New York Mets manager Carlos Mendoza's introductory press conference New York Mets manager Carlos Mendoza’s introductory press conference (Credit: SNY)

The New York Mets formally introduced Carlos Mendoza as the 25th manager in franchise history on Tuesday.

The former New York Yankees bench coach will succeed Buck Showalter, who’s just a season removed from winning the National League Manager of the Year, after leading the Mets to 101 wins. But, after a 75-87 season, the Mets — strapped with the highest payroll in the sport — elected to fire Showalter, as the team failed to meet the World Series expectations placed on it the offseason. That move also coincided with the hiring of David Stearns as the team’s president of baseball operations.

Since Terry Collins retired after the 2017 MLB season, the Mets have had four different managers — Mickey Callaway, Carlos Beltrán, Luis Rojas, and Showalter. Mendoza will be the fifth, as the Mets hope that Aaron Boone’s former right-hand man can provide a steady hand to a dugout that hasn’t had a consistent hand since Collins, who managed the most games in franchise history (1013).

Mendoza introduced himself to Mets fans on Tuesday, and there were some takeaways from his press conference, as he gets set to lead a new era of Mets baseball. We at The Comeback have decided to boil it down to the five most important takeaways from Mendoza’s introductory presser:

He’s excited about his roster

Carlos Mendoza is excited about his roster. Of course he is; what else is he supposed to say? But, he has good reason to be, especially with some of the key pieces already in place for him in Queens.

“I’m excited about our roster,” he said. “Like I said earlier, this is a team that won 100 games not long ago and a lot of the core players are still on our roster. So, I do feel really good about that. Yeah, we got some work to do — and I trust David (Stearns) and his team to continue to make improvement and continue to add, but I am very excited with the group of players that we currently have on our roster.”

Some of those core players include Pete Alonso, Francisco Lindor, Jeff McNeil, and Brandon Nimmo, among several other position players. Mendoza told SNY’s Steve Gelbs in a breakout session following his introductory presser, that he’s already spoken with Lindor, Alonso, Nimmo, and Edwin Díaz, among other Mets.

“With Pete Alonso, it felt like we were on the phone for 45 minutes and it felt like we could’ve kept going,” added Mendoza.

The Mets certainly have a lot of holes — particularly on the pitching side of things — to address this offseason. And while the team is likely in need of another power bat offensively, in addition to some help in the corner outfield spots, it certainly helps that they have a core of four players who can likely hit 1-4 in the order.

Jeremy Hefner will return as pitching coach

When it appeared that Mendoza would be getting the Mets managerial job, albeit not official, there were some rumblings about what a potential staff would like. Last week, SNY’s Andy Martino reported that the Mets were expected to retain pitching coach Jeremy Hefner under Mendoza. Well, Mendoza confirmed that news on Tuesday.

“We’re looking at everything,” Mendoza said when asked about if he anticipated significant turnover on the coaching staff. “What I could say is, Jeremy Hefner is coming back as a pitching coach. I think David [Stearns] already mentioned that a few days ago. We’re in the process of already having those conversations…”

Hefner, who is said to be highly regarded in the industry, will remain in New York under a fourth manager. The 37-year-old Hefner was originally hired as the Mets pitching coach by Beltrán in Dec. 2019. After Beltrán’s resignation following his involvement as a player in the Houston Astros cheating scandal, New York hired Rojas, who in turn retained Hefner. That was also the case with Showalter and will continue to be the case under Mendoza. 

During his four years with the club, the Mets pitching staff has twice (2021, ’22) had sub-4.00 team ERAs under Hefner’s direction.

He sought Luis Rojas’ advice

Mendoza was on staff with Rojas, who managed the Mets from 2020-21, with the Yankees over the past two seasons. Rojas, the son of Felipe Alou, was hired to be the third base coach for the Bronx Bombers, a role he’s served in since Nov. 2021. Naturally, one would expect that Mendoza would have sought the advice of someone who had previously been in his shoes and one that he likely has a relationship with.

Mendoza was asked if he had a conversation with Rojas when he accepted this position, and what advice was bestowed upon him by his now-former colleague.

“I consider Luis as a friend,” Mendoza said. “You know, we got back to our years in the minor leagues, managing against each other and competing against each other. When David first reached out, I gave him a call, because he knew more of the people that I’ve known. I asked for some advice and he just kind of gave me a [lay of the land] for some of the people I was gonna go talk to.”

Mendoza said that he considers Rojas a friend and wishes him nothing but the best of luck. He added that he envisions that Rojas is “going to be next,” in terms of likely getting another shot at a managerial gig at this level.

Connection with front office central to role

Not long after Showalter was dismissed following two seasons at the helm in The Big Apple, a report from The New York Post surfaced that he had butted heads with Mets brass over the playing time of Daniel Vogelbach.

The 30-year-old slugger, who was acquired by the Mets at the 2022 trade deadline, struggled mightily to begin his 2023 campaign. And when Showalter tried to employ other options other than Vogelbach at DH against right-handed pitching, he was met with resistance from former general manager Billy Eppler.

The Mets, obviously, are looking to avoid that with Stearns and Mendoza, as part of the role is collaboration with the front office is central to his new role as New York’s manager. And Mendoza said that he felt a connection with the Mets — including Stearns — during the interview process.

“When I first started that process and David first called me, the more we got deep into conversation with his baseball people — and we started to get to know each other really well,” Mendoza said. “The way they were asking me questions, [and I] was asking them a lot of questions. They were not only interviewing me, but I was interviewing them because I wanted to know what they were all about.

“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, relationships, respect, and the ability to put a product that’s gonna be able to compete for championships. I understand that people are saying, ‘This is a big challenge,’ especially for a guy that’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 the fanbase is, and the expectations that they got here. just know that I understand, and I am ready for this challenge.”

Mendoza said that he sees this as a great opportunity for not only Carlos Mendoza, but also for the New York Mets. It’s also a great opportunity to collaborate with Stearns and the remainder of the front office to be a championship-contending team on the field.

The possible role of Willie Randolph

Willie Randolph, a former Mets manager himself, influenced where Mendoza is today, believe it or not.

When Mendoza was asked about some of the coaches and managers who helped leading up to Tuesday, Mendoza was quick to mention Randolph. He also didn’t dismiss the possibility of the 69-year-old Randolph, who last appeared in the majors as a coach in 2011 with the Baltimore Orioles, as potentially serving as his bench coach.

“We have a really good relationship and I consider him not only as a mentor but as a friend,” Mendoza said, via The New York Post. “There’s a bunch of names that we’re considering right now (for bench coach) and we’ll see where it goes.”’

When asked if Randolph is being specifically considered, Mendoza said, “He is somebody that I respect. I have a lot of respect here. And I consider him a friend.”

Randolph had this to say to Joel Sherman of The Post on Tuesday, “All I said (to Mendoza) was to do whatever you need to do, get your family to New York, get yourself comfortable, and know in the back of your mind if you need me, I’m here for you. I am a Carlos Mendoza fan.”

It certainly remains to be seen if Randolph is a realistic candidate for New York’s bench coach job. In any event, he’d be welcomed with open arms by Mets fans, as he helped the team reach the National League Championship Series at the helm in 2006.

About Sam Neumann

Since the beginning of 2023, Sam has been a staff writer for Awful Announcing and The Comeback. A 2021 graduate of Temple University, Sam is a Charlotte native, who currently calls Greenville, South Carolina his home. He also has a love/hate relationship with the New York Mets and Jets.