The New York Mets remain without a manager for 2018. While there is plenty of time to make a decision, it is a hotly debated topic among those in the Mets world.
There are many candidates for manager including former Mets players Robin Ventura, Alex Cora, Joe McEwing, and Sandy Alomar Jr. among others. If you ask Tony La Russa, which Mike Puma of the New York Post did, he feels very strongly that Chip Hale would make a great manager for the Mets.
“Chip is really an intelligent guy and he’s a competitive guy,” La Russa said in a phone interview with The Post. “You put those two things together, and he’s got some personality, so you go into New York and you have got personality, smarts, toughness, that works there. It works anywhere, but you get tested in New York.”
Serving as the Chief Baseball Officer, La Russa hired Hale prior to the 2015 season. The D-Backs went 79-83 but failed to meet expectations in 2016 finishing 69-93 and Hale was fired. His record, though, shouldn’t be held against him says La Russa.
“The first year, we went from 98 losses to four-under .500, so it was a marked improvement,” La Russa said. “The next year, early in the season, it got away from us, and when you have a young club, momentum, when it goes the wrong way, it’s tough to reverse. But I think the tale of both seasons was good for Chip going forward.”
As Puma points out in his article, La Russa should understand what Mets general manager Sandy Alderson is looking for in a manager considering the two spent 10 seasons together in Oakland. Those 10 years built the foundation of La Russa’s Hall of Fame career starting when Alderson, as Oakland’s GM, hired La Russa as manager in 1986. He managed the Athletics to three straight World Series appearances (1988-1990), winning it all in 1989.
“The No. 1 thing with Sandy, he’s a very competitive guy,” La Russa said. “I think he wants a manager that understands the reason the two teams play is the score, and you are supposed to compete to your best to win games. But he’s also a very smart guy, so I think he appreciates that a manager is intelligent and is going to be learning, not just about the personnel, but the current [analytics] issue. There are teams that are overwhelming [the manager] and teams that are underwhelming. Neither one is optimal and there is a great balance.”
La Russa appeared in the World Series three more times with the Cardinals, losing to the Red Sox in 2004 but winning it all in 2006 and 2011, his final season. He is the third winningest manager of all time, going 2728-2365 (.536) over 33 seasons with the White Sox (1979-1986), Athletics (1986-1995), and Cardinals (1996-2011). He won Manager of the Year four times (’83, ’88, ’92 and ’02).
La Russa’s words could carry some weight with Alderson, both because of his being highly respected across baseball as well as their prior relationship. Still, there are many applications to sift through, and the question of who will be the next manager at Citi Field remains unanswered.