How can it be the New York Mets still have not named a replacement for Carlos Beltran?
Keep in mind, the Mets are in a completely different situation here than than the Houston Astros and the Boston Red Sox.
The Astros knew the hammer was going to come down from Major League Baseball, but they presumably did not know or could be quite sure they’d lose AJ Hinch for the year.
Seeing the rulings, the Astros moved quickly, and they fired Hinch to not just attempt to turn the page on the scandal, but to also figure out who was going to be their manager in 2020 and beyond.
The Red Sox seeing Alex Cora‘s level of involvement and knowing he was likely going to face harsher penalties than Hinch fired Cora the day after the report, and they immediately began their search for a new manager.
The Mets waited a few days, and they yielded to what was really a vocal demand from a minority to fire Beltran. Keep in mind, the Mets fired Beltran despite his not being suspended for the 2020 season.
The Astros and Red Sox knew they were going to be without their managers, and they acted accordingly. The Mets did something they did not have to do, and worse yet, they didn’t have a replacement immediately in mind.
Consider, unlike the Astros and Red Sox, the Mets had undertaken a search this offseason to hire a new manager to replace Mickey Callaway.
The Mets know or should know who can be a manager of the Mets. They also know or should know who could handle this situation. And yes, with this being New York and the Mets, this is something which should have been contemplated.
Herein lies the problem.
They’re also not going back into their candidate pool. Eduardo Perez was one of the finalists, and he has not been contacted again. The Milwaukee Brewers see their bench coach Pat Murphy as an ideal fit, but the Mets aren’t repursuing him.
After reading Mike Puma’s report in the New York Post, the Mets are essentially paralyzed “as team executives try to deduce the best way to please the prospective new boss.”
While the Mets are scared about what Cohen will think about a new hire, they’ve failed to realize he’s watching them fumbling through this process.
Like all of us, Cohen sees the Mets being completely reactionary and not remotely proactive in their handling of Beltran. We all see the Mets fire Beltran without a plan in place.
The Mets could’ve fired Beltran, and they could’ve held up Rojas as their new manager showing us all their complete faith in him. We could’ve heard why DeFrancesco has the skills to lead the Mets starting in 2020. We could’ve heard about Meulen’s championship pedigree, and why they knew in the short time he’s been with the organization why he was the man for the job.
Of course, that’s not happening because the Mets fired Beltran without a plan. In fact, they fired him without having a clue what direction they’d like to go. The only thing they knew was Cohen was lurking on the horizon, and he was judging them.
When you break it all down, Brodie Van Wagenen’s and Jeff Wilpon’s entire handling of this situation has been inept, and with each passing day, they’re showing Cohen and the whole baseball world, they should not be entrusted with running a baseball organization.
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.
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.
The firing of Carlos Beltran was an unusual one. This wasn’t performance based. Moreover, this wasn’t because of anything he did as a member of the New York Mets.
No, Beltran was fired because of his taking part in the Houston Astros sign stealing two years ago. With the firing, the Mets said cheating is wrong, and they will not be a party to it.
Actually, no, they didn’t.
We know they didn’t because the Mets traded for Jake Marisnick after the scandal broke and while the investigation was pending.
After the report was released, the Mets didn’t release Marisnick even after learning he was a part of an Astros team who cheated. Remember, the Mets thought Beltran cheating merited not just a firing, but also not paying him the money owed on his contract.
Well, if it wasn’t the cheating. Maybe it was the lying. After all, Beltran texted to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, “I’m not aware of that camera. We were studying the opposite team every day.”
The problem is J.D. Davis similarly lied. When he was questioned about it, Davis said, “I have no idea, I was kind of the freshman among the seniors. I have no idea what was going on or what’s really happening.”
— Belly (@theNYCeltic) November 14, 2019
Davis cheated and lied to the press about it. However, unlike Beltran, Davis is still a member of the Mets.
Maybe the Mets want to say there’s a higher standard of conduct for a member of the coaching staff. Whereas players may get wrapped up in cheating, you can’t have that type of conduct from a leader.
So what exactly is the message here?
Cheating is acceptable, but only if you’re not that good at it? We don’t condone high level cheating unless it’s a Ponzi Scheme or insider trading?
As the Mets tell it, they were initially fine with the allegations. Brodie Van Wagenen said, “Anything that happened, happened for another organization with Houston, Major League Baseball . . . But at this point, I don’t see any reason why this is a Mets situation.”
Jeff Wilpon added at the conference call, “I think the change came when the report did come out how prominent he was in it.”
So, the message here with Davis, Marisnick, and Bones, and to a certain extent, Porcello and Betances remain members of the New York Mets, the organization is saying they have ZERO ISSUES WITH CHEATING.
In fact, with the Mets obtaining Marisnick, Porcello, and Betances after news of the scandal broke, they’re saying they actually want players who might’ve cheated or at least have knowledge of it.
The Mets want all of those players in Flushing just as long as they don’t get caught or are specifically implicated. Then, when the attention is directed the Mets way, they’ll pretend to have a problem.
On Thursday, the New York Mets took the nearly unprecedented decision of firing Carlos Beltran before he met with his roster let alone managed one game. It was not only an embarrassing day for the organization, but It also overshadowed Mike Piazza being honored with 31 Piazza Drive in St. Lucie.
Somehow, Mets General Manager Brodie Van Wagenen would make things worse, much worse.
During the ensuing conference call confirming the firing of Beltran, and yes, he clarified it was a firing discrediting the “mutually agreed” press releases, he showed how haphazardly he has handled the entire process of hiring a manager.
First and foremost, Van Wagenen claimed no previous knowledge of widespread information about the allegations about the Houston Astros cheating.
There were reports about the Astros getting caught during the 2018 ALCS. There were rumors throughout the game long before that. However, Van Wagenen who represented players like Nori Aoki, who was on that Astros team says he knew nothing.
Taking him at face value, he eventually knew about it because of Mike Fiers statements confirming the sign stealing. Subsequently, there was a report in The Athletic specifically implicating Beltran. Knowing that, Van Wagenen said he still did not inquire further with Beltran.
More than that, after Fiers public statements, the MLB investigation, and various reports, Van Wagenen traded for Beltran’s former teammate Jake Marisnick.
Van Wagenen said in the conference call he did not speak with Beltran or Marisnick about the investigation, and he did nothing to brace the organization for the potential situation where he may have to fire his manager.
Taking Van Wagenen at face value, he ignored prevalent information, and he purposefully left the organization ill prepared for what they eventually did in firing Beltran.
Of course, much of this does not pass the smell test. That goes double when you consider he is good friends with former Astros manager AJ Hinch.
As an aside, during the conference call, Van Wagenen admitted to speaking with Hinch, which based on when it happened, may have been in violation of Major League Baseball’s rulings.
Van Wagenen has painted himself as someone who either didn’t know or didn’t want to know. That is something entirely unacceptable from a team’s general manager. That goes double when it happens in the course of the hiring of your manager who is a team’s most public representative.
Simply put, what happened with the Mets can’t happen.
They can’t have a GM unaware of widely held information. They can’t have a GM who does nothing to be proactive. It’s even worse when he has the means and connections to do it.
Thursday was as bad a day as it got for the Mets. In addition to the embarrassment of firing Beltran and overshadowing the team honoring Piazza, their employee, Jessica Mendoza, attacked Fiers for being a whistleblower. It should be noted Mendoza was hired by Van Wagenen.
Keep in mind, this was the latest embarrassing day under Van Wagenen’s tenure, and it was another day when Van Wagenen seemed incapable of handling bad situations.
When Mickey Callaway screamed at a reporter and Jason Vargas threatened the reporter, no team suspensions were issued. It took multiple times to get Callaway to apologize, and Vargas’ apology was never forthcoming.
While some have tried to paint the picture as it was an isolated incident with Jacob deGrom, it wasn’t. It happened on multiple occasions. When you look at Van Wagenen’s tenure, he’s already broken MLB rules, and he hired a manager who had broken rules.
Even putting aside what suspicion could arise from that, he has shown he’s not up to the job of being the general manager of the Mets.
In his short tenure, he got the Mets wrapped up into a scandal where his team was not being investigated or implicated in any wrongdoing. He has been ill prepared to handle problems which have arisen with his team, has broken MLB rules, and behind closed doors, he is throwing chairs.
Before you even address his poor player decisions, Van Wagenen has shown himself to be unaware of what has been happening in baseball and has made the Mets ill equipped and ill prepared to handle situations which the team should have seen coming.
Remember, Beltran was purportedly Van Wagenen’s hire, and his failure to conduct the NEEDED vetting before, during, and after embarrassed the organization and led to Beltran’s firing. Seeing Van Wagenen’s tenure and conduct, he should have followed Beltran out the door.
For better or worse, the Mets felt compelled to fire Carlos Beltran before he even managed a game. Accepting the Mets at face value, they were blindsided by this, and they believed this was the best thing to do for the organization.
Hanging over the organization right now is who is going to be the next manager? The longer that question lingers, the worse the Mets look, so it would behoove them to act quickly.
On the one hand, the Mets already did their homework. Beltran was one of several candidates they interviewed, and in the case of Eduardo Perez, some of the very good candidates considered are still available.
However, with all due respect to those candidates, including Perez who could be a good manager, the Mets put their vetting of external candidates for the position when they said in their conference call they were unaware of the widely reported sign stealing reports and rumors, and they did not investigate it nor ask candidates like Beltran about it.
Regardless of the quality of their vetting, the Mets went out and built an entire MLB staff under the presumption Beltran was going to be the manager. More than that, this is a group who has already been working together and formulating plans for Spring Training and the regular season.
It would at least seem an external hire would be counter-productive. This late in the game you would not want anyone reinventing the wheel. Furthermore, a new hire would like some say about a staff which has already been completely filled.
To that end, the Mets best course of action is to hire someone already on the staff. Looking at the staff as it is assembled, the best candidate by far is Luis Rojas.
First and foremost, Rojas has already managed the Mets core. In his time in the minors, he served as a minor league manager for Pete Alonso, Michael Conforto, Jeff McNeil, Brandon Nimmo, Amed Rosario, and others.
Rojas has had a hand in their development and success. Moreover, they respect him.
Looking at the complete roster, Rojas was one of the holdovers from Mickey Callaway‘s staff. In his role as quality control coach, he was a liaison between the front office and the clubhouse handling strategy, preparation, and utilization of analytics.
Rojas is already aware of the front office expectations are, has dealt with them on a daily basis, and he’s developed relationships with the Mets players.
On the latter point, Tim Healey of Newsday reports, “The Mets promoting Luis Rojas to manager would go over very well in the clubhouse.”
Overall, when looking at Rojas, it’s the smoothest possible transition. He’s respected by the front office and clubhouse, and he’s seen my many to be someone who could be a very good manager one day. Looking at it from that perspective, he’s the natural choice.
That said we should all be keenly aware the Mets didn’t hire him. In fact, he wasn’t even a finalist for the managerial position.
Presumably, whatever issues led the Mets to believe Rojas was not the best candidate for the job still exist. To that extent, it would not be the best decision to name Rojas the manager when the team had some reservations about his being the manager in 2020.
Taking that and everything into consideration, the Mets should name Rojas as the interim manager.
After all, anyone who is named now should be named as an interim. As noted, the Mets vetting had its issues, and they’re going to hire someone to lead a staff they had no input in its choosing.
Moreover, this is late in the game. In many ways, this is not much different than Beltran having been fired mid-season. In those circumstances, teams routinely name an interim manager so they can conduct a full scale search for a manager in the offseason.
Perhaps, the Mets should be doing that anyway as they will have a new majority owner at some point during the 2020 season.
As it pertains to Rojas, the decision has its benefits. It allows him to prove himself with some of the heat taken off. There will be fewer articles about the Mets rushing the process to hire someone who might not have been ready, and instead, there will be more of a focus on how he improves. Ideally, at some point, there will be articles about how the Mets should remove the interim tag.
Ultimately, the Mets firing Beltran has had them lose who they thought was the best man for the job. Other candidates like Derek Shelton have accepted positions elsewhere. This is a bad situation which can be made worse by rushing the process and hiring the wrong guy.
Accordingly, the best course of action is the smoothest transition possible with Rojas at the helm with an opportunity to prove he’s truly the man for the job.
There is going to be a lot to be said here and other places about the New York Mets and Carlos Beltran “mutually agreeing to part ways,” but one thing remains clear – the Mets were unwilling to weather the storm and stand by their manager.
Despite the Mets profiting from a Ponzi Scheme and selling the team to a person who has paid the largest ever insider trading fine, this is apparently where they draw the line.
Perhaps, it shouldn’t come as a surprise with Jeff Wilpon having been alleged to fire a pregnant employee because he was not married, but the Mets have stood by their people who have committed violent acts against women.
In 2004, the Arizona Diamondbacks fired Wally Backman before he managed one game after discovering his previous arrests for drunk driving and for a fight with his wife.
He’d be unemployable for Major League teams for years, and he’d have to resort to managing in the independent leagues. Eventually, the Mets brought him back to the organization and gave him a job for six years.
The Mets found a way to give him a second chance and stand by him. That applied even as he pushed Jack Leathersich‘s physical limits and might’ve had a significant role in Leathersich’s career altering injuries.
In 2015, Jose Reyes was arrested for a violent altercation in their Hawaii hotel room which led to her being taken to the hospital for treatment. For this altercation, he was suspended for 51 games and released by the Colorado Rockies.
Later in that 2016 season, the Mets signed him. They then picked up his option for 2017, and despite his being among the worst players in baseball that year, they signed him to return to the Mets in 2018.
Despite Reyes’ involvement in his wife being treated in a hospital, his poor play, and his publicly pushing for more playing time, the Mets not only kept him, but we also saw Reyes nominated for the Marvin Miller Award.
Backman and Reyes are not the only two individuals who the Mets have stuck by through the years when it comes to improper and violent acts against women. There’s other players, and Steve Phillips survived sexual harassment allegations.
Through it all, one thing is clear – if the Mets employee harmed a woman, the team would unquestionably have that person’s back even when no one else would.
For anything else, they’ll just see which way the wind is blowing. That’s why Beltran was fired before getting an opportunity to manage the team, and it’s why Reyes was celebrated by this organization.
ESPN baseball analyst Jessica Mendoza appeared on Golic and Wingo to discuss the Astros sign stealing scandal, and during that interview she made clear she had an issue with Mike Fiers going public with the information.
“To go public with it and call them out and start all of this, it’s hard to swallow.”
— Golic and Wingo (@GolicAndWingo) January 16, 2020
The part of her interview which is getting the most attention is her saying, “To go public with it and call them out and start all of this, it’s hard to swallow.”
While it should be clear Mendoza was not advocating or defending the Astros sign stealing, what she was doing was explicitly saying you do not go public with information about cheating.
Keep in mind, this was the first public statements by a Mets official since punishment was handed down by the commissioner’s office. While ESPN, the Mets, and Mendoza may want to couch this as her appearing on ESPN in her capacity as an ESPN employee only, it’s not that simple.
Mendoza is a Mets employee, and she is discussing what is a very hot button topic with the Mets right now vis-a-vis what the Mets should do with Carlos Beltran. On that note, it’s quite telling she wasn’t asked a question about Beltran’s job status.
The failure to address that issue puts ESPN’s journalistic integrity into question, and if the question was off limits, it speaks all the more to Mendoza wearing two hats in the same interview.
Overall, we are left with ESPN not asking a Mets employee about the biggest issue facing this franchise today, and we have a Mets employee, the only one who has spoken publicly on this topic, attacking a whistleblower.
This was just a bad look for everyone involved.
Later today, the New York Mets are going to have a press conference with the City of St. Lucie to announce the street address of Clover Park, the Mets Spring Training facility and home of the High-A St. Lucie Mets, in honor of Hall of Famer Mike Piazza. This is similar to how the Mets worked with the City of New York to change the address of Citi Field to 41 Seaver Way to honor Hall of Famer Tom Seaver.
With respect to Seaver, the Mets old standard for retiring player numbers was induction into the Hall of Fame wearing a Mets cap. That is why up until later this year Seaver and Piazza were the only Mets players who had their numbers retired by the team.
On that point, the Mets have changed their long held standard. At sometime during 2020, the New York Mets are going to retire Jerry Koosman‘s 36. This means an honor which belonged solely to Hall of Famers is now going to be applied to Koosman as well as other Mets whose numbers should be retired in the ensuing years like Gary Carter, Keith Hernandez, and David Wright.
While it seems like the Mets pivot on the singular honor given to Hall of Famers is a street address, it does seem like there should be more. After all, aside from Spring Training and the occasional rehab stint, St. Lucie is the domain of minor leaguers only. More to the point, driving down 31 Piazza Way is not going to be a part of attending a New York Mets game.
There’s also the matter of what happens after that. Will there be a 48 deGrom Way in Syracuse or Brooklyn one day? Really at some point, there is going to be diminishing returns on this plan. When you break it down, the only real way to honor the Hall of Famers is to build a statue in their honor.
Currently, the Mets are in the process of building one for Seaver, and there will be date when it will be installed and unveiled. While the Mets are involved in this process, they should also be making plans to build and install a Piazza statue.
It some ways it is fitting given how Seaver and Piazza combined for the last pitch in Shea Stadium, and the two of them walked out together. They also came together for the first pitch at Citi Field. Overall, these are the two giants in Mets history, and having statues for both of them make sense.
In the end, Seaver getting his statue is long overdue, and the Mets finally came to their senses and built one. With the Mets retiring numbers for other players in their history, they should now go forward and build statues for Hall of Fame players so to make them really stand out as the giants in team history. That means after Seaver’s statue is built, Piazza’s should be next.
There has been this prevailing notion the fate of Carlos Beltran should be determined by how honest he was with the Mets during his interviews for the managerial position.
The premise is if he lied they can’t trust him, and he should be fired. If he was honest, they really have no basis to fire him.
For a typical managerial hire, this would be true. After all, many managers are hired from outside the organization. As we saw with Mickey Callaway, you only really speak to a candidate once or twice, and then you vet that candidate.
But that’s not Beltran.
Carlos Beltran spent seven years with the Mets. During that time, Beltran and the team had a tumultuous relationship.
Fred Wilpon based Beltran in an interview with the New Yorker. The Mets fought with Beltran over his opting for knee surgery. Overall, Beltran was there for good times and bad times. In fact, with two collapses, the Madoff scandal, firing Willie Randolph one game into a west coast trip, and Francisco Rodriguez attacking his children’s grandfather in the family room, he was there for some of the worst times in team history.
Beltran is close with Omar Minaya and Allard Baird, both of whom are assistant general managers. He played for Terry Collins, who is a special assistant. He also played for AJ Hinch, who is a close personal friend of Mets General Manager Brodie Van Wagenen.
When you throw in Beltran’s personal relationships with other members of the front office like David Wright, and his playing for the Wilpons in all the seven years he played in Flushing, you realize the Mets know Beltran extremely well.
Based on that relationship, the Mets believed Beltran was the best person to lead the franchise in 2020 and into the future. A report where he was not explicitly found of any wrongdoing should do nothing at all to change that.
What happened with the Astros is a red herring as it pertains to the Mets. They know exactly the person who Beltran is, and they thought so highly of that person, they made him their manager. Right now, Beltran is the same person who interviewed for the job, was hired, and has been preparing for his first Spring Training as manager.
Don’t be fooled by moving narratives. Beltran is exactly the person they know him to be, and he’s not facing any punishment from baseball. As such, short of being instructed to do so by the commissioner, the Mets have zero basis to fire him for a supposed inability to trust a person with whom they have a long standing relationship.