The Mets came in with the old and the new on Tuesday.
On the same day they introduced veteran manager Jim Riggleman as their new bench coach, the Mets took a huge leap into the analytics pool by hiring their first assistant general manager of systematic development.
Adam Guttridge, a consultant for big-league teams with a long analytics background, will take over the Mets' numbers-crunching department, an industry source confirmed. New general manager Brodie Van Wagenen has made beefing up that department one of his goals.
Guttridge, 33, began his career in the Rockies’ front office and was also the Brewers’ manager of baseball research and development, according to his biography on the website for NEIFI, an analytics company he co-founded. NEIFI stands for normalized empirical individual forecasting index. There’s no word yet if NEIFI will appear on the Citi Field scoreboard next to batting average, home runs and RBIs next season.
Every team nowadays says they want to merge traditional scouting and player development with analytics, and the Mets are no different. But the team under Sandy Alderson had one of the smallest analytics departments in baseball. COO Jeff Wilpon vowed to increase the department’s size if that’s what the new GM wanted, and apparently that’s what Van Wagenen will get.
The hiring of Riggleman, which was announced on Monday, represents a nod to more of an old-school need. In 2018, rookie manager Mickey Callaway stumbled in his first year in the National League with inexperienced bench coach Gary DiSarcina at his side. So the Mets went out and got Riggleman, who is 66 and has been a coach or manager in the big leagues since 1992.
Riggleman was the Reds’ interim manager from April 18 to the end of last season. He didn’t get the permanent job; that went to first-time manager David Bell.
Riggleman, in a conference call on Tuesday, said he doesn’t consider himself a manager-in-waiting to potentially replace Callaway even though he has more than 1,600 games of big-league managerial experience and has twice replaced a fired manager during a season.
“I certainly understand that [perception], but I just don’t let myself go there,” Riggleman said. “I really fully anticipate that the ballclub is going to pick itself up where it left off in the second half last year. I know the Mets did some really good things, got things going in the right direction. I just really feel it’s going to be a positive experience. It’s going to be a learning experience for me. I think it’s going to be a learning experience for Mickey. I anticipate a lot of information flowing.”
Riggleman said he was first contacted for the Mets' bench coach job before Van Wagenen was hired. Mets special assistant Omar Minaya made the first call and the follow-up call after Van Wagenen got the job, Riggleman said.
Riggleman said he interviewed with Van Wagenen, Minaya, Callaway and assistant general manager John Ricco. Riggleman mentioned he’s also acquainted with former Mets manager Terry Collins, who has become an important front office voice. The formal interview was the first time Riggleman had talked with Callaway other than some chitchat before games last season when the Reds and Mets played.
It was in one of those Reds-Mets clashes on May 9 that the Mets batted out of order because of a managerial and bench coach mistake. The Reds won that game, 2-1 in 10 innings.
“Everybody has had that happen some time or another,” Riggleman said. “It’s perceived as a mistake or whatever. It’s one that got by. But believe me, it’s gotten by everybody who’s ever done this job . . . I feel terrible that it happened to Mickey that particular day.”
Three days later, the Reds under Riggleman had to remove a player after he made a double-switch snafu.