Buck Showalter introduced as director of the Mets

Most other years, Buck Showalter’s first order of business on take over a new team would be to call the players and text them. During ...


Most other years, Buck Showalter’s first order of business on take over a new team would be to call the players and text them. During baseball’s off-season, this is the easiest way to get to know the players before spring training begins in mid-February.

But with the sport frozen because of a labor dispute in which Major League Baseball locked out players, Showalter is not allowed to be in contact with players or club officials on any team. But that doesn’t mean that Showalter, the Mets’ most senior manager in some time, hasn’t already started planning for next season.

In an introductory video press conference with the Mets on Tuesday afternoon, Showalter said he spoke to his pitching coach Jeremy Hefner about the possibility of an abbreviated spring training if the lockdown bleeds within the planned baseball schedule.

“We have to prepare for the assumptions of a short spring training, and that’s going to be a challenge,” said Showalter, who led the Crosstown Yankees in the 1994-95 players’ strike, which ended the 1994 season early and delayed the start of the 1995 season.

“The communication part, it will catch up very quickly,” he continued. “It behooves us to do this. I want to make the path for the players as easy as possible. But preparing a squad and possibly short spring training, shame on us if we’re not prepared for that when that happens.

“Usually with normal spring training you have a buffer period where you know if you have a backhand with a spring training arm or leg or whatever – a sore shoulder – you have time for it to come back.” and make the start of the season, “he added.” But if you shorten the spring, that buffer or that safety net won’t be there. “

Showalter, 65, spoke for almost an hour on Tuesday and it was clear he had a lot of insight and ideas on how to lead a team. He has managed more than 3,000 major league games for four franchises – the Yankees, Arizona Diamondbacks, Texas Rangers and Baltimore Orioles – and has been named League Manager of the Year three times. American.

The Mets, however, present a new challenge.

Showalter joins a franchise that has had its share of turnover, losses and problems during the last years. But a new era could be opening for the Mets: they have the richest majority owner in the sport (Steven A. Cohen), a new General manager (Billy Eppler), $ 255 million in new talent which was added this offseason (pitcher Max Scherzer, infielder Eduardo Escobar and outfielder Starling marte and Mark Canha), and they currently have the highest payroll in MLB. It all comes with Cohen’s expectation that they will compete for a World Series title.

“Steve continues to eliminate excuses for things we might have for things we can’t do,” Showalter said. He later added of his task at hand: “Not a lot of empty talk. It’s kind of a “show me” situation.

His job description with the Mets, Showalter said, “isn’t about being competitive or trying to win more games than losing – it’s about being the last team in the game.” And the intention is not to win the World Series just once, he added.

A World Series title, however, was missing from Showalter’s resume, along with a league pennant. Only Houston Astros manager Dusty Baker (1,987 wins) and Gene Mauch (who has managed four clubs and won 1,902 wins) have won more games in major league history than Showalter (1,551) without claiming to a World Series title.

“It’s not something that is going to define my life, but I can tell you this: it wakes me up every day now,” he said.

After his nine-year tenure with the Orioles ended in 2018 with a 115-game losing streak early in the roster’s rebuild, Showalter worked for MLB Network and the YES Network as a TV analyst. He’s been interviewed for leadership positions – like the vacant Los Angeles Angels job that went to Joe Maddon when Eppler was their general manager – but hasn’t landed a new one until now. In those three years away from the dugout, baseball has changed in many ways, from the increased involvement of front offices to the strategies used in games, such as using openers to start games rather than traditional starting pitchers.

To get a feel for what to expect, Showalter said he picked the brains of longtime Chicago White Sox managers Tony La Russa Maddon and Baker, two of whom had been away from the dugout before. to come back.

“It’s not like I’ve been away for 10 years,” Showalter said. “I have been quite connected to television because I am responsible for 30 teams instead of one. But I can’t wait to see. I will enter it with an open mind. I think you have to do some things the same way, when it comes to the things that get you to win a baseball game. This is a 90 foot increment set.

Showalter said he looks forward to working with the Mets Analysis Department, which has been significantly strengthened under Cohen. Although Showalter appeared at a time when it wasn’t so common, he explained that he always embraced the data and calculated the numbers himself. With the Orioles, for example, they used defensive changes, but he said there just wasn’t a lot of funding for an analysis department. He pointed the finger at his wife, who accompanied him to the press conference and also wore Mets blue like himself, as proof of his analytical credentials.

“Angela used to do charts for me in the Florida State League on where guys would hit the ball,” Showalter said of his time as a minor league manager.

He later added: “If anyone thinks I’m going to go back to the hotel or home and thinks we may have been beaten because someone else had better or better used information than us or analytics, you don’t know me very well. I’ve always been very spongy with faulty information. And like everyone else, I don’t have a corner on that. There’s a lot of smart people in this game.

Sandy Alderson, president of the Mets, said Showalter had “come close to anyone in baseball possible” to get a score of 10 out of 10 for the position. When Alderson was general manager of Oakland Athletics, he said he tried to hire Showalter as his team manager before Showalter opted for the expanding Diamondbacks franchise in 1998.

“You won’t last as long as Buck and you don’t stay as interested in someone who’s been out of the game for three years if that person hasn’t been adaptable, if that person hasn’t been curious, if that person isn’t. has only evolved with the game itself, ”Alderson said.

During his press conference, Showalter also spoke about the need for accountability and a good clubhouse culture (“there’s no place like this when you do it right”), the joy of playing in the great New York market (“people really live and die with everything you do there, and it’s fun to do, but some people shy away from it”) and how much he loved them. off-season movements of Cohen, Alderson and Eppler.

At one point, Showalter named Marte and Escobar as examples of good additions to the Mets. Team officials are not expected to publicly discuss players during the lockout. Showalter then quickly corrected himself.

“I’m almost there,” he said with a chuckle. “This is the first time I’m wrong, isn’t it?” “

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Newsrust - US Top News: Buck Showalter introduced as director of the Mets
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