Buck Showalter was formally introduced as the 24th manager in franchise history earlier today in a Zoom press conference. Joined by his wife, Angela, the new skipper held up a jersey featuring his number 11, and donned an orange and blue Mets cap. Showalter was joined on the call by Sandy Alderson and Billy Eppler, while Steve Cohen was not present.
Alderson kicked things off by welcoming Buck and Angela to the Mets’ family, and welcoming him back to New York after he previously managed the Yankees in the 90s. He praised his long list of accomplishments, and noted that he has had success at every stop of his career, including the expansion Diamondbacks, before concluding by calling him a great addition to the organization.
Eppler chimed in discuss the hiring process, which brought in a wide variety of candidates from different backgrounds. The new GM mentioned the criteria, which ranged culture and connectivity to embracing new practices in terms of player performance and analytics. During the interviews, the team assessed problem solving, communication, and the candidates’ ability to shape culture within the organization. In the end, it was Showalter’s ability to connect to a wide range of people, his drive to compete, his curiosity, and his adaptability that won over everyone involved. Alderson went so far as to say Showalter was as close to a ten out of ten candidate as they had interviewed, a point which Eppler echoed.
Showalter answered questions for about 45 minutes, many of which surrounded the evolving nature of the game as well as his familiarity with and openness to incorporating analytics into his managerial approach. Much of the discussion leading up to his hire centered on whether the veteran manager would accept analytics and be receptive of them in his day-to-day job and, at least in this press conference, he did not shy away from showing that he was open to anything that would help the Mets win. Showalter noted that the Orioles, his previous gig, did not put in a lot of economic resources into bolstering its analytics department, which he stopped just short of calling a hindrance. He talked about blending the human element with the use of analytics, something he views as valuable to winning that elusive World Series title, which he called the “end game” and the reason Cohen, Alderson, and Eppler brought him in.
Showalter also spoke about the culture he hopes to build with the players. This proved somewhat difficult given the current lockout restrictions, which prevent him from using any players’ names and also speaking with individual players. At one point, he did slip up and call Francisco Lindor’s name out specifically, something he eventually apologized for. He discussed his managerial style, which aims to decide the needs of each player to reach their full potential.
He also presented himself as a man who demands accountability from the players, which he sees as being about what the players want to be as much as anything. He also saw no problem with managing superstar players and doesn’t want players to shy away from their emotions or what makes them special, while always remembering that it all comes back to the Mets at the end of the day. He called playing for New York a “big responsibility” that some run away from.
He said his goal from day one is to put a product on the field that fans can be proud of. He spoke highly of Steve and Alex Cohen and their passion for the Mets, as well as Eppler, whom Gene Michael frequently praised, and Alderson, who previously tried to hire him when he was working for the Athletics. Collaboration between the coaching staff and front office is also important in today’s game, and this is something Showalter said he values. He spoke about picking Eppler’s brain and his desire to seek out opinions from everyone within the organization, mentioning that he already had a positive discussion with Pitching Coach Jeremy Hefner. He also reached out to managers from around the league, including Tony La Russa, Dusty Baker, and Joe Maddon, to pick their brain.
It’s easy to see what won Eppler and crew over and why he checked off all the boxes given the first impression Showalter made at his press conference. Assuming MLB and the MLBPA are able to reach an agreement in time to avert disaster, Showalter will manage his first regular season game with the Mets at Citi Field on March 31.