The New York Mets Should Consider Luis Rojas for Bench Coach

New York Mets, Luis Rojas

Luis Rojas was a candidate for the Mets manager job, so why isn’t he a candidate for bench coach?

Rojas’ name first came up in rumors last May. That was when the Mets first thought about firing Mickey Callaway, according to reports. Many fans at the time thought if any change were to be made then bench coach Jim Riggleman would take Callaway’s spot.

To the surprise of many, the media reported that if the Mets made a change it would likely be quality control coach Luis Rojas who would assume the position.

That never happened though, Callaway finished the year before being fired. That was when a full-blown managerial search began and Luis Rojas got major consideration. According to reports, Rojas made it to the final round of the interview process but fell short.

Reports were that the Mets felt Rojas was too young and didn’t have the necessary major league coaching experience. However, Anthony DiComo maintained that the Mets view Rojas as a future major league manager.

That shouldn’t come as a surprise when you look at his resume. Rojas has eight seasons of minor league managerial experience under his belt. During that time he managed twelve players who are currently on the Mets roster, including Pete Alonso, Jeff McNeil, Brandon Nimmo, and Jacob deGrom.

If all of that is good enough to get a manager interview, why not a bench coach interview? It would seem to be the next step in Rojas’ career and development as a coach. So, why hasn’t his name come up in consideration?

The likely reason is that the Mets simply want an experience NL manager or bench coach to help their inexperienced manager Carlos Beltran.

The evidence supports such a claim. Three names have been connected to the Mets bench coach position at this point, Fredi Gonzalez, Jerry Narron, and Ron Wotus.

Ron Wotus is a long-time Giants coach having been there since 1998. He was the Giants bench coach from 1999-2017. He’s also won two Manager of the Year awards in the minor leagues. That’s a strong resume, but Qotus has no connection to the Mets or Beltran. That might be one reason why Wotus has decided to stay in San Fransisco instead of compete for the Mets bench coach job, according to reports.

Fredi Gonzalez has been a manager in the NL East for a decade. He’s also been a third base coach for many years. He left the Marlins’ organization at the end of the 2019 season to pursue other opportunities. He would make a lot of sense as a mentor for Beltran due to his lengthy time as a manager and history as a tactician.

Jerry Narron has a long history as a manager and bench coach. Having spent years at both positions. However, he has never stayed in one place for too long. He was just fired by the Diamondbacks after three seasons as their bench coach. It doesn’t seem to make much sense that the Mets would grab Narron after a failed season.

However, Rojas has something that none of these other candidates has, a connection to the team and players. He’s spent his entire coaching career with the Mets. He’s also a rising star coach that has the look of a future major league manager. He fits the mold of what a modern bench coach should be. So it’s a little surprising to not see him in consideration.

Mets to interview Fredi Gonzalez for Bench Coach

The New York Mets bench coach search has led them to another former NL East manager, Fredi Gonzalez.

According to Mike Puma of the New York Post, the New York Mets are set to interview Fredi Gonzalez for their open bench coach position.

Fredi Gonzalez would be an excellent hire for the New York Mets. For starters, he has a decade of managerial experience in the NL East having been the manager of the Marlins from 2007-2010 and the Braves from 2011-2016.

Over that decade Gonzalez had a poor run of luck. He took over the Marlins after Joe Girardi was fired. Taking over an awful Marlins team with a payroll less than some players’ salaries. Despite that struggle, Gonzalez led the Marlins to an 84 and 87 win season in 2008 and 2009.

He was fired partway through the 2010 season when he was 34-36. The team finished the year 81-81.

It didn’t take long for Gonzalez to find a new job as he was hired by the Braves in 2011 to replace legendary manager Bobby Cox. In his first three years with the Braves Gonzalez won 89, 94, and 96 games. During that span, Gonzalez’s Braves made the playoff twice. Missing out on the playoffs in 2011 by one game, that was the season before the two wild card teams was instilled. Meaning he would have made the playoffs three times in his first three years under modern baseball rules.

In 2014 the Braves lost many of their key pieces to free agency and the team didn’t recover. After that year the Braves went full rebuild leaving Gonzalez in no-man’s land. He was fired partway through 2016 the second year of the Braves tear down.

He has been the Marlins third base coach since then, though he has interviewed for numerous manager jobs. Gonzalez is a well-respected and a well-liked person. He was considered one of the better strategists in baseball during his time as a manager.

During his decade in the NL East, his average bullpen ERA ranking was 11th in baseball. Compare that to genius baseball strategist Joe Girardi who’s bullpen ERA ranking over the same period averaged 13th in baseball.

Fredi Gonzalez may not be the flashy guy with a title and a big name, but he’s an incredibly competent manager and strategist. Putting him next to a young up and coming manager like Carlos Beltran would be as good as it gets for the Mets.

His vast experience and understanding of NL strategy could be a huge boost for Beltran. Gonzalez may not be a flashy hire but he would be a good one.