NY Mets: Tony La Russa’s return worked, why not Buck Showalter?
By Tim Boyle
We’re already taking measurements of Luis Rojas’ office and the 2021 season isn’t even over. The New York Mets skipper is a candidate to lose his job this winter for a variety of reasons. One name mentioned regularly as a possible replacement for him is Buck Showalter.
When I first process the idea of the Mets firing Rojas and hiring Showalter I cringe. I don’t like revisiting old managers and coaches when their best days are more than likely in the past.
Then I got to thinking. I felt the same way when the first place Chicago White Sox hired Tony La Russa. It has worked for them. Why won’t it work for the Mets and Showalter?
Buck Showalter is the first big name manager people crave for the Mets to hire
Showalter hasn’t managed since 2018 which isn’t so distant in our memory. His final two years were last place finishes with the Baltimore Orioles. His club was especially bad in 2018, finishing 47-115.
This hardly tells the story of Showalter’s managerial career. Experience with the New York Yankees, Arizona Diamondbacks, and Texas Rangers before joining Baltimore in 2010, his 1551-1517 record speaks for itself.
Minus a world championship, we could expect Showalter to follow in another manager’s footsteps: Dusty Baker. Yet another well-known manager yet to win the big one, he took some time off after the 2017 season with the Washington Nationals only to return for 2020 to manage the Houston Astros.
Baker has been successful in Houston. He took the team to the ALCS last year and is well on his way to capturing a division title in 2021.
La Russa and Baker both left the game and returned to their winning ways. Showalter might be able to do the same.
Why Showalter could be an improvement for the Mets
Showalter is not without his warts as a manager. Perhaps a little old-school for the taste of some, the raging debate I expect many would have in regards to him is whether or not he can connect to the current players.
I would counter-argue this by stating how much of an ill-effect relatability may have had on the Mets with Rojas as the skipper.
Rojas is less of a manager and more of a babysitter with the Mets—at least this is the impression that I get. He’s only 39-years-old which means he has Rich Hill on his roster blowing out more birthday candles than him each year.
Age isn’t the big difference in whether or not a manager is successful. A good manager needs to be able to hold his players accountable. In his nearly two years with the club, I haven’t seen much of it from Rojas. He’s a kinder, gentler manager. I wonder if the team could have yielded better results with a firebrand writing out the lineup each day.
Showalter may not be Lou Piniella, Sparky Anderson, or Earl Weaver. As a skipper from an earlier era, I still feel as if he could garner different results from his players. There’s no way the players could view him as an equal—something I wonder about with Rojas at times.
Ultimately, all responsibility does fall on the players to perform. You could argue the Astros and White Sox are winning because of talent, not superior managing.
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We’ll need to wait and see how the front office handles the manager spot this offseason. If Showalter’s name comes up as a serious candidate, I might hesitantly accept it.