At different points Tuesday afternoon, David Stearns and Carlos Mendoza called it a “puzzle” — this process of assembling the right mix of talent and personality that can buoy a first-year manager and help scrub away the failures of 2023.
There was talk of culture and accountability, of experience and affability. But though neither offered too many concrete details on what the Mets’ coaching staff will look like come spring training, a few hints powered through.
Ideally, the Mets would like some of their coaches to know a thing or two about managing in New York. Pitching coach Jeremy Hefner will definitely return, Mendoza confirmed. And no such assurances were given about the rest of the bunch (third-base coach Joey Cora has already absconded for Detroit).
In short, it looks like significant changes are coming, and it looks like Stearns, now in his second month as the team’s president of baseball operations, will have a pretty big hand in how those changes will look.
“It’s a collaborative process,” Stearns said after Mendoza’s introductory news conference. “And I think that’s the way it should be. So, Carlos does and will have a huge voice in it. I’m going to offer my opinions as well.”
Mendoza was asked directly on who he intended to target, but demurred. After citing former Mets manager Willie Randolph as a coaching influence, he was asked, too, if Randolph was a possibility for the bench coach role currently occupied by Eric Chavez.
“This is somebody that I have a lot of respect for,” Mendoza said. “We have a really good relationship and I consider him not only a mentor but as a friend. And like I said, I mean, there’s a bunch of names that we’re considering right now. And, you know, we’ll see where it goes.”
Generally, when dealing with a first-time manager, front offices look for a supporting staff with the type of experience that can supplement and inform decisions — particularly in a bench coach. And while Stearns said that a candidate didn’t necessarily need prior managing experience, or experience in the New York market, either asset wouldn’t hurt.
“I think we’ll seek a staff in various positions that has a level of experience,” he said. “That doesn’t necessarily mean that every coach is going to be a super experienced staff member, but I know that’s something that’s important to Carlos. Look this is a — we’ve talked about before — this is a big puzzle, putting together a major-league coaching staff. You need skill sets and personalities that complement each other and feed off each other.”
Unsurprisingly, that’s still very much a work in progress. Stearns has already commenced talks with viable candidates, Mendoza said. They’re looking for “people who are going to bring energy, who are going to earn the respect from players, who are going to be consistent, who are going to be prepared, who have leadership skills, who are going to be able to communicate, who are going to be able to have that tough conversation, who are going to be able to hold people accountable,” Mendoza said.
And will that mean a complete overhaul?
“We’re looking at everything,” Mendoza said. “It’s a big puzzle.”
Their biggest one so far. Now to see if they can make the pieces fit.
Mets protect Ramirez. The Mets added outfielder Alex Ramirez to the 40-man roster. That protects him from potentially being selected by another club in next month’s Rule 5 draft. Ramirez, 20, signed with the Mets for a $2.05 million bonus in 2019 but has not advanced above Single-A. He hit .221 for Brooklyn in 2023. With Anthony Rieber