McDonald: Robin Ventura Is The Safest Bet And Why He Is The Early Favorite To Be The Next Mets Manager

Terry Collins is now gone from his manager’s office, moving upstairs to a cushy front office job.

Good for him.

But it’s now time to turn the page and hire the next Mets manager.

This isn’t an easy job, because there’s no slam dunk name out there, only candidates with ties to the organization either as players like Alex Cora, Joe McEwing, and Robin Ventura or coaches like Chip Hale, Bob Geren and Kevin Long. Each has their positives but each also has their negatives as well.

That’s not to say any of those candidates are poor choices, it’s just a wait and see.

Unfortunately, though, you can’t give any candidate a trial. Instead you will hire someone and hope for the best.

But consider this, if it’s not a popular pick and the Mets start out slow, there may not be a big honeymoon for him.

So, this is not just an important hire, but maybe the biggest decision Sandy Alderson has made as general manager. With Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard fronting the staff, you would think the Mets will be expected to contend next year. The Mets are going to sell 2018 as a return to the playoffs with this past season as an aberration.

If that’s the case, then company guys like Hale, Geren and Long won’t get as much of a long leash as more populist picks like McEwing and Ventura.

And it would be foolish for the Mets to hire Long with very little managerial experience, just because they are afraid he’s going to take his bat elsewhere. The New York Giants are learning that now with Ben McAdoo. One of the reason why Big Blue hired him was that they didn’t want him to go elsewhere, but now two years in at 0-4, the cracks are showing.

Managing in New York is very different than any place else. There’s a huge media contingent and the Mets have a huge social media and Internet presence as well. The manager is going to get criticized, because there’s always going to be someone who doesn’t like one move or two.

Say what you want about Collins, but he was a very good front man for the organization. He was there every day, speaking to the media. At times he expressed the same pain the fans were feeling, even expressing anger when necessary.

That’s not to say media skills isn’t the only set the Mets should look for. They want someone who is less old school and understand the analytical nature of the game. From all accounts each of the candidates have that set.

Cora and Geren may also be at a disadvantage. With their current employers in the playoffs, the Mets will have to wait until Houston and Las Angeles are eliminated to give them a serious look. If the Wilpons and Alderson want a quick hire, they may not be available.

That being said, Cora should get a serious look, when he played here, he seemed to be future manager, but he doesn’t have any experience and only one year as bench coach of the Astros. At 41, his time will come, but it may be too soon.

McEwing, however, has six years as a coach with the White Sox. He is considered a managerial candidate and if he doesn’t get the Met job, he may be hired elsewhere. At 44, he may be ready to make the jump. He is also rumored to be on the short list for the Phillies job. He is from Bristol, PA and lives in the Philly area, which may make that job more appealing. 

The 50 year-old Ventura may be the safest choice, because he is the biggest Met name, is close with the Wilpons and has managed in a big market before. That makes him the leading candidate going in. He had one winning season and four losing seasons with the White Sox, which gives him a track record, but not a very good one. And remember, the Mets haven’t had too much success with former Pale Hose managers before with Jeff Torborg and Jerry Manuel. That may mean nothing, but worth to note.

Yet, Ventura may be the pick if these are the six candidates. The New York Post reported Alderson and Jeff Wilpon will be doing the interviewing with Fred Wilpon signing off on the choice. Because of that, he has the inside track.

That doesn’t mean Ventura’s the wrong pick. Because of his postseason heroics in 1999 and 2000, he will probably get a longer grace period from the fans. He was known to be a player’s manager and is excellent with the media. If Alderson and the Wilpons believe those White Sox teams were just flawed, then Ventura could be the man.

Of course, they need to do the interviews first, so now it’s time to get down to business.  

About the Author

Joe McDonald

Joe McDonald is the founder and former publisher of NY Sports Day. After selling to i15Media in 2020, he serves as the Editor-in-Chief and responsible for the editorial side of the publication. In the past, Joe was the managing editor of NY Sportscene magazine and assistant editor of Mets Inside Pitch. He has covered the Mets since 2004.

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