Craig Counsell pulled off the greatest trick. The former Milwaukee Brewers manager leg dropped his former team during Bash at the Beach in one of the better heel turns imaginable. Counsell will not be managing the New York Mets in 2024. Out of nowhere, the Chicago Cubs will have his services. It almost feels personal for Counsell to secretly leave the Brewers for the Cubs. You have to love it!
Meanwhile, the Mets seem to have gone with their second choice, Carlos Mendoza. The bench coach of the New York Yankees, he comes to the Mets much greener in the role of MLB manager. As if that has mattered in the past. If you know the game and you'll play nice with the front office, the job can be yours.
Mendoza isn't Coca Cola. He's the store brand. Sam's, Star and Stripes, or whatever your poison is, there's no reason why he can't be as good as Counsell. Many fans aren’t quite sure what to think yet. One reason stands out as favorable while another sticks out like a pimple on prom night.
One reason to like the Mets manager hire
The fabled "can he handle New York" question doesn't exist with Mendoza. He may not have been the Yankees skipper, but he definitely has as much of an advantage as anyone in this role who never actually had it. We'll just have to hope he's not as Pinocchio as Aaron Boone comes across.
Recent failed Mets managers have been victims of the spotlight. Mickey Callaway went as far as to challenge a beat writer to a fight. Luis Rojas let his players run amuck in a 2021 season to the point where he didn't look prepared to be viewed as the bad guy.
Mendoza hasn't had to take the sharpest arrows in the Bronx. However, if any first time managers looked equipped, it has to be him. He knows the city, the ravenous fans, and the media already has a familiarity with the guy. He’s changing roles and boroughs. The rest should be easier.
We should have Carlos Mendoza doubts
First time managers are impossible to predict. Any doubts Mets fans may have about him are warranted. It could very well turn out to be another situation where in two years we're begging for some experience. Seeing the resume-packed future Hall of Famer managers Dusty Baker and Bruce Bochy win back-to-back championships is a tap on the shoulder of how important it is to have experience in the manager role.
After the hype of hiring Counsell, Mendoza does feel like a consolation prize if only because of the great unknown. First time managers aren't necessarily a guarantee of failure. Alex Cora was a rookie skipper for the 2018 Boston Red Sox. Bob Brenley won the 2001 World Series with the Arizona Diamondbacks in his first season. Others were successful before them, too.
More often than not, rookie managers do fail. The Mets have bought into a process of building rather than the Hail Mary approach of the last two years under Buck Showalter. Mendoza has a lot to prove. Fortunately, the Mets are setting themselves up for a slower climb. They’ve practically admitted at every turn how 2024 doesn’t need to end with a parade. Hopefully, it at least concludes with us feeling really good about the manager.