Of the many names being floated as potential future managers for the Mets, one that has garnered a lot of interest is Alex Cora. Expected to interview soon, his youth and relative lack of managerial experience may put him at a slight disadvantage, but he has a lot to offer a team in transition.
Cora is not a new name to Mets fans -- his 14-year stint in the majors included a brief stop in Queens. Already near the end of a mediocre at best on-field career, his performance with the Mets was quite poor (a .597 OPS over 2 years), but even then, in 2010, he received raves for his clubhouse presence. And there was a widespread assumption he would eventually go into managing.
Since retiring from professional baseball in 2012, Cora spent some time broadcasting, but most notably joined the Astros as a bench coach for the 2017 season.
Compared to most potential candidates, Cora's one year with the Astros is hardly any experience at all, and he's generally regarded to be a somewhat risky candidate because of that. But it's important to note just how valuable experience with a team like the Astros can be. Just three years ago, they had finished their third straight season of losing 90+ games. But their team, brimming with young talent, put up two strong seasons before surging to 101 wins in 2017.
Cora was part of a highly-regarded crew of coaches who brought a group of both young players and strong veterans through an emotionally tumultuous season -- one that saw them briefly without a stadium, to a place where they are one of the favorites for the pennant. The Astros represent in many ways what the Mets should aspire to be.
The Mets have long favored the "old school" style manager, who calls for a bunt when the unwritten rules say bunt, and bats the fast guy first no matter what. But partly as a function of his age (Cora is 41 and would be one of the youngest managers in baseball) and partly due to his time with the heavily-analytical Astros, Cora would represent a real change in that approach.
Cora would bring with him unconventional lineups, matchups that go beyond lefty-righty, and more creative fielding shifts. These add up to just a few extra wins at the most, but since Mets are not a team that is going to be in a position to run away with the division any time soon, every little bit counts.
One important reason the Mets need to consider moving quickly on Cora is that they may not get another shot for a long time. His reputation as a leader as a player along with the rave reviews he has received from his well-regarded colleagues in Houston, put him in demand for any one of the handful of MLB manager positions open this offseason. It would be an edgy choice for the traditional Mets, but they owe it to themselves and their fans to go for the very best. And after a brutal season, it's the kind of big change they need in order to clear the air.
Maggie Wiggin (Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Archive Posts) has been a Mets fan since birth and a MetsBlog contributor since 2013. She loves throwing hard and hitting hard and hates the DH. When baseball is out of season, she fills her days with data analysis and evaluation and patiently waits for Spring