Robin Ventura and Joe McEwing are reportedly on Sandy Alderson's list of potential candidates to replace Terry Collins, who announced last week that he was stepping down as the team's manager.
According to Bobby Valentine, Alderson is smart to consider both men...
"There's a few hundred guys that I have managed, but these two are in a special class of people," Valentine said Thursday, according to the NY Post. "I think it is a wonderful step in the right direction, when you are hiring for any position, that you have the opportunity to hire a good person. I think great people make great leaders."
Valentine managed McEwing and Ventura on the same roster in 2000, during which their Mets won 94 games and lost to the Yankees in the World Series.
"We love Super Joe," White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf said of McEwing to the NY Daily News' Bill Madden earlier this week. "I have no doubt he will make an excellent manager and I don't want to lose him. But at the same time, we can't stand in his way, just like years ago we couldn't stand in the way of Jim Leyland when he was our bench coach and left us for the Pirates."
Ventura, 50, finished 85-77 during his first season managing the White Sox. However, he his team finished under .500 each of the next four seasons and eventually let him go at the end of 2016.
1999, Miami; Ventura in action at the plate at Dolphins Stadium. Credit: RVR Photos-USA TODAY Sports
McEwing was promoted by the White Sox to join their big-league staff as a third base coach in 2012. This past year he served as the team's bench coach. The Tigers also plan interview him for their managerial opening, Jason Beck of MLB.com recently reported on Twitter.
"Robin always displayed for me the excitement of doing cool things on the baseball field, winning the competition," Valentine added. "So did Joe, even though they always looked different doing it. I think they really loved what they were doing, and when you have an opportunity to do what you love, you are excited about it. I'm describing two birds of a feather, but they look a little different when they fly."
According to Valentine, McEwing and Ventura are skilled enough to handle managing in New York, which is a unique and wide-ranging experience compared to other markets...
"There is a front office that has to be managed and a press corps that has to be managed and a fandom that has to be managed," he explained. "It's all-encompassing these days. But because of their passion, I think (Ventura and McEwing) would have a high chance of being successful. Neither would self-destruct or implode."
Steve Phillips still believes being GM of the Mets is the most difficult job in sports, not just because of there are so many more things to keep track of, but also because the Yankees live next door. I assume it's essentially the same as manager. Therefore, if a managerial candidate has already experienced New York as a player, it should help him hit the ground running.
In regards to Ventura, while I'm a huge fan of his as a player, I am very, very skeptical about bringing him to the Mets at this specific point in time. I do not think he's the right fit for what is needed here. Admittedly, I didn't follow him closely when he was leading the White Sox. However, a survey of their fans and reporters reveal a low-key, laid-back, uncreative manager who was often accused of sleeping at the wheel and burning out relievers, not to mention repeatedly being undermined in reports by his players. If even an ounce of that description is accurate, he would struggle with the Mets.
On the other hand, after talking to friends in Chicago, McEwing -- not Ventura -- is clearly the better fit for the Mets. They all described Super Joe as being upbeat with a lot of energy and curiosity, which is exactly as I remember him as a player. He is skeptical of relying only on statistical analysis, but also open minded enough to arm himself with as much evidence and information as possible.
"He's a hard worker," current White Sox manager Rick Renteria said last year. "He's in there early looking for anything that will give us an edge. ... He brings a lot to the table."
I also like that McEwing wasn't a high-profile player. He was a smaller guy, a hustler and an over-achiever, and someone who did whatever he needed to do to stay on the roster and help his team win. These are important traits that would serve him well at Citi Field, because they are qualities that are 1) respected by Mets fans and 2) necessary when trying to navigate the clubhouse, front office, and media multiple times every day.