Both the San Diego Padres and the New York Mets manager positions are open this offseason. On paper, both manager openings appear appealing to any candidate. Budding young superstars. Strong veteran presence. Teams that are both on the rise. Yet both teams fizzled out over the last couple of months during the 2021 regular season. Both teams have looming questions. Above all, both teams have strong interference within the organization that drops the appeal of the jobs down a few notches.
In fact, one could argue that the interference from within might make it difficult for any managerial candidate to fully succeed. Neither of these jobs is appealing when the future headaches that are bound to materialize start to appear. The Mets and Padres manager openings are nothing short of a lesser of two evils situation. The worst part is, neither organization recognizes it. And if they did, they would not both be on the hunt for a new manager.
Why Aren’t the Mets and Padres Manager Openings Appealing?
Part of the problem is that all signs point to these jobs being the most appealing jobs on the market. The chance to manage a team on the cusp of winning is rare. Generally, those teams already have their manager tabbed. Both teams spend like big market teams. Both teams have the player personnel to succeed. Except, when breaking it down, there is a glaring problem with both teams. They each have a person within their organization that interferes too much. For the Padres, that is GM AJ Preller. For the Mets, that is owner Steve Cohen. Remember also that the Mets cycled through two general managers in 2021 and are still searching for a president of baseball operations.
New York Mets
The New York Mets manager position is open this offseason after they declined to pick up manager Luis Rojas’ option for 2022. This has left the club to find a president of baseball operations, a general manager, and a manager this offseason. This follows last offseason, when the Mets fired then-GM Jared Porter after a scandal. Most assumed the Mets would find synergy after Steve Cohen bought the team. Unfortunately, they have found anything but. In fact, according to Joel Sherman in the New York Post article, the Mets spent more days occupying first place than any other team that ended up with a losing record.
Let us not forget how the Mets sent out a press release scolding their own players, including their $341 million player Francisco Lindor, for giving a thumbs-down gesture to fans. While the Mets have Lindor locked up long-term, Javier Baez is a free agent. While he might have been a rental, they still gave up a quality prospect for him. And, they all but threw away their chance to resign Baez.
While the Mets have a perennial Cy Young Award candidate in Jacob deGrom and other building blocks, they still are not a destination for players. Not when their owner voices opinions in contrast to the player’s best interests. For example, he called Kumar Rocker, a draft pick they did not sign, an “investment” in a tweet.
San Diego Padres
An article in The Athletic recently revealed the turmoil within the Padres’ front office. The article cited numerous complaints of Preller’s penchant for micromanaging and inability to accept blame. Jayce Tingler, the now-former manager, was Preller’s handpicked man. Yet, after a postseason berth in the shortened 2020 season, Tingler and his coaching staff found the blame put on them for the 2021 collapse.
Preller’s roster construction is what is to blame. Multiple attempts to fix their starting pitching — Yu Darvish and Mike Clevinger — failed to pan out in 2021. The Padres were aggressive at the trade deadline. We can give them that. But, rather than add the pitching they desperately needed, they added an infielder and a reserve outfielder.
Sure, the Padres have an MVP candidate in Fernando Tatis Jr. and a $300 million veteran in Manny Machado. But, if the Padres’ front office cannot get over themselves and value other opinions — from within their own organization mind you — the same problems will repeat themselves.
It is rather apparent that neither of these situations is as great as they look on paper. As a whole, both organizations have glaring flaws that should scare away top-tier candidates. The next New York Mets manager opening is a bit worse. At least general managers can get fired. The only way a candidate can succeed in either of these situations is if they are someone like Bruce Bochy or Buck Showalter. Both have enough clout to hold their own and possibly win. Other than that, good luck.