Early in the season, I was the biggest defender of Luis Rojas and his management of this year’s New York Mets. I felt that he did a great job keeping this team together for so long. In a tougher division, the Mets would’ve fallen behind, but he was able to keep this team in first place, despite throwing out a Triple-A lineup every night in May and June.
I was very reluctant to some criticism of Rojas. Most Twitter users are largely concerned with a manager’s ability to put in the correct relievers and manage them appropriately, but a lot of this is an overreaction.
I keep thinking back to one game in June where Seth Lugo ended up blowing a lead, followed by Edwin Díaz blowing another lead. It wasn’t a great day for Mets pitching.
How is any of that Rojas’ fault? Should he have pulled Lugo sooner? In mid-summer it’s hard to distinguish between saving other relievers and hoping your all-stars can get you out of a jam. In that game, Rojas sent out Trevor May, Lugo, and then Díaz. Those are three of the team’s top four bullpen arms. Trust your big guys to get you through big spots.
It goes beyond the Mets and managing a bullpen.
It’s Rojas saying that he treats every game in September the same as he treats a game in May. It’s the reliance on data analysis that has also burned this team too many times.
To be fair, the Mets’ defense has looked sweet. They’ve made huge plays and players like Pete Alonso, Brandon Nimmo, and Dom Smith have all improved defensively. Francisco Lindor and Javier Báez look great up the middle. So in that regard, analytics have helped them.
When it comes to player matchups, it’s just not the case.
At one point, catcher Patrick Mazeika was pinch-hitting for James McCann, a move that made hardly any sense. The reluctance to move away from Edwin Díaz is startling when he’s proven that he can’t be clutch in more than 80% of situations. Relying on lefty-on-righty or righty-on-lefty matchups when stereotypes like that are hardly relevant in today’s sport.
It’s hard to look at Rojas and say that he has a plan of how this team is going to accomplish his objectives.
Earlier this season he was perfect. What changed?
The most impressive asset Luis Rojas had in the middle of the season was chemistry. It seemed like he was in tune with players and really making things happen with a roster who came straight from Syracuse.
Players, like Brandon Drury or Patrick Mazeika, or Kevin Pillar, were simply having career-moments. Pillar is a great defender but hasn’t always been clutch with the bat. The Mets built a season from relying on the players that aren’t the easiest to rely on.
It’s tough, but compounding that with the collapse late in the season and a new owner (Steve Cohen) faced with the decision of firing a guy he never hired. It’s a no-brainer that he doesn’t come back.
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Truthfully, it’s hard to imagine a slew of Mets fans happy with any coach they hire, but the right decision would be to part ways with Rojas this season.