One year and five days after the Mets introduced Brodie Van Wagenen as general manager, the organization is bringing the pomp and circumstance back to the Foxwoods Club inside Citi Field, and this time it will be Van Wagenen’s turn to do the introducing.
For the first time, he has hired a manager: Carlos Beltran, the former Mets star who is a rookie again as he begins his post-playing career. Beltran, who played for the Mets from 2005-11, will put the blue and orange back on during an 11 a.m. news conference.
The occasion is significant not only because of Beltran’s reintroduction but because it is the first time the public will hear from Van Wagenen — and perhaps chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon — since Oct. 3. That day, the general manager discussed mostly the firing of Mickey Callaway and his expectations for the manager search that would follow. Before that, Van Wagenen was largely silent in the waning weeks of the Mets’ season.
And so Monday is an opportunity to hear Van Wagenen’s thoughts on the process of deciding on a manager — now that he actually has been through it — the state of the organization and the offseason to come.
Without getting into deeper offseason topics, here are a few questions that merit answers:
Why didn’t the Mets value previous major-league managerial experience? Of the Mets’ known managerial candidates, only Joe Girardi — since hired by the Phillies — had full-time major-league experience as a manager.
To be clear, plenty of first-time managers succeed. The past two World Series winners, for example, were led by managers who were in their first such jobs (and in their first or second seasons in those jobs, at that).
The Mets’ experience with their previous first-time manager is not an indictment of all first-time managers, and Callaway’s failure doesn’t tell us anything about Beltran’s chance of success.
But it is interesting that the Mets focused almost exclusively on would-be rookies and ended up hiring Beltran, who has never coached or managed at any level. What was the thought process and philosophy that led Wilpon and Van Wagenen in that direction?
How did Beltran and the Wilpons put their past behind them? On the occasions he spoke about his candidacy for the Mets’ opening last month, Beltran was clear: The past was in the past, and he wouldn’t let previous issues with the Wilpons affect his pursuit of this job.
The feuding over Beltran’s knee surgery before the 2010 season? Long since passed. Fred Wilpon saying he was foolish for giving Beltran a seven-year, $119 million contract? Also water under the bridge.
That approach is mature, commendable and surely best for all involved. During the multi-interview process, though, how did Beltran get to that point? Did they move past it by not discussing it at all? Did they have an air-clearing session? Did they acknowledge it at all?
Maybe those dust-ups truly won’t matter during Beltran’s time as manager. But if he ever butts heads with ownership, people will point to their history.
What will the coaching staff look like? Most of the Mets’ 2019 coaches had contracts that expired last week, which affords the organization major freedom in shaping Beltran’s first staff.
Usually, a new manager holds considerable influence in picking his coaches. For a rookie manager, that should be especially true in choosing a bench coach. Does Beltran prefer to have a former manager to lean on?