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.
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.
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.
Rojas has been a minor league manager in the Mets system for seven years, and he was the quality control manager this past season. He has the respect of everyone in the organization, the deepest of roots in the game, and he has had a hand in the success of the core of this Mets roster.
He’s also managed prospects like Andres Gimenez who could debut this upcoming season. Overall, this speaks not just to Rojas’ knowledge of the personnel, but also his ability to get the most out of these players.
This is why it’s being widely reported this is a very popular hire in the Mets clubhouse. It should be a popular hire with everyone.
This is a manager from the Alou family tree. That’s important with his father Felipe Alou being a longtime manager, and his brother, Moises Alou, having played for the Mets. With them, he not only had someone to lean on in terms of managing a team, but also, on the unique challenges of New York. Of course, Rojas can lean on his own experiences for that as well.
As the Quality Control Coach, he’s well versed in analytics, and he’s had communication with the front office about using them, and also, what the front office expectations are. He’s also spent the past year further developing and strengthening relations with everyone in the clubhouse, and really, the entire organization.
Lost in the shuffle last year was Rojas working with McNeil to become an everyday outfielder. In 2019, McNeil was an All-Star, and he had a 2 DRS in the outfield.
When you break it down, this is a hard working individual who is able to get the most out of the players on this team. With his being bilingual, he can talk baseball in any language. No matter what angle you look at this from, Rojas was the perfect hire for this team. That goes double when you consider he’s one of the few holdovers from Callaway’s staff at a time the Mets desperately need some continuity.
Overall, the Mets took a terrible situation, and they made the most of it hiring the person who very likely should have been hired in November. Rojas is the best man for this job, and the 2020 Mets will be better for having him at the helm.
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.
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.
As the Mets look to improve their roster, the one gaping hole is center field. It has been a problem for years with the Mets looking at stop gap options like Yoenis Cespedes and Michael Conforto partially due to Juan Lagares inability to stay on the field and his inconsistent production at the plate, and last year, in the field.
Brodie Van Wagenen has said the team is looking for a right-handed bat at the position. On that note, the free agent center field options are quite poor. In fact, some of the more viable options are Aaron Altherr, Keon Broxton, and Carlos Gomez, three players whom the Mets realized were not real options.
When looking past the right-hand side, the options aren’t exactly great. The best option of the entire group is likely Shogo Akiyama, and he’s a 32 year old who has never played in the Majors. Further compounding that, Akiyama is said to have slipped defensively meaning he should probably move to a corner spot in 2020.
Fact is, there is no real good option. Looking at the trade route, the best known option is Jackie Bradley Jr. Bradley hasn’t been a league average hitter since 2016, and he has had consecutive negative DRS seasons. While he can still handle the position defensively, his defense is not at the point where he can justify his bat or a raise from his 2018 $8.55 million arbitration salary.
To that point, Brodie Van Wagenen has said the Mets need to be creative this offseason, so perhaps they should be creative and move Amed Rosario to center.
The impulse to make that move has subsided with Rosario posting a 0 DRS in the second half. That was a significant improvement from his -16 DRS in the first half and the -16 DRS he posted at the position in 2018. With his only being 23, we can expect him to improve, but considering the level he is at now, it is debatable he can ever reach the lofty Gold Glove expectations we all once had for him.
He might be that if he moved to center.
Baseball Savant noted Rosario had a 29.2 ft/sec sprint speed last year. That is essentially the same speed as Victor Robles and Kevin Kiermaier, and it is quicker than Lorenzo Cain and Manuel Margot. Those of four of the top five center fielders in DRS last year. If nothing else, that tells us Rosario has the speed to cover the position.
Looking at last year, Jeff McNeil worked with Luis Rojas during Spring Training to get up to speed quickly on being an outfielder. During the 2019 season, McNeil proved to be a good outfielder with a 2 DRS with his time split between left and right.
Looking at Rosasrio, he has the speed, and he has the coaching. With his tools and drive, he has all he needs to succeed as center fielder. That goes double with him having an offseason and Spring Training to work on it. The only question is why would the Mets do it. Well, there are two reasons.
First and foremost, there are no real center field options available to the Mets. This leaves them having to hope for magic with a retread or for their getting creative with a solution like Rosario. Now, moving Rosario to center would create a hole at short. On that note, there are better options available like Didi Gregorius and Jose Iglesias.
Those two short term options are much more appealing than any of the center field options available this offseason. On the subject of the short term, the Mets also have to take some consideration of Andres Gimenez. While Gimenez struggled in 2019, he did deal with hand injuries, and he did rebound with an excellent stint in the Arizona Fall League.
Ultimately, the Mets may have to find space for Rosario and Gimenez on the same roster. The Mets could faciliate that by moving Rosario to center. It is a good long term solution, and really, considering the options available at both center and short this offseason, it is the best short term solution as well.
Normally, when you hear the third round is happening in Flushing Meadows, you’re keeping an eye towards the draw Roger Federer and Serena Williams have in the quarterfinals and beyond. However, now, in October, it is in reference to the Mets managerial search.
At times during the search, we have heard many different things. The job was Joe Girardi‘s to turn down, and he was hired by the Philadelphia Phillies. There have been reports the job is going to be given to Tim Bogar, Carlos Beltran, or Eduardo Perez.
So far, the only thing which was been announced is there are going to be more interviews. After the Mets moved swift to hire Mickey Callaway after just one interview, you could certainly understand the Mets due diligence. However, at some point, you do wonder how much of this is due diligence and how much of this is indecision.
We have seen the Mets remove Mike Bell, Skip Schumaker, and Luis Rojas from consideration. That’s is what you expect when you see teams move forward in the interview process. However, while we have seen these names be dropped from consideration, we continue to see new ones emerge.
Syracuse Manager Tony DeFrancesco had an interview, and he may still be a part of the mix. The same can be said about Brewers Bench Coach Pat Murphy. Those are just the names which have recently emerged while we all await the identity of the supposed “bombshell candidate.”
There are rumors that could be Alex Rodriguez or David Wright (both of whom laughed it off), and there is the rumor Brodie Van Wagenen is really waiting to hire his longtime friend AJ Hinch after the World Series ends. This is of course rampant speculation, but that’s what many are left with as the team has been quite deliberate in their process.
Again, there is absolutely nothing wrong with being deliberate in the process. The Mets should take as much time as they need to find out who is the right man for the job. Of course, as time passes and the Mets include more and more people this late in the process, you have to wonder if they believe the group of people they are interviewing really can be that person.
Time will tell if the Mets are interviewing the right people. We will find that out when they make a decision. Actually, when you think about it, the Mets will truly find that out when their next manager begins managing games.
The Philadelphia Phillies did what we expected and hired Joe Girardi to replace Gabe Kapler. To their credit, the Phillies knew they wanted, nay needed, an experienced manager like Girardi, Buck Showalter, or Dusty Baker to take their team to the next level. They honed their search, and they hired who they deemed to be the best candidate.
What is interesting is Girardi was the one candidate the Phillies and New York Mets had in common. In 2017, that person was Mickey Callaway. That led the Mets to hire Callaway after just one interview to keep him away from the Phillies. The following offseason, the Mets would admit to including Jarred Kelenic in the Robinson Cano deal to keep Edwin Diaz away from the Phillies.
However, when it came to Girardi, the Mets didn’t rise to the occasion. Rather, they let Girardi go to the Phillies leaving them with a group of managerial candidates without Major League managerial experience. Looking at it that way, you could say this was a managerial search which was Girardi or bust, and with Girardi going to the Phillies, the Mets search went bust.
While the Mets do deserve scorn for how they operate the team, the manager search did not go bust. In fact, there are a very intriguing candidates remaining.
Tim Bogar is a well respected coach and a three time Minor League Manager of the Year. He has experience as a first base, third base, and bench coach. He has spent time in the front office on the player development side. Also, in 2014, he took over as interim manager of the Texas Rangers after Ron Washington resigned due to personal issues. Bogar would led the Rangers to a 14-8 record in those game.
With his work on Baseball Tonight, MLB Radio, and other media ventures, Eduardo Perez is a media savvy individual, which is something all managers, especially the Mets manager need. That said, Perez is much more than that having been a minor league and Winter League manager as well as a former Major League bench coach. With his working on the “Nerdcasts,” we are well aware he is well versed in analytics.
Another interesting factor with Perez is the Mets seem to want to keep some of their current coaches on the Major League coaching staff. To that end, Perez is a former teammate of both Chili Davis (hitting coach) and Gary Disarcina (third base and infield coach).
On that point, Luis Rojas has worked extensively with Phil Regan both this year’s team as well as the minors. Speaking of the minors, Rojas has managed most of this current Mets team including Pete Alonso, Jacob deGrom, Jeff McNeil, Brandon Nimmo, and others. They speak highly of him, and the team thinks so highly of him they created the Quality Control position for him. In that position, Rojas was entasked with handling communications between the front office and players on expectations and how to utilize data. To that end, there is perhaps no one better prepared to understand what the front office expects and wants from their manager.
In terms of relationship with the front office, perhaps no one would have a better relationship than Carlos Beltran. Beltran is close with both Assistant General Managers Allard Baird and Omar Minaya. There’s also his close relationship with David Wright which began in Beltran’s first Spring Training with the Mets when he took Wright and Jose Reyes under his wing to show them how to prepare for the season.
Sure, he has had his clashes with ownership, especially when he opted to have knee surgery prior to the 2010 season. However, that does speak to an asset Beltran has. Over the years, the Mets have been criticized for their handling of injuries. Who better than Beltran to help protect the players from themselves and the team?
Finally, there is Twins Coach Derek Shelton. He has a wealth of experience including his being a hitting, quality control, and hitting coach. In those roles, he has worked for analytically forward organizations while also working for different types of managers like Joe Maddon, Eric Wedge, John Gibbons, and Rocco Baldelli.
Overall, you could make the case any one of these five candidates would make an excellent manager for the Mets. While you are free to question the wisdom of the Mets exiting the Mickey Callaway era by going to another first time manager, especially when Girardi apparently wanted the Mets job, that does not mean these candidates could not be better than Callaway. In fact, it’s very possible each one of these candidates could ultimately prove to be better than even Girardi.
What is interesting about the Mets current managerial search is they have cast a wide net. With the caveat these are only the interviews we know, they have interviewed people from all different sorts of fields.
Joe Girardi is the former manager. Derek Shelton is the hot bench coach candidate. Luis Rojas is the internal candidate. Carlos Beltran is the former player. Mike Bell is the player development person. Eduardo Perez is the television analyst.
In essence, the Mets have gone ahead, and they have made sure to interview at least one candidate from each different field. Again with the caveat, it’s only what we know, it is interesting to see they have not interviewed multiple people from each field. If they were, they could consider giving Jessica Mendoza an interview.
Like Perez, Mendoza has been a television analyst. While there are criticisms of her work on Sunday Night Baseball, she was considered a strong analyst on Baseball Tonight. Like Rojas, Mendoza is an internal candidate as she has served as a special advisor to Brodie Van Wagenen this season. In that job, she has partially focused on player development, which is the role Bell currently serves with the Diamondbacks. Finally, as a 2004 Gold Medalist, she is a former player.
What Mendoza doesn’t have is prior managerial experience. However, looking at the Mets current list of candidates, that doesn’t appear to be an issue for them at all.
While Mendoza doesn’t have managerial experience, her role with Sunday Night Baseball does give her some special insight. As noted in the USA Today article on the Mets hiring her, “Before nationally televised games, managers routinely give private briefings to the network broadcasters, and some might be more reticent to disclose information to an employee of an opponent.”
It should be noted Aaron Boone, who once worked alongside Mendoza in the Sunday Night booth, used that position as a springboard to taking the Yankees job. Like Mendoza, he likely benefited from the broadcasting experience, which included those meetings. Of course, Boone was also a longtime player and a member of the well known Boone family.
Another factor to consider about Mendoza is what the Mets said about her when she was hired. Brodie Van Wagenen said of the fellow Stanford alum, “Jessica has a very high baseball IQ. She has aptitude to learn anything, and she knows the game.” (Anthony DiComo, MLB.com).
Those are all attributes you would want from your manager. Certainly, those are attributes which should at least get someone an interview, especially when that person has similar experience to the other known candidates. It also helps she has a relationship with the GM and ownership in addition to working with them for a year.
Overall, we don’t know if she’d be interested, but if she was, it may very well make sense for the Mets to give Jessica Mendoza an interview for their managerial position.
In the very near future, the New York Mets will be meeting to discuss whether Mickey Callaway will return as the manager in 2020. There are reasons to both keep and fire Callaway, and in making the decision, the Mets will need to determine who is the best person to lead the Mets to their first World Series since 1986.
Like any other decision, there needs to be a balance of the present and the future. Both considerations should include what to do with Luis Rojas.
The Mets thought so much of Rojas they promoted him from the team’s Double-A manager to their Quality Control Coach. He was more than that. He also served a role working with the outfielders. Of note, he helped Jeff McNeil get up to speed in the outfield during Spring Training. During the year, McNeil would have a 2 DRS in 671.0 innings split between right and left.
Rojas’ working with McNeil is not the only impact he has had on this current club. As noted, he was previously a minor league manager. As a result, Rojas has had a hand in the development of many of the players on the Mets roster including Pete Alonso, Michael Conforto, Jacob deGrom, Robert Gsellman, Seth Lugo, Steven Matz, Brandon Nimmo, Jeff McNeil, Amed Rosario, and Dominic Smith. When you have that type of an impact, it is no wonder the Mets see him as a potential future manager.
In fact, as Mike Puma of the New York Post noted, the team views Rojas as a “rising star.”
The question is whether the team views the 38 year old as ready to assume control of the team. While he has managed many of the players on the team, he would have to also be managing players who are, in terms of age, peers to him. These players include Robinson Cano and Wilson Ramos.
While it is fair to say he’s not ready from that standpoint, the Mets have to determine if they want to give him the role before he is not yet ready and have him grow into the role, or if they are willing to lose him.
At the moment, we do not know if any of the teams looking to hire a manager would have an interest in Rojas. The chances are they don’t. However, they may look to him as an option to join their new coaching staff. On that note, the San Diego Padres are interested in hiring Moises Alou as their manager. If Alou were to get the job, you do wonder if he would want his brother who is very good at working with young players and has a sharp analytical mind on his own coaching staff.
Really, when you look at it that way, you wonder why the Mets wouldn’t want that themselves. On the front, if they are truly grooming Rojas to be the next manager, they should be taking a proactive step in that direction. What that step is anyone’s guess.
On the front, the minimum the Mets should be considering is moving him up the ladder to be the Mets next bench coach replacing Jim Riggleman, who did not appear to have any real impact this year. If nothing else, Rojas on the bench would prepare him all the more to be the Mets next manager. In fact, you could argue that is what the Mets should do.
The Mets could keep Callaway and have Rojas waiting to take over for him. If nothing else, this would further prepare Rojas to be the manager the Mets want him to be. It would also prevent them from hiring another novice who could potentially hire the next Callaway.
In the end, no matter what the Mets do, they should be making a decision from the perspective of what they want to do with Rojas more than what they want to do with Callaway.
First and foremost, it’s obvious there is no replacing Jeff McNeil. The Mets can’t do that. As noted earlier, the Mets need Juan Lagares and Joe Panik to play like everyday players while hoping the healthy players on this roster raise their games. The Mets are also going to need production from the player who occupies McNeil’s spot on the roster (should he land on the IL).
According to various reports, the first person under consideration is Ruben Tejada. Part of the reason the Mets are considering Tejada is the great year he is having in Syracuse. Through 71 games, he is hitting .330/.408/.476 with 19 doubles, a triple, six homers, and 38 RBI.
It should be noted like the Major Leagues, there has been a juiced ball issue in Triple-A, and Tejada’s numbers could be attributed to that. For example, Tejada hit .230/.291/.298 in 101 games for Triple-A Norfolk last year. Tejada last played in the Major Leagues in 2017 when he hit .230/.293/.283 in 41 games for the Orioles.
The bigger issue with Tejada is the fact he has never played the outfield in his professional career. One of the things which made McNeil so important was his versatility and ability to play almost all seven defensive positions. With respect to Tejada, he has mostly played third base this year along with some time at second and short. Overall, while Tejada may hit, he is not going to be able to provide the versatility the Mets need causing the team to have to lean on Aaron Altherr all the more.
Another former Met on the Syracuse roster who should merit consideration is Dilson Herrera. Unlike Tejada, Herrera has some outfield experience playing 10 games in the outfield for Syracuse and 11 games for the Reds last season. It should be noted Herrera did not rate well with a -2 DRS in 56.2 innings for the Reds last year, but he should have the opportunity to work with Luis Rojas, who has done a fine job helping Dominic Smith and J.D. Davis not be nightmares in left field this year.
Offensively, Herrera has had a very good year in Syracuse hitting .255/.332/.528 with 26 doubles, a triple, 22 homers, and 53 RBI. Now, the juiced ball effect should be taken into account for Herrera like it was with Tejada. That said, Herrera hit .297/.367/.465 in 71 Triple-A games last year. Herrera did not impress during his call-up to the Reds last year hitting .184/.268/.414 in 53 games. However, it should be noted he hit five homers for the Reds last year showing Herrera could help provide some pop off a bench currently bereft of it.
Looking at former Reds currently in the Mets system, the team should also consider Arismendy Alcantara. Looking at his Major League numbers, Alcantara has hit less than Tejada or Herrera. In fact, over the course of his limited playing time from 2014 – 2017, he hit .189/.235/.248. Like Tejada and Herrera, he his having a good year with Syracuse hitting .302/.363/.523 with 12 doubles, five triples, 10 homers, 41 RBI in 73 games.
Defensively, he is much more versatile than either Tejada or Herrera. In fact, over his career, the two positions he has predominantly played have been center field and second base. In many ways, that makes the switch hitter a very good replacement for McNeil as he is going to provide the same level of versatility the Mets need.
If the Mets wanted to look outside the organization, Josh Harrison was released by the Detroit Tigers on August 9. In 31 games for the Tigers, he hit just .176/.219/.265. Part of his struggles could be attributable to his having an injury plagued year with him having a shoulder injury in March and a left hamstring tendon strain which landed him on the IL on May 28. Harrison has not played in the Majors since then.
Harrison has not played well in his seven game rehab stint before his release. Of course, the long layoff could have been a factor. However, it should also be noted Harrison hit .250/.293/.363 in 97 games for the Pirates last year.
One other note with Harrison is he’s not as versatile as you would believe. Since 2016, he has predominantly played second base, and he last played more than one game in the outfield in 2017. He last played more than 10 games there in 2015. Put another way, he is really now just a 31 year old infielder who is on the decline.
Looking at all the options, the Mets need to consider what they want for the bench piece. Are they looking for a platoon for Panik at second? Do they want the best possible hitter to pinch hit? Are they looking to catch lightning in a bottle? Do the Mets value versatility, comfort with a particular player, or possibly a name which could inspire faith among the team and fanbase?
The Mets focus is going to dictate which direction they should go. Ultimately, given the ability to play multiple positions and the team’s need for a bat off the bench, arguably, the Mets should look towards Dilson Herrera. However, the decision is not that clear cut, and the Mets can very justifiably decide to go with any of the other aforementioned players.
UPDATE: According to reports, the Mets are going with Tejada.