Mets GM Sandy Alderson announced Sunday that, for the second time since taking over as GM in 2010, he will spearhead the team's search for a new manager.
According to Alderson's public statements and previous interviews, he is clearly looking for a strong leader and someone that is receptive to analytics and implementing information from the front office.
I've also heard from people familiar with the process that he's looking for someone with an even-keel personality that is poised, can relate to the modern player, is media savvy, and can run a bullpen.
Alderson's list of potential candidates reportedly includes current hitting coach Kevin Long, former Mets players Robin Ventura, Joe McEwing, and Alex Cora, Rays 3B coach Charlie Montoyo, and former Mets coaches Bob Geren and Chip Hale (both of whom previously served under Collins).
In addition to the above names, I hope the following are also on Sandy's list...
Callaway has to be considered a candidate. He is currently Cleveland's pitching coach and serving under Terry Francona, who is considered to be one the game's best managers. Callaway is getting a lot of attention the last year or so due to his fun personality, Cleveland's success, and constant public praise from Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, and Trevor Bauer.
Jul 3, 2016; Mickey Callaway (32) returns from the pitching mound at Rogers Centre. Credit: Kevin Sousa-USA TODAY Sports
"He'll absolutely be someone's manager in the next few years," a rival GM told me earlier this week.
Given Alderson's young rotation and dedication to pitching, I'd be surprised if he doesn't at least attempt to talk with Callaway when the Indians are done with the postseason.
Kapler, 42, retired from baseball in 2011. He interviewed to manage the Dodgers in 2016, but finished second to Dave Roberts, after which Kapler accepted a front office position. He was given the title of Director of Player Development, but has spent the bulk of his time working with coaches and players to think differently about baseball using evidence- and statistical-based analysis.
Frankly, he reads like the prototypical Alderson manager, which is stat-savvy, organized, disciplined, and analytical. Plus he's a former player, passionate about health, fitness and meditation, he has front office experience, he's young, in shape, articulate, and experienced working in media.
The one concern I have about Kapler is how ingrained he appears to be in his West Coast lifestyle. He is described to me as being very mellow and even-tempered. He loves the beach, open spaces, he publishes poetry, quotes Malcom Gladwell, believes in the benefits of guided meditation, and practices a clean and healthy lifestyle.
His Instagram feed literally looks like a Jack Johnson video, not that there's anything wrong with that. I enjoy most of these things, as well. He and I would clearly get along and have a lot to talk about...
However, these are not necessarily the qualities I would pin to a manager tasked with dealing with passionate Mets fans, a fast-paced New York media, 10 reporters, multiple daily press conferences, and an organization long on dramatic moments.
He has yet to appear in print as a potential candidate, but he has Alderson's criteria written all over him. He'd be my top choice going in to an interview, no doubt. But my hunch is that -- while he may one day be a great big-league manager -- this specific situation in Queens, at this specific point in time, may not be the right moment for him to start that phase of his career.
In case you forgot, while not a headline-grabbing catcher, Ausmus did finish his career ranked third in major league history with 12,839 putouts (trailing only Iván Rodríguez and Jason Kendall). He also won three Gold Gloves, made an All Star team, hit .250 across 18 seasons, and caught eight postseason series.
In addition to being a two-decade, successful, stalwart catcher, Ausmus is a Dartmouth graduate, 48 years old, and a believer in sabermetrics. So, again, like Kapler, he fits Alderson's approach like a glove. Unfortunately, also like Kapler, I have yet to see his name in reports connected to the Mets.
Sep 13, 2017; Brad Ausmus (7) stands between home plate umpire Quinn Wolcott (81) and catcher James McCann. Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports
Ausmus was hired to lead the Tigers starting in 2014. He won 90 games and the AL Central in his first year with the Tigers. In 2015, during which Detroit blew up their front office and traded Yoenis Cespedes to the Mets, Ausmus went 74-87 and finished in last place. In 2016, after retooling, his team rebounded, going 86-75 and missing the postseason by two games. This past season, though, after starting another half-step rebuild, the Tigers went 64-98 and finished in last place.
With his contract set to expire, the Tigers announced that Ausmus will not be back in 2018.
It was just five years ago that Ausmus was the hot managerial name on everyone's list, much like Callaway and Kapler today. In talking to people in positions to hire, he is still well-respected, especially for having handled himself professionally through what was clearly a tumultuous ride in Detroit.
"He's a forward-thinking guy, a smart guy, he's got ideas," a former colleague of Ausmus -- and current AL team executive -- told me Tuesday. "I don't think the people in Detroit were open to collaborating with him in a way that he's capable of doing. I think Sandy's guys would be good for him."
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. He recently left his position as Executive Editor and Dir. of Digital Content for SNY.TV to help sports brands build their own digital content businesses...