Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Buck Showalter introduced as Mets manager: Goal is ‘to be the last team standing’

The New York Mets on Tuesday introduced Buck Showalter as the 23rd manager in franchise history and first hired under Steve Cohen, who’s entering his second season as Mets owner.

On the remote Zoom call with reporters, Showalter addressed a variety of topics including his openness to and appreciation for analytics, which is, in essence, a fundamental requirement for major-league managers in 2021. As well, Showalter paid heed to the heavy expectations that will accompany him in his first season in Queens. Not surprisingly, he didn’t shy away from them

“I understand the job description,” Showalter said. “The job description here isn’t to be competitive or try to win more games than you lose. It’s to be the last team standing.”

Being “the last team standing” is of course another way of saying “win the World Series.” That’s not something Showalter has done in his long and decorated managerial career, but his aim is to change that while also bringing the Mets their first belt and title since 1986. Not coincidentally, this is also Cohen’s stated goal as owner of the Mets. While that seems like a patently obvious kind of goal, not every owner operates in such a manner these days. 

As for those title hopes, the work begins with the 2022 season. Showalter inherits a Mets team that went 103-119 in two seasons, including the abbreviated 2020 campaign, under erstwhile manager Luis Rojas. However, one can argue that the talent on the roster was better than that record suggests As well, Showalter’s Mets will benefit from a winter spending spree that saw the team sign Max ScherzerStarling MarteMark Canha, and Eduardo Escobar

Much of course will hinge on the ability of ace Jacob deGrom to stay healthy, but beyond that, the 65-year-old Showalter has a long history of providing stability and a winning approach. Over his 20-year managerial career in the majors, he’s guided three teams to division titles (including the crosstown Yankees) and won AL Manager of Year three times. Presently, Showalter ranks 24th all-time with 1,551 managerial wins. 

If there’s something lacking on his resume, it’s that his teams are just 9-14 in postseason play. Given his “last team standing” aspirations with the Mets, the plain goal is flip that particular script in a memorable and legacy-defining way. 

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