Former Orioles manager Buck Showalter is heading back into a big league dugout after a three year absence. Following two rounds of interviews with the New York Mets over the last couple of weeks, Showalter was announced as the new Mets manager in a tweet by terminally online Mets owner Steven Cohen.
This was not a surprising ending to the Mets managerial search. Showalter’s name has come up in conjunction with other job openings in the last couple of offseasons and he was known as a Mets candidate for a while. Rumors passed along through the media throughout the process suggested that Showalter was the preferred choice of newly-signed Mets ace and possibly even Cohen himself.
Showalter being the eventual choice over the other two finalists, Astros bench coach Joe Espada and Rays bench coach Matt Quatraro. The Mets went deep into the process with two possible first-timers but instead decided to go with Showalter. The Mets will be the fifth team to have managed Showalter in a career dating back to 1992, when the then-36-year-old Showalter started out with the Yankees.
Most recently, and most relevant to Orioles fans, Showalter managed here in Baltimore for most of the 2010s. Even after more than a decade since it happened, I still remember the glee that someone like Showalter was coming in to manage the Orioles after the stream of disappointing managers the previous decade.
Maybe the team that started out 32-73 finishing by going 34-23 after Showalter was hired was a coincidence, but I’ll always believe it was Buck who helped that happen. Buck himself was humble about it, saying that other people took a lot of bullets in getting the team where it was. Perhaps so. Still, I just don’t see that turnaround happening with Dave Trembley.
As tough as the end of his tenure was, Showalter’s always going to be the guy who was the manager for the 2012-16 stretch of Orioles baseball, when they made the playoffs three times in five years after having been absent from the postseason since 1997. In the playoff seasons of that stretch, the team greatly performed its projected record and continually left some baseball media people perplexed as to how they were sustaining their success for as long as they did.
We all know how that 2016 season closed out, and we all know what happened in the two seasons after that. Despite that five-year stretch where the team averaged an 89-73 record, Showalter still departed as Orioles manager with a below-.500 record because the 2018 team was just that bad. The farther we get from that, the more the disappointment fades for me. I’m glad Buck was the manager here, even if there was a lot of bitterness with the outcome of his last two years plus one inning. If there are downsides to his managing, they’re the Mets problem now.
Maybe a little of whatever Buck brings is just what the lately-underachieving Mets could use. The team has one winning season in the last five years. They have often not been expected to be bad. Prior to this season, the Mets were projected by the venerable PECOTA system for a 96-66 record. The team missed that mark by 19 wins, coming in at 77-85.
If anyone can do something about that in the short term, I think it’s Buck Showalter. I’ll be hoping for his Mets to find success for the next three years unless the Orioles run into them in the World Series.