NEW YORK – It won’t be long before we find out the fate of Mets manager Luis Rojas, who has been in doubt for months.
As the Mets stuttered, Rojas went from being a potential NL favorite of the year to someone who might not lead the Mets next season. It has been a crazy turn of events.
Rojas has an option in his contract for next season, but do the Mets want him back? We’ll find out in the next few days, as Mets president Sandy Alderson said on Wednesday he expects a decision to be made as soon as possible after the season.
And how much of the disappointing season for the Mets is Rojas’ fault? Fans and pundits have debated it and will continue to do so.
With that in mind, let’s discuss the case to keep Rojas and the case against keeping him.
The case to keep Rojas
The players seem to love and respect him: Since the Mets promoted Rojas ahead of the 2020 season, his players have publicly congratulated him. They respect the way he went through the minor leagues as a manager before taking his chance in a big league dugout. Could all that have changed when the team stopped winning? Sure. But in mid-September, a player told me that Mets players still love Rojas.
Factors beyond its control: Rojas was not responsible for Jacob deGrom’s injuries or the injuries of starters like Francisco Lindor, Michael Conforto, Jeff McNeil, Brandon Nimmo and others. Would the Mets’ season have been any different if they hadn’t suffered so many injuries? Maybe not much different, because they still couldn’t hit. But is Rojas responsible for the millionaires not hitting? He is not as directly involved in this process as the batters themselves and the batting coaches.
He did his best job in the toughest times: When the Mets were without so many starters, they excelled. The Fortune Mets were more successful than the Full Strength Mets. Somehow, Rojas kept the clubhouse together during this time and continued to put players in a position to succeed. When he was least talented his team always played hard and won games, which might be a better sign of his baseball acumen than, say, reliever management (which a lot of people think is controlled by the fronts- offices in most cases these days).
Final thoughts: In modern gaming, the main job of a manager may be to keep a close clubhouse and to build relationships with the players. These seem to be Rojas’ strengths. It’s also difficult to gauge the control Rojas had over in-game decisions versus front office control.
The case against the retention of Rojas
The Mets underperformed: Simply put, the 2021 Mets were a disappointment. In Steve Cohen’s first year they had World Series aspirations but were eliminated before the final week of the regular season arrived. Sport is all about results, and there are often guys who fall. Rojas has managed this team and a lot of his players have not played well. Clearly something needs to change, which is why it wouldn’t be surprising if the Mets left Rojas.
Organizational change: The Mets want to hire a president of baseball operations. There might be a new CEO under him. Often times, new bosses want to make their own hires because they don’t want their own fate to be dictated by someone someone else has hired. Rojas was hired two regimes ago, so the Mets might just want a fresh start with a new manager to enter a different era of leadership.
No playoffs in two years: This one relates to # 1, but it’s an overview. In two seasons with the Rojas at the helm, the Mets have not made the playoffs. President Sandy Alderson responded to a general question on Wednesday about the team’s lack of results: period of time, then the process may not survive. … So I appreciate all of those positives that have been mentioned over the year – Luis’s relationship with the players, etc. But at the end of the day, we need to be governed, to some extent, not just by the process and not by what goes into the results, but the results themselves.
Final thoughts: If the Rojas Mets had continued their run early in the season and reached the playoffs, he would have had a much better case. But the lack of results is not helping his cause as there will be a new baseball operations manager this winter.