Current Position: Mets Hitting Coach (2015 – present)
Age: 12/30/66 (50)
Managerial Experience: 1998 Wilmington Blue Rocks (A) 6-1; Spokane Indians (A) 44-32 (League Champs)
After a dismal 2014 season, the Mets fired Dave Hudgens and brought Kevin Long aboard to serve as the team’s new hitting coach. Certainly, Long’s previous working experience with Curtis Granderson, and the Mets wanting to get the biggest free agent acquisition in the Sandy Alderson era going didn’t hurt. In his time with the Mets, Long has distinguished himself to the point where he’s actually been referred to as a “rock star.”
To name a few, we have seen Granderson, Daniel Murphy, Yoenis Cespedes, Jay Bruce and Neil Walker become better hitters under Long’s tutelage. Generally speaking, when Long’s message gets through, we see players both increase their OBP and their slugging.
As noted in a New York Times article, 0ne of the reasons why Long is able to help players improve as hitters is they compile all the relevant data, they filter it down and they convey that information to the players in the hopes they absorb it and to put it to good use.
In terms of not just the modern manager, but any manager, you are looking for an individual who not only has the ability to understand the data provided to him, but also the best way to convey that data to the players in a way that is effective. As noted with players like Murphy and Cespedes, it has worked. Conversely, we have also seen Long fail to help Travis d’Arnaud and Juan Lagares reach their offensive ceilings. That’s certainly something that has held the Mets back and forced the team to acquire some players over the past few seasons.
Another issue with Long is his very limited managerial experience. He has not managed anywhere since 1999 and he has never managed above short season Single-A ball. Accordingly, we really have no idea how he would handle being in charge of every aspect of a major league clubhouse, including managing a pitching staff, dealing with all the unique personalities and maintaining a constructive channel of communication with the front office.
Still, with Long, we have seen a coach that already has the respect of the players in the Mets clubhouse and he has a good rapport with the front office. We see someone who is a good communicator and someone who has the ability to understand and translate data.
“No matter how much data you have, it does not mean anything if it cannot be explained to the players in a way that they can understand and use,” one Mets front office source told the Daily News.
“Being able to take what we give them and make changes that result to improvement on the field, that’s a skill that we need a lot more of.”
Ultimately, we may not know what type of major league manager he would become, but we do know he has the tools to succeed as a manager.
What The Players Say:
Curtis Granderson – “Managing is a whole different thing. If that were to happen, obviously he’d be up for the challenge. He’s always energetic, he communicates, which I think is the biggest thing a manager needs to have . . . So many things can be resolved if people just communicate.”
Alex Rodriguez – “I think Kevin Long could be a good manager. Managing is more like being a CEO of a public company. You’re basically getting information from your board and ownership and then you’re transferring it to your shareholders which are the players.”
Understandably, Mets fans probably want someone with more experience and some want a completely new face. However, with the current front office going nowhere, you are going to need someone who already know has a good working relationship with the team brass. It also helps that Long has garnered a lot of respect in the clubhouse, and has the ability to communicate with this players.
Due to his strengths, Long would be a fine choice for manager with one caveat. With his lack of experience, Long is going to need a strong staff with an accomplished pitching coach and a veteran bench coach to help guide him.