Thursday Thought: Does it matter who the Mets hire as their next manager?

Tampa Bay Rays v Toronto Blue Jays
Tampa Bay Rays v Toronto Blue Jays / Joshua Bessex/GettyImages

During the lockout, the main focus of the New York Mets has been finding a manager. The search has been narrowed to Buck Showalter, Joe Espada, and Matt Quartraro with the announcement expected in a matter of days.

Over the years, the role of Major League managers has changed substantially. It used to be that managers had free reign on deciding the lineup, defensive positioning, and bullpen usage. Now all of those decisions are made by the front office, specifically, the analytics department. The manager may have input, but the numbers make the ultimate decision.

So does it matter who the Mets hire as their next manager?

Quatraro is the bench coach of the Tampa Bay Rays, which is one of - if not the most - analytically driven teams in baseball. Espada is the bench coach of the Astros, another analytically driven team, and he has also interviewed with the Athletics for their managerial opening.

Showalter is more of an old-fashioned manager. When he was with the Orioles, they didn’t even have an analytics department. He’s shown some ability to adapt and understand analytics on MLB Network, but there are doubts about if he buys in enough for the Mets amid their analytics movement. However, Max Scherzer has advocated for him.

The Mets have made a serious effort to beef up their analytics department since Steve Cohen took over, and now have one of the biggest in the majors. It’s been reported that they have over 30 employees and more are being hired.

With that said, are analytics everything? No, but they’re important. There are tools that, used correctly, can be extremely advantageous and can lead to more success. They do not take into account the “people” side of the game, if a player is tired, or the weather.

You see teams like the Rays, A’s, Astros, and Dodgers use analytics to put sustainably-winning teams on the field. Teams that don’t use analytics - the Rockies, Pirates, Rangers, and Orioles - haven’t been successful, partially because they've been tanking for several years. Regardless, there’s a very clear connection between analytics and winning teams.

The managers the industry thinks of as good - Kevin Cash, Alex Cora, etc. - aren't decision-makers. The decisions are made upstairs, and it’s their job to understand why they were made and implement them during games. They're known for being good with people, but they're largely yes-men when it comes to decisions. They always have a binder of charts and information filled to the brim with defensive shifts and situations where each reliever will be the most effective.

I guess what I'm saying is this: managers don't really matter nowadays. I don't particularly care who's flipping through a binder at the end of the dugout.

If I had a say in the Mets’ managerial hiring process, I’d lean towards Quatraro. His analytical experience with the Rays combined with the Mets’ payroll could be an incredible combination. It’s a bonus that he’s just 48 years old, so he could be a guy who sticks around for many years.

Next. The Mets made two selections in the minor league phase of the Rule 5 draft. dark