Since 1989, you would tune into the occasional New York Mets broadcast, and you would hear Howie Rose incredulous another Mets player wearing the number 17. With the New York Mets announcing Keith Hernandez‘s 17 will now be retired, we will be forever robbed of those moments, but we can look back at the players who wore the number after Hernandez left the Mets.
David Cone – Cone would change his number from 44 to 17 in honor of his teammate. It would be the number Cone wore when he led the league in strikeouts and tied Tom Seaver‘s then National League record of 19 strikeouts in a game.
Jeff McKnight – McKnight became the first player assigned the number after Hernandez wore it, and you could argue it was even more of an eyesore because it was the year the Mets had the underscore jerseys. Believe it or not, McKnight just had a knack for wearing great numbers. He would also wear David Wright‘s 5, Jose Reyes‘ 7, Carlos Beltran‘s 15, and Darryl Strawberry‘s 18.
Bret Saberhagen – Saberhagen changed from his usual 18 with the Kansas City Royals and the number he first had with the Mets after his good friend Cone was traded to the Toronto BLue Jays. While Saberhagen did have some success with the Mets, he was probably the player least suited to wearing the number after the bleach incident.
Brent Mayne – Again with the former Royals wearing 17. Mayne’s first hit with the Mets was a walk-off RBI single off Dennis Eckersley to take the opening series of the season. Even after that, he still couldn’t get recognized on the 7 line on the way to the park.
Luis Lopez – Lopez was a utility player for the Mets for three years including the beloved team. His biggest hit with the Mets was the time he punched Rey Ordonez on the team bus. Hearkening back to the team photo incident between Hernandez and Darryl Strawberry, this may be the most Hernandez moment any of the subsequent players to wear the number 17 ever had.
Mike Bordick – Bordick was supposed to be the key pickup for the Mets to replace the injured Ordonez at short. He gave us all hope as he homered in his first Mets at-bat, but things would end badly as he would be benched for Kurt Abbott in the World Series, and he would return to the Baltimore Orioles in free agency. Worse yet, 1999 postseason hero Melvin Mora, who was traded for Bordick, would go on to be a star for the Orioles.
Kevin Appier – With Cone, Saberhagen, and then Appier, it seemed Royals pitchers really liked wearing 17 with the Mets. Appier came to the then pennant winning Mets in the hopes of winning a World Series, but unfortunately, he is forever known as the key piece sent to the Angels for Mo Vaughn.
Graeme Lloyd – Lloyd was one of the few who thrived with the Yankees who pitched well for the Mets. He didn’t last a full season as he and many of the 2003 Mets who battled under Art Howe was moved at the trade deadline.
Wilson Delgado – Mets fans were thrilled to obtain Delgado in 2004 as he would be the return for Roger Cedeno. Delgado played 42 games for the Mets in 2004. He’d never appear in a Major League game after that.
Jose Lima – The 2006 Mets pitching staff was so injured that we’d get Lima Time! for four starts. After struggling mightily, this marked the end of his MLB career as he then played internationally.
David Newhan – There really isn’t much to tell with Newhan. In his one year with the Mets, he proved himself to be that classic Four-A guy who annihilated Triple-A pitching but struggled in the majors.
Fernando Tatis – Omar Minaya first signed Tatís as an amateur and would bring him to the Mets organization. Tatís rewarded Minaya’s faith by winning the 2008 NL Comeback Player of the Year. For a franchise known for “what ifs,” you can’t help but wonder if the Mets don’t collapse for a second straight season if Tatis didn’t injure his shoulder. While Tatís had many memorable moments with the Mets, perhaps, his most memorable was his being one of the few actually capable of hitting it over the Great Wall of Flushing.
After Tatis, the Mets had finally said enough was enough. They were taking the number 17 out of circulation like they had done in the past with Willie Mays‘ 24. That meant the number was not going to be worn again. That is, unless, the next Rickey Henderson came long. However, now, with the number being officially retired, no one will ever wear Hernandez’s 17 again.
In 2005, after signing what was the largest contract in New York Mets history, Carlos Beltran couldn’t have had a worse season. He went from an All-Star and postseason hero to a below average hitter with a 2.9 WAR. Things were so bad, he even would even have a horrific collision with Mike Cameron in the outfield. He was literally bloodied and broken from his first year with the Mets.
On Opening Day the following season, there was a smattering of boos for Beltran. That seems odd considering the Mets actually had some postseason aspirations for the first time since the 2000 World Series. It turned out to be outright stupid given what Beltran would do in 2006.
That 2006 season could very well be seen as the best individual season a Mets position player has ever had. Beltran had an astounding 8.2 WAR. He hit .275/.388/.594 with 38 doubles, one triple, 41 homers, and 116 RBI. The numbers almost don’t do it justice. It was a season of Gold Glove caliber defense in center and clutch homers. It is difficult to go through that season and choose just one highlight.
It was that season where Beltran put himself on a Hall of Fame path. Over a three year span, he had a 20.6 WAR. There were Gold Gloves, Silver Sluggers, and All-Star appearances. He did all he could do in that stretch to get the Mets to the postseason and win the World Series.
Certainly, Beltran isn’t unique in those first year struggles with the Mets. Mike Piazza was actually booed before becoming one of the most beloved players in team history. Curtis Granderson went from massive disappointment to a team leader who brought the Mets to the doorstep of the World Series, and in the end, became one of the most respected men to ever don the Mets uniform. The examples are countless with this franchise.
That includes Francisco Lindor.
Lindor came to the Mets with much fanfare, and he signed a historic 10 year $341 million extension. Essentially, Lindor said he wanted to be a part of the Mets for the rest of his career, and more to the point, he wanted to be the first player to truly sign on to what Steve Cohen is going to bring to the Mets franchise.
It just didn’t quite work out in the first year. He hit .230/.322/.412 with 16 doubles, three triples, 20 homers, and 63 RBI. He was slightly better than 2005 Beltran with a 3.1 WAR. He was still Gold Glove caliber with the glove, but ultimately, this isn’t the player Lindor has been throughout his career. That said, there were some flashes:
That’s the thing with Lindor. The talent is still there. Just like with Beltran in 2005 or Piazza in 1998, we knew it was there. We just didn’t see it partially because those players were trying to get comfortable in an extraordinarily difficult place to play. Assuredly, the booing didn’t help any of these players.
Lindor is cut from the same cloth as Beltran and Piazza. He’s a Hall of Famer. He’s a truly great player. He just needed that first year of New York under his belt to get comfortable. He is going to succeed here because he’s a great player. He’s going to have a great year because he’s a great player. Ultimately, we saw the flashes from Lindor in 2021, and we’re going to see him put it all together in 2022.
When looking at a bench coach, you have someone responsible for running QC during a game. They’re making sure batters bat in order, keeping tabs on who is available, and chatting strategy with the manager.
The entirety of Beltran’s coaching experience is 76 days as the Mets manager. In that time, he had zero team meetings and managed zero games. Put another way, he has zero experience.
Putting him in a position to be Showalter’s right-hand man makes little sense. He’s ill equipped. Moreover, there’s no pre-existing relationship where they’re able to have a synergistic relationship.
It would also be bizarre to have Beltrán in place as a manager in training. Showalter wasn’t just hired to win in 2022. He was hired to be in place and win for as many seasons as he’s capable of doing the job.
The Mets hired the then 62 year old Terry Collins in 2011. He would manage seven more years with the Mets.
Tony La Russa managed the St. Louis Cardinals until he was 66 years old. After being inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, he returned to the Chicago White Sox in 2021 as a 76 year old.
Showalter is 65. Looking at Collins and La Russa, he has as many years as he can do the job. With Showalter taking the job, we can presume he’s in for the long haul.
That’s just the thing. Showalter wants to win. He’s been in this game as a manager for 20 years. He knows people, and more importantly, he knows who he wants for different roles.
Maybe he likes Beltrán. It would make sense with Beltran being a noted leader and hard worker who is very intelligent. However, no one knows if Beltrán can coach.
Can he be a hitting coach? Can he be an outfield coach? Does he know how to interpret, apply, and communicate analytics?
No one knows, not even Beltrán. That’s why putting him on a staff makes little to no sense. Grooming an inexperienced coach for a role he may never be suited doesn’t make much sense.
Unfortunately, bringing Beltran back doesn’t make much sense. If Beltran does indeed want to come back and eventually manage, he will have to do the work and go to the minors much like Edgardo Alfonzo did.
When and if Beltran does that, then maybe Showalter can and should add him to a Major League coaching staff. Until that point, it just doesn’t make any sense.
The New York Mets seem to be narrowing their managerial search, and reading the tea leaves, it seems Buck Showalter will be the next manager. There are reports Steve Cohen wants him, and there are ties from the New York Yankees between new general manager Billy Eppler and Showalter.
If we are going to go back to Eppler’s old Yankees ties, the Mets could also look at Willie Randolph for the managerial role. With Randolph, there are two things which stand out in his candidacy: (1) he’s actually had success as the Mets manager; and (2) he has unfinished business.
When we look back at Randolph’s Mets tenure, people mostly remember the bad. There was the 2007 collapse, and he was fired one game into a west coast trip. There was the chasm between him and Carlos Delgado. Of course, many forget the 2008 Mets also collapsed, but this time under the helm of Jerry Manuel.
Really, Randolph had to deal with more as the Mets manager than most did. He never had the full backing and respect of ownership. Things got so bad Manuel and Tony Bernazard were going behind Randolph’s back to not only spy on him but to find reasons to remove him from the job. The shame of it was Randolph was quite good at the job.
First and foremost, Randolph was immediately challenged in his job by trying to find a way to graciously end Mike Piazza‘s Mets career. Randolph did it in a way where Piazza not only had a strong season, but he had his dignity during the course of the season.
Randolph was gifted an old foe in Pedro Martinez atop the rotation. Notably, despite the many battles between the two during the heyday of the Yankees/Red Sox rivalry, there was nothing but respect between the two. Randolph had tried to protect Martinez from the team, but to no avail.
Another challenge with Randolph was the Carlos Beltran situation. He helped Beltran navigate through what was a disaster of a 2005 season and get him playing at a Hall of Fame level. By most accounts, the two had a good relationship, which is something a smart manager will have with their superstar.
One important part of that is the ability to adapt. When Randolph first took over the Mets job, he initially tried to make the Mets more like the Yankees. Case-in-point was the restrictions on facial hair. That is something he eventually rescinded.The ability to adapt to the job is of vital importance.
There were other highlights from Randolph’s tenure with the most important being his development of David Wright and Jose Reyes. With respect to Reyes, he was able to help him hone his skills to develop a more sensible approach at the plate to help him become an All-Star. With respect to Wright, he admitted in his book, The Captain: A Memoir, Randolph helped him become the Major League player he wanted to be. If not for injuries, that would’ve been a Hall of Famer.
Looking at Randolph, one of the biggest skills he had was his working relationship with Rick Peterson. The two worked together to get the most out of the Mets pitching staff, and we saw them do some things which may now be considered commonplace. For example, Randolph had a very quick hook in the 2006 postseason, and he was not afraid to let his superior bullpen win him games. The Mets will be looking for something like that in 2022 with Jeremy Hefner being retained as pitching coach.
Overall, Randolph had strenghts and weaknesses as manager. As we saw with him, the strengths far outweighed the weaknesses. That’s a major reason why he’s second only to Davey Johnson in winning percentage. He was a very good manager, who for some reason, never got another opportunity to manage.
Perhaps at 67, Randolph no longer has any designs on managing. If he does, we need to remember he was a good manager for the Mets. Unfortunately, he never received a fair shake. All told, Randolph knows what it takes to succeed with the Mets. No, he’ll never get the job, but there should have at least been some level of interest.
The Veteran’s Committee inducted six new members to the Baseball Hall of Fame: Bud Fowler, Gil Hodges, Jim Kaat, Minnie Minoso, Tony Oliva, and Buck O’Neil. For most of these players, their induction righted a long standing wrong. However, it did something else. It lowered the bar on what is truly a Hall of Fame level player.
Putting aside O’Neil, who spent his career in the Negro Leagues and was inducted for more than just his playing days, and Fowler, who played in the 1800s, the players inducted were not up to the level of what we have seen of recent Hall of Famers. Of course, that’s not really news with players like Harold Baines being inducted three years ago.
This is what the Veteran’s Committee typically does. For every wrong they right, they also proceed to lower the bar on what is and what is not a Hall of Famer. Consider, the WAR/WAR7/JAWS for each of the new inductees:
- Hodges 43.9/33.7/38.8
- Kaat 50.5/38.1/34.4
- Minoso 53.8/39.7/46.7
- Oliva 43.0/38.6/40.8
By standards for each position, each one of these players falls far short. As a result, it does open the door for players who were once seen not Hall of Fame worthy for various reasons. One such player would be David Wright, who would’ve probably been a lock for the Hall of Fame if not for his back injury robbing him the rest of his career.
In his 14 year career, Wright posted a 49.2/39.5/44.3. His WAR would be third highest amongst that group despite his career being far shorter than that group. His WAR7 would be second best and his JAWS second best despite the end of his prime being robbed from him. Just think about that. Wright didn’t get to have a full career, and he still posted better numbers than players who had lengthy and storied careers.
What Wright was able to do in his brief career was remarkable. If he was able to have 1-2 more full seasons, he very likely would have easily cleared the bar for Hall of Fame induction. That goes double when you consider he would have had the benefit of being able to be inducted after spending his entire career with the Mets, and perhaps, some boost from his play in the World Baseball Classic (not all that likely).
In the end, Wright’s career will always be defined by what ifs. What if Jon Niese covered third. What if the Wilpons treated his career with more concern. What if Carlos Beltran doesn’t strike out. What if Terry Collins had a clue in the 2015 World Series. Mostly, what if he stayed healthy.
Whatever the case, based on what we saw with the recent inductions, Wright’s career has now risen to the caliber of Hall of Fame worthy. While it’s likely the writers will overlook him, based on recent standards, we may very well see him inducted by the Veteran’s Committee one day.
One of the more coveted free agent outfielders at the moment is Starling Marte. He really stands out among a very thin crowd due to his speed, his ability to play center, and his not having a qualifying offer attached.
Marte is coming off a season where he had a 4.7 WAR while hitting .310/.383/.458 with 27 doubles, three triples, 12 homers, and 55 RBI. He led the majors in stolen bases while being successful in 47 of his 52 stolen base attempts. Marte had a career high 133 wRC+, and he had a 3 OAA in center.
Part of the career high 133 wRC+ were some big positives. Marte had a career best 8.3 BB%. The 39.6 hard hit percentage was also the best of his career. The 8.4 barrel percentage was also the very best of his career. Really, across the board, this was the best year of his career at the plate.
When you combine the bat with the base running and defense, it was an All-Star caliber season. In fact, by WAR, it was the fourth best year of his career. This should be the exact type of player you want to invest in during free agency. If you get him, your team should be thrilled.
There are some real red flags for Marte. First and foremost, with his turning 33 after the 2021 season was over, Marte is firmly, at least by age, on the outside of the prime seasons of his career. This may or may not be fair to Marte, but we have seen it several times.
For every Carlos Beltran with the Cardinals and Yankees or Curtis Granderson with the Mets, you get a lot of busts. The history of free agency is replete with them. When you sign players that age, it’s difficult to ascertain which way the rest of their career is going to go. That would be an argument to try to get Marte to a short-term deal, but with the amount of suitors, that may not be possible.
There are other issues beyond age. While there were some real standout numbers driving the career best 133 wRC+, there were some problematic numbers. While Marte has always had a higher BABIP, he had a .369 BABIP, a number which is going to drop precipitously. Even with the hard hit rate and barrels, Marte’s .148 ISO was the third worst of his career, and it was the second straight year his ISO dropped. It should also be noted his average exit velocity was one of the worst in the majors.
More alarming with Marte is his speed. Like with the ISO, he’s had a two year drop in sprint speed. With the drop in speed comes some problems because much of his value is wrapped up in his speed. His speed is behind his terrific base running. It is why his BABIPs have been traditionally high. It is a driving force of his defense.
Overall, Marte is a very good player. We don’t know how long he will be very good. We don’t know what his regression will look like. Perhaps, it will be gradual. Maybe, he will fall off a cliff. Standing here right now, it is very difficult to know how 2022 and the ensuing years will go for Marte.
In the end, if your team signs Marte, you should be very happy. Marte is a very good player and a real difference maker. That said, there are some real areas of concern, and no one should be surprised if he can’t replicate his 2021 season. No one should be surprised if he can’t replicate even an average Marte season.
Look at the postseason landscape. On the American League side, you have the Boston Red Sox and Houston Astros. So far, you have the Atlanta Braves in the NLCS, and they are going to face one of the San Francisco Giants or Los Angeles Dodgers. While the series may be good, it’s not exactly an awe inspiring list of teams to root for to win the World Series.
Plain and simple, we know the Astros have cheated, and they have been unpunished and unapologetic about it. They are facing off against the Red Sox who have their own issues on that front, and they are led by Alex Cora, who was purportedly the ring leader of the entire operation. As we saw, Cora was fired for one year just for show.
When it comes to the National League, the Braves are the epitome of evil. Putting aside the history with Chipper Jones calling Mets fans closet Yankees fans, everything John Rocker, and really, every soul crushing loss, this is a racist fan base eagerly doing the racist Tomahawk Chop chant every game. Rooting for them is like rooting for the hunter in Bambi.
We know all about the Dodgers. There was the 1988 NLCS, and there was Chase Utley. They’re the team who signed Trevor Bauer. We should also mention they’re the favorite team of the Wilpons. No self respecting Mets fan should ever root for the Dodgers.
Understandably, Mets fans probably aren’t too eager to root for the Giants. After all, behind Madison Bumgarner and Conor Gillaspie, they beat the Mets in the 2016 Wild Card Game. There is also all things Barry Bonds. There is also Gabe Kapler, and the heinous things he has been alleged to do.
That should leave a Mets fan wondering what is left in this soulless landscape. Who is the hero who can emerge from all of this dredge? The answer is old friend Wilmer Flores.
Wilmer is the same player who cried at the very idea of leading the Mets only to win a walk-off homer his next chance. In fact, Wilmer has more walk-off hits than any Mets player. That’s a list which includes players like Edgardo Alfonzo, Carlos Beltran, Mike Piazza, Darryl Strawberry, and David Wright. Really, Wilmer has brought us much more joy than we ever could’ve imagined.
Now, he’s the only player really worth Mets fans rooting for this postseason. While we understandably don’t have much reason to root for any of the remaining teams, that goes double for the Braves, there is every reason to root for Wilmer. Hopefully, he and the Giants outlast the Dodgers and the Braves en route to Wilmer winning a World Series ring. After all, if anyone deserves it, it’s him.
It was a very poorly kept secret back in 2017 if he had his druthers Sandy Alderson wanted to hire Kevin Long to succeed Terry Collins as the New York Mets manager. Long didn’t take anything for granted coming extremely prepared for the interview with binders of information. More than that, he had already had a profound impact on the Mets organization rejuvenating Curtis Granderson while transforming Yoenis Cespedes and Daniel Murphy.
However, it wasn’t to be. Instead, Jeff Wilpon got it in his mind he wanted to have Mickey Callaway as the manager. Despite Callaway interviewing poorly, it was enough for Wilpon to hire Callaway after one interview because the Philadelphia Phillies showed interest. As Mets fans can recall, this went over about as well as when the Mets included Jarred Kelenic in the Robinson Cano trade because the Phillies showed interest in Edwin Diaz.
Since then, the managerial position has been a disaster for the Mets. Callaway proved to be an awful human being harassing female reporters. After him, the Mets hired and then were effectively forced to fire Carlos Beltran. In a mad scramble, they hired Luis Rojas while completely failing to give him any chance to succeed in the position. Rather that let him continue to grow, the team has decided they need to go in a different direction.
Now, there are many moving pieces before the Mets get to hire a new manager. The biggest is the need to hire a new president of baseball operations. Presumably, that is the person who will and should have the biggest input on who the Mets next manager will be. Whatever the case, the Mets have the right to correct the mistake they made in 2017 and hire Long.
For his part, Long served the world with a reminder why he was managerial material. During the National League Wild Card Game, he was sitting next to superstar Juan Soto, a player Long has helped get the most out of his ability. Soto was wearing a Trea Turner jersey (another player Long has helped immensely) while Long wore a Max Scherzer jersey.
Max Scherzer went over to high five Juan Soto and Kevin Long after the walk-off home run 😂 pic.twitter.com/HvV0s4FLzE
— Blake Finney (@FinneyBlake) October 7, 2021
In that moment, you saw everything you could have possibly wanted to see from a future manager of your team. He was standing there with his star player, a player in Soto he helped take from a 19 year old wunderkind to a bona fide Major League superstar. More than that, he showed the incredibly great relationship he fostered with his superstar player, the very type of relationship a manager absolutely needs to have any level of success.
We also saw the sense of loyalty he has for his players. He went out there to support both Turner and Scherzer. It was a moment which meant so much to them Scherzer made sure to go over to the stands to celebrate his team’s walk-off win with them. Keep in mind here, Scherzer is a free agent who should be on everyone’s radar.
When we look at the modern game and the current status of the managerial role, it is increasingly about relationships with the players and the ability to communicate. It’s no longer about Gil Hodges playing a hunch or Davey Johnson trusting his eyes over the data. Increasingly, it’s about taking the game plan prepared by the front office and not just executing it, but getting the players to buy in on the plan.
Putting aside what happened in the NL Wild Card Game, this is exactly what Long does. He helped transform Cespedes from a wild swinger to a player better able to identify his pitch and become a monster at the plate. There was also Murphy who went from gap to gap hitter to a legitimate threat at the plate. Murphy showed the 2015 postseason wasn’t a fluke by any means when he became an All-Star and MVP candidate with the Washington Nationals. It should be noted Long followed Murphy to Washington, D.C.
In total, Long is what you want in a manager. He can process data and translate it to players in a way where they can understand and execute it. We also see he is a coach who can foster great relationships with this players. He is also loyal to his players, and they love him. Short of being able to steal away the Bob Melvins of the world, you’re not going to find a better managerial candidate than Long.
Alderson knew it in 2017, and he can do what he wanted to do back then and make Long the Mets manager. If that is the case, we can expect the maddening Mets offense to finally click and for this team to reach the World Series potential we know they have.
Make no mistake, Carlos Beltran was screwed. He wasn’t allowed to manage for the New York Mets because of his implication in the Houston Astros sign stealing scandal.
The Mets didn’t release J.D. Davis. After the scandal was public knowledge, the Mets actually traded for Jake Marisnick. Since the scandal broke, Alex Cora was re-hired by the Boston Red Sox, and A.J. Hinch got another opportunity to manage.
Meanwhile, Beltran has been out of baseball making him the only Astros truly punished. Worse yet, he’s had no opportunity for redemption.
There should be a path back for Beltran. With Luis Rojas being fired, many are pushing the narrative the Mets need to right the wrong and bring back Beltran as manager.
It’s a bad idea.
One of the reasons why Rojas is gone was he was deemed still too raw to manage at the Major League level. Fair or not, that’s the criticism. Keep in mind, this is a well respected minor league manager who helped developed nearly every player in that clubhouse. We also know this is a manager with the respect of that clubhouse.
It’s bizarre to go from Rojas to a manager with even less experience. In fact, the entirety of Beltran’s coaching and managerial career is the roughly two months he was the manager of the Mets.
At that time, the Mets didn’t have a complete roster. He hasn’t met with all of his players. He didn’t make it to Spring Training let alone manage a game. This makes him a complete unknown as to his ability to handle any aspect of managing a Major League team.
Does he go by the gut, or does he rely on data? Will he follow the front office script or trust his eyes? How does he handle player conflict? How will he manage the daily interactions with the press? Can he handle a WFAN spot or a crisis?
Literally, no one knows the answer to any of these questions. Really, the only argument for Beltran is a sense of nostalgia and perhaps justice. That’s simply not a good reason to hire a manager.
The Mets fancy themselves as World Series contenders, or at least have the intention of being that after this offseason. How can they build a roster and hand the keys to someone who hasn’t even learned to ride a bicycle yet?
It’s complete and utter nonsense, and that’s even allowing for the possibility Beltran could be good. That’s the thing no one knows.
It’s time to just put an end to this nonsense. The Mets need to hire a real president of baseball operations and allow him to his manager. It’s a decision which needs to be made with no sentimentality. It’s simply a decision to hire the best and most qualified man for the job.
That’s not Beltran. The Mets can and probably should bring him back in some capacity – just not as manager. That should go to someone qualified.
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.
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.
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.