It has become abundantly clear that Terry Collins won’t be returning next season with his contract set to expire and the Mets floundering.
We have heard multiple names that range from older options such as Ron Gardenhire to current players like David Wright. There is one man, however, that stands out among the best: former-Met, Joe McEwing. The 44-year-old former utility man makes a lot of sense to take over for Collins in a couple of ways.
Terry Collins will finish this season as the oldest manager in all of MLB and if New York is ready to move on from him, it only makes sense to go younger. While some might suggest Gardenhire as their top choice, he doesn’t make sense if that’s the goal.
However, there is the possibility of going too young. While many would love to see fan-favorite David Wright take over, it might be too early to look at him as a realistic option. First and foremost, he is currently under contract as a player which means the Mets would have to convince him to retire or act as a duel player-manager. He also lacks the experience as a manager or even as a coach, never actually learning that aspect of the game. This isn’t to say he couldn’t learn it on the fly, but he lacks the experience of other candidates.
McEwing has been retired for over ten years now, meaning that he will not be managing players that are in similar age to him. During his time off the field, he has been coaching since 2008. He started with the Charlotte Knights as their hitting coach and has worked his way up in the Chicago White Sox system since. He was also the manager for the Winston Salem-Dash (Single-A) before being named as the White Sox third base coach by Robin Ventura in 2012.
Despite being old enough to accumulate this experience, a 44-year-old isn’t exactly considered to be a dinosaur for a manager. Consider the fact that former-Met Bartolo Colon is still starting every fifth day at the same age. For a team that needs to add youth, but also add some experience, McEwing makes a lot sense here.
McEwing, in his interview with FanGraphs from 2013, has a lot of different and very interesting approaches to the idea of managing. Some of these approaches are among those that many would tend to agree with.
Within that article, he talks about his view on lineup construction.
“You want guys to know what they’re doing when they come to the ballpark every day, but then there is that communication factor again. If they’re not in their usual spot, you have to let them know the reason why,” McEwing said. “Players are creatures of habit. They like to be comfortable in their environment. If they come to the ballpark knowing what they’re going to do that day, they can better prepare mentally and physically.”
How many times have we all, at one point or another, been annoyed with Terry Collins giving Michael Conforto inconsistent playing time? McEwing believes that players need to know what their role is on a given day which makes such a difference. He sounds like the type of manager that wants a guy like Conforto to know he is starter when healthy. It’s not just when a right-hander is on the mound or if a subjectively determined easy left-hander is pitching.
Another point of interest is his view on defensive shifts. In the interview with FanGraphs, he also sights his views on defensive shifts.
“I’m a little old school on this. I really don’t believe in over-shifting. If you’re going to play a guy to pull, play him over two steps. If you’re going to play him to the opposite field, do it two steps in that direction,” McEwing said. “Think about the teams who were in the World Series last year. Did they shift anybody? They played everybody straight up.”
This should strike people in that he seems to incorporate an interest in balancing the old style and the new as well. He doesn’t want to go out there and play the new game, that has started to take a heavy focus on analytics and where a guy is most likely going to hit the ball. Instead, he is going to use the eye test in some sense, but with the willingness to incorporate analytics to help make other decisions.
Whoever replaces Terry Collins needs to have a different approach. Otherwise, there isn’t a point in replacing him. While we all expect to hear a bunch of names, McEwing deserves as much consideration as any. He has the experience, the youth and the willingness to incorporate new ideas and adapt on the job.