New Mets Manager Believes He Is Prepared for Rigors of New York

New York Mets manager Carlos Mendoza.

Getty New York Mets manager Carlos Mendoza.

Carlos Mendoza has not gone into his first major-league manager’s job flying blind.

Mendoza spent six seasons on the New York Yankees’ coaching staff before being hired by the New York Mets in November. He replaces Buck Showalter, fired after the Mets went 75-87 last season despite having a $355 million payroll, the largest in MLB history.

Stepping into the job could be daunting for someone who has never managed in the major leagues. However, Mendoza’s time with Yankees manager Aaron Boone allowed him to learn about baseball life in New York.

Mendoza says he is ready for the challenge as the Mets prepare to open the season on March 28 when they host the Milwaukee Brewers at Citi Field. He understands the outsized expectations that are part of playing in the nation’s largest media market.

“A lot, 100%,” Mendoza told Heavy Sports. “I know the fan base, and I know it can get tough, but we embrace the expectations and we’re really looking forward to having a good year and giving the fan base something special.”

Mets Face Uphill Battle in NL East

Whether the Mets can have a special season remains to be seen. They play in the National League East, a division with three teams that reached the postseason last year – the Atlanta Braves, Philadelphia Phillies and Miami Marlins.

Prognosticators universally expect the Braves and Phillies to finish in the top two spots in the standings. Mendoza said he knows how good those teams are but said the Mets are better than last season’s disappointing record indicates.

“I do like our club,” Mendoza said. “We’ve got good players. There’s a lot of talented players who were already here and I feel like the front office did a good job of adding in a lot of different areas, especially on the pitching side, to improve the club.”

Owner Steve Cohen refrained from spending big in free agency during the offseason. The biggest move was hiring former Milwaukee Brewers executive David Stearns for the newly created role of president of baseball operations.

The feeling is that Cohen wants to save money to make a run at signing Yankees right fielder Juan Soto, who is eligible for free agency at the end of the season. Thus, Stearns signed lower-priced free agents such as left-hander Sean Manaea, right-hander Luis Severino, center fielder Harrison Bader and designated hitter J.D. Martinez.

Alonso, Lindor Provide Star Power

However, the Mets have star power in first baseman Pete Alonso and shortstop Francisco Lindor.

Alonso can become a free agent at the end of the season. Cohen has encouraged Alonso to test the open market but hasn’t ruled out re-signing after the season.

Mendoza does not anticipate Alonso’s contract status being a distraction.

“Not at all because Pete’s a pro,” Mendoza said.

Lindor is entering the fourth season of his 10-year, $341-million contract. He has finished ninth in the NL MVP voting the last two years and won a Silver Slugger in 2023.

“He’s one of the best players in the game,” Mendoza said. “This is a guy who wants to win, and he means a lot to our team and to the organization. He’s taking a leadership position on the team. He’s guiding some of the young players, talking to some of the established players. I’m excited to have him.”

Mendoza is also excited about getting the season started. The feeling he got on the first day of spring training was cool but Opening Day will be even bigger.

“It’s something you’ve prepared for your whole career,” Mendoza said. “It was special to put on that big-league uniform for first. For it to be with the New York Mets was an honor and a privilege. I’m super excited about this opportunity.”


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