Keidel: Mets Let Their Best Bet For Next Manager Walk

Joe Girardi Will Become Next Phillies Skipper

Jason Keidel
October 24, 2019 - 1:05 pm

So as the New York Mets mine Major League Baseball for their next manager, they just let their best bet walk. 

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Not only did Joe Girardi not get the gig, he got another one, about 90 miles down the NJ Turnpike, to manage the hated Philadelphia Phillies. And he will manage against the Mets 19 times next year, with each win stretching the scab on the Mets' reputation. We will wonder if they were too cheap, or too insecure, to let a man of Girardi's heft and history run their ball club. 

Surely Girardi will cost more than the Mets' next manager. And surely he would have been much harder to corral, to keep in philosophical lockstep with GM Brodie Van Wagenen, who seemed to have former manager Mickey Callaway under control, if not under his thumb. No need to hire someone who was 200 games over .500 in New York City, who averaged 91 wins a season in the Bronx, took his team to the playoffs six times in ten years, and who actually brought a World Series title to our town. 

It has become sexy to suggest the fledgeling skipper has a firmer finger on the pulse of his players. Old timers are glued to the old days and old ways, unable to properly manage the Millennial. Nonsense. Girardi was known for working well with young men. And none of the current candidates - including Carlos Beltran - knows how fun or frosty it gets in the Big Apple quite like Girardi. 

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Beltran may have played for the Mets and Yanks, and he may mature into a fine manager, but the Mets are pretty much a win-now team, led by burgeoning rookies Pete Alonso and Jeff McNeil, both of whom proved they are the faces of the future. They are also a delicate group that needs someone to inspire Edwin Diaz and exhume Yoenis Cespedes. Is that a job for Carlos Beltran, Eduardo Perez, Luis Rojas, or Tim Bogar? Girardi's record was 910-710 as manager of the Yankees. Bogar is the next most experienced candidate, with 22 games.  

Girardi wasn't perfect. He was grumpy with the media, and stingy with information. He was bonded with his binder.  But what likely made Girardi an impossible choice was his independence. Young managers are all the rage because they are symbolically caged by their GMs and stat geeks, minions churned out by these new-age analytics departments. The older baseball gets, the younger the faces are of the people who run it. And so grows the stereotype of the manager-marionette who answers to the lords of mathematics. 

As if there were a fire inside baseball's soul, the sport was scorched, and the old-timers have been cleared out. Even the ones who are down with the algorithms that run the game, are being nudged out.  Folks see Aaron Boone in the Bronx, Alex Cora in Boston, Dave Roberts in Los Angeles, and Kevin Cash in Tampa, as the new managerial template. Even the likely winner of the World Series, Dave Martinez of the Nationals, is a first-time skipper. 

That doesn't leave room for G.I. Joe; not in Queens, at least. He's too stubborn, too steeped in the old school, too infected by lifers like Joe Torre. Former catchers - from Torre to Mike Scoscia to Bruce Bochy - are being phased out. Girardi is one of the few backstops, who at least remembers the world before wifi, left in the majors. Maybe that's a good thing in general, even if bad for the Mets. If we stick to nature metaphors, the Mets did not see the forest for the trees.    

Boomer & Gio put the punctuation on a most forgettable week in NYC sports. The Giants lost, the Jets were bludgeoned, and the Yanks were bounced from the ALCS. And without playing a single game, the Mets may have lost the most, by letting go of the guy who would have won them the most.

Follow Jason on Twitter at @JasonKeidel.