Buck Showalter tasked with ending Mets’ trend of manager volatility

You might have noticed that the Giants were in the head coach business again, naming Brian Daboll as the fourth person to hold that position since 2017 — the fifth if you include Steve Spagnulo’s interim four-game tenure to close the 2017 regular season.

The instability has been a persistent storyline.

But if you hadn’t noticed, the Mets also have had four managers since 2017 — five if you include the hiring and firing of Carlos Beltran before he managed a game.

Buck Showalter is the Mets’ new manager — which in a round-about way puts him back on familiar footing, not just in New York, but entering at a time when longevity in the role has been scarce. But Showalter actually began his managing career in a place that had the worst job security in pro sports.

When Showalter was named the Yankees’ manager at age 35 after the 1991 season, it represented the 19th change (including interims) in that position in 18 seasons, including all five of Billy Martin’s tenures. But Showalter’s ascension began a sea change.

Showalter is one of just four Yankees managers over the past 30 seasons — following Joe Torre, Joe Girardi and Aaron Boone.

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Counting Beltran, the Mets have had 11. The Marlins, particularly because of former owner Jeffrey Loria opening the Southern branch of the George Steinbrenner Institute for Impatience and Impetuousness, have had a major league-high 17 different managers since their 1993 inception, including John Boles and Jack McKeon twice each.

Buck Showalter
Buck Showalter
Corey Sipkin

The only organization to have fewer managers than the Yankees since 1992 are the Braves with three: Bobby Cox, Fredi Gonzalez and Brian Snitker. The Twins, with Tom Kelly, Ron Gardenhire, Paul Molitor and Rocco Baldelli, also have had four.

The Yankees also have not allowed downturns within seasons to alter their course. They have not removed a manager in-season since Stump Merrill replaced Bucky Dent in June 1990. Brian Cashman has been the Yankees’ general manager since 1998, and one of his principles is not to remove a manager or coach during a season. The only organizations that have gone longer than the Yankees without changing a manager in season are the Giants, who last did so in 1985, when Roger Craig took over for Jim Davenport, and the Twins, who last did so when Kelly replaced Ray Miller during the 1986 campaign.

Not all in-season replacements are firings. Managers such as Gardenhire (Detroit), Larry Dierker (Houston) and Cito Gaston (Toronto) stepped down (at least for a while) due to health reasons. If you included one-game bridge stints, the Marlins have made eight managerial changes during a season in their 29-season history — the most in the majors in that span. They also made the most successful in that time, with Jack McKeon replacing Jeff Torborg and leading the 2003 team to a World Series win over Torre’s Yankees.

Perhaps the in-season managerial change should be called “The McKeon,” since he did it five times over five different decades (and two centuries): with the 1978 Athletics, 1988 Padres, 1997 Reds, 2003 Marlins and 2011 Marlins.

Jim Riggleman has done it four times since Showalter became a manager in 1992, including in 1992 for the Padres when Riggleman replaced Greg Riddoch — who, of course, had replaced McKeon. The most interesting interim was Joe Maddon, twice, for the Angels in the 1990s, once replacing Terry Collins. Maddon now is the manager of the Angels. He beat out Showalter to replace Ausmus. The team’s then GM, Billy Eppler, preferred Showalter, but was overruled by owner Arte Moreno. With the Mets, Eppler was able to hire Showalter — just as one of his mentors, then-Yankees GM Gene Michael, had done 30 years earlier.

Buck Showalter
Buck Showalter brought stability to the Yankees’ manager position.

When Showalter first became a manager, Hall of Famers such as Cox, Torre (with the Cardinals), Tony La Russa (A’s), Sparky Anderson (Tigers) and Tommy Lasorda (Dodgers) were working. Showalter’s captain those four Yankees seasons was Don Mattingly, who himself has ended the Marlins’ whack-a-mole managerial mode (partly under new ownership that includes Derek Jeter, who made his playing debut with Showalter’s 1995 Yankees). Mattingly is tied with the man who replaced him with the Dodgers, Dave Roberts, as the National League managers with the longest tenure in one place. Both have been in their jobs since 2016.

In 1992, the Mets did not have a Hall of Fame manager, they had Torborg. The team had won 77 games the previous year, costing first Bud Harrelson, then his interim replacement, Mike Cubbage, their jobs. The Mets went on a shopping spree after that season, trading for former Cy Young winner and World Series champion Bret Saberhagen and signing Eddie Murray, Willie Randolph (one of the Mets’ 11 managers since 1991) and notably, Bobby Bonilla, who got the largest per-annum deal in MLB history. That helped lift the Mets to an MLB-record payroll.

The club tanked and became infamously known as the Worst Team Money Could Buy. During the following season, Torborg lost his job to Dallas Green, who had once been on that Yankees conveyor belt of managers who had preceded Showalter.

In 2022 — whenever the season begins — the Mets’ manager will be Showalter. The team won 77 games last year, costing Luis Rojas his job. The Mets went on a shopping spree, signing Mark Canha, Eduardo Escobar, Starling Marte and, notably, three-time Cy Young award-winner and World Series champ Max Scherzer, who got the largest per annum deal in MLB history — the $43.33 million per nearly as much as that $45 million Mets record payroll in 1992. The Mets probably will have a record payroll again this year, perhaps climbing toward $300 million before the season is done.

Showalter will be asked to steer the best team money can buy and bring stability to the Mets’ managerial role.

Artmotion U.S.A

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