From Left Field: Clint Hurdle, Chip Hale, And Managing In General
In the words of Howie Rose, “Put it in the books” when it comes to Sandy Alderson as the new GM for the Amazin’s.
Now the focus will turn to who will take the helm as the team’s next manager. Before I give some suggestions, I’d like to set one thing straight.
In my opinion, a manager is not as important as the players on the field. Sometimes, fans make such a big deal about who is their team’s manager and how great/bad he is. When it comes down to it, the players on the field control if a team wins games.
Now, I understand that certain managers can formulate great strategies in trying to win games. But if the players cannot execute the strategy, then it’s all for naught.
As fans of the game of baseball, we know the unexpected can happen at any minute.
Did Willie Randolph tell Tom Glavine to give up seven runs in the first inning against the Marlins on the last day of the 2007 season to seal the Mets collapse? No.
Did John McNamara tell Bill Buckner to let a slow trickler go between his legs in Game 6 of 1986 World Series? No (but that was great!).
Did Jerry Manuel tell Luis Castillo to drop a pop-up off the bat of A-Rod that would have won a crucial Subway-Series game for the Mets? No (that was not as great).
The list can go on and on.
Look at the case of Joe Torre. Any stooge can be successful when he has the talent (and payroll) of the New York Yankees. The managers with younger teams with smaller payrolls (see Joe Maddon of the Rays) are the ones who should be getting the praise.
The point here is that a manager is only so important to the success of the team. Naturally, there are numerous cases in which a manager has inspired his team to play better. Just look at Ron Washington this year.
But the players’ performance wins and losses games.
OK, enough said on that. Regardless, the Mets still need a manager, and the search begins now.
Wally Backman? Bobby Valentine? Bob Melvin? They are all possibilities.
Ken Oberkfell? Lee Mazzlli? Maybe not as likely but still may have a shot.
I’d like to talk about two men who I think would do a great job managing the Mets. That’s not to say that the others would not, but these two could work great.
Clint Hurdle is the current hitting coach for the Texas Rangers. Obviously, he is doing something right because that offense is extremely potent.
Hurdle managed the Colorado Rockies for parts of eight seasons. Though he has a career winning percentage that is under .500, he will always be remembered for orchestrating the Rockies miracle run in 2007.
Hurdle led the Rockies on a 14-of-15 game win streak and a victory in the one game play-in against the Padres. The Rockies eventually advanced to the World Series but were downed by the Boston Red Sox.
Hurdle understands hitting. Last time I checked, that’s not exactly the Mets strong point. Hurdle has managing experience, has no tolerance for shenanigans, would preach consistent hitting to the ball club and would be an overall great fit.
If the Mets develop some consistency at the plate, they could be a dangerous team.
Now onto Chip Hale. Hale served as the third base coach/infield instructor for the Mets last season and is well-revered within the organization. He has already said that he would like to be considered for the job.
Hale does not have the resume of Clint Hurdle, but he does have some managing experience for the Tucson Sidewinders, the Diamondbacks AAA affiliate. He even served as bench coach under another Mets managerial candidate, Bob Melvin, for the Diamondbacks.
The thing that Hale has going for him is that he is familiar with the current team. Barring any major overhauls, the core of this team will remain the same in 2011. Having someone around who was present last season and internally knows how the team can be improved might be a good option.
David Wright in particular has raved about Hale and his coaching style.
Either way, both of these men are qualified to lead the Mets. But like I said, a manager is only as successful as his players’ performance. Everyone always says that Lou Piniella is a great manager. How come he couldn’t get a talented Cubs team to play better? Because they did not perform on the field, not because of Sweet Lou.
From early reports, Alderson has said that he would like a conservative manager with experience. Many fans believe that the Mets need a fiery manager to breathe some life into a lax team.
I guess that decision is ultimately up to Alderson. No matter what decision he makes, he is bound to receive some scrutiny. But I will ask fans to save it and see how the Mets actually play next year.
A manager can only do so much for a team behind the scenes, but success in baseball rests with how the players perform between the foul lines.
About the Author: Jim Mancari
Jim Mancari hails from Massapequa, N.Y. He recently earned a Master's degree in Journalism at Hofstra University. He is a devout Mets fan and takes pride in his team, despite their lack of success over the last few years. Like all Mets fans, Jim has plenty of hope. He also writes as the sports reporter for the Brooklyn Tablet newspaper and the senior editor of metroBASEBALL Magazine. Click my name to view my personal website.
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Last updated: 05/18/2013
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