Hot Stove: Buck Hit A Home Run; Yankees Update

Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire

During pre-pandemic times the Mets would introduce a high profile free agent signee or their new manager with an elaborate press conference at Citi Field. Now, though, it’s all Zoom and an impersonal scrum of others.

Buck Showalter does not need a live audience of a media gathering and he’s done this many times as a previous manager in New York with the Yankees, with the Diamondbacks, Rangers and Orioles. The newest Mets manager is the show.

He does not need a live audience to get his message across.

Tuesday, he was officially on the job as the newest manager of the Mets. He was the Zoom show and when he put on the Mets cap it was more than a welcome back homecoming to New York.

This was also the continued push of owner Steve Cohen and his goal to deliver a championship within that three or five year plan that he’s cited, perhaps sooner.

Showalter has some tough shoes to fill, because as I have mentioned, the manager is as good as the players but Cohen will spend money which is so reminiscent of his first year across town with the George Steinbrenner Yankees.

So the Mets are expected to win when baseball resumes, provided a new collective bargaining agreement is in place. They were expected to win in 2021 and the previous manager was sent home.

But this is now in the hands of Buck Showalter. As we have said, in Buck we trust. He is perhaps the most respected mind in baseball but lacks a World Series attached to his resume.

I understand the job description,” he said. “The job description isn’t to be competitive. It’s to be the last team standing.”

Showalter said the right thing. His job is to get the Mets to be that last team standing in October. That was an impressive statement in reacquainting with the NY media, a message he got across and every Mets fan should know this is Buck Showalter.

Whatever the money figure that got Cohen to seal this three year deal, the investment is valuable. Whether or not the Mets are that last team standing in 2022, they will eventually be the next year or the one that follows.

Cohen said it would be a three or five year plan to be that last team standing and deliver the first Mets World Series championship since 1986. He has the players and probably more to come.

And he has a manager that can do it.

You appreciate his ability to really drive his clubs,” said GM Billy Eppler about his new manager, “It seems like he squeezes every single ounce of ability out of those players. Everybody was in the right spot at the time they needed to be there.”

Showalter also gets his coaches to coincide on the same page and the staff will eventually come into place, with exception of pitching coach Jeremy Hefner who was the lone holdover.

They want to be a part of Buck’s staff. A current coach of a Mets divisional rival, under contract and with former ties to New York, expressed an interest to me regarding his interest in being part of Buck’s coaching staff.

Though, in the end, that collaboration is a major trait of Showalter and his success. It will come down to filling out the coaching staff with Eppler and others involved in the process.

He has adapted to analytics and the information. The Mets are all in with the metrics and Showalter is in line with the plan despite his old school managerial philosophy that has adapted well with players over the years. It’s about the scouting reports and now the numbers. It’s also about clubhouse management that reportedly was a constant distraction under previous manager Luis Rojas.

Information from the front office will be valuable from the scouting directors of those that handle numbers in a baseball era of analytics. Showalter has never had an issue with getting that information to his desk and those in baseball say that’s what makes him a good manager.

“‘It’s how to get better every day and see where each day takes you,” Showalter said.

If somebody thinks that I’m going to go back to the hotel or the house and think that maybe we got beat because someone else had better or used information better than we did, then you don’t know me very well,” he said.

Yes, this was Buck Showalter and it was his show Tuesday afternoon without a live audience. Soon, he will perform live before 39,000 fans at Citi Field. Those rabid fans believe in their billionaire owner.

They believe Buck Showalter will help deliver that long and overdue World Series championship.

He said, “The one thing the manager has to do is create avenues when every department feels comfortable and everybody can bring what they bring. The great organizations, almost in every sport, have a real connectivity between the general manager, the field staff, and ownership. It’s something I know is not gonna be a challenge here.”

Remember though, this is still New York. It will be a challenge but the difference is Steve Cohen and all the proper resources to deliver that live and successful show.

BOONE PROVIDES YANKEES UPDATE: Aaron Boone and 29 other managers are not permitted to have talks with players on their respective 40-man rosters, due to the lockout that has continued with players and owners as they try to come to a new CBA agreement.

Boone, though, Wednesday afternoon was available to update the media on a Zoom call about the offseason, six new members of his new coaching staff that include Luis Rojas, and status of a top Yankees prospect. The manager can communicate with players in their minor league systems as they don’t come under guidelines of the CBA and MLB.

Boone on the lockout and his coaches: “Obviously, that’s especially this time where you’re adding a few new coaches, you would love to have this time for guys to really start building and diving into those relationships. Obviously without having contact, but everyone’s in the same boat, as well, so I think right now, it’s just a lot of conversations with coaches.”

On the inability to communicate with players on his roster during the offseason including an update on outfielder Aaron Hicks, he said “Obviously, once things are settled, you make your evaluations and they come in and get evaluated physically and see where everybody’s at. It’s not ideal, obviously, that we can’t have that contact and know exactly what everyone’s doing, but we should get a decent idea in those early days of what we’re dealing with.”

Boone added that Hicks had some playing time in the Dominican league but was not sure if the outfielder was good and ready to go. Hicks is one of many uncertain questions the Yankees will need to address when the lockout concludes.

Boone said Anthony Volpe, the Yankees highly touted prospect, is someone on his radar and sees him as a “special guy” referring to his attitude off the field and clubhouse presence.

Well. I think he’s shown that he can really play and obviously is somebody that we’re incredibly excited about. I’ve gotten a little peek into some of those intangible things,: he said referring to how Volpe communicates, talks, and his work ethic.”

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.

Get connected with us on Social Media