For a third consecutive October, the Mets are doing what no team wants to have to do: conducting a large-scale hiring search for one of the most important jobs in the organization.
This time, the Mets need a manager after firing Mickey Callaway on Thursday. Last year, they needed a general manager, eventually deciding on then-agent Brodie Van Wagenen. The year before that, they needed another manager, picking Callaway to replace Terry Collins.
When a club needs to fill roles like those, it means something went wrong. The Mets are doing so for a third year in a row, each October since their back-to-back playoff appearances in 2015 and 2016, their only postseason berths in the past 13 seasons.
“I don’t really think it says anything [about the state of the organization],” said Jeff Wilpon, who as chief operating officer has overseen this Mets tumult. “Bringing on a new GM, we knew that we want to give Mickey the chance to prove himself to Brodie. It’s something that Brodie and the team made a decision on for this year, so that’s why this is coming up.
“I think having one year left on [Callaway’s] contract was probably a little problemsome, because he was either going to be extended, otherwise he is going to be a lame duck [in 2020], which would have put us into a really tough bind with everything.”
The Mets still are in the early stages of their managerial search, and they have plenty of competition. The Royals, Angels, Cubs, Pirates, Padres and Giants also are looking for new bench bosses, and the Phillies haven’t announced whether Gabe Kapler will return for a third season.
Former Yankees manager Joe Girardi, who wants to manage again and is interested in the Mets’ job, already is a hot commodity. According to multiple reports out of Chicago, he will interview this week with the Cubs, his childhood hometown team and the organization with which he got his professional start (as a draft pick in 1986 and rookie major-leaguer in 1989).
In addition to Girardi, Buck Showalter told WFAN that he is interested in managing the Mets if the feeling is mutual. YES Network analyst/former Mets pitcher David Cone told the New York Post the same thing.
During his news teleconference after Callaway’s firing, Van Wagenen didn’t offer much insight Thursday into what he will look for in the Mets’ next manager.
“The strong leadership and someone who is able to continue to collaborate and take all of the available resources that we have and help us find additional resources that can put us another step forward in 2020,” Van Wagenen said.
Van Wagenen also said he will consider candidates who have not previously managed in the majors. Although he didn’t name names, that characterization means Mets quality-control coach Luis Rojas — a longtime minor-league coach and manager in the system who has worked with most of the Mets’ homegrown players — Astros bench coach Joe Espada and other would-be first-timers are in play.
“We will have people that fit a variety of different buckets,” Van Wagenen said. “When we put the formula all together, the goal is to have the best person regardless of his resume.”
With the firing Thursday of Mickey Callaway, there are seven openings for managers:
Team He’s gone *Yrs. 2019 Action
Mets Mickey Callaway 2 86-76 Fired
Angels Brad Ausmus 1 72-90 Fired
Cubs Joe Madden 5 84-78 Fired
Pirates Clint Hurdle 9 69-92 Fired
Royals Ned Yost 10 59-103 Retired
Padres Andy Green 4 69-85 Fired
Giants Bruce Bochy 13 77-85 Retired
*-Years with team