Showalter: In Buck They Trust

Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire

Buck Showalter has not won a World Series as a manager. The Mets and owner Steve Cohen are making a commitment to deliver a championship with this three-or five year plan, perhaps sooner.

The Mets hired Buck Showalter, reportedly to a three-year contract, to be their next manager that will become official Monday. In Buck, the Mets have a veteran manager that can deliver with all the goods that be supplied by Cohen.

By all standards, and we know this, the manager always looks good when the players deliver. The manager and coaching staff take a fall when they don’t deliver, and that’s my point, because Showalter has that track record of making sure his players deliver.

For sure, last year the Mets, with a talented roster, were supposed to deliver and they failed. Though we in the media are not permitted in the clubhouse, due to COVID protocols, and could not get a first hand look, it’s difficult to say what went wrong for former manager Luis Rojas.

I do know that, after talking to several Mets players, they take the blame for the failure of 2021. They claimed Rojas had control of the clubhouse, then again, one look at that ugly Francisco Lindor-Jeff McNeil incident and you would think otherwise.

Regardless, the brief two-year tenure of Rojas was a failure. Perhaps it was another mistake of hiring a rookie manager that had to learn on the job, while also depending on his coaches to handle clubhouse issues and in-game decisions.

The Mets have a manager, one who gets respect from the roster, can handle in game management, and also those issues of conflicting personalities in the clubhouse.

For sure, Showalter knows something about managing personalities. I bring up the name Manny Machado, not one of the easiest to handle. Showalter, though, had that player-manager trust with Machado during his tenure with the Baltimore Orioles.

What have they said, in Buck we trust,” a high ranking NL official said to me Saturday. “Buck is the right choice. He goes with the plan and the Mets will be in good hands. He knows New York and what is expected from today’s type of player.”

With the exception of Terry Collins, who vacated the managerial chair in 2017, the Mets have not had that bona fide leader and veteran. Mickey Callaway followed and became a negative headline, Carlos Betran never had the opportunity to prove his worth as a rookie manager and was connected with the Houston Astros sign stealing scandal that rocked baseball.

Showalter, though, never was involved with a scandal and knows something about clubhouse management with 20 years as manager of the Yankees, Diamondbacks, Rangers, and Orioles.

He is in this to win. Showalter knows something about getting a team over the hump, and that recent stint with the Orioles is a reminder of how significant this hire is for the Mets and Steve Cohen.

The only blemish on the 65-year old Showalter resume’ are questions about a few game management decisions, and criticism for a decision not to use all-star closer Zack Britton in the 2016 AL wild card game. The Orioles lost and that decision may have been attributed to analytics. There was no guarantee that if he used Britton in that game, that Baltimore would’ve won. 

But that was then and this is now. The Mets needed a veteran leader and apparently Steve Cohen wanted him from the beginning of the managerial search. One source informed me, Showalter wanted this challenge to lead the Mets to prominence. He was anxious to begin a new era in New York.

The Mets have invested heavily in their analytical approach, Showalter, has adapted to the numbers game and changes and will incorporate all of that within game management. What you heard from Showalter as an analyst on the MLB Network and YES is just a sample.

He knows the game. He knows the demands of players, and Showalter knows what it takes to perform and excel in New York. The 23rd manager in Mets history, Showalter has the respect of higher ups and coaches around the league.

A source also informed me that when this becomes official Monday, Showalter will immediately go to work and recommend to GM Billy Eppler about who should be a part of his coaching staff. The only holdover is pitching coach Jeremy Hefner and Showalter has his preferences.

Players on the 40-man roster, of course, can’t have contact with their new manager until a new collective bargaining agreement is reached as the lockout continues and probably will stretch until February’s spring training nears.

For now, the Mets have their new manager. They have not been to the postseason since 2016 and have a fan base that is anticipating a return to the World Series since their last one in 2015.

Is Buck Showalter the answer and the right manager to fulfill a goal that Steve Cohen envisioned when he assumed ownership last year? That answer remains to be determined and there are so many obstacles to a long baseball season, no matter how much money is spent.

Do know this, Luis Rojas was not the answer as much as that good guy approach came across. There is a difference here because Buck Showalter does not have to learn on the job.

As has been said, in Buck they trust. And the Buck stopped here in New York in what should result in a perfect marriage for the Mets.

Rich Mancuso: Twitter@Ring786 Mancuso

About the Author

Rich Mancuso

Rich Mancuso is a regular contributor at NY Sports Day, covering countless New York Mets, Yankees, and MLB teams along with some of the greatest boxing matches over the years. He is an award winning sports journalist and previously worked for The Associated Press, New York Daily News, Gannett, and, in a career that spans almost 40 years.

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