The Mets have announced that they have signed former Met great Carlos Beltrán to fill their managerial vacancy. The future Hall of Famer spent seven years with team, and ranks as the seventh-best Met ever by Baseball Reference WAR. He was sixth on that list until Jacob deGrom passed him this year! He becomes the third active manager who was born and raised in Puerto Rico, joining Alex Cora and Charlie Montoyo. He is the fourth of Puerto Rican descent, as World Series champion Dave Martínez was born and raised in the United States by Puerto Rican parents. He now joins an infamously dysfunctional organization run by incompetent, micromanaging owners.
As a Mets fan and a Puerto Rican, one might think that I am thrilled at this hiring. Well, I am certainly not displeased by it being a big Beltrán fan, but I have serious reservations. One of those reservations was the same one I had when the Cubs hired David Ross: he has no coaching experience. Having played the game and coaching/managing a clubhouse are two completely different skills. Robin Ventura clearly lacked those skills, as did Mike Matheny, despite the fact that the Royals decided to give him another chance for some reason.
As anybody familiar with the Mets’ organization will tell you, a managerial or front office opening is not exactly an enviable one, even though the team has an exciting core of players such as deGrom, Pete Alonso, and Jeff McNeil. The meddlesome Wilpons micromanage everyone, and there is no reason to believe that they will stop with Beltrán, regardless of the fact that he was one of the best players in the team’s history. That is one of the reasons why I was always hesitant to be critical of Mickey Callaway until he was fired, because it was difficult to discern how much of his performance was from him, and how much was his being forced to follow orders from the Wilpons.
One thing about this hire that I love: Beltrán speaks Spanish. With so many Spanish-speaking players in the game today, I do not understand why front offices do not put more emphasis on hiring bilingual managers. Speaking through an interpreter is just not the same thing.
I imagine MLB is now breathing a sigh of relief over the Beltrán hiring. There were eight managerial openings in the league, and until Beltrán, five out of eight of them went to Caucasian candidates. Here’s hoping that the Pirates and Giants hire Hensley Meulens, Pedro Grifol, or Joe Espada (another Puerto Rican!).
The players will obviously have a great deal of respect for Beltrán due to his high baseball IQ and having been a superstar player. That being said, if he appears to struggle with in-game tactics and/or communicating with the players — two things that Callaway struggled with — that respect will dwindle. Furthermore, the New York media can be difficult to handle. I am confident that he is not going to threaten a reporter just for doing his job like Callaway did, but being under that New York microscope can wear on a person.
I was taken aback when I first heard that Beltrán requested Terry Collins to be his bench coach, because he was not a good manager at all. After having thought about it a bit, I am actually for it, just as long Beltrán does not take any tactical advice from him. Collins has 13 years of experience managing ball clubs that could be helpful to Beltrán. However, at the time of this writing the Mets have not even offered Collins the job.
Obviously I am rooting for Beltrán to succeed, but unless he is a natural at it, it is going to be tough. Worse yet, the Wilpons are not going to make it any easier for him.
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Luis Torres is a Featured Writer at Beyond the Box Score. He is a medicinal chemist by day, baseball analyst by night. You can follow him on Twitter at @Chemtorres21.