Luis Rojas A Convenient Fall Guy For Mets
It was never set up for Luis Rojas to succeed as the manager of the New York Mets. With his firing, which is what happened when the Mets didn’t pick up his option, it was deemed Rojas did not succeed.
In 2020, he took over a team after Carlos Beltran was forced out without managing a game. He had to take over a team in Spring Training with a coaching staff he didn’t assemble, and by the way, a once in a century pandemic hit.
That season didn’t go as hoped. Noah Syndergaard needing Tommy John and Marcus Stroman opting out probably ended that season before it began.
Entering this season, there were massive expectations, and understandably so given the ownership change and Francisco Lindor trade. That said, the cards would be stacked against Rojas a bit.
Unless you count his two late September appearances as an opener, Syndergaard didn’t start a game. Carlos Carrasco didn’t pitch until July 30, and he was rushed.
The injuries really were the story and the problem. Of course, the biggest injury was Jacob deGrom. In the midst of what was his best year, he went down.
Michael Conforto had COVID, got hurt, and faltered. Lindor struggled to adjust, and when he did, he got hurt. At one point, there were so many injures, James McCann had to play first base for a stretch.
Keep in mind, the Mets entered the season without a third baseman or left fielder. Dominic Smith can hit (when he wasn’t playing through injuries like he did all year) and he can play a terrific first, but he’s just not a left fielder.
This was the year where ReplaceMets were a thing. Patrick Mazeika and Brandon Drury were getting plate appearances in big spots (because there was no other options), and they were delivering.
Eventually, the replacements to the replacements got hurt. Eventually, the dam had to break.
Despite everything, Rojas had the Mets in first place at the trade deadline by 3.5 games. At various times, even if it was just in passing, he was mentioned as a potential Manager of the Year.
The pitching was on fumes, and the best the Mets could do at the trade deadline was Trevor Williams. The Mets thought so highly of him, he was immediately assigned to Syracuse.
Eventually, the magic touch wore off, but then again, when Albert Almora is on your bench, you don’t need magic; you need a miracle. There were no miracles forthcoming.
We saw the cracks in the team. The offense who shifted from Chili Davis to Hugh Quattlebaum never clicked. The barren upper levels of the minors leagues left behind by Brodie Van Wagenen haunted the team. Ultimately, there were just too many injuries which probably should’ve been expected a year after the 2020 COVID impacted season.
There were embarrassments like the first Mets GM Jared Porter being fired for harassment. The next, Zack Scott, took a leave of absence after his DUI arrest during the season. While not of the same vein, there was the Javier Báez-Lindor thumbs down drama.
At some point, the team we all thought would win the World Series became a flat out bad team. They’d set a record by being in first place for as long as they did only to finish under .500.
Yes, during this time, Rojas made some bizarre moves. While the focus was on that, his successes were overlooked, downplayed, or not acknowledged. That’s unfortunate.
What’s also unfortunate was after what was only one full season, Rojas was fired. He never got the opportunity to learn and grow as a manager. He didn’t get to build on the things he did well.
Instead, he’s out as manager.
With the collapse, this was obviously coming. After all, Sandy Alderson wasn’t going to fire himself for punting the trade deadline and having his big time hires blow up in his face.
Between the need for a fall guy and the Mets pursuing a new president of baseball operations, Rojas was as good as gone. After all, the new POBO would want his own guy as manager.
The end result was Rojas losing his job as manager. It’s unfortunate because he never really had a chance. It’s very likely he will get that chance somewhere else, and he will very likely do well.
Until then, it’s incumbent on the Mets to prove they did the right thing. If Rojas’ all too brief tenure is any lesson, that stats and ends with building your roster because no manager, no matter how good, is going to be able to win without two regular players, shallow pitching depth, and all those injuries.