Will Carlos Beltran Save the Mets?

Andrew Hahn, Writer

The New York Mets fell short of making the playoffs for the third straight year.  Although the team made a strong push at the end of the summer for a wildcard spot, their efforts came up short.  The loyal fans had to endure watching their division rivals, Washington Nationals, celebrate their first World Series victory. However, the season was not a complete bust for the Mets.  First baseman Pete Alonso broke the all-time rookie home run record and is favored to win the National League Rookie of the Year Award. Also, Jacob DeGrom is a front-runner to win his second straight Cy Young Award.  That being said, General Manager Brodie Van Wagenen fired manager, Mickey Callaway, after just two years with the team. Under Callaway’s leadership, the team did not live up to the owner’s expectations, finishing 77-85 in 2018 and 86-76 in 2019.  The skipper received criticism from both the fans and media because the Mets failed to make the playoffs despite having one of the best starting pitching rotations in the league. Also, the Mets added two-time All-Star catcher Wilson Ramos to the lineup before the beginning of the 2019 season and bolstered the bullpen with Edwin Diaz, who was named AL Reliever of the Year in 2018.

The initial buzz surrounding the next Mets manager was centered on Joe Girardi.  However, the Philadelphia Phillies scooped up the ex-Yankee skipper, so the Mets front office decided to hand the team to the ex-Met, Carlos Beltran. Unlike Callaway, Beltran was an outstanding player, named to nine MLB All-Star Games and the fifth player in history to hit 400 home runs and steal 300 bases.  Callaway was a journeyman, pitching in only 40 games total for three different teams over five seasons. But both men had no prior managerial experience before being hired by the Mets, although Callaway served as the Cleveland Indian’s pitching coach for five seasons.

Not counting interim managers, Beltran is the 18th Mets manager since 1962 when the team entered the league.  Arguably, Beltran is the second-best MLB player ever to manage the Mets, next to Hall-of-Famer Yogi Berra, who won the league MVP three times and led the Mets to the 1973 World Series.  Joe Torre, who was the Mets skipper from 1977 to 1981, has also a legitimate claim as the second-best ex-player, being selected to play in the All-Star Game nine times and winning the 1971 National League MVP. Willie Randolph, who was the manager from 2005 to 2008, was also an outstanding player, named to the All-Star team six times during his 18-year career as a second-basemen.  It’s debatable whether a great MLB player makes a great manager. The combined managerial record of Berra, Torre, and Randolph for the Mets was 880-969, with an average seasonal record of 77-85. Considering Callaway was fired after an 86-win season, it can be assumed that Beltran is expected to be more successful.

Beltran being hired without prior big-league managing experience is not uncommon, with seven of the 17 previous managers getting their first chance with the Mets.  However, only Joe Torre had no prior coaching experience, either in the major or minor league level, before managing the Mets. Torre, who went on to win four World Series titles with the Yankees, was one of the last player-managers in MLB after he was hired to manage the Mets while still on the roster.  The Mets are hoping that Beltran will duplicate Torre’s success as a manager, but not with a different team after leaving the Mets.