Late last week, the St. Lucie Mets have announced that Chad Kreuter will serve as their new manager. He will be replacing Luis Rojas, who will be managing the Binghamton Rumble Ponies for their inaugural 2017 season.
“I'm extremely excited," Kreuter said. "It is an honor to be named a manager in professional baseball. The Mets are a great organization. They have shown the ability to produce great homegrown talent. It looks like it will continue that way, so to be able to manage one of their young teams is really exciting."
“I think my background serves as an avenue to help the younger players. My purpose is to help the Mets organization develop young players and send them to the next level ready to play and to teach them how to win. I think the sum of my experience as a player, professional coach, and collegiate coach is to bring that together and help mold players into what the Mets need them to be.”
Kreuter, 52, played for seven different major league ball clubs in his 17-year career, which spanned 1988 to 2003. A career .237/.335/.357 hitter, the switch-hitting catcher’s best season came in 1993 while playing for the Detroit Tigers. That season, the Greenbrae, California native batted .286/.371/.484 with 15 home runs in 119 games, posting the second-highest OPS+ on Sparky Anderson’s club, ahead of teammate Cecil Fielder. While he has the unusual distinction of being traded from the Chicago White Sox to the (then) Anaheim Angels in back-to-back seasons in 1997 and 1998, he is better known for being involved in a brawl between members of the Dodgers and Wrigley Field fans when fans stole his hat right off of his head while working with relief pitchers in the Chicago visitor’s bullpen.
In 2005, Kreuter was hired by the University of Southern California to act as director of operations for their baseball program, working closely with coach Mike Gillespie, his father-in-law. One year later, the Colorado Rockies hired him to replace Stu Cole as the manager of the Modesto Nuts, but he resigned in June to return to USC, where he replaced his father-in-law, who had managed the team for the previous 20 years.
Kreuter managed the Trojans for four seasons, 2007-2010, with a handful of players under his guidance eventually going on to play in the major leagues, and a select few even going on to enjoy success in the big leagues- pitchers Brad Boxberger, Tommy Milone, and current Mets first baseman Lucas Duda. Over that period, USC posted a 111-117 record, with a 39-63 record in Pac-10 Conference games, a far cry from the 763-471-2 record, 15 postseason appearances, five Pac-10 titles, four College World Series appearances, and 1998 college national championship his predecessor achieved. In August 2010, Kreuter was relieved of his managerial duties by newly hired athletic director Pat Haden.
Flanking Kreuter will be Marc Valdes and Val Pascucci, who will be serving as pitching and hitting coaches, respectively. Both Valdes and Pascucci held their respective positions in 2016, a season that saw the St. Lucie Mets bat a collective .264/.338/.360, which was roughly league average, and post a collective 3.29 ERA, which was among the best in the Florida State League.