The 2019 Washington Nationals World Series winning team had many parallels to the 2015 New York Mets pennant winning team. Really, the parallels go further than that. Those parallels bring forth a sense of melancholy when you consider what the Nationals could do that the Mets didn’t.
First and foremost, you think of how David Wright isn’t going to get the ring which Ryan Zimmerman just one. The two of them grew up together, were first round draft picks, and they were both Gold Glove All Star third baseman playing in the same division. They’d both suffer career altering injuries. In Wright’s case, it was career ending, but Zimmerman was able to overcome his injuries. That is part of the reason why Zimmerman has a ring, and Wright doesn’t.
Zimmerman might’ve won in 2012, but the Nationals would lose in the NLDS. One of the reasons for that loss was Stephen Strasburg was shut down.
Unlike Matt Harvey, Strasburg heeded the advice of Scott Boras, and Strasburg put his career above one shot at a World Series. To the Nationals credit, they did the same. Of course, the Mets pressured Harvey to pitch, and in the process, they reneged on their previous agreements. In the end, Harvey would pitch more innings than anyone had previous pitched post Tommy John.
As noted previously, Dave Martinez did what Terry Collins didn’t do. He lifted Strasburg one batter in the ninth. Through and through, the Nationals knew how to treat and handle their franchise starter, and the Mets didn’t.
On the subject of Martinez, it is noteworthy he was a first time manager in 2018 like Mickey Callaway. Like Callaway, both were on the hot seat entering this season. In fact, both of them had seats scolding hot at points during the season. The Nationals stuck by Martinez, and they won a World Series, while the Mets are conducting a search for their next manager with former Mets player and current Nationals first base coach Tim Bogar among the candidates.
In terms of players with ties to both teams, Asdrubal Cabrera would win his first ring with the Nationals. To his credit, Cabrera did all he could do in 2016 to get the Mets into the Wild Card Game, but the Mets would lose that game. Obviously, the Nationals would win that game making a stunning come from behind victory.
Other interesting tidbits was Max Scherzer having a start similar to the one Jacob deGrom had in Game 5 of the 2015 NLDS. Scherzer faced off against Zack Greinke much like deGrom did four years ago. Another interesting tidbit was like with Daniel Murphy in 2015, it took a home run from the second baseman to give their team a 3-2 lead. Well, actually Howie Kendrick was the DH last night, but he has been a second baseman for much of the year.
Finally, when thinking of the Washington Nationals franchise, you come to think of Gary Carter. He was the first ever player from that franchise inducted into the Hall of Fame, and it was the result of the Baseball Hall of Fame not permitting him to wear a Mets cap like he wanted. Part of the reason why was Carter didn’t want to go in the Hall with a team with whom he had no ties.
In the ensuing year, the Nationals unretired his number, and there is little reference or honoring him or the other Montreal Expos greats. Still, while the Nationals fans don’t remember him, we, as Mets fans will, especially because it was Carter who started the greatest rally in World Series history. That rally helped that 1986 team accomplish what the 2019 Nationals did – win a World Series.
In the first inning of Game 6, Alex Bregman homered off Stephen Strasburg to give the Houston Astros a 2-1 lead. For some reason, Bregman would carry his bat to first base and give it to First Base Coach Don Kelly.
— Houston Astros (@astros) October 30, 2019
In an era where we are beginning to see more and more acceptance of bat flips and home run celebrations, this did seem a bit excessive. There were former players like Paul Lo Duca, who tweeted, ” If this wasn’t the world series he would get one in the ear.”
He’s not the only one who thought that, and certainly, you’re left to wonder what pitchers of yesteryear would’ve done in that situation. At least by reputation, you can’t believe pitchers like Bob Gibson would’ve let it go unanswered.
Well, just because a pitcher doesn’t throw at a batter in retaliation, it doesn’t mean you can’t respond in kind. We saw that when Juan Soto hit an absolute bomb off of Justin Verlander to give the Nationals a 3-2 lead.
— MLB (@MLB) October 30, 2019
It wasn’t just his absolutely destroying that baseball which made it the perfect response. No, it was his carrying the bat to first like Bregman before dropping it in front of First Base Coach Tim Bogar.
We all can debate about whether celebrating is showing up the opponent. We can also debate whether there should be a retaliation for those celebrations. Where we all can agree is there is no better way to exact revenge than to do what Soto did.
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.
Aside from the 22 games of experience Tim Bogar has with the 2014 Texas Rangers, the Mets managerial field is filled with inexperienced candidates. Despite that being the case, the Mets have a very interesting group of candidates with Eduardo Perez perhaps being the person whom the Mets should hire.
In an era of analytics, you want someone who is well versed in advanced data. With Perez being a part of the ESPN “Nerdcasts,” you know he is well versed in analytics. However, when it comes to analytics, it is not just being well versed in them. In fact, like the Boston Globe reported, Alex Cora showed with the 2018 Boston Red Sox it’s not just knowing analytics. It is also about how about how to best utilize them, getting the best people into the organization to handle them, and finally, finding out those things you don’t know.
With respect to Perez, he knows all of this. He knows this from his dealing with the people at MLB and other organizations who compile the data. He knows that from working with ESPN and MLB Radio. He also knows that from his being the Astros Bench Coach when Jeff Luhnow and the current analytically driven people were brought to the organization.
That is one aspect currently overlooked with Perez. He has experience as a coach and manager. From 2008 – 2009, he was the manager of Leones de Ponce of the Puerto Rican Winter League. In 2008, his team won the championship, and his team would win the league title. He would serve other roles from there including the Marlins hitting coach, and as discussed above, the Astros bench coach. It should be noted Perez resigned to spend time with his family.
Perez returned to ESPN. On that front, Perez has developed media savvy. In an era when the manager does pre-game and post-game press conferences, that ability is of vital importance. For the Mets, it is all the more important considering the incident Mickey Callaway had with reporters earlier this year.
Part of Perez’s media savvy is understanding people. Recently, while co-hosting The Leadoff Spot with former Mets General Manager Steve Phillips, Perez was asked by Phillips about the importance of being bilingual. Perez responded it isn’t about being just bilingual, but rather being multicultural. It’s understanding the players from Puerto Rico have a difference experience than those from the Dominican Republic or Venezuela. It’s also about understanding how the kid from the Midwest is different from the Northeast or California.
On the topic of his co-hosting a show with Steve Phillips, Perez has an opportunity to gain insight into how the Mets run their organization. He gets the chance to hear from someone who was a part of the Mets organization for 13 years on how the team operates and how best to navigate his way around the organization.
Any manager who is hired by the team is going to be confronted by that right away as the team is rumored to want to keep some of their coaches from last year’s Mets team. Those coaches include Chili Davis and Gary Disarcina, who were teammates of Perez from his playing days.
With Perez’s playing days, coaching career, and time spent in the media, he has been a baseball lifer. In fact, his being a baseball lifer goes all the way back to his being the son of Hall of Famer Tony Perez. When you think about it, Perez has spent his entire life not just in baseball, but around some of the greatest players who have ever played the game.
When you break it down, Perez has a wealth of knowledge and experience. With all that he brings to the table, he is going to be a vital asset to whoever hires him. If reports are to be believed, that is going to be the Mets. If true, the Mets are going to get an intelligent communicator who knows this game just as well as anyone. Overall, he just might be the best possible candidate for this job, and the Mets will be much better off for having hired him.
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.
Even with the Mets missing out on the Wild Card by three games, we will actually see some Mets in the World Series. Technically speaking, there are former Mets players in the World Series. So, in that sense, no matter who wins the World Series, we are going to see a Mets player get a ring.
Joe Smith – The 2006 third round pick was a valuable member of the Mets bullpen for two years before getting traded in the ill fated J.J. Putz trade. As luck would have it, Smith was the best reliever in that deal. In fact, Smith has had a very good career as a reliever with a good stretch in the postseason. In recent years, he’s tried to stay as close to his Ohio home as possible to be near his mother who is suffering from Huntington’s Disease. On that note, he has spent much time promoting awareness of this disorder through HelpCureHD.org.
Collin McHugh – The Mets never quite knew what they had with the 18th round pick of the 2008 draft trading him for Eric Young Jr. The same could go for the Rockies who designated him for assignment. McHugh rose above it all being one of the first pitchers to truly benefit from this Astros front office effect on pitchers. While he’s been a key part of the team’s recent run, he’s been sidelined this postseason with injuries.
Brent Strom – Strom was actually the third overall pick of the 1970 draft, but due to injuries, he would never quite make it either with the Mets, who eventually traded him to the Cleveland Indians, or as a Major Leaguer. After his Major League career, he’s found his footing as a coach, and during his tenure as the Astros pitching coach, he’s become one of the more noteworthy pitching coaches in the game.
Asdrubal Cabrera – The Mets signed Cabrera as a free agent, and his second half of the 2016 propelled them to the Wild Card Game. His play in that second half, along with that iconic bat flip, made him a fan favorite even through the issues regarding his trade demands. As much as fans loved him, Cabrera loved being a Met with his being traded and not re-signed breaking his son’s heart. Cabrera would have his chance to return, but with Brodie Van Wagenen not calling him back after the team signed Jed Lowrie over him, Cabrera opted to go to Washington instead.
Tim Bogar – Bogar spent four years as a Met as a utility player who was best known for his pre-game segments on Diamondvision. After his career was over, he had a decorated career as a minor league manager, and he’s been a respected coach leading to him being the National’s first base coach. With him being on the short list on the Mets managerial search, he may have a return to Queens after this World Series.
Chip Hale – Hale is a respected longtime coach who served as Terry Collins‘ third base coach in 2010 – 2011. In terms of team history, he goes down as one of the best third base coaches they have ever had.
Kevin Long – Long was the Mets hitting coach from 2015 – 2017. During that time, he was credited for players like Daniel Murphy and Yoenis Cespedes taking their offense to new heights, which was one of the reasons the Mets won the 2015 pennant. Partially due to his work as a hitting coach, he was a favorite to replace Collins as manager. When the Mets hired Mickey Callaway over him, he would leave for the Nationals organization where he has led young hitters like Juan Soto to the World Series.
Henry Blanco – Blanco had a reputation as a defensive catcher who spent one year with the Mets as a backup to Rod Barajas. After his playing career was over, he has followed a similar career path to Dave Duncan going from defensive catcher to pitching coach with Blanco having been the Nationals bullpen coach for the past two years.
In the end, no matter who wins, there will be a former Mets player who has a ring. As a fan of those players and coaches during their time with the Mets, we can take some sense of satisfaction when they get their ring. Of course, being happy for a particular player and being happy a certain team won are two completely different things.
The Mets have interviewed Carlos Beltran and Tim Bogar for their manager job. If either one gets the job, they will become the 10th former Mets player to manage the team. Can you name the nine who have done it? Good luck!