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Mets Manager Carlos Mendoza Has His Own Style

It did not take long for Mets fans to realize that Carlos Mendoza is a very different cat than was Buck Showalter. It’s not just because he’s 20 years younger. If you watch Mendoza on the top step of the dugout for every Met game, he appears engaged and full of energy which is something Buck Showalter wasn’t keen on doing. The change is refreshing, important. The Mets and the fans have noticed.

Going into play Friday night vs. the Dodgers the Mets have played 1/9th of the season. If a season can be divided into innings the first inning is now over. Mets POBO David Stearns likes what he’s seeing so far as he conducted his first in-season presser this week.

In a quote from the NY Post:

“I think he’s been very steady from Day 1 of spring training through today,” Stearns, speaking publicly for the first time this season, said before Tuesday’s 3-1 win over the Pirates at Citi Field. “And that’s so important over the course of the major league season. You’re going to go through ups and downs, you’re going to go through losing streaks and winning streaks. Understanding that it is a long season, and there are going to be times where it’s tough … I think he’s done a great job of doing that.”

When the Mets were 0-5 and finally posted their first win in the second game of a doubleheader vs. the Tigers on April 4th, Mendoza was asked if it felt good to get that first win. Somebody HAD to ask it right? But Mendoza smiled, shrugged it off, and acknowledged that it’d been tough trying to get that first win, and he was glad that it was behind him. That’s an honest and real person’s kind of response instead of the hackneyed ‘the team won and that’s all that is important’. It indicated that Mendoza will sometimes be willing to let down his guard. Managers in general are getting better at this but the default answers are very strong to resist.

Did you watch Mendoza’s reaction when he called for, and the Mets executed, a perfect double steal by Jeff McNeil and D.J. Stewart vs. the Pirates with one out in the 8th inning of a 3-3 game this past Tuesday?  Mendoza was visibly excited as if he felt, ‘Yeah I called that, and we DID that!’ It was a big key to the Mets 5-3 victory. The players noticed as well. Of course, if one of the two of the base-stealers had been thrown out, the questions would have flown!  How can D.J. Stewart who’s slow, and Jeff McNeil who’s faster than slow but not fast, be sent on a double steal in the 8th inning of a tie game? But it all worked out and that question thankfully was never asked. 

When the Mets were floundering, Mendoza did not go for the rah-rah speech with his troops, preferring the steady-hand approach.

Stearns went on to add:

“I think during those times, it’s often the things you don’t do,” Stearns said. “I think during those times it’s being yourself, and it’s being consistent and it’s not deviating. I think Mendi is and was very capable of doing that and demonstrating that.”

Stearns also mentioned Mendoza’s “consistency and positivity” as attributes that have stood out.

When the starting pitchers are among the best in the league, and the bullpen has the best ERA in the league, the manager is not likely to be explaining away late game blown leads. Credit should go to the pitchers. Managing the bullpen’s workload is never easy and it will get more challenging as the season wears on as injuries to pitchers are sure to be a factor in when relievers will be needed.

The timely hitting that the Mets have been displaying lately has nothing to do with managing. That’s on the hitters. Decisions like allowing Joey Wendle and D.J. Stewart to bat in a late-game situations this past week worked out well and went against the book. Mendoza has been and will continue to take chances when he feels the time is right.

Another area in which Mendoza has excelled is communication with the players themselves. Players know when they will be in the lineup and when and why a lineup change is occurring. Moving Starling Marte up to 2nd in the batting order was not a stroke of genius since that’s where Marte has had most of his success while he’s been a Met. But the way he went about discussing with the players impacted (Lindor and McNeil) displayed how he handles his team. Mendoza has also settled into a regular lineup – at least until J.D. Martinez comes back. This has proven to be successful lately, and staves off questions about the manager’s ‘uncertainty’ about where players will bat in the order. 

Buck Showalter was a good communicator, a good strategist, and a good manager for the Mets, but he was never the long-term solution and was let go perhaps a year too early rather than having it be a year too late. Carlos Mendoza is bidding to be the long-term solution as Mets manager. So far so good.  There’s still 8 ‘innings’ of the season to go.

Mark Kolier
Mark Kolierhttps://mlbreport.com/
Mark Kolier along with his son Gordon co-hosts a baseball podcast called ‘Almost Cooperstown’. He also has written baseball-related articles that can be accessed on Medium.com, Substack.com and now MLBReport.com.


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