching coach with new age teaching, and a full spring training with the respected Phil Regan.

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