New Mets skipper Carlos Mendoza is not a celebrity manager.
It’s what made the Mets’ hiring him to succeed Buck Showalter so puzzling. Hiring former Brewers executive David Stearns to be president of baseball operations meant adding Craig Counsell was inevitable, no?
Apparently not. Mendoza is the new face in Flushing while Counsell gets $40 million to manage the Cubs.
And yet, it’s probably the best decision the Mets could have made. Not the veteran Brewers skipper, but the crosstown rival Yankees’ longtime bench coach. One Carlos Enrique Mendoza.
We understand Mets’ fans disappointment, if any. Counsell had a proven track record in Milwaukee and this is Mendoza’s first managing job. Even so, he seems ready to take on the challenge and even field a competitive team in 2024.
“We expect to compete in 2024,” Mendoza said at his introductory press conference on Tuesday. “I’m not just creating a new culture. People need to understand that this is a team that won 100 games not too long ago. They started to create something special, and I’m coming in to continue to add to that culture, to continue to add to those positive things that were already building.”
Actions and results will speak louder than words, but again. Carlos Mendoza seems ready. He even understands this is his first job, and rumors are floating he could bring in former Mets manager Willie Randolph as a coach. There’s every chance this hire could go south as there is its success.
So what does this have to do with Craig Counsell? Well, let’s say that the Mets went and hired him. The first press conference would be a celebration of his accomplishments, he and Stearns would compliment each other and their working relationship, etc.
However, let’s also assume something else. Given that, what if the Mets also got off to a slow start under Counsell? We all know the New York media and what would happen if the Mets weren’t immediately as good as the Brewers. Everyone would ask if firing Showalter was the right move or if Craig Counsell could handle bombastic New York compared to mild-mannered Milwaukee.
With Carlos Mendoza, however, the Mets have a truly clean slate. He can simply do his job without being compared to his work at a previous job. He knows New York and what both Yankees and Mets fans expect year after year. This truly is a new-look team from the top down and Mendoza has some tools to succeed already.
And if, for whatever reason, things don’t work out, that’s fine. It’s hard to believe Mendoza being in so far over his head that he sets the Mets back years. Stearns and Cohen will just look at what went wrong and correct course as needed.
But in the meantime, New York City is on the cusp of a brand new era of New York Mets baseball under Carlos Mendoza. He has the experience and the acuity to do the job. He’s even been compared to Phillies manager Rob Thomson, high praise indeed.
Let’s wish the man luck. The Mets and their fans deserve some.