What's next for the New York Mets after Luis Rojas' departure

After a disappointing finish in the National League East, Luis Rojas was fired as New York Mets manager. Rojas' tenure ends with a record of 103-119 over two seasons. The team will now turn their attention to 2022. We reached out to David Schoenfield and Bradford Doolittle for their opinions on the future of this team, which was one of the most disappointing in baseball.
Which names are most likely to be mentioned as potential candidates for the Mets job position?

Doolittle: Buck Showalter and Mike Scioscia -- three recent, well-respected retired managers with impressive resumes. Scioscia was most recently the American Olympic team's leader, but he seemed content to keep his coaching limited to that. Bochy could leave the West Coast, especially considering the possibility of a San Diego Padres position. It is hard to imagine. Ron Gardenhire (who played for the Mets) is an option. However, he has retired from the job due to health reasons. Brad Ausmus, Gabe Kapler's breakthrough in San Francisco, could be a second-chance candidate. Many bench coaches are available on successful teams like Atlanta's Walt Weiss, Pat Murphy in Milwaukee, and Houston's Joe Espada. Ron Washington should be mentioned as another Braves coach. Last month, there was hot speculation about a manager attached to a potential new baseball head honcho, ie. Bob Melvin via Billy Beane. It boils down to this: Will you hire an experienced lead executive? If so, will you let that person make the decision -- as you should.

Schoenfield: The Mets' new president of baseball operations/general manger will have an impact on the candidates. It doesn't matter if it's Theo Epstein (the Brewers PBO), but that person will likely look for someone they're familiar with. Rojas inexperience in getting the Mets job (after Carlos Beltran was fired for his role in the Astros sign-stealing scheme) makes it likely that the Mets will look to hire someone with a lengthy resume. This leaves us with a short list, including Rick Renteria, Brad Ausmus, and Buck Showalter. Ron Washington, at 69, is probably too old (although Dusty Baker or Tony La Russa both are 70-something). Ned Yost may not be the sabermetric-savvy skipper that you need these days. Andy Green's record with the Padres was terrible. Astros bench coach Joe Espada was one of the first-time applicants. He has also interviewed with Epstein and the Cubs for managerial positions in the past. The Brewers have another option: Pat Murphy, formerly from Arizona State and Notre Dame, is a bench coach for the Brewers. However, Murphy is 62, and it seems that younger managers are being hired more frequently.

If you were in charge, who would you hire?

Doolittle: I prefer younger managers who fit the Kapler mold. They are approachable, great collaborators, and have absorbed all sorts of next-generation processes to manage a team or staff. Will Venable in Chicago or Don Kelly, both recently retired players, would be my choice.

Schoenfield: After the antics of this year's players, the Mets need to be more professional. Did you remember when the Mets "invented" the hitting coach? Chili Davis was fired just a few days after that. It's not funny, guys. Showalter would be a steady hand. He might be considered a temporary solution at 65, but that's not what the Mets want right now.

What are the most important things that the Mets need to do to improve their next season?

Doolittle: They must be healthier. This is a simple fact. They must address the root cause of this year's hit shortage, and not just availability. It was disappointing to see so many performances. While it could just be a coincidence of bad seasons, I want to ensure that there isn't something more systemic. This would be part the project of both the new general manager (or whatever title it turns out to be) as well as the new skipper.

Schoenfield: Brad is right. It was an unmitigated disaster. Francisco Lindor was what? Dom Smith's power disappeared where? Are Jeff McNeil's struggles reverseable? They also need to improve their defense and be more athletic. Javier Baez, despite all his flaws and swing-and misses, was a good player for the Mets and gave the team the energy, defense, and speed it desperately needs. If Smith is willing to play second, you can trade Smith to get a legitimate center fielder.

Rojas was forced to leave at the right moment.

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Doolittle: It is difficult to pinpoint the exact moment. Although the Mets were still in contention into September, they lost 10 of 11 games to maximize their chances. There was the last straw. There were many instances where Rojas didn't seem to be in tune with his club's activities, such as the Francisco Lindor/Jeff McNeil/rat situation. He may have been playing coy but the Mets need more than that.

Schoenfield: He seemed out of his league even compared to last year. He did a better job in managing the pitching staff in 2021, even though he was criticized by Mets fans for his 2020 moves. It wasn't easy, however, given the injuries sustained to the starting pitcher. It was, to borrow NCAA terminology, the lack of institutional controls -- which has been a Mets problem for a decade now.

What time will it take for the Mets to be legitimate title contenders?

Doolittle: If the right moves are made and the right leadership is in place, there's no reason they wouldn't be there next year. There is a lot of top-of the-roster talent. They need to increase the depth.

Schoenfield: Next season. Hey, the Braves won the division with 88 victories. The Nationals, Marlins, and Marlins are both not great (although the Marlins have some interesting young pitching). The Phillies are stuck with mediocrity. This division can be won by the Mets next year, especially if Jacob deGrom stays healthy.

Is there a new managerial change that we will see now that the MLB offseason is over?

Doolittle: Next up, Jayce Tingler in San Diego. It's hard to know how much he can be blamed for the Padres' disappointing end. All rumors point to his dismissal and Bochy is correct. It is not clear if he will be working with A.J. Preller might be a good fit but I think the Padres will move on from Tingler.

Schoenfield: This looks like another year of managerial firings. The MLB is not like the NHL and Premier League soccer where coaches are constantly changing. Tingler may be the last manager to go. Aaron Boone is still without a contract through 2022. Tingler could be the third option, especially if the Yankees win the playoffs.