There is a way this is supposed to go in New York, the way it almost always goes. When a baseball team begins the season with high expectations and then disappoints, fans and pundits call for a managerial change.
It doesn’t matter if the manager is part of the problem (see Mickey Callaway or Joe Girardi) or not (see Terry Collins). It doesn’t matter if that person is a fit in the job. If a talented team loses, the skipper goes. It’s usually that simplistic and stupid.
This fall, the Yankees’ Aaron Boone and the Mets’ Luis Rojas face an extra challenge of timing, because both have contracts that will expire after the season. It’s not as easy as not firing them; their front offices would have to give them new deals.
The Yankees might make the postseason and the Mets will not. But barring a run to the World Series for the Yanks, Boone and Rojas will face the same tired calls for their heads that have ended so many managerial tenures before them.
The problem with that? Both are keepers.
We implore the decision makers — we’re talking directly to Steve Cohen, Sandy Alderson, Mr. or Ms. New President of Mets Baseball Ops, Hal Steinbrenner, Brian Cashman and Randy Levine — to ignore the public on this one and do what’s best for your respective teams.
No matter what happens for the rest of the season, keep these leaders. If the Yankees miss the wild card. If the Mets lose every remaining game. Take the one-day PR hit and announce new multi-year contracts for Boone and Rojas.
Mad about some of your manager’s in-game moves? Did he use the wrong reliever? Pitch to the wrong batter? Okay. We guarantee, if you hire someone else, that he will soon irritate you in the same way.
There is already reason for concern. Mets brass has been spotted lightly poking around for potential new managers, league sources say. Hal Steinbrenner declined a few months ago to answer a question about whether he would retain Boone if the Yankees missed the playoffs.
Guys. You don’t have to do this.
Here’s some of what both Boone and Rojas bring:
Calm, stable faces of the organization
The manager serves as a press secretary for the entire organization. More than anyone else, he is the face and voice of the team.
Throughout their tenures, Boone and Rojas have met the press twice a day and almost never lost their cool. And not for nothing, they’ve aced this test while having to discuss a global pandemic and the most serious reckoning on race in at least a generation. In the largest media market in sports. No big deal.
Also, both Boone and Rojas have also proven to be stand-up people, without a whiff of personal scandal attached. The Mets in particular should appreciate how deeply they can trust Rojas to not embarrass them.
Connecting with players
The knock on both Boone and Rojas is that they can be too player-friendly. And with Rojas in particular, this is probably an area to tighten up a bit.
But you know what? It’s a players’ game now. Even a legend like Buck Showalter struggled near the end of his run in Baltimore with players who chafed against his stern style. Girardi, considered young and contemporary when he began with the Yankees in 2008, has struggled for more than half a decade now to connect with the modern player.
As one Yankees person put it, “The players know that Boone has their back, and that’s really important.”
As for the Mets, it’s clear that this is going to be a player-first organization under Cohen. Rojas fits with that. What are you going to do, bring in Showalter to swim against that tide? It wouldn’t fit.
Spirit of collaboration with front office
Boone and Rojas push back against their analytics departments in ways that often never surface in public. And both front offices sometimes worry that their skippers lean on the traditional advice of certain coaches more than they should.
But over the past few years, both Boone and Rojas have shown a willingness to adapt to data-driven front offices.
Between the dual ascents of players and analytics departments, managers are left with less power than ever. The Yankees and Mets have already found people willing to exist in and even enjoy this reality.
One more point about Rojas specifically
If the Mets let him go, he will manage somewhere else — somewhere perhaps more enjoyable for him even, where he doesn’t have to face a verbal firing squad for every move that backfires. There’s a good chance he will be a star.
Do you really want to watch that happen, when he was all yours in the first place?
Source: Yahoo Sports