Question: Riddle me this, Mr. Met.... what luck can come to the historically hapless, dysfunctional New York Mets from even the luckiest of numbers?
Answer: Seven highly qualified managerial candidates, with one lucky man rising above all others: Michael Lorri Scioscia.
Forget Bobby Valentine. There, I said it. He doesn't want to manage, so (sigh) let's move on to the lucky seven candidates most qualified to manage the Mets under the factors new GM Billy Eppler has pointed to as his guide to finding a manager, and why Mike Scioscia is the right man for the part.
We already know the criteria Eppler wants in his type of manager:“[C]onnectivity with the players... somebody who can think with a probability-based mindset. We are looking for someone who is eager to grow. Someone who can develop a culture that puts the welfare of the team ahead of any singular person" and by "probability-based mindset." Eppler also added that prior managerial experience is “one factor, but it’s not necessary" to his vision of what makes for a successful manager. As for what Eppler meant by a "probability-based mindset," he stated it means "making decisions in-game, tactically, to get the win expectancy or run expectancy in your favor.”
While Eppler made those statements as the Angel GM, he essentially repeated those criteria on WFAN despite his reluctance to disclose the same in his presser. In his interview with Moose and Maggie, Eppler revealed, "I think in-game tactics is important, probabilistic thinking and the ability to see the game," steering clear of any hint of ageism that one could certainly gleam from his Angels GM comments.
That being the case, all signs point to the Mets wanting to hire a veteran manager who can fuse the old school and the new world together, rather than go down the newbie manager road for a third straight time.
Buck seems to meet most of the Eppler factors, so why won't it be him?
Though Buck checks most of the boxes, if you take a step back and take a macro observation of what Eppler is really looking for, then all signs point to someone young who will "grow" with the team.
I love Buck, but he's not going to grow much from his well-established high baseball IQ, and if Eppler means "grow" with players, then there may be way too much tread in those tires for Buck to go much further. That being the case, Buck is currently the Mets fan base's favorite (and my darkhorse).
To put if differently, if Buck doesn't get hired solely because the belief is that someone younger is a better fit, then that's simply an arrogant, shortsighted, and mistaken perception of age as a vice with young players when it can actually serve as a virtue under the right leadership. Go ask Dusty Baker and Brian Snitker.
See Buck Showalter. Seriously. Ok, so he doesn't have the winning track record of a Buck Showalter over as long a period of time, but Ron Washington is a damn good manager who has won and knows how to win.
Ageism may do Mr. Washington in as well, but there is little doubt players love playing for him, he is an influential person in the mold of a Gil Hodges, and -- in terms of managing a clubhouse -- he may have no peers.
As to his baseball acumen and pedigree, Ron is right up there with the best of them. Yes, we are more than well aware Buck received his training under the tutelage of the man who built the Yankees (and, by his own admission, mentored Billy Eppler), Gene Michael. After all, Michael will forever be known as the he who built all things great about the Yankees from the 1990s through 21st century.
However, Ron Washington is one of the few major leaguers who graduated from the well-acclaimed (but short lived) Kansas City Royals Baseball Academy, and played for a team that stuck it to the earlier, star-laden iteration of the Yankees under Steinbrenner.
Let's stop already with the love affair with Bochy. With an all-time record below .500 (2003 win - 2029 losses), and an under .500 record just with the Giants, which Bruce do you think they Mets will get?
The Mighty Bruce of recent success who amazingly kept Barry Bonds' ego in check for the good of the team? Or the man in brown (ugh) leading that pathetic, underachieving Ronald McDonald collection of misfits known as the San Diego Padres? All signs point to Bochy's success being directly tied to his GM, Brian Sabean, and we saw what the Mets thought of him.
Again, as with Bucky and Ronny, this fella may likely be thought of by Eppler as too old to "grow" with the Mets. So, let's check-in on some of those young guys...
JOE ESPADA (and, for that matter, any Astro... including Carlos Beltran)
The Astros cheated. They are cheaters. Unashamedly so. Period.
Did Joe Espada know? Did he take part? Who knows? But that's enough, along with his inexperience, to tell me the Mets hierarchy will let Eppler know they do NOT want to go down this road again.
Another sensational story about how the Mets hired someone who may have ethics issues? Sorry, Joe. I'm telling you it just ain't so.
Go manage the Yankees... at least they are well experienced in cheating:
Ok... I understand he is on the older side of "young," but hey... why wouldn't Eppler want to hire John Farrell? After all, he had Boston win their first World Series title at home since, as Red Sox fans will tell you, Caesar crossed the rubicon. He, as is the case with Buck, crosses off a lot of the analytics and "old school" boxes. Right? Right? Bueller? Bueller?
Let me put it this way: Farrell brought a historical World Series title that was won at home in front of a city that had generations of fans die since winning the last one. His managerial record is 40 games over .500. Three of his five seasons as Bosox manager resulted in over 90 wins. And he finished first -- in the toughest division in baseball -- his last two years managing the Red Sox.
Yet, they told him to take a walk in 2017, and he hasn't been hired since. Chew on that for awhile.
No. I'm sorry. I can't imagine Eppler would honestly consider him. Yes, I realize Terry Pendleton is the latest and the greatest baseball mind in certain circles; and yes, I know he played for and exceled under two outstanding organizations; and yes, I know he was a legitimate candidate to succeed the great Bobby Cox; and yes, I know he served as bench coach under Snitker; and yes, I know he's considered "young" as managers go as the next, best manager in waiting."
But the Braves are not known as an organization that embraces sabermetrics and analytics, and do we really need Luis Rojas 2.0 (i.e., another inexperienced but "promising" manager)?
I think not and, frankly, don't give a damn, Scarlett. Oh yeah... and there's this:
Which, ironcially enoiugh, leads me to the next Mets manager...
Meet the Mets (next manager)! Greet the Mets (next manager)!!
I know, I know. You're probably asking yourself, "why on earth would Eppler want to lead Mets fans down heartbreak road again... hiring a former Mets killer in the mold of Terry Pendleton and, dare I say, Carlos Beltran (ouch... was that too cruel)?"
Of course he would! He should. And, if Eppler holds true to his beliefs, he will.
For example, let's look at his age (again? let it go, Pete... let. it. go.). Scioscia is pretty much the same age as Buck, Ron and Bruce. However, Scioscia has a far better record -- an incredible 130 games over .500 having started his managerial career with a terrible Angels team. The passage of time is also of no moment, as Eppler loved him as Angels manager just 4 years ago, claiming Scioscia was a great mix of old school and analytics. Indeed, Scioscia would be the first to agree, having incorporated analytics into his managing, but using his eyeballs to tell him just as much, if not more, about players like like Mike Trout.
I, for one, have never read any complimentary about Buck, Ron and Bochy regarding their use of analytics.
By contrast, although Scioscia may have just turned 63 years old last month, he is considered "young enough" as a sexagenarian to not only appreciate, but brag about his use of, modern day analytics as the winningest manager out there.
Sorry, Mets fans. This is going to be Eppler's man. And, you know what? I can live with it.Even though that homer off Gooden is still a nightmare from which I have yet to awake.