Tuesday, September 12, 2023

Mets Set To Hire Stearns; What Does That Mean For Buck?

#1 for #10: Ronnie Mauricio returning to the dugout after hitting his first career home run on Tuesday night. A game summary will be at the end of this report. Photo by Jason Schott.


Mets Owner Steve Cohen said in late June that the priority for his club moving forward would be to hire a President of Baseball Operations, and a little over two months later, they are closing in on their top choice.

Multiple reports are indicating that David Stearns has signed a five-year contract and will begin in his role at the end of the season. It is likely that General Manager Billy Eppler will stay on and report to Stearns.

The 38-year-old Stearns is a Manhattan native who grew up a Mets fan. He began his career with the Houston Astros, where he was an Assistant General Manager from 2013 to 2015. He joined Milwaukee at the end of the 2015 campaign, and he was General Manager from 2016 through 2018 and President of Baseball Operations from 2019-22 before serving as a consultant this season. Under Stearns, Milwaukee made the playoffs four straight seasons, from 2018 through 2021.

The focus now turns to what will happen to Mets Manager Buck Showalter, who will have one year left of a three-year, $11.25 million contract he signed ahead of last season, with $4 million guaranteed for 2024.

Showalter, in his pregame press conference on Tuesday afternoon, was asked about how he has dealt with uncertainty in the front office, and he said, “You’re always trying to improve, you know, you stay focused on what your job is, and that’s the 26 players in that locker room. I have a lot of confidence in, you know, the people running our farm system, scouting department, had nothing but good dealings with them, excited to watch (Double-A) Binghamton in the playoffs, wish I could get over there, that’s an exciting club to watch…

“You really try to stay on task in what your job is, and follow the lead of the things that people know are best for the organization, whether it be consultants - I come down here everyday because I don’t read or listen to anything, and I get what I need to know, what’s out there, and they told me that some of that stuff was out there. Doesn’t mean I’m going to answer any of that; I just need to know. Sometimes they tell me things that aren’t pleasant, but I need to know, but this one, I’m just trying to stay, and we as a staff, and I’ve talked to our coaches and everything, it’s stay on task. These things usually work themselves out if you stay true to the game and what your job description is. It’s when you start speculating and try to get in all the - it’s all about the game, it’s about these nine innings and what the players need today.” 

Last season, Showalter led the Mets to a 101-win regular season, second-most ever in franchise history to the 108 wins by the 1986 Mets, and he was honored as the National League Manager of the Year.

This season, the Mets entered with incredible expectations, but their hopes were dashed early when they lost closer Edwin Diaz to an injury at the World Baseball Classic, and prize acquisition, starting pitcher Justin Verlander missed the first month of the season. The Mets stumbled through the first few months, and by the end of July, Eppler traded his pair of aces, Verlander and Max Scherzer, and closer David Robertson, effectively commencing a rebuild.

Showalter was asked if he had talked to Cohen and Eppler about his future, and he said, “I don’t, you know, been all focused on the baseball and the games, abs everything, I don’t know. No, that’s the short answer.”

On if he expects to be back next season, Showalter said, “I don’t think about those things; right now, it’s about today and it’s about tonight, and we’re all trying to win in a very competitive business. 

“This is not the time or place for my mind to be going there. If you choose to, and your job description tells you you should, then God bless you, go ahead. I’m not going there.”

Showalter also commented about Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers being done for the season after he suffered a torn Achilles tendon in the opener Monday night.

“You know, somebody’s going to get a great opportunity,” Showalter said. “Zach Wilson may be everything they think he will be, hope so, just like the Ravens lost their running back (J.K. Dobbins, also to an Achilles injury). Isn’t it funny how one day, like, without correlating it to something else, can change a lot of fortunes.”

METS 7, DIAMONDBACKS 4: The Mets broke out the bats in this one, starting with Ronnie Mauricio hitting the first home run of his Major League career, a solo shot in the fourth inning. 

An inning later, Pete Alonso blasted his 44th home run of the season, a two-run shot that gave the Mets a 6-1 lead.

Francisco Alvarez hit his 23rd home run of the season, a solo shot in the eighth inning that put the game away, at 7-4.

The Mets other runs came when Brandon Nimmo laced a triple, his fifth of the season, and scored on a Francisco Lindor sacrifice fly in the third inning that tied the game at 1. The tandem nearly repeated it in the fifth when Nimmo doubled, his 24th of 2023, into the right field corner and came in to score on a Lindor single.

Jose Butto got the start for the Mets in this one, and he earned his first career victory. He went five innings, and allowed one run (earned) on two hits and three walks, with seven strikeouts. He is now 1-2 with a 3.46 ERA (earned run average).

Jose Butto pitching to Geraldo Perdomo in the fourth inning. Photo by Jason Schott.

The Mets improved to 66-76, while Arizona fell to 76-70, in possession of the third and final Wild Card spot. The D-Backs are one game ahead of the Cincinnati Reds (75-71), who come to Citi Field on Friday to take on the Mets in a three-game weekend series.

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