The New York Mets’ search for a manager began this week and while the list of candidates has some impressive names, if owner Steve Cohen and new general manager Billy Eppler want to follow up a splashy November and continue to assemble a win-now club, there’s really only one option.
The Mets should hire Buck Showalter.
Showalter, like any candidate, has pros and cons. But he has two important lines on his resume no other current candidate can match: He’s managed before, and he’s managed in New York.
This probably wouldn’t matter to a smaller-market team or one that hadn’t just parted ways with Luis Rojas, a first-time manager who was well-liked and respected and is now part of the Yankees’ coaching staff across town.
It maybe wouldn’t matter if the Mets weren’t coming off a disastrous 2021 season during which they slid from first-place to missing the postseason, with whispers of culture issues permeating from a clubhouse in which several players (most notably departed Javier Báez) gave fans the thumbs down gesture or lied about clubhouse fights.
Maybe experience and handling New York’s oft-harsh spotlight wouldn’t be so important for the next manager if Cohen hadn’t made it clear in his short time as owner that he doesn’t like to pay for people to learn on his dime. Or if he hadn’t, at his first news conference as Mets owner last November, delivered the line, “If I don’t win a World Series in the next three to five years — I’d like to make it sooner — I would consider that slightly disappointing.”
Showalter has managed under a demanding owner before (the late George Steinbrenner). He’s built an organization from the ground up with then-expansion franchise Arizona. There, he had Hall of Fame pitcher Randy Johnson, who could be as terrifying off the mound as he was on it. Showalter managed Alex Rodriguez in Texas and scores of other stars in a 20-year managerial career.