In the wake of Joe Girardi joining the Phillies, the Mets are continuing their interview process with five known candidates to replace Mickey Callaway as their manager.
Here is who I prefer and what I like and dislike about each candidate...
My Top Choice...
Eduardo Perez (Former 1B, OF, 50 years old)
Why I like him: I hear Perez and I think MLB Network Radio. However, inside baseball, he's known for his outstanding work managing Colombia in the World Baseball Classic, as well as in Puerto Rico, where he won two Manager of the Year awards and multiple championships.
He also has experience as a big-league hitting coach and bench coach.
I listen to him every day on SiriusXM and he's meticulously aware of everything happening in the game. He talks trends, In terms of analytics, he knows his stuff, so much so he's become an annual speaker at the SABR Analytics Conference in Boston.
This past Spring Training, I watched him work the field and clubhouse like a pro, talking with veterans, prospects and reporters, shaking hands, meeting fans, having loud conversations and subtle conversations, all while keeping a fatherly eye on his young daughter standing next to him the entire afternoon.
He also has a unique and intense voice, which, though that doesn't seem important, actually helps him to command the room and pull in attention when talking eye-to-eye with people.
Why I don't like him: Similar to Carlos Beltran, for all his time working in media, leading teams and playing 750 games in the big leagues, he has never managed in the major leagues. That's it, though. Otherwise, he's a very interesting candidate and someone I hope gets a legit look from Van Wagenen and his staff.
Next in line...
Carlos Beltran (Former Mets outfielder, 42 years old)
Why I like him: He's Carlos Beltran. The end. He's one of my favorite players to ever wear a Mets uniform and he may be the most underrated star in team history. This could be viewed as a negative. However, to me, it's a positive because he's faced the fire from the very fans he'll be trying to make happy. He knows the deal, it would not be his first rodeo in Queens, whether dealing with reporters, handling criticism, or understanding what it takes to survive the madness of a full season in New York.
He's a leader. I don't think the average fan is aware of just how involved he was in tutoring and mentoring young players during his time in New York. I've literally seen him pump guys up, getting them to believe in themselves. It's a sight to see, trust me. Along those lines, he's regarded by former players, coaches and managers as being patient, confident, and a terrific communicator.
He has significant support within Van Wagenen's front office, where he's been most championed by Terry Collins and Omar Minaya, according to people close to the situation.
Why I don't like him: I love liking Beltran. And, if he's a disaster as manager, that could be destroyed. This is not a reason for him to be ignored by the Mets, though. More importantly, despite all of the above -- not to mention having played 2,500 games for seven teams, winning a World Series, appearing in All-Star games, winning Rookie of the Year and getting dozens of MVP votes -- he has never coached or managed at any level. Zilch.
He may have been a great player, but there's no telling how much of a learning curve he'll need to get down managing. If hired, he'll no doubt need a supportive, wise bench coach. Terry Collins perhaps? Hmmm...
The Other Three...
Derek Shelton (Twins bench coach, 49 years old)
Why I like him: In 2002, a 20-year-old Robinson Cano played for Shelton, who at the time was managing the Gulf Coast League Yankees. Shelton, now bench coach for the Twins, never played a game in the big leagues, though he did spend two years as a minor-league catcher for the Yankees.
I'm of the belief that catchers tend to make for prepared, intense, focused managers that are skilled at communicating with players and using evidence to build a game plan. This is how Shelton is described by people with first-hand knowledge of his work.
He's also served as a coach under Eric Wedge and Joe Maddon, as well as this past season under Rocco Baldelli, whose Twins won 101 games and their division.
Why I don't like him: Despite his affiliation with the Yankees, he has zero experience playing, managing, or coaching in New York. He's also had no everyday experience fielding questions from reporters, let alone New York reporters.
He may be too married to using statistics for in-game decisions. Stats are important, but so is instinct. And, I don't believe he has the instincts and armor to manage the Mets, in this city, at this time in their history.
I mean, why bother firing Mickey Callaway if turning around to hire Shelton?
Tim Bogar (Veteran coach, 52 years old)
Why I like him: He has seen it all... He's been a coach for three of the best managers to ever do the job (Maddon, Bobby Valentine and Terry Francona). It's hard to imagine he hasn't picked up a thing or two having watched these three men in action. He's probably learned a lot about what not to do, as well.
He has also been Ron Washington's bench coach. He's been a front office special assistant to Jerry Dipoto. He's currently on Washington's bench as they battle the Astros in the World Series. And he's won Manager of the Year at three different minor-league levels.
He's somewhat familiar with Mets, who drafted him in 1987. He played four seasons in Queens, used mostly as a pinch hitter and utility infielder.
Why I don't like him: There isn't much to dislike about Bogar. However, I have a hunch he may get run down by fans and media in New York City. I've talked with several people during the past week, some of whom worked directly with Bogar, that describe him as genuine, loyal, kind and generous, super smart and always prepared. These are wonderful traits.
However, to be successful as Mets manager, it requires operating with a chip on your shoulder, it requires a tough look in your eye that lets everyone know you're not going to pushed around. And, if you watch Bogar's interviews during the past 10 years, though he may be able to throw down with an umpire or two, you'll see a man that is forgiving and soft spoken.
Again, in regular life these traits are an asset. However, when managing the Mets and sitting front seat on the roller coaster that wraps around a 162-game season in Queens, forgiveness and being soft spoken can be a liability.
Luis Rojas (Mets coach, 38 years old)
Why I like him: He knows the Mets, for whom he's managed in the minor leagues 12 of the 25 players currently on Van Wagenen's 40-man roster, most notably Pete Alonso, Jeff McNeil, Amed Rosario, Jacob deGrom and Michael Conforto. This past season he served on Callaway's coaching staff, helping to communicate analytics and player issues between manager and player.
He's Felipe Alou's son. His older brother is Moises Alou. Baseball is in his his blood.
Why I don't like him: I have no good reason to not like him, I just think he's a bit green. He reads like a great fit. My main concern is his lack of experience dealing with New York media. That said, he's aware of it. Thanks to working under Callaway, he's seen what to do and what not to do. In the end, I see him more as a bench coach, where he would be a terrific asset given his familiarities with the strengths and weaknesses of the team's best players.
Matthew Cerrone (Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Contact) is lead writer of MetsBlog.com, which he created in 2003. He also hosts the MetsBlog Podcast, which you can subscribe to here. His new book, The New York Mets Fans' Bucket List, details 44 things every Mets fan should experience during their lifetime. To check it out, click here!