Terry Collins was forced out the door in Flushing following a dismal season. Who will be the next man to head the bench?
WHO would’ve thought that, after initially hired in 2010, that Terry Collins would be the longest-tenured manager in Mets franchise history? I remember listening to the Almighty-like New York sports radio host boast about the impeding misfortunes of the club in between the broadcast of the introductory press conference. Yes, it seemed to be a short-term fix during a painful rebuild implemented by new general manager Sandy Alderson.
Between the years of 2010 and 2014, Collins presided over the rebuild that saw not one winning season but the emergence of promising pitchers in Matt Harvey and Jacob de Grom. It all came to fruition in 2015 when the perfect storm of good fortune made landfall:
1. Dominance from starting pitching; especially the call-up of Noah Syndergaard.
2. Acquisition of Yoenis Cespedes at the trade deadline
3. Horrendous play down the stretch by the Washington Nationals (you can’t lose in the NLDS if you don’t make the NLDS, right?)
All in all, the Mets rode the wave all the way to the World Series in 2015. Unfortunately, the pestering Kansas City Royals showed up, as well. I also think that that was the last home run Alex Gordon hit.
I guess we can all agree on 2015 as the high water mark for the Mets. Following digression in 2016 but a great performance in the home stretch, a playoff berth was solidified. And I don’t need to bring up anything associated with 2017. Let’s just say that a change in manager was due.
So lets take a look at who may be the next manager of the Mets.
1. Kevin Long
- This one is from left field. Long is a successful hitting coach, cut his teeth with the Evil Empire, and has his fans in Curtis Granderson and Brett Gardner.
- I guess you can say that his best piece of work was turning around Daniel Murphy. Upon Long’s arrival in 2015, we found out that he worked a lot with Murph and implemented changes to his swing. The result was a historic postseason run that abruptly ended in the World Series. Now we get to see the fruit of Long’s work destroy our team’s pitching and our hearts 19 times a year
- His hiring will ensure continuity of front office philosophy. Long’s time on the Mets bench will surely represent the status quo if he his hired as the manager.
Best Case Scenario: Long is hired as the manager. His reputedly great people and motivating skills click with the players. Not asked to do much technically, the Mets ride their (finally) healthy pitching and get to the postseason.
Worst Case Scenario: Long is not hired by the Mets but, following the sudden departure of Joe Girardi in the Bronx, is scooped up by the Yankees and leads the the team to years of success.
If you’ve been watching the postseason, who’s to say that this doesn’t happen as everything seems to work out for the Yankees anyway.
2. Alex Cora
- He is deemed the hot candidate of 2017. He has been included in every managerial job opening.
- In addition to his one year of experience on a big league bench (with the 2017 Astros), he has managing and GM experience with the Puerto Rican National Team.
- He is regarded as a guy with high baseball IQ and connects well with players
- He embraces analytics, which is considered a top criteria of Sandy Alderson
- He may be in line to take Boston’s job as it is more appealing than the Mets job
Best Case Scenario: Cora is hired as the manager and lives in harmony with the front office. He gets the most of out his pitchers and he oversees a sound defense to complement the pitching.
Worst Case Scenario: He goes down the road as many other “hot” candidates before him and ultimately is in way over his head.
3. Mickey Callaway
- Considered the best pitching coach in baseball. He served as the Indian’s pitching coach since 2013 and in every season his staff possessed the best ERA in the league
- Highly regarded by Terry Francona, who is considered the best manager in the game
- Energetic and loose personality
Best Case Scenario: As manager, he works with the starting pitchers and finally turns them into the best staff in the game. The Mets future was built on pitching and Callaway should get the most out of it.
Worst Case Scenario: He’s hired by Philadelphia. The youth movement in Philly is real and they have a core of stud, hard-throwing pitchers in the pipeline and I’m sure Callaway’s expertise will make them a juggernaut in the NL East for years to come.
4. Joe McEwing
- Highly-regarded by Chicago White Sox players, coaches, and front office
- Endorsed by Bobby Valentine, whom McEwing played under with the Mets
- Fan favorite while with the Mets
- Energetic and considered a players’ coach
Best Case Scenario: McEwing gets his first managerial job and changes the culture in the clubhouse. He gets the most out of his players even if they struggle. The fans get behind him as he proved to be a popular player with the Mets. Maybe he even gets David Wright to retire and gain experience as a bench coach so one day he can ultimately manage the team.
Worst Case Scenario: His lack of managerial experience leads to dysfunction with the front office and the same old stuff goes.
I consider these four to be the top candidates for the job. As you can see, none possess big league managerial experience. Ultimately, my emotional self is pulling for Joe McEwing as I remember watching him give his all for the Mets in the 2000’s. I believe that, even though he wasn’t the biggest or fastest player around, he proved to be successful. I think that mentality can translate well as a manager where his responsibility will be to motivate his players and get the best out of them.
When it comes to the best choice, I really would love to hear that Mickey Callaway blew the front office away in his interview. For years, us Mets fans were asked to patiently wait as the rebuild would ultimately produce starting pitching that would allow the team to contend for years and ultimately win a World Championship. Now that these pitchers have been around, who better to hire than the best pitching coach in the game to finally get the most out of them?
I just think Callaway, under the radar, would make a great manager. Those are usually the guys who become great.