David Stearns, the Mets’ new director of baseball operations, reportedly never spoke to Buck Showalter before he let the veteran manager know his services were no longer needed.
It’s not unusual for a new decision-maker to want to bring in their own manager, of course. But to do so without even speaking to the current manager, a person who guided the team to 101 wins just a season earlier and has a long track record of success in the role?
Yeah, that was a little surprising. What does it mean?
We don’t know for sure, of course, but it doesn’t seem like a big leap to think Stearns already has a pretty good idea of what candidates he might like to interview. Maybe he even knows who he wants in the role going forward with his Mets.
So let’s take a look at the possible candidates.
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Craig Counsell, Brewers manager
Why he fits: Stearns, of course, was the primary architect of the extended run of success with the Brewers, with Counsell as his manager. Stearns was named the club’s GM in September 2015 — Counsell had been hired as manager that May — and eventually moved up to the same role he now holds with the Mets. From 2018 to 2023, the Brewers missed the playoffs only once and won the NL Central title three times. So, yes, the Stearns/Counsell combo was pretty successful, and it makes sense that the Mets would love that same type of production and consistent winning. Counsell is in the last year of his contract with the Brewers, and there’s been speculation all season that his run in Milwaukee might be ending. That’s a little bit odd, considering all the success and the fact that he’s just 53.
At the end of the Brewers’ playoff run — Milwaukee is better than most people realize — Counsell will become a relatively rare thing: An in-demand managerial free agent. It’s not just the Mets that would be interested, but pretty much every organization that either has an opening now or is considering a change at manager.
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Eric Chavez, Mets bench coach
Why he fits: Chavez has been with the club for two years now, serving as hitting coach in 2022 and as bench coach in 2023. He’s a bright mind, and knows the players well. That latter part would seem to be a positive, but maybe not, since Stearns was so quick to jettison Showalter.
Will Venable, Rangers associate manager
Why he fits: Venable is just 40 years old with a Princeton education. Would a Harvard guy (Stearns) really hire a Princeton rival? Probably. Venable was reportedly in the mix for the Royals’ job last offseason, and he’s interviewed for several other positions. He’ll be connected to every opening this time around, too. New York would be a heck of a first job, but Venable’s seen as a future star manager. He’s spent this season in Texas, working as Bruce Bochy’s right-hand person, and Bochy is a pretty good manager to learn from. Venable spent eight of his nine MLB seasons playing for the Padres, joining the 20/20 club in 2013 (22 homers, 22 stolen bases).
Bob Melvin, Padres manager
Why he fits: As we’ve said before, it’s no secret that Melvin’s time in San Diego has soured, as his relationship with front office guru A.J. Preller is at least pushing the point of no return. If the sides part ways, Melvin will be in the mix for pretty much every opening. For what’s available right now, though, he seems to be a better fit with the Giants than with the Mets.
Joe Espada, Astros bench coach
Why he fits: Espada, 48, has done the managerial interview circuit the past several seasons. In his role as Dusty Baker’s bench coach, it makes sense that he might be a logical person to replace Baker when the legendary manager retires. But that’s not set, so he almost certainly will be in the mix for this and any other spots.