The Mets are in upheaval roughly three weeks before spring training starts as they search for a new manager to replace Carlos Beltran.
In his latest mailbag, Matthew Cerrone answers questions about the Beltran situation and more...
The elephant in the room -- and the overwhelming question asked of me -- has been about who I want the Mets to hire to replace Carlos Beltran.
In the wake of the Phillies hiring Joe Girardi, who was my top choice at the start of the offseason, I advocated for Eduardo Perez -- not Beltran. I still like Perez, who I think has a unique mix of relatable player experience, knowledge of stats and feel for the game, media savvy, professionalism, in-game management skills and a commanding presence on and off the field. He signed a new deal with ESPN that can be broken if he is offered a gig to run a team or dugout.
Perez is the only first-time guy I would turn to because of his ability to handle what will be a wild media circus during the next few months thanks in large part to the Beltran situation. He also did a ton of prep work in advance of his multiple rounds of interviews with Brodie Van Wagenen and Jeff Wilpon earlier this offseason. He knows the team and a good number of the players.
If not him, I'd go with a known, veteran manager because he will have to hit the ground running and the only way to do that will be to pull from past experience.
Buck Showalter and Dusty Baker are interesting choices, but I think each may be too iconic, set in their ways and old school for what the Mets need right now. I think John Gibbons is more likely to end up in Houston. And while Van Wagenen is a fan of A.J. Hinch, obviously he's not going down that road.
So, again I come back to Perez...
In the event things drag out, though, and more and more players start arriving to St. Lucie, I'd simply put Terry Collins back in charge until someone is hired to be the full-time manager. I'd also suit up David Wright to help lead drills and organize camp. They're familiar, stable faces that most players have seen in camp or worked with in the past. They respect Wright and most everyone there has always viewed Collins as a father figure. It's the perfect stop-gap duo to hold and pass the torch to whomever is brought in to take over the rest of the way.
What do you think a trade package would look like for Mookie Betts? ~ Matt Pasco (Twitter)
The Red Sox are in the same boat as the Mets right, which is scrambling to find a new manager. The Sox have also been pondering what to do with Betts, and dealing him would be a massive transaction given his salary and popularity with their fans. So, at this point, it's hard to see how he's moved before the July trade deadline -- if he's moved at all.
To get him, though, I still believe it will mean taking David Price or Nathan Eovaldi with him. Both of those pitchers are making sizable money in 2020. This only further complicates a possible trade.
Is Edwin Diaz the closer day one? Or Seth Lugo? Or does this just depend now on the manager? Or will Jeremy Hefner have the most input here? ~ Josh Norton (Twitter)
The thing about the bullpen from 2019 is that, regardless of the manager, pitching coach or bullpen coach, and regardless of what time of year it was, they were never in command of the game. It was always hit or miss from batter to batter, inning to inning or situation to situation. So, I think all roles have to be up for grabs, including the end-of-game, high-leverage guy.
Edwin Diaz and Dellin Betances returning to what they once were will be a huge, huge difference-maker in this department. However, neither player can be 100 percent counted on until we see them performing in April.
I have no idea what former Mets pitcher, now current pitching coach Jeremy Hefner will bring to the table in terms of mechanics adjustments and handling each player's psyche, but I have complete faith in his ability to use data, trends and evidence to keep pitchers out of positions to fail. I've heard from a number of people that know and have worked with him that say he's very in tune with who should and shouldn't be on the mound in specific spots, be it based on leverage, matchups, prior usage, fatigue, and so on.
That said, while I love Lugo in any role, I still feel they need to add some depth because if Diaz or Betances stumble early, and if anyone gets injured in spring training or just after Opening Day, it could be a rough go again to start the season.
Do you think Van Wagenen is on thinner ice with everything that has transpired and a potential Steve Cohen ownership change? ~ Justyn Gordon (Twitter)
I don't think there's any circumstance that gets Van Wagenen fired during the season. He's under contract through 2022. But, like you said, if the Wilpons and Cohen reach an agreement to change controlling interest in the team -- and the deal is approved by MLB and at least 60 percent of team owners -- there's no telling what Cohen will want to do when its his money that is most on the line.
The fact is, as of now, Cohen has no say other than him still being a minority owner. I'm sure he's watching a bit more closely than he was last year, though. In less than a year he could be in a position to flip the entire franchise on its head. And in that case, given all that has transpired during the past 20 years, I don't think anyone is immune to being replaced, including Brodie.
Matthew Cerrone (Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Contact) is a senior writer of MetsBlog.com, which he created in 2003. His book, The New York Mets Fans' Bucket List, details 44 things every Mets fan should experience during their lifetime.