Mets’ players and manager to give owner Steve Cohen a keepsake after first victory

The New York Mets won their first game of the season on Tuesday night against the Philadelphia Phillies, a day after dropping their season opener in spectacular fashion. Manager Luis Rojas and the players certainly hope the victory is the first of many to come in a new era of Mets’ baseball led by owner Steve Cohen.

Cohen, a lifelong Mets’ fan, acquired the time last year by bidding approximately $2.4 billion, and brought Sandy Alderson to be the team president. Since then, the team has been extremely active in free agency and trade talks, as they brought shortstop Francisco Lindor from Cleveland and gave him a 10-year, $341 million extension just before Opening Day.

As Albert Almora caught the final out in Tuesday’s 8-4 win, he handed the ball to Brandon Nimmo, who in turn gave it to Kevin Pillar. The latter passed it onto Rojas as a souvenir, a keepsake of the Mets’ first joy of the 2021 campaign.

However, Anthony DiComo of MLB.com reported that Rojas won’t keep the ball. Instead, he plans to give it to Steve Cohen on Thursday, before the season opener at Citi Field. Rojas want Cohen to have it as a memento of his first win as a Mets’ owner.

 A new era has begun for the Mets

“The first of many to come,” Rojas said afterward.

“The buzz and the excitement started at the early part of Spring Training,” Mets’ outfielder Dominic Smith, who it a home run yesterday, said. “And it all revolves around him. Obviously when he took over ownership, and the moves he’s made, he’s just been tremendous. Every move he’s made has been great. We’re just excited to see him take over in leadership and to see his passion and his will to want to come and win.”

Cohen couldn’t see the game live last night, but will be at Citi Field seeing the home opener from his suite. There, he plans to interact with fans.

Mets’ fans feel a new era is about to begin. And everything starts at the top.

Mets’ manager Luis Rojas ‘satisfied’ with decision to pull Jacob deGrom after 77 pitches

New York Mets, Luis Rojas

The New York Mets, in their season opener last night, decided to pull Jacob deGrom, who was dealing on the mound, after throwing 77 pitches. That call has become controversial ever since Kevin Cash did something similar with Blake Snell in last year’s World Series, as it shows the marked division between two schools of thought: the analytical-driven people who say that having a pitcher face a lineup for a third time it’s not worth the risk, and the old schoolers who live and die with their ace.

Mets’ manager Luis Rojas called the bullpen in the seventh, bringing right-hander Miguel Castro even though the skipper had said prior to the game that deGrom’s pitch count for the contest would be near 100.

“Going out for the six innings and you guys saw the activity on the bases. And he hasn’t thrown in 10 days. So the conversations in between innings with him led us to make the decision of pulling him,” Rojas told reporters via Zoom following the Mets’ 5-3 loss to the Phillies (link to the SNY article here). “…I know he was way under than what he’s built up leaving camp. But maybe the 10 days without throwing led to the decision during the game.

The Mets had already discussed the idea

The Mets’ manager said “it was an agreement between everyone after we got to that spot in the sixth.”

He later added that despite the result (the bullpen and defense blowing the game), he was “satisfied” with the decision to pull his ace.

The Mets’ pitcher confirmed that it was discussed before the game that he wouldn’t go as far as initially planned.

“That was kind of discussed where we’re going to be before,” deGrom said. “10 days without facing hitters, kept trying to throw bullpens but didn’t want to throw too many pitches with the hope of playing Saturday and then finding out that series is canceled so that was the last time I was able to throw. So it was kind of a how many ups thing, how many pitches not being in a game facing hitters for 10 days.”

May, Loup and Mets Defense Implode During Five Run Eighth in 5-3 Loss

It truly would not be a Jacob deGrom start without the New York Mets bullpen and defense sticking a huge middle finger to him once he leaves the game. deGrom cruised through six shutout innings but was pulled after just 77 pitches, even though Manager Luis Rojas said he could get to the 100 pitch plateau. Miguel Castro gave the Mets a scoreless seventh, but all hell broke loose in the eighth.

The debuting Mets relievers had an ugly night. Trevor May was the first and ran into loads of trouble after striking out the first batter he faced. Two singles and a walk loaded the bases for Bryce Harper, and May turned the ball to Aaron Loup. He hit Harper with the second pitch he threw to make it a 2-1 game, then J.T. Realmuto singled to knot the game up 2-2. Alec Bohm followed with a dribbler to defensive replacement, Luis Guillorme, but a combination of a poor throw and horrible footwork from catcher James McCann resulted in two runs scoring on the error. A sacrifice fly from Didi Gregorious was the final blow in the five-run inning.

The Mets offense showed the rust of a team that spent the last handful of days on the sidelines. Matt Moore looked like Steve Carlton for the first two innings, striking out four in a row at one point. Once the Mets turned the lineup over, their patience grew and forced Moore into four walks. Moore only lasted 3.1 innings and needed 74 pitches to make it through.

After making the first two outs against Jose Alvarado in the ninth, the Mets started a comeback. Kevin Pillar and Francisco Lindor singles gave the Mets first and third. Michael Conforto came to the plate as the tying run and hit a bloop single just off Harper’s glove, making it a 5-3 game. Pete Alonso came three feet from either tying the game with his shot to right field, but Harper had enough room to reeled it in on the warning track.

Questions To Answer

Rojas’s decision to pull deGrom after 77 pitches is a glaring blunder. deGrom retired the last nine batters he faced, which further pushes the idea of Rojas overmanaging the situation. A more in-depth question comes with his use of the bench in the ninth. Rojas used Jonathan Villar instead of Albert Almora to bat for the pitcher. Villar struck out, but the issue is what could have happened after Villar’s at-bat.

When Conforto reached on his single, he was the tying run, and Villar’s speed is always a threat. Regardless of whether Alvarado remained game, Villar is a runner any pitcher has to pay close attention to. If Alonso split the gap, Villar would have given the Mets a better chance of tying the game than Conforto. The erratic Alvarado might have lost the strike zone with his mind occupied on the tying run.

Overall, the Mets have to be happy with their fight in the ninth. They could have easily rolled over and conceded a 1-2-3 finish. On Tuesday, Marcus Stroman makes his first start against Chase Anderson for the Phillies. The first pitch is another 7:05 p.m. start from Citizens Bank Park.

 

New York Mets’ manager praises his team’s positional flexibility

New York Mets‘ manager Luis Rojas had his “state of the Mets” conference on Wednesday, this time via Zoom, and covered several topics, most notably his team versatility when it comes to positions and names.

It’s baffling that the Mets and all MLB teams still don’t know if there will be a designated hitter in 2021, but right now the club is preparing as if it won’t be available. Thankfully, all positions are covered.

Rojas doesn’t want a starting eight set in stone, but he did say, according to MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo, that Dominic Smith will play “more left field than he will first base,” and that J.D. Davis will spend the vast majority of his time at third base.

The Mets can also employ Brandon Nimmo and even Jeff McNeil (who will play primarily second base) at left, spelling Smith, and Jonathan Villar can play third and some second.

Kevin Pillar and, potentially, Albert Almora, will serve as defensive substitutions late in games at center field, with the potential of making some starts.

“There’s multiple guys that can play multiple positions,” Rojas said. “In a camp like this, you want to give everybody a chance in the positions that they can come in and play. … There’s different strategies to the depth that we have in camp right now.”

Other Mets’ news

Rojas also informed that rehabbing pitcher Noah Syndergaard threw a side session on Wednesday, as he works his way back from Tommy John surgery. He is expected back around June.

“We’re still on schedule with him, and what we’ve said in the past,” Rojas said.

On another subject, The Athletic revealed in the last few hours that the New York Mets dismissed an employee because of past sexual harassment.

Former hitting coordinator Ryan Ellis was accused by three different women of inappropriate conduct.

“We’ve set new expectations,” Rojas said. “There’s also new avenues added to it to report cases like this. It’s been disappointing to see it from afar when you get reports of this news, and [it’s] upsetting. … Those misconducts, they’re just unacceptable. We should have a safe environment to work, a safe workplace, and everyone should feel safe around here.”

New York Mets: What To Expect From Manager Luis Rojas in 2021?

New York Mets, Luis Rojas

New York Mets manager Luis Rojas had a roller coaster ride in his first season as skipper. Rojas assumed the job of hired, then fired, manager Carlos Beltran, lost spring training to the COVID-19 pandemic, and then started up again for a two and a half month season. There were plenty of peaks and valleys throughout that ride, but Rojas is in a much better position for success in 2021.

Lost in all the 2020 mess is the ownership change that was ongoing throughout the season. Jeff Wilpon and Brodie Van Wagenen always found a way to screw something up during their time with the Mets. Now that both are gone forever, Rojas can manage and influence the game his own way.

New Year, New Me

Regardless of when spring camp gets going on time, Rojas will head into it way more prepared than he was in 2020. If COVID-19 precautions are taken seriously, he will manage an entire season without any major interruptions. Rojas has a strong relationship with a majority of the roster from his time managing in the minors. Those who are new have past relationships with other coaches on his staff.

Of course, the Mets will have a much better roster with Steve Cohen, Sandy Alderson, and Jared Porter as the Mets’ brain trust. Rojas is symbolic of their new GM and assistant GM, a young, good baseball mind who worked his way up from the bottom.

He has teachings from his father, Felipe Alou, and said teachings will be better utilized in 2021. Despite spending many years managing in the big leagues, year one is still a big challenge no matter the experience. Rojas learned plenty of valuable lessons during the underwhelming 60-game struggle. He was managing a wounded roster, but Rojas will never use that as an excuse.

The biggest strength Rojas has is his unique ability to keep his cool. Even in a short season, Rojas never got ejected and never even came close to one. Some see that trait as weak, but that is an essential skill for the modern-day manager.

Thanks to Cohen, the Mets have plenty of buzz surrounding them, and Rojas helps it even more. 2021 is going to be a big year for Rojas due to the hype and much-improved roster. 60-games was not a true indication of Rojas’s ability as a manager, and he will be much better in a full season.

Reminder: This was someone who wanted him fired a week after the season ended

Mets: Luis Rojas treats the 2020 season as a learning experience and is eager to return

When the New York Mets welcomed new owner Steve Cohen and president Sandy Alderson, they said that it was “very likely” that Luis Rojas, who led the team to a 26-34 mark in the shortened 2020 season, would return to be the manager in 2021. Alderson stopped short of writing it in stone because he wanted to hire a president of baseball operations and a general manager first, to gather their opinion.

However, the landscape has changed. The New York Mets won’t hire a president of baseball operations, and Alderson will fulfill the role. They will, instead, focus on bringing a GM. What was Alderson’s first decision as the person leading the baseball department? Officialize Luis Rojas as the Mets’ skipper.

In an interview with MLB.com’s Nathalie Alonso, Rojas expressed his happiness about returning to lead the Mets for 2021.

“The excitement of thinking about what it’s going to be like and the talk of how active we’re going to be this offseason with the goal of being a competitive team next year, that’s something that motivates you to prepare even more and keep growing within the game,” Rojas said by phone, in Spanish, from his native Dominican Republic.

Rojas is a beloved figure in the Mets’ organization. He has performed a variety of roles, including manager in the minor leagues, quality control, and bench coach. The players like and respect him.

The Mets want to foster a good organizational climate

The manager is eager to start working and thanks Alderson for the opportunity. He describes his new boss as “authentic.”

“Sandy always came to give motivational speeches to all the coaches about how we were all connected, from the big leagues to the Minors, and how we were a family,” Rojas said. “You could sense the spirit of collaboration, in which we were all part of the machinery of the organization for developing players and getting them to the big league club.”

It is true that the Mets disappointed in 2020, but it would be irresponsible to ignore the fact that they had virtually no rotation depth and had to deal with injuries and opt-outs, perhaps more than any other team.

“I think this past year was a great frame of reference for us to get ready, and for me to get ready, for 2021, if there are protocols in place,” said Rojas.

But Rojas, and the Mets, think everything will be better, and that the manager will improve and learn from his mistakes and his first season in charge.

“I think about a lot of situations in the game that we had, that we experienced, and I see different angles and different decisions that could have been made,” Rojas said. “A lot of learning took place. I hope to keep doing that, to keep talking to the staff and to keep improving as a coach and as a manager.”

New York Mets: Why Keeping Luis Rojas is a Good Move

New York Mets, Luis Rojas

If you asked me a week after the season ended, I would have told you Luis Rojas needs to go. After getting a couple of months away from watching the New York Mets and assessing the small sample size of games Rojas managed, he deserves another chance to lead the Mets.

Rojas came into the 2020 season and had to deal with plenty from the start. During Spring Training, he had to manage with the shadow of Carlos Beltran behind him, and COVID-19 stopped baseball operations toward the end of March.

Dealing With Upper Management

Like most first-year managers, Rojas dealt with plenty of bumps in the road throughout the season. Rojas made some questionable moves and could have shown a little more fire. Not that you want a manager getting into his players and getting thrown out, but Rojas did not get a single ejection all season. At the same time, I respect how he keeps his composure in strenuous moments and understands the importance of getting a message across the right way.

As with any manager working under a Brodie Van Wagenen/Jeff Wilpon regime, there is a lot of crap to deal with from them. In-game decisions are changed, and unnecessary acquisitions are made. Rojas had no starting pitching depth to work with either, which immediately put him behind the 8-ball when the season started. With those factors in place, along with a revamped analytics department, we will see his managing ability’s true colors.

Trust The Process

This is a good move because of his past success in the minor leagues. Whether it was winning games or developing players, his pedigree in the Mets system shows he deserves a chance. Rojas has strong relationships with a wide majority of the Mets 40-man roster and the prospects in the farm system. 60-games was not enough to determine his future, and the mistakes made during the 2020 season will be corrected in 2021.

There is no telling of how many games the Mets will win under Rojas, but what we saw from the 2020 Mets was not Rojas-esk. The Mets had many lackadaisical moments, poor baserunning, and defensive plays, which were not characteristic of Rojas led teams in the minors. The biggest difference in 2021 will come in cleaner team play, which sunk their postseason chances in 2020.

If Mickey Callaway somehow deserved a second year, Luis Rojas deserves on too.

BREAKING NEWS: Luis Rojas will return as the New York Mets’ manager in 2021

The New York Mets are sticking with Luis Rojas for the 2021 season, as team president Sandy Alderson explained to reporters on Monday in a press conference. Although Rojas was appointed as the skipper under the Wilpons and Brodie Van Wagenen’s time, new owner Steve Cohen and Alderson decided to give him another opportunity.

Rojas is a longtime member of the New York Mets in a variety of roles, from minor league manager to bench coach to coach of quality control. For more than a decade, he’s been involved with the organization.

He’s highly regarded as a good manager and has the respect of the players and the front office. He even managed several of the Mets’ current stars, such as Dominic Smith, Pete Alonso, Jeff McNeil, and others while they were going through the minor league ranks.

A disappointing first season with the Mets

In his first season in charge of the Mets, Rojas compiled a 26-34 record, the worst in the National League East division. The team’s performance was viewed as a bitter disappointment given the talent available in the roster.

However, he had to deal with a myriad of injuries and two very important players opting out of playing due to COVID-19 concerns: Yoenis Cespedes and Marcus Stroman.

Now, the team is searching for a president of baseball operations and a general manager, although recent reports state that the Mets will probably ditch the former position and, instead, focus on the latter.

The Mets are expected to be major players in the free agency period, although Cohen and Alderson have said that they won’t spend money just because. They need to find a starting catcher, replace the suspended Robinson Cano at second base, and find a couple of good starting pitchers, not to mention patching up the relief corps.

New York Mets: Sandy Alderson says Luis Rojas is “very likely” to remain the manager in 2021

The New York Mets introduced, via Zoom, their new owner Steve Cohen and his president: old friend Sandy Alderson. Both said that while they won’t spend like “drunken sailors” they want to win.

Cohen specifically said that if the New York Mets don’t lift the World Series trophy in the next three to five years, he will be “slightly disappointed.” Both men stressed the importance of building a culture of winning and sustainability.

The two men completely overhauled the Mets’ front office, starting with former general manager Brodie Van Wagenen and nearly all of his staff. The manager position, however, was a question mark before today’s press conference.

Luis Rojas, who has been with the Mets for several years in a variety of roles (even back when Alderson was the GM) just finished his first season as the team manager. It wasn’t a particularly successful one, as the Mets finished with a 26-34 record and in last place of the National League East division. However, Alderson said that Rojas is “very likely” to remain the team’s skipper in 2021.

Rojas know the Mets and the Mets know Rojas

The Mets’ president specified that he has been talking with Rojas about the matter for some time. While he didn’t quite make it official, it does sound like he is leaning towards keeping the young manager for at least another season.

However, Alderson wants to ensure that his front office hires have their opinion about Rojas before things making it official.

Most of the New York Mets’ players are familiarized with Rojas and have worked with him as all of them rose from the minor leagues, where he managed for a few years. He knows their strengths and weaknesses, and while the results weren’t there in his first season, he accumulated valuable experience for the future.

New York Mets: Luis Rojas “confident” that he will return as manager for next season

The overall excellence of the Atlanta Braves, the Philadelphia Phillies slow, but steady improvement, a late surge (and sweep) by the Washington Nationals and a step forward by the Miami Marlins’ youngster left the New York Mets, a popular sleeper candidate early in the season to make a deep postseason run, without playoffs and in the last place of the NL East division.

The offense was the only part of the machine that functioned properly, and the production wasn’t always timely. The rest was a complete disappointment: suspect starting pitching, erratic relief pitching, injuries, bad luck, opt-outs… any obstacle in the way was there for the New York Mets.

The 26-34 final record was a disappointing ending to a forgettable season in which they lost one of their best pitchers, Noah Syndergaard, from the very beginning. The Mets had to scramble the free agent market and the minor leagues (well, the taxi squad) to look for solutions in the pitching department. They had to convert not one, but two relievers into starters (Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman) due to an injury crisis.

Mets’ skipper already planning for 2021

Yet manager Luis Rojas, who was leading the Mets in his debut as a major league skipper, expressed confidence that he will be given another opportunity to show that he can do a better job under different circumstances.

“I’m going into the offseason confident that I’m going to be the manager of the team next year,” Rojas said according to Anthony DiComo of MLB.com.

“We’re all aware that we’re in a transition right now,” Rojas said. “I had a great relationship with our ownership, being in this organization for 15 years. Now as the manager, knowing that we’re in a transition, I can’t wait for the process to unfold and just to engage in the relationship with whatever happens. My mindset right now is I’m the manager, and I’m thinking of the team for 2021. I’m thinking of the things we can be better at.”

For Rojas to return, new Mets’ owner Steve Cohen and his projected team president Sandy Alderson would have to give their blessing.