Pain Management: Finding A Successor For Jerry Manuel

An article by posted on August 31, 2010

As we await the inevitable firing of Mets manager Jerry Manuel, there’s no shortage of names in the Mets blogosphere for potential candidates. But much of what I’m hearing seems more like reliving the “good old days” rather than assuring we get the best person for the job.

Ask most Mets fans and read most Mets blogs, and it’s become a repetitive onslaught of the same old names again and again and again, oh and one other thing, all of them have or had ties to the organization as a former coach or player.

The fascination with former Mets; Gary Carter, Ron Darling, Keith Hernandez, Wally Backman, Joe Torre, Tim Teufel and Bobby Valentine, makes it seem like too much emphasis is being placed on their Mets connections instead of whether or not they would actually be better than who they would be replacing.

In many cases we assume that the passion or fire they had as a player, would translate well as a manager. The truth is that some of baseball’s greatest players proved to be terrible managers.

Joel Sherman of the NY Post recently took a more objective look at the situation and why the Mets should consider a wide range of criteria as they consider their options.

It is more important to create a strong organization that has logical processes for every issue, including hiring a manager. That does not assure that every decision will work, merely that you will cover every angle and have a well-reasoned decision.

For example, the Red Sox are viewed as a well-run organization. When they decided to replace Grady Little after the 2003 season, the Red Sox’s two finalists were Terry Francona and Joe Maddon, and the other candidate they were trying to get more interested in the job was Bud Black. Today all three are viewed as strong managers.

In fact, Francona might be the best in the game. And who in 2003 would have seen a guy who mostly failed with the Phillies as the right candidate?

Sherman makes perfect sense and adds that the Mets should get a qualified person for the job and not just a name that rings true with Mets fans. It is more important that they create a strong process and put themselves in a position to “find their Francona, if that person is out there.”

I have a good sense of how the Wilpon family usually reacts to these types of organizational moves. In all these years, their processes have not deviated much and their final outcomes always seem rushed and as though not much thought went into their decision.

A couple of the more important qualities Sherman believes the Mets should look for in a new manager are “gravitas and shrewdness.”

The gravitas is needed to get the attention of a clubhouse that does need a higher level of purpose and professionalism. This does not mean the Mets need a yeller, just someone whose stature is understood when he walks into the room for the first time.

The shrewdness is needed to handle ownership. Jeff Wilpon runs this team and the manager has to find a way over the course of the year to win on the 5-10 issues that are vital to him without losing the backing of ownership. It is a tightrope and only a person with a nimble mind can manage it.

It’s time for the Mets to think out of the box and scan the entire landscape instead of limiting themselves to a pool of candidates that are being considered more for their fan appeal than they are for their abilities and track record.

Since 1990, six of the last eight Mets managers either played or coached for the organization, and we haven’t won a World Series in those 20 years. The last time we did, a scrappy second baseman from the Baltimore Orioles with no previous ties to the organization, led us to that championship.

Isn’t it time we stop making decisions based on a candidate’s Metsdom, and start going after those who are best qualified for the job?

About the Author ()

I'm a lifelong Mets fan who loves writing and talking about the Amazins' 24/7. From the Miracle in 1969 to the magic of 1986, and even the near misses in '73 and '00, I've experienced it all - the highs and the lows. I started Mets Merized Online in 2005 to feed my addiction and interact with other passionate Met fans like you. Follow me on Twitter @metsmerized.

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