Yes, the Mets have a manager this season. Beyond that, though, a perfect storm is forming in which the Mets can have THE manager of this era in 2020…
I hope the Mets and Brodie Van Wagenen located and read a story written under the banner of a Chicago radio station in which Cubs General Manager, Theo Epstein, defended his reasons for not granting his manager, Joe Maddon, an extension on his contract, due to expire at the end of the 2019 season.
Epstein is an old pro himself by now, and he has learned to deliver a message without saying the words directly. You can read the entire article, but Epstein’s most telling words are here:
So, is Epstein telling us that Maddon sleepwalked through the 2018 season? He needs to be poked with a cattle prod now, and “rejuvenated” with a power pack IV or something to be ready for the upcoming season? Don’t worry Cub fans, Epstein says Maddon has been thru rehab and is ready to go now? Huh?
The Cubs and Maddon spread their magic on baseball once, and according to all those in the know, a dynasty equal or better than the Yankees four out of five was as assured as the Cubs coming up with new ways of reaping revenue in and around Wrigley Field (Don’t forget to stop in their new Beer Garden before and after their home games).
But it didn’t work out, and Theo Epstein has a host of problems and players who are just not performing, or getting too old (Jon Lester) to carry the full weight of their salary. Reports out today indicate the Cubs are even considering trading Kris Bryant, arguably their best position player.
Funny how words have a way of working their way back, too. Here’s Maddon on the subject of complacency in February, 2017:
In brief, things are a mess in the Windy City and Epstein didn’t make it better by back-slapping (I mean stabbing) Joe Maddon, as excellent a manager and person as there is in baseball today.
All of which means, and here’s the good part concerning the Mets – this is likely to be Maddon’s final year in Chicago. Moreover, reading even further between the lines, the Cubs already have set their sights on Joe Girardi as their manager in 2020. And make no mistake, Girardi has been only biding his time with his gigs as a commentator, well just about everywhere.
Maddon will be a young 65 when the 2020 season rolls around. He takes care of himself, and if anything, has to be checked for low blood pressure from time to time. Known as an exemplary communicator with his players, it might just be that the underperforming and over-confident players under his care in 2018 finally wore him down. We’ll never know.
What we do know, though is the Mets have a manager in Mickey Callaway who is not up to the standards of a major league manager as the game is played today. Give the Mets credit for making a bold move in hiring him, but there is such a thing as overachieving in the sport of baseball, and perhaps like Dominic Smith, Mickey Callaway is destined to be another casualty.
Callaway, should he overachieve by guiding the Mets to the playoffs, winning Manager of the Year Award in 2019, would not be guaranteed to escape the fate of Joe Girardi, Buck Showalter, Tony Pena, Bob Melvin, and Jim Tracy, all of whom won the award only to be canned the next season.
But that is not the point, which is that if a Joe Maddon comes along, the Mets need to view it as an omen and a once in a lifetime opportunity to hire a bonafide major league manager with a pedigree and track record to back it up – of winning, no matter where he’s been.
Is that to say that Maddon would be banging on the Mets door for a job? Hardly. And the pursuit of his talents should he decide to remain in baseball as a manager is guaranteed to be extreme with a multitude of teams in the mix.
Think about it, though. When was the last time the Mets had a manager equal to the caliber of someone like Maddon? Here’s the list of all Mets managers since 1962. Tell me who would you count as superior to Maddon – and you can’t pick Joe Torre (1977-1981) because his success came much afterward.
Granted, it’s a long ways away, but the Mets front office needs to be thinking that far ahead. It’s the same thing they should be doing (and hopefully are), of course, with their players in their farm system. Who should be ready next year, the year after, or maybe never? A manager should be no different.
If executed professionally and properly per baseball protocol, the entire event of pursuing Maddon should remain transparent to everyone until the match is lit. Here’s hoping they can.
Written by Steve Contursi, Editor