The Biggest Questions Facing New Mets Manager Luis Rojas As He Officially Takes Over Club
With the dust finally settled, and Luis Rojas officially introduced as the next manager of the New York Mets, it is time for the new skipper to roll up his sleeves and get to work with Spring Training less than a month away.
Rojas will certainly have his work cut out for him in Flushing, and only has a few weeks to get up to speed about what it takes to be a manager at the Major League level.
Some of the questions the new skipper will face this season at the helm of the New York Mets are:
1. The circumstances in which he became the new manager, and how his hiring has been perceived
Rojas is only the Mets manager because of the dubious circumstances that led to the firing of ex-Mets skipper Carlos Beltran before he was able to manage even one game in Major League Baseball. Beltran and the Mets mutually parted ways in earlier in January due to the role in which Beltran played in the systematic sign stealing campaign when he was a member of the Houston Astros in 2017. Beltran was alleged to have been one of the masterminds behind the now infamous cheating that has tarnished the Houston Astros 2017 World Series title for eternity.
The hiring of Rojas has also garnered a lukewarm reaction from the 'Amazins' fan base because they were hoping for a more high-profile name. Buck Showalter and Dusty Baker were at the top of Mets fans list to be the named the next skipper. When Rojas was named earlier this week as the team's next manager, many Mets fans thought that General Manager Brodie Van Wagenen could have done better.
2. How will the first-year skipper handle the volatile back end of the team's bullpen?
All throughout the 2019 season the New York Mets really struggled to shut the door late in games on the opposition. Closer Edwin Diaz was one of the main reasons why the Mets had such problems late in games last season. Coming off an All-Star season in 2018 with the Seattle Mariners, Diaz was traded to the Mets during the off season. Diaz had a career-worst 5.59 E.R.A. in 2019, and will now have ex-Yankee Dellin Betances breathing down his neck to be the closer in 2020. Betances, a former All Star as well, was Van Wagenen's biggest signing this off season.
Jeurys Familia also has experience as a closer. The question that Rojas must come to grips with is: How long of a leash will he give Diaz before turning over the closer role to either Betances or Familia?
One thing remains clear with Opening Day a mere two months away. The Mets cannot tolerate another season of sub par production from their closer.
3. Who will Rojas name as the club's fifth starter?
Rojas has taken over a team with an over saturation of pitching, and more specifically the starting pitcher options are vast. The Mets have a multitude of pitchers that have arguments to be named the Mets fifth starter by the time Opening Day 2020 rolls around. Seth Lugo, Robert Gsellman, Rick Porcello and Michael Wacha are just some of the options that Rojas can turn to in order to round out his starting rotation. One thing is certain for Rojas as he ruminates over which pitcher to name as his fifth starter. Both the New York media, and Mets fans, will question the final decision.
4 How will Rojas handle a meddling General Manager?
Another reason why the naming of Rojas as the Mets new manager received such a tepid response was because the consensus was that Rojas would not stand up to Van Wagenen, and let him meddle in the team's day-to-day affairs. This same criticism was trumpeted when Beltran was named the Mets manager a few months ago.
Many people believed Beltran, and now Rojas, would allow Van Wagenen to usurp their authority with the team. For example, Van Wagenen would send a lineup down from his office and that is the lineup the skipper would put out on the field that day.
It was only a few months ago when it was reported that Van Wagenen called former Mets manager Mickey Callaway while the club was on the road and told him to take two-time reigning CY Young Award winner Jacob deGrom out of the game. Van Wagenen has garnered a reputation around the league as someone that does not allow those he hired to do their job in the best way they see fit.
Instead, he is too concerned with having his fingerprints all over every single aspect of the New York Mets organization.
Rojas enters into a situation with the New York Mets where the team has high expectations, and the first-year manager will have to learn on the fly or the team will fall short of expectations once again in 2020.