Mets manager Luis Rojas has much on his plate. At the top of the to-do list is the construction of a batting order. Let’s see how this prediction stands up.
Mets new manager Luis Rojas has about seven weeks to prepare his team for Opening Day when they’ll be facing the World Champion Washington Nationals, and the race to October begins.
Rojas is not Carlos Beltran, who found himself in a lonely position as the new kid on the block. Try as he reportedly did, Beltran spent many hours chatting and texting back and forth with his players in a “getting to know ya” mode.
Luis Rojas has the distinct advantage of having a built-in relationship with as many as thirteen current Mets, stemming from Rojas’s catching them on the way up when he was a manager in the Mets organization dating back to 2011.
That will help Rojas, but it’s his baseball instinct that will guide him through his first year, and especially the first half of the 2020 season.
His pedigree and attachment have generated much of those instincts to the Alou family, but now, Rojas is pretty much on his own.
Luis Rojas: Is He A Precedent-Setting Manager – Or Not
Will Luis Rojas fall in as a “traditional” manager who, for instance, takes his speediest player and automatically inserts him into the leadoff spot? Will he follow precedent, placing his “best hitter” in the three-hole?
Does Rojas pen – not pencil – Pete Alonso in as the clean-up batter in the Mets order?
Or, is Luis Rojas destined to be the next Kevin Cash of baseball? Cash, the same manager who introduced the “Opener” to baseball and having changed baseball forever?
Will Rojas, for instance, put Noah Syndergaard in the eight-hole, with Amed Rosario batting ninth? Does Rojas have enough trust in Robinson Cano to bat him third, where a potential Hall of Famer belongs?
The intrigue surrounding Rojas continues when we consider Pete Alonso and Michael Conforto, and their positions in the batting order.
Which one is best to protect the other? Do the Mets decide they’d instead rely on the higher batting average they’ll get from Conforto, putting him in front of Alonso? Effectively, this would have Alonso fifth in the order.
How does Rojas rate, Jeff McNeil? If you believe a leadoff hitter’s main job is to get on base, then McNeil is a no-brainer for Rojas to insert there. No one has a higher on-base percentage than McNeil (.384).
A close runner-up, however, is J.D. Davis, who also hit over .300 last year with a .369 OBP. Davis is an outlier for this assignment, but as we’ve said, maybe Rojas is an outlier himself – we don’t know.
Mets: Scratchers Or Thrashers
Take it up a notch to ask, generally, does Luis Rojas see the Mets as thrashers who lie in wait looking for the three-run home run – or does he prefer a team that grinds it out, putting up ones and twos on the scoreboard that totals up to a win?
From this vantage point, Rojas has the luxury of making a choice. The Mets were fifth in the National League in 2019 with 242 home runs. Almost equally, the Mets were sixth in on-base percentage and fourth in hits. (Source: ESPN)
At this point in a season that has yet to begin, it’s wise to have more questions than answers, and that’s what we have here.
Mets: The Intrigue Of A Team In Flux
Hopefully, the questions I’ve raised are valid ones. There are others as well, as it should be when a team in flux. The Mets are undergoing the adoption of a new manager, and down the road, a new owner.
Mets fans have to agree, though, all of this is a welcome intrusion into the ho-hum here comes another Mets season scenario of past years.
Mets fans know they are close yet so far away. What they don’t know, however, is the plan Luis Rojas is developing that is designed to move away from the past.
The journey begins here…
Soon, we will know.