The biggest whiff of the Mets offseason might've already revealed itself

One week. One win. One big miss?
Detroit Tigers v New York Mets - Game Two
Detroit Tigers v New York Mets - Game Two / Rich Schultz/GettyImages

It’s easy to look at players and suggest the New York Mets should’ve signed such-and-such instead of this guy or that. When it comes to personnel, particularly someone who hasn’t done the job before, there isn’t enough information out there to truly get an idea of what’ll happen.

In game one of the doubleheader on Thursday, we saw what might’ve been the biggest miss of the Mets offseason come to light. In looking to replace the seasoned ex-skipper Buck Showalter, the Mets hired rookie Carlos Mendoza away from the New York Yankees.

Mendoza received plenty of praise as will most first-time managers. Not knowing what he’d offer, Mets fans accepted it. Then came the fifth game of the year. Already some usual questionable managerial calls, a terribly egregious one happened when he asked the number five hitter Brett Baty to bunt despite the young third baseman having little experience doing so. Where’s Craig Counsell when you need him?

Is the Mets manager hire the biggest mistake of the offseason?

Baty has been one of the more effective Mets hitters and the odds of him getting down a bunt successful were far less than a deep fly ball or weak groundout to the second baseman. Either would have sufficed. Instead, Baty fouled two off then struck out. It was like the Mets took a copy of Moneyball and put it next to the toilet for when the Charmin runs out.

Mendoza’s explanation did little to satisfy fans.

Meanwhile, Cubs manager Craig Counsell is receiving positive reviews. His tenure didn’t begin with five straight losses before a narrow victory.

A recent example was in the face of some adversity. The Cubs have already lost Justin Steele but by keeping the bullpen fresh, they were able to ask southpaw Luke Little to work as an opener for an inning two go against two lefties before handing the ball off to rookie Ben Brown. While this isn’t nuclear science, Counsell played into the strength of players. Mendoza, at least in the instance with Baty, did not.

Mendoza was fortunate the Mets were able to scrape together a win in game two. Hitless throughout most of the game, the lifeless offense tends to fall more on the hitting coach (the Mets have two of them by the way). Like in any business, the failures of the hitting coaches eventually do trickle up to the manager.

Of all the places to go cheap, the manager seemed to be one where it wouldn’t really matter much. After all, it’s the players on the field who win or lose more games than anyone else. Mendoza seemed to try his best to get two losses on Thursday. His bullpen management in game one was saved by Jose Butto and Reed Garrett each going longer than anyone could’ve expected. A Tigers team just eager to leave New York after four days already lasted the longest without losing. 

The first Mets win was great to see and did help mask a little bit of the sourness. Curiously, I do wonder which players he would expect to get a bunt down and which ones he wouldn’t.

Would the Mets be 5-1 if Counsell was the manager instead of Mendoza? It's tough to say but also increasingly likely they're at least at .500. Mendoza has plenty of space to change the narrative. For one thing, know which players can and cannot get down a bunt.