QUEENS — New York Mets president of baseball operations David Stearns hammered the term “collaboration,” into his vocabulary during his club’s managerial hiring process — naturally opening the question of whether or not the skipper selected, 43-year-old Carlos Mendoza, would be a figurehead brought in to hand in the lineup card 162 times a season.
“We’ve talked about the kind of partnership these jobs require,” Stearns said on Tuesday at Citi Field. “We’re going to be spending a lot of time together. We’re going to be on the phone a lot together. We’re going to be dealing with some real highs and at times, we’re probably going to be dealing with some lows together. We’re going to have to have the relationship, the bond, the trust, to collectively work through that.”
Already opting not to bring on a general manager this winter after Billy Eppler stepped down and making it clear that he was willing to bring on a first-time skipper, this is Stearns’ show to run. There’s no disputing that.
Enter Mendoza, the former Yankees bench coach who never managed above Single-A.
“This is something that I’ve learned early on in my career when I came up with the Yankees as a coach,” Mendoza said. “Using all the resources, asking people’s opinions, having that ability to have a sit-down and have that tough conversation and challenge. When David talked about a partnership, he talked about trusting each other, knowing that we want to have each other’s back, good or bad.”
After missing out on Craig Counsell, who opted to stay closer to home with the Chicago Cubs, the writing was on the wall that the Mets would be bringing on another first-time manager for the fourth time (Mickey Callaway, Carlos Beltran, Luis Rojas) since the end of the 2017 season.
The move will certainly fuel the idea that Mendoza will be an extension of Stearns in the clubhouse and dugout, but Stearns was candid in the challenge that comes with balancing that all-important collaboration and ensuring that Mendoza remains ‘his own person,” while in the dugout — entrusting him with lineup and roster decisions.
“Absolutely [it’s a challenge]. These are two distinct jobs,” Stearns told amNewYork. “They require two skill sets. I would not be a good major-league manager and I will not try to be a major-league manager. That’s why we hired Carlos and he will do that job.
“I’m going to try to do everything I can to support him and help him be as successful as he possibly can be. I know he’s going to do that with me as well. That’s one of the exciting parts of this that he has the ability to make us better in the front office to push us to ask us questions and help us consider the full picture.”