Who is Luis Rojas? Mets’ new manager better be the right hire

first_imgOn the surface, it’s a solid, safe hire: Rojas is a familiar guy within the organization, with a lot of upside. But he’s also facing a lot of questions in his maiden voyage as a major league manager.MORE: Why Marcell Ozuna signed a one-year deal with BravesWho is Luis Rojas?Rojas, 38, has been with the Mets organization since 2006, coaching and managing at different ranks before making it up the the big league squad as part of Mickey Callaway’s staff in 2019. So, the good news for Rojas is that he already has familiarity with a lot of the Mets’ young players, whom he coached while they were on the way up to the majors.As the team’s quality control coach, Rojas’ main job was to prep the Mets on gameday and act as something of a middleman between the front office and management. Oftentimes a quality control coach helps with the team’s day-to-day activities — warmups, side sessions, things of that nature.Rojas spent time in Washington’s minor league system (then Montreal), with its rookie ball affiliate, but never advanced. With the Mets, Rojas has managed A, High-A, Double-A and rookie ball squads, amassing a .539 winning percentage in eight seasons. Rojas is the son of former major leaguer Felipe Alou and brother of longtime outfielder Moises Alou. There’s your bar night trivia.Who is Luis Rojas, really?This is the question the Mets and Rojas need to answer. Who is he? Is he going to bring fire to the Mets? Is he analytically forward-thinking? Is he just Brodie Van Wagenen’s mouthpiece?He’s got enough of a pedigree in coaching that no one will question the hire, but is he ready for the bright lights of Citi Field? It must be tough being the scramble-drill hire, a guy who wasn’t on many people’s radar before this offseason. It must be even more difficult taking your first managing job in a tough situation.Put aside the fact that Rojas has no major league managing experience, that’s fine. There are plenty of inexperienced coaches across MLB who have been successful. Besides, the way you find the next great manager is to find a guy who hasn’t really done it before, and it’s not as though Rojas was unfamiliar in the room.The curious question is this: What did the Mets not like about Rojas that he wasn’t even a finalist for the job before Beltran was hired?Considering he was a holdover from the Mickey Callaway regime, the organization must have liked him for something, but it wasn’t enough to earn him a spot as a finalist for manager. Beltran got the job, while Eduardo Perez was the runner-up.For whatever reason, the Mets didn’t consider Dusty Baker or Buck Showalter for their opening, and they’re two heralded program-builders and stabilizers with good track records. The explanation could be as simple as they were from outside the organization. It’s a lame one, though. Rojas is still something of an unknown commodity, and that can be a dangerous thing for the Mets. He’s walking into the middle of Van Wyck Expressway traffic after the ousting of Beltran, just weeks before spring training, a tough ask and task for any rookie manager to handle, but especially with a team that must win now. They also won’t be able to afford a one-year trial with Rojas to see whether he can figure it out in Flushing. Not after Callaway’s disastrous tenure. The Mets got their guy — again.On Wednesday, New York reportedly named its quality control coach, Luis Rojas, as the 22nd manager in franchise history, following the uh, brief, tenure of Carlos Beltran. While the Mets are plenty talented when it comes to position players — NL Rookie of the Year Pete Alonso, Jeff McNeil, Michael Conforto, Brandon Nimmo and others — they’ll go as far as the pitching will take them. The organization let Zack Wheeler walk after the 2019 season, and Marcus Stroman is set to be a free agent next offseason. Yeah, Jacob deGrom is locked up and a sensational pitcher, but we’ve seen across MLB just how difficult it is to build and retain a staff.Keeping or acquiring new, good pitchers isn’t a guarantee in baseball. So even with incoming owner Steve Cohen ready to take the reins and maybe spend more money than the Wilpons have on free agents and whatever else money can buy, what we know right now is that the Mets have to win, even in a crowded and difficult division.Is Rojas the guy to do it? Who knows? But we’re all about to find out.last_img

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *