Thursday, December 9 2021
Luis Rojas treated image, blue jersey and clapping in front of orange Citi Field

Luis Rojas treated image, blue jersey and clapping in front of orange Citi Field

If there is one guarantee about the next Mets manager, it’s that both fans and the front office will hate many of his in-game moves.

That’s just how it works in a town that follows baseball as closely and passionately as New York.

Add that to the reality that modern organizations have made managing more “collaborative” than it has ever been, and it’s nearly impossible to judge a skipper by pinch-hit decisions or pitching changes.

We do know, based on history, that Twitter and talk radio will crush the new guy as hard as they did Luis Rojas.

Knowing that, the Mets can only hope that whoever they hire will know the game as well as Rojas, care about the players as much as Rojas, and represent this organization with a dignity that runs half as deep as Rojas’.

If there is one legitimate criticism of Rojas’ management this year — and probably the factor that, above all others, cost him his job, it is that he was too player-friendly.

In retrospect, he probably shouldn’t have allowed Francisco Lindor so much leeway to be a leader in Lindor’s first year with the team — especially when some in the clubhouse saw Lindor’s attempts at leadership as forced and inauthentic. Others loved Lindor, because human interactions are always complex and subjective.

The organization still believes that Lindor possesses significant potential and can mature, but he took on more than he could handle in 2021. Rojas was the manager, so that miscalculation falls at least partly on him.

It wasn’t just Lindor. There were those in the Mets clubhouse who looked askance at Rojas’ coziness with players in general.

It’s important to note that it’s a players’ game now, and disciplinarian managers simply don’t work anymore. Even the great Buck Showalter burned out in Baltimore because the clubhouse tired of his intensity. Rojas’ more relatable style was on-trend with what was happening all over the game.

Sep 3, 2021; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; New York Mets manager Luis Rojas (19) walks on the field during the sixth inning against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY SportsSep 3, 2021; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; New York Mets manager Luis Rojas (19) walks on the field during the sixth inning against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Sep 3, 2021; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; New York Mets manager Luis Rojas (19) walks on the field during the sixth inning against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Still, there was a sense with the Mets in particular that the students were running the school too much. That’s part of why significant roster changes are expected; a better overall vibe is necessary after a toxic year.

It’s impossible to guess at the next Mets manager before the team hires a new head of baseball operations. But if the new president comes from the Billy Beane/David Stearns/Theo Epstein category, that person will be looking for a skipper who can relate to the modern player, is willing to implement analytics-based game theory, and doesn’t expect significant power over decisions. They’ll be looking for a middle man who knows how to manage both up and down.

In other words, if they hadn’t just let Luis Rojas go, they would be looking for a guy just like … Luis Rojas, if Rojas had just a bit more gravitas and authority.

As no less eloquent an analyst than Ron Darling put in on Sunday in the final game broadcast of the year:

“I saw Bob Melvin fired from the Mariners. I saw [Terry] Francona fired from the Phillies. I saw Joe Torre — the great Joe Torre, Hall-of-Famer Joe Torre — fired in Flushing. In Flushing. I just hope with Luis, you don’t lose a Francona here.”

I for one strongly believe New York is the best city for baseball. There’s nowhere else I would want to follow and cover it. But one dumb feature about this place is the reflexive blaming of managers for results.

The Arizona Diamondbacks extended manager Torey Lovullo despite a 100-loss season, because they thought he could be part of the solution. In Oakland, Melvin survived seasons of 68, 69 and 75 wins, because he wasn’t the problem.

New York offers no such flexibility. As a result, Rojas will grow into the job elsewhere — and that could easily be the Mets’ loss.

Source: Yahoo Sports

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