Earlier this week the Mets announced they hired skipper Buck Showalter to serve as Manager for the next three seasons. A thirty-year managerial veteran, Showalter is still only 65 years old, with decades of experience managing teams coming out of years and years of losing.
Showalter got the nod to manage the Yankees from then-owner George Steinbrenner. After a decade of turmoil throughout the 1980s, the Yankees chose Showalter to inject someone different into a culture of dysfunction and futility. Showalter ended up managing the team to a combined 313-268 record, a first-place position when the 1994 strike happened, and then an American League Divisional Series appearance in 1995, the Yankees’ first postseason appearance in 14 years.
The Yankees offered Showalter a two-year deal for delivering their first playoff berth in over a decade, but Showalter spurned the offer since it was conditional on him firing hitting coach Rick Down. The rest of the Yankees’ dynasty is history, as they went on to win the 1996 World Series, and then three more under Joe Torre from 1998 to 2000.
Despite a premature exit in New York, Showalter had built a reputation as a culture-building manager and the Diamondbacks hired him as their expansion skipper in 1998. The team’s first year they managed only 65 wins, but in year two, having gone out and spent money on Randy Johnson (among others), the team won the National League West in 1999. In 2000 the DBacks won 85 games, but missed the postseason. They fired Showalter, and again he was out a year before his former team won a World Series.
The perennial last-place Rangers (fourth place out of four from 2000 to 2003) hired Showalter in 2003. Things did not go as well in Texas, as the team never finished above third place during Showalter’s four-year tenure. Unlike in New York and Arizona however, it took Ron Washington five years to get the team to the playoffs and their first World Series appearance in franchise history.
In 2010 the Orioles hired Buck to manage the team, a position he held from the 2011 season until the 2018 season. The Orioles hadn’t sniffed a playoff berth since the mid-90s, finishing with a below-500 record every year from 1998 to 2011. In 2012 however, Showalter won the AL Manager of the Year Award (his second) after having led Baltimore to a 93-win season, and an AL Wild Card win.
Baltimore followed that success up with four more .500-or-better seasons, including two more playoff appearances and an AL East pennant in 2014.
Buck’s been on the sidelines since his Baltimore contract expired — this following a franchise-worst 115 losses in 2018.
The Mets haven’t been wandering in the wilderness for too long, after all, they made it to the World Series in 2015 and made the playoffs again in 2016. However, those two seasons seem more like outliers than a commitment to success demanded of a large market team.
After the firing of Carlos Beltran amidst revelations of the Astros cheating scandal, and a public ownership change that was desperately needed, the Mets are in need of a reboot from the top-down. Steve Cohen is investing more than the Wilpons have in years, and is clearly trying to change the way the Mets do business.
Cohen’s choice of Buck Showalter makes a ton of sense, even if the team still is without a long-term President (Sandy Alderson will remain in the role, but he’s not the long-term solution).
Showalter is an old-school baseball man who has been open to leveraging analytics. He has seen the highs and lows of teams coming out of a playoff desert, and teams figuring out the newest version of themselves.
Showalter deserves another shot at managing a team and hopefully this time, he gets a long enough leash to actually see a rebuilt team to sustained success. It would be a welcome change for Mets fans as well, who view their team with skepticism and cynicism.