Just before Christmas, the Mets made perhaps their biggest decision of the offseason (which is saying a lot) by hiring Buck Showalter as their skipper. The Mets have been the picture of instability in recent seasons, especially when it comes to their management team. From Carlos Beltran’s hiring-and-firing, to the Jared Porter debacle, to the Mickey Callaway debacle, to the Zack Scott debacle, it’s been a comedy of errors for the Mets – and with this one decision, they hope to turn the tide.
Enter Showalter, who not only is a veteran skipper, but he’s well-respected throughout the game. If nothing else, he ought to be able to finish his contact without committing a crime. And yet, that’s not enough for a franchise that’s put together a solid collection of baseball talent. Just ask Luis Rojas. This team wants to win, and if it does, Showalter will big one of the reasons why.
The track record is there, even if Showalter carries the unfortunate distinction of leaving two different stops the year before they won the World Series. Championships are hardly linear, of course. Whether it should be seen as a positive or a negative that the Yankees and Diamondbacks both won titles the year after he left is a debate for another day.
Let’s stick to the facts for a moment: He has a .506 career winning percentage as a manager over 3,069 games. His teams made the playoffs five times in 20 seasons. His best season, by record, was cut short by the strike in 1994. His worst season, by record, was his last, a 115-loss disaster in 2018 with the Orioles.
Mike Puma of the New York Post went through Showalter’s managerial history, looking back on his stops with the Yankees, Diamondbacks, Rangers, and Orioles. Wherever he went, Showalter was hailed as a solid tactician, incredibly intelligent about the game, and a strong communicator with his players. The latter may be the most important for a beleaguered bunch playing under the bright spotlight of New York.
Showalter has some of baseball’s best clubhouse veterans there to help him in Max Scherzer and Francisco Lindor. Along with Jacob deGrom, the Mets have the big names to match big expectations in the big apple. Having begun his career with the Yankees, Showalter knows a little something about what it’s like to play under those conditions.
The concern in hiring Showalter would be that he’s older now, and the last we saw of him in the dugout, he was perceived to be falling behind the times in terms of baseball’s analytics movement. Generalizations are stickier than comprehensive analysis, however, and there’s clearly more to Showalter’s time in Baltimore than just his decision to hold Zack Britton for a potential save that never came in the 2016 playoffs – even if that’s the moment that sticks.
The first test for Showalter is filling out his coaching staff. He appears to have made his first big decision by hiring Joey Cora to coach third base. Cora joins Showalter and pitching coach Jeremy Hefner on the staff. A lot more decisions are yet to come. Per the latest from MLB’s Anthony DiComo, Showalter said of filling out his staff, “There are so many good, qualified people out there. … We’re moving as fast as we can, but we don’t want to make a mistake. These are very precious and important jobs, and there’s got to be a collaboration with it.”
Limited though our information may be, does the Showalter hire have the Mets on the right track? MLBTR readers, lend us your wisdom: is Showalter the right guy to lead these Mets? Let’s keep this simple for the poll and hash out the details in the comments.
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