Tuesday, November 14, 2023

New Mets Manager Mendoza: "I am ready for this challenge. I see this as a great opportunity"


Carlos Mendoza's arrival proclaimed on the big video board at Citi Field. Photo by Jason Schott.

The Mets officially introduced Carlos Mendoza as their new manager in the Piazza 31 Club at Citi Field.

Mendoza, who spent the past four years as the Yankees bench coach, was announced officially as Buck Showalter's replacement on Monday, a week after it was reported he was in line to take over in Queens.

Mets President of Baseball Operations David Stearns was on hand with Mendoza, the first significant hire in his six weeks at the helm.

David Stearns and Carlos Mendoza approach the dais to open the press conference. Photo by Jason Schott.

"Throughout this process, we prioritized finding a manager who can not only impact and lead our team in the dugout, but who can help us shape an environment throughout our entire organization, as well, and I firmly believe that Carlos has the ability to do that," Stearns said to open the press conference. "Carlos' upbeat, positive personality, his genuine care for people, his baseball knowledge, his experience in this city, his sincerity, all shone through throughout our process, throughout our process getting to know each other, and make him the right person for this job. We've talked about before; I've talked about before how big these jobs are. We ask our manager to communicate with a wide swath of people, from the clubhouse to the front office, to all of you (media), to ownership. Carlos has those communication skills, he has the leadership ability, and I'm thrilled that I get to partner with him here now with the Mets. We're excited to have you on board, and with that, it's my privilege to announce Carlos Mendoza as the next manager of the New York Mets."

Carlos Mendoza putting on his new Mets jersey, as David Stearns is ready to hand him his hat. Photo by Jason Schott.

"For me, it's an honor and privilege to be wearing this uniform, and I would like to thank Steve and Alex (Cohen) for giving me this great opportunity, for believing in my abilities to lead this ballclub," Mendoza said, referring to the Mets owners, who were conspicuously absent. "I would like to thank David and the baseball operations people; you guys put me to work. It wasn't easy, but I'm excited partnering with you and the organization and looking forward to great things here to come.

"I would like to thank my parents, my Mom, Happy Birthday! Today's my Mom's birthday, and this is incredible. I remember like it was yesterday, but almost 30 years ago when we sat down at home and we were trying to make a decision I was going to be baseball player and I was going to pursue my dream to become a big league player or become an engineer like my Dad, and I was pretty firm in, you know, I remember when I 'I want to be a big league player,' well I didn't become a big league player, but today I'm the manager of the New York Mets, so for that, thank you so much...

"To my wife Francis, thank you for not only being my best friend, you've always been there for me through the good, the not so good times, supporting us, raising our kids. You gave up everything in life, you gave up - I remember having this conversation with you, 'are you sure you want to do this?' You gave up your career as a dentist back in Venezuela. Your mom, your sister, and all the people that you've left, and you say 'I'm ready to do this with you,' and here we are, Francis. I love you so much, and I can't wait for this new chapter in our life.

"To my boys, Adrian and Andres, thank you for being there, for understanding that Daddy's away from home for a long time, and one thing I'm going to tell you is now you're coming home, you're coming to New York. The other question you asked when David called me and gave me the news was, 'Dad, are we going to be able to come to the field and practice with you now that you are the manager?' - the answer to that is, yes, you're coming with me and we'll get to spend some time and practice as well, so thank you so much.

"I would like to thank the San Francisco Giants organization for giving me the first opportunity to become a baseball player in 1996. I would like to thank the New York Yankees for giving me the opportunity to become a coach, and to develop as a coach, and eventually as a big league coach here in New York. There's a lot of people that I want to acknowledge here, but we could be here for a long, long time, you know, but there's one guy I remember when I was finishing my playing career, and he approached me and asked me if I wanted to become a coach, and you know, I thought about it and we decided with my family to pursue that career, and when I got done managing my first year, he called me in the office and said, 'Carlos, you're going to be a manager in the big leagues,' and here I am, I know you're proud, Mark Newman, thank you so much." (Newman was a longtime member of the Yankees front office who was their senior vice president of baseball operations starting in 2000, and he retired in 2014 before passing away in 2020.) Mendoza was in tears after reading this part.

Mendoza then spoke of being interviewed by Stearns, "When I first started that process and David first called me, and the more we got deep into conversation with his baseball people and we started to get to know each other really well, you know, the way they were asking me questions, I was asking them a lot of questions. They were not only interviewing me; I was interviewing them because I wanted to know what they were all about, and when they started talking about culture, people, relationships, preparation, I felt a connection right away because that's who I am. I care a lot about people, relationship, respect, and the ability to put a product that's going to be able to compete for championships.

Stearns and Mendoza. Photo by Jason Schott.

"I understand people are saying this is a big challenge, you know, especially for a guy who's never managed at the big league level. I understand the City of New York, I've been here for the past six years, and I know how passionate this fan base is, and the expectations that they've got here. Just know that I understand and I am ready for this challenge. I see this as a great opportunity. This is a great opportunity for not only Carlos Mendoza, but the New York Mets.

"The one thing that I'm coming in here, I'm not just creating a new culture. People need to understand that this is a team that won 100 games not too long ago. They started to create something special, and I'm coming in to continue add to that culture, to add to those positive things that they were already building a couple years ago. When we started talking about culture, I do believe that culture is not just your tradition; culture is driven by the people that you come into contact with every day, and that starts with ownership, from David as President of Baseball Operations and his people, myself as the Manager, that eventually it's going to go and trickle down through the coaching staff, players, and everybody in the organization through player development all the way to the Dominican Republic.

"Culture is driven by us, by the way we connect, by the way we think, by the way we value our culture, by the way we communicate each and every day, and that's my goal. That's my goal, to continue to drive that culture. 

"I came up in an era, you know, back in 1996, when I was taught to play the game with fundamentals, to respect the game, to pay attention to details, that's how I came up as a player; but I also when I came up as a coach, all the information that became available I was able to learn that side of the game, and I'm planning on using that. There's a balance, and I planning on using both of them. At the end of the day, it's about connecting, it's about building relationships, and it's about winning championships, and I'm hoping that we get that opportunity here with David and the whole organization. I'm going to surround myself with people who are going to bring energy, they're going to earn the respect from players and everyone in the building, people that are going to be honest, that are going to hold people accountable and we're going to be able to hold each other accountable, but at the same time, we're going to have fun. This is a hard game, this is a hard game, and it's played by human beings, and at the end of the day, we've got to have fun, and I'm really looking forward to it." 

Photo by Jason Schott.

On what a Carlos Mendoza-managed team will look like, he said, "It starts with connection, relationships, so the players can trust me and know that I'm there for them and going to have their back, right. It comes down to preparation, attention to details each and every day, and competing, you know. I want the team to go out there and play hard every pitch, and at the end of the day, I want them to have fun. I'm a big believer, and I've learned through my experience the connections, the trust, the respect, the relationships in the locker room, the clubhouse, when you care about people, when you connect, it creates that culture that we're talking about, that will eventually show up on the baseball field."

Stearns was asked what set Mendoza apart from other managerial candidates, and he said, "As we went through this, there were a couple of different stages. The first stage was sort of that  standard due diligence stage, reference checks, calling around trying to get to know as much about our candidate pool as we possibly could, and when you get through that stage, you have a pretty good feel for who each candidate is, what their backgrounds are, what people have to say about them. The next stage was really ensuring that I felt a connection to the person who was going to be our next manager. We've talked about the partnership that these types of jobs require. 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, as well, and we're going to have to have the relationship, the bond, and the trust to collectively work through that, and I think the more time Carlos and I spent together, we both felt comfortable that we have the ability to do that together."

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