Lesson 3: The right manager and front office can make all the difference
There's a narrative in baseball that managers have less power than ever before. While this is true in many cases where the front office is really pulling the strings on the field, one need look no further than Bruce Bochy to see the difference a great manager can make.
Bochy was already considered one of the best managers in modern baseball after winning three World Series titles with the San Francisco Giants. Now after winning his fourth with the Rangers, he has joined a truly elite club of the best managers in baseball history. Only five other managers have won four titles, and the list reads like the most hallowed wing of Cooperstown: Casey Stengel, Joe McCarthy, Connie Mack, Walter Alston, and Joe Torre.
This was Bochy's first season with the Rangers, and in that time he engineered an improvement of 22 wins from a year ago. We've spoken about the Rangers' trade deadline moves, but the core of the team's lineup was largely the same as last year.
Bochy was hired by former Mets pitcher Chris Young, who is now the general manager of the Rangers. Young also fortified the team's pitching staff in the offseason, and though the deGrom signing hasn't worked out due to injury, the additions of Nathan Eovaldi and Andrew Heaney were unqualified successes.
Young has been with the Rangers since 2020, but he assumed total control of the team's baseball operations this year. His role now seems similar to that of recent Mets hire David Stearns, and like Young, Stearns has an all-important decision to make in his first offseason in full control.
Buck Showalter was let go by the Mets at the end of the season, and it's critical that Stearns find the right person to lead the Mets into the future. Could that be current Brewers manager Craig Counsell? The Brewers manager reportedly interviewed with the Mets yesterday, and he has been a favorite for the job for as long as Stearns, the former Milwaukee general manager, has been rumored to take over in New York.
The reality is that managers with three World Series titles aren't just sitting out there waiting to be hired. There's no Bruce Bochy out there for the Mets, so Stearns' task is a difficult one. Who is the next great manager? Is it someone that already has managerial experience, or a fresh face?
Both the Yankees and Diamondbacks won titles after Showalter left, but it will take more than superstition and random coincidence to lead the Mets to glory. Steve Cohen believes he has found the right man to lead his baseball department in David Stearns. If Stearns can find the right manager (and, like Young, sign some quality starters), the Mets could follow the Rangers' blueprint to a tee.