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.
Luis Rojas says Mets players frequently brought up how much they missed fans during the 2020 season, citing a 2019 series against the Nationals in August as a particular example:
"Citi Field was electric…It was special, the guys feed of of it" pic.twitter.com/tlwyADKQy2
— SNY (@SNYtv) December 16, 2020
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