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  • 2020 Manager - Pass Over Luis Rojas Gets His Chance

    Mets Narrow Managerial Search to
    Luis Rojas, Hensley Meulens, and Tony DeFrancesco

    Team is focused on three in-house candidates for manager job

    by Alex Smith
    21 Jan 2020, 8:00 PM ET


    The Mets' search for a new manager could be reaching its final stages.

    According to SNY's Andy Martino, the Mets have narrowed the search down to three internal candidates: Luis Rojas, Hensley Meulens, and Tony DeFrancesco.

    Martino notes that while there's a chance another candidate could still enter the mix, the Mets "see benefits of going internal." Martino reported earlier on Tuesday that the Mets are hopeful of finding their next manager within the next few days.

    While there are some higher-profile outside names available, it appears that the Mets will stay in-house for their next hire.

    Houston has been linked to experienced big league managers Dusty Baker and Buck Showalter. They will also be interviewing Eduardo Perez, who was one of the finalists for the Mets job before it went to Beltran.

    Rojas, currently the team's quality control coach, is thought of very highly among some of the current players on the roster, including Pete Alonso, Jeff McNeil, and Dominic Smith, who have all said good things about Rojas' ability as a manager.

    Meulens has spent the last 10 seasons with the San Francisco Giants, eight of those seasons as hitting coach and the final two as bench coach. The Mets originally hired Meulens to be Carlos Beltran's bench coach.

    DeFrancesco has been the manager of the Syracuse Mets for the past two seasons. In December he was announced as the Mets' first base coach, but that is obviously subject to change depending on how things play out. He has also been a coach with the Houston Astros and Oakland Athletics.


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  • #2
    Pros and Cons of the Mets' 3 Known Managerial Finalists

    It seems to be down to Luis Rojas, Hensley Meulens, and Tony DeFrancesco

    by Danny Abriano
    22 Jan 2020, 11:20 AM ET


    With the Mets' second managerial search of the offseason starting to wind down, three names have emerged, according to SNY's Andy Martino.Click image for larger version

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    Barring a late entrant or unknown candidate, the race is down to internal options Luis Rojas, Hensley Meulens, and Tony DeFrancesco.

    The most recognizable name is Meulens, but it can be argued that Rojas and DeFrancesco have even stronger credentials.

    Let's break down the pros and cons...

    Luis Rojas
    Pros
    Rojas has been in the Mets' organization since 2007, has extensive managerial experience, and is already a familiar (and well-liked) name among players expected to be on the big league roster.
    The 38-year-old Rojas also has tremendous baseball lineage (he is the son of Felipe Alou and brother of Moises Alou), is well-versed in analytics, and is already on the big league staff as a quality control coach -- a role where he serves as a bridge between the dugout and front office. So it's fair to believe a transition to Rojas would be very smooth.

    Cons
    If the Mets want a "name" hire, Rojas isn't it. Though if his last name was Alou instead of Rojas, people who now view him as an uninspired choice might have a different view. Still, the main issue (or perceived issue) with a Rojas hire could boil down to one question: If he wasn't deemed ready in November (or the best option), what makes him ready/the best option in January?

    Hensley Meulens
    Pros
    The 52-year-old Meulens began his coaching career in 2003 and has served in many different coaching capacities since then in the minors and majors. His experience includes serving as a coach with the Giants from 2010-2019.

    Meulens has interviewed for numerous big league managing jobs (including the Yankees in 2017) and was hired as the Mets' bench coach earlier this offseason.

    Cons
    While he has nearly two decades of coaching experience and is familiar with the New York market from his time as a player for the Yankees, Meulens has never managed at any level. That didn't bother the Mets when it came to Beltran, who had zero coaching or managing experience.

    Tony DeFrancesco
    Pros
    Like Rojas and Meulens, DeFrancesco is already on the big league staff, having been named the first base coach earlier this offseason. He also has an existing familiarity with the organization, having served as manager for the Mets' Triple-A affiliate for the last two seasons -- first in Las Vegas and then in Syracuse.

    The 56-year-old began his minor league managing career in 1994, coached for the A's in 2008, and was interim manager of the Astros in 2012.

    Cons
    DeFrancesco was the manager of the Astros' Triple-A affiliate from 2015 to 2017, with 2017 being the year where the Astros violated Major League rules with an electronic sign-stealing scandal that has swallowed three big league managers -- A.J. Hinch, Alex Cora, and Beltran.

    Fair or not, and whether he had any knowledge of what was going on at the big league level or not, DeFrancesco is a bit stained due to being part of the 2017 Astros. Would the Mets want to go from 2017 Astros player Beltran to 2017 Astros Triple-A manager DeFrancesco?


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    • #3
      Mets Working to Finalize Multi-year Deal for Luis Rojas to Become Manager

      Rojas had been a finalist along with Hensley Meulens and Tony DeFrancesco

      by Danny Abriano
      22 Jan 2020, 12:51 PM ET


      The Mets are working to finalize a multi-year deal to make Luis Rojas their next manager.

      Rojas, 38, had been one of the Mets' three finalists for manager, along with Hensley Meulens and Tony DeFrancesco, SNY's Andy Martino reported Tuesday.

      The Mets' coaching staff around Rojas will remain intact, according to Martino. That staff includes Meulens (the bench coach, who had also been linked to the managerial opening in Boston) and DeFrancesco (the first base coach who managed Triple-A Syracuse in 2019). "He's respected by the players, he's trusted by the players and he's someone that we have great confidence in his ability to lead our team now and his abihlity to put our players and put us in the best position to succeed," GM Brodie Van Wagenen said Wednesday.

      Rojas has been in the Mets' organization since 2007 and has managed for them at five levels of the minors, including Double-A Binghamton. He interviewed for the manager job earlier this offseason before it went to Carlos Beltran, but was not among the finalists.

      While coaching for the Mets in the minors, Rojas was voted by his peers as the best managerial prospect in the Florida State League in 2015 and 2016 after being voted as the best managerial prospect in the South Atlantic League in 2014, according to JJ Cooper of Baseball America.

      "He's very, very well qualified," Van Wagenen added. "We anticipate him to be a great addition to our team. We think he has the ability to be consistent, to be calm under pressure and to understand the opportunity that this team has as we head into the 2020 season."

      The son of Felipe Alou and brother of Moises Alou, Rojas is well-versed in analytics and is well-respected by current Mets players (having already managed most of them in the minors), including Jeff McNeil, Pete Alonso, and Dominic Smith.

      "I think he'd be a great big league manager," McNeil told Nathalie Alonso of MLB.com this past July. "He knows the game really well. He comes from a big baseball family. His emotions [are] real calm. He gets along well with the players. He's just a baseball guy. I think he'd be a tremendous manager."

      After the Mets and Beltran parted ways, Rojas quickly gained steam as a potential replacement.

      Despite pleading from some fans who wanted the Mets to interview established big league managers such as Dusty Baker and Buck Showalter, the Mets instead focused their search on internal candidates who were already familiar with the organization.

      None of those internal candidates were more familiar with the organization than Rojas, who will now be at the helm of a team that expects to build on their 86-win output of 2019 and reach the postseason in 2020.

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      • #4
        Mets Players Have Spoken Highly of New Manager Luis Rojas

        Jeff McNeil: "I think he'd be a tremendous manager"

        by Danny Abriano
        22 Jan 2020, 1:22 PM ET


        Click image for larger version

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ID:	9877The Mets are finalizing a multi-year deal to make Luis Rojas their next manager, replacing Carlos Beltran who mutually parted ways with the team last Thursday.

        Rojas was getting plenty of buzz as the Mets conducted their second managerial search of the offseason, with team brass focused on an in-house option to take over. The 38-year-old has managerial experience in the minors and was the team's quality control coach before this promotion.

        However, there were some doubts on Rojas, as it was said the team didn't believe he was ready to take over as manager back in November when he was initially considered for the job. That has clearly changed now, and some current Mets always believed Rojas had what it took to be a big league manager after playing under him.

        Rojas, who has been with the team since 2007, was profiled in July by Nathalie Alonso of MLB.com. Here's what some of his players had to say...

        Jeff McNeil:
        "I think he'd be a great big league manager. He knows the game really well. He comes from a big baseball family. His emotions [are] real calm. He gets along well with the players. He's just a baseball guy. I think he'd be a tremendous manager."

        Dominic Smith:
        "I was 17, turning 18, playing my first full season and he was my manager. Being a young kid around a bunch of college guys, that can be overwhelming, especially [in] your first stint in pro ball. I'd just come from high school, and he definitely helped me with not stressing and putting too much pressure on myself and having fun with the game."

        Pete Alonso:
        "One of the most even-keeled managers I've had."

        Tomas Nido:
        "As a friend, outside of baseball, he tries to be the same with us. Nothing changes. He's not set on one way of thinking. He listens to what we think and how in some situations we might think differently. He's willing to listen to different opinions. He's someone who lets you play and isn't trying to change everything about you. He trusts you and gives you confidence, no matter how good or bad things are going for you."

        To read the full profile on Rojas, which delves into why the son of Felipe Alou and brother of Moises Alou has a different last name and how he developed his love of analytics, click here.


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        • #5
          Mets To Name Luis Rojas Manager

          by Jeff Todd
          22 Jan 2020, 1:46 PM CDT

          1:46pm: Rojas will receive a two year deal in addition to multiple club options, tweets MLB Network’s Jon Heyman.Click image for larger version  Name:	Rojas.Luis-vertical-768x993.jpg Views:	0 Size:	81.0 KB ID:	9872 11:53am: The Mets have moved swiftly in the wake of the departure of manager Carlos Beltran. Their 2020 club will be helmed by Luis Rojas, according to multiple reporters including Mike Puma of the New York Post (via Twitter) and Tim Britton of The Athletic (Twitter link).

          Rojas and the Mets are said to be finalizing a multi-year contract. The 38-year-old had interviewed for the open managerial position before it went to Beltran, leaving Rojas to reprise his role as quality control coach. But when Beltran stepped out the door due to his role in the Astros cheating scandal, the Mets turned back to Rojas.

          Indications are that Rojas will oversee the same coaching staff that had expected to serve under Beltran. Obviously there’ll be at least one new hire as well, to account for the promotion.

          It’s a bit opportunity for Rojas, who’ll take over for former manager Mickey Callaway after just one year on an MLB staff. Rojas came up through the Mets farm system as a coach and manager but had only overseen big leaguers during his time managing Dominican Winter League outfits.

          Beyond his own experience, Rojas comes from a royal lineage. He’s the son of legendary skipper Felipe Alou and half-brother of MLB stalwart Moises Alou. MLB.com’s Nathalie Alonso detailed Rojas’s rise and managerial future in an article last summer.

          This is obviously not how anyone envisioned Rojas moving into the manager’s seat, but he’ll need to hit the ground running. Camp opens in just three weeks and Rojas inherits a roster that carries win-now expectations after two-straight disappointing campaigns. The stakes are lofty for all involved, including GM Brodie Van Wagenen and his front office, with an ownership change on the horizon.

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          • #6
            Mets Players Past and Present React to Luis Rojas Being Named Next Manager

            Marcus Stroman: "LUIS ROJAS! Love love love it."
            ;sny:
            by Scott Thompson
            22 Jan 2020, 2:23 PM ET


            The Mets have found their replacement for Carlos Beltran as manager in Luis Rojas, who is finalizing a multi-year deal with the team.

            And the players are very excited about the new hire.

            Some of the current Mets -- and even some of Rojas' old pupils from the minors -- have commented on the news. Here are a few reactions, starting with Pete Alonso.
            Alonso was able to be managed by Rojas in the minors, and couldn't be happier to be under his leadership again.
            https://twitter.com/Pete_Alonso20/status/


            Marcus Stroman followed up Alonso, sharing how impactful Rojas was in just a half season when he was traded from the Blue Jays to the Mets.
            https://twitter.com/STR0/status/


            Dom Smith didn't have any words, but his emoji use tells us he feels the same way as his teammates.
            https://twitter.com/TheRealSmith22/status/


            Former Mets minor-leauger RHP Rob Whalen called Rojas "one of the best managers I've ever played for!"
            https://twitter.com/RobWhalen38/status/


            Another former arm of Rojas' in the minors, LHP John Mincone, was pumped.
            https://twitter.com/JMincone/status/


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            • #7
              Five Things to Know About New Mets Manager Luis Rojas

              Rojas has been in the Mets' organization since 2007

              by Danny Abriano
              22 Jan 2020, 2:30 PM ET


              New Mets manager Luis Rojas is a relative unknown to most. However, among his attributes, he is already well-respected inside the Mets' clubhouse, has been around the team for over a decade, has tons of managerial experience, and has famous MLB bloodlines.Click image for larger version

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              Here are five things to know about Rojas...

              Was viewed as a rising star when he managed in minors

              While coaching for the Mets in the minors, Rojas was voted by his peers as the best managerial prospect in the Florida State League (with the High-A St. Lucie Mets) in 2015 and 2016 after being voted as the best managerial prospect in the South Atlantic League (with Low-A) in 2014, according to JJ Cooper of Baseball America.

              Is well-respected by current and former Mets

              Within an hour of the news breaking that the Mets were hiring Rojas, tweets came in from Marcus Stroman, Dominic Smith, and Pete Alonso, who were all excited about their new manager.
              Alonso tweeted:

              "Loved having Luis in '17 and '18 as my AA manager! It's awesome playing under him and having him on staff last year as well!!! Super pumped to have him as the Jeffe. Also he throws some damn good bp #LFGM"

              Having worked with the Mets on the big league staff in 2019 and in the minors for over a decade before that, Rojas has managed/coached many of the players expected to be on the 26-man roster in 2020. That includes Alonso, Smith, and Jeff McNeil, who had this to say about Rojas in July while speaking with Nathalie Alonso of MLB.com:

              "I think he'd be a great big league manager. He knows the game really well. He comes from a big baseball family. His emotions [are] real calm. He gets along well with the players. He's just a baseball guy. I think he'd be a tremendous manager."

              Is the son of Felipe Alou and brother of Moises Alou

              The 38-year-old Rojas is the son of Felipe Alou, who was the first Dominican-born manager in MLB history and managed the Expos from 1992-2001 and Giants from 2003-2006.

              Rojas' half brother is Moises Alou, who played in the majors from 1990-2008 (including with the Mets in 2007 and 2008) and was a six-time All-Star.

              Is one of six father/son duos to become MLB managers

              When Rojas manages his first game for the Mets while following in the footsteps of his father, Felipe, he will join Connie and Earle Mack, George and Dick Sisler, Bob and Joel Skinner, Buddy and David Bell, and Bob and Aaron Boone as father/son duos to manage in Major League Baseball, according to James Wagner of The New York Times.

              Has been gradually climbing the organizational ranks

              Rojas joined the Mets organization in 2007, when he managed their Dominican Summer League team. He managed the Gulf Coast League Mets in 2008, Low-A Savannah from 2012-2014, High-A St. Lucie from 2015-2016, and Double-A Binghamton in 2018.

              After spending over a decade in the minors, Rojas was named the Mets' quality control coach prior to the 2019 season.

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              • #8
                Mets’ Luis Rojas gamble includes Buck Showalter irony


                By Joel Sherman

                January 22, 2020 | 8:01pm | Updated Mets' Luis Rojas thinking reveals how hard this transition will be

                The knee-jerk comparison for Luis Rojas to a Yankees manager would be Aaron Boone, since both come from baseball royalty.

                Boone’s grandfather Ray, father Bob and brother Bret all played in the majors — and Bob Boone also managed. Luis Rojas’ father, Felipe Alou, brother Moises and uncles Jesus and Matty all played in the majors — and Felipe managed.

                But Boone is not the Yankee manager whose résumé reads like that of Rojas. When Buck Showalter was hired to his first major league managing job in 1992, he was 35. He played exclusively in the minors. He managed at multiple stops in the Yankee system for five seasons. He was a major league coach for two years, working with many he had tutored in the minors.

                The Yankees were in crisis. George Steinbrenner was in the midst of what was supposed to be a lifetime suspension and from 1989-91 the Yankees had the majors’ second-worst record (212-273) — so bad in 1991 they had the sixth pick in the June 1992 draft and took a high school shortstop named Derek Jeter.

                The expectation was that the GM, Gene Michael, would name a veteran been-there-seen-that type such as Hal Lanier or Doug Rader. But Michael, like just about any player, executive or reporter who came in contact with Showalter, recognized how sharp he was. There was a precocious quality to his knowledge and how he carried himself. Stick Michael had a hunch about William Nathaniel Showalter and took that gamble and together they served as the cornerstone to what would become a dynasty.

                Rojas is 38. He played exclusively in the minors. He managed at multiple stops in the Mets system for eight years. He was a major league coach last season, working with many he had tutored in the minors. The Mets were in crisis. They fired their manager, Carlos Beltran, before he even made it to spring training due to a scandal not of the Mets’ doing. The Mets were bad enough as recently as 2017 to have the sixth pick the following June and took Jarred Kelenic, who was part of what so far is a debacle of a trade with the Mariners.
                Given a second chance, Brodie Van Wagenen could have done what he did not the first time — gone with an experienced hand such as Showalter or Dusty Baker. But Van Wagenen, like just about any player, executive or reporter who came in contact with Rojas, recognized how sharp he was. There was a precocious quality to his knowledge and how he carried himself. Now, Van Wagenen has to go a long way to be in the same GM sentence with the great Stick Michael and Rojas in the same managing sentence with Buck Showalter. But the Showalter who was hired into a crisis after the 1991 season was as big a gamble as the Luis Rojas who is being hired into a crisis on the brink of the 2020 campaign.


                Showalter began a managerial run of stability and excellence for the Yankees with Joe Torre, Joe Girardi and Boone; the Yanks had a winning record in Showalter’s second season, 1993, and have not had a losing one since.

                With Rojas, the Mets have had nearly as many managers since autumn — Mickey Callaway, Beltran and Rojas — as the Yanks have had in nearly three decades. It is Steinbrenner-ian.

                The fan base, in general, would have loved someone like Showalter: a name brand who would not have to prove his bona fides. But where would the Mets and their loyalists sign up for the 1992 version of Showalter? We will see if Rojas has the savvy and work ethic and acumen that allowed Showalter to develop a winning culture that in many ways has persevered to today for the Yankees.

                There is no George Steinbenner looming. But the Wilpons have gone way beyond the dysfunctional-owner starter kit. Rojas inherits Beltran’s coaching staff, albeit many of whom he worked with last year under Callaway and the others with whom he has been bonding the past few months to prepare for Beltran’s first season, which we know now is never coming. Rojas also inherits Beltran’s roster — and the Mets have way more talent than the 1992 Yankees — but also plenty of high-maintenance headaches and issues from what do they have in Yoenis Cespedes to what happens if Edwin Diaz really is New York gun-shy to how do you potentially tell Steven Matz he is a long reliever to who’s on third to lots and lots that we see and don’t see coming. It is the life of a major league manager, which Rojas is now.


                With Showalter, one advantage that showed up quickly in spring training 1992 was that Stump Merrill was his predecessor. It was noticeable rather quickly how much more organized, perceptive and in control of information he was than Merrill. And then it became clear that Showalter wasn’t just good in these areas compared to Merrill. He was just good.

                We will never know about Rojas in comparison to Beltran. But let’s just say the bar is not Olympic-record high to outshine Callaway, who was ill-fitted as a manager and for New York. So Job 1 is just to begin to distance himself from Callaway plus the Beltran mess.

                Then as time goes by we will learn when it comes to the Mets and Rojas if the Buck stopped here.

                https://nypost.com/2020/01/22/mets-making-buck-showalter-like-gamble-with-luis-rojas/


                We can only hope he is the second coming of Showalter

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                • #9
                  Mets Hire 'Respected' Rojas as New Manager
                  Skipper Has Spent 13 Years in Organization


                  by Anthony DiComo @AnthonyDiComo
                  22 Jan, 2020, 1:18 PM ET

                  NEW YORK -- When the Mets parted ways with Carlos Beltrán last week before he managed a single game, the situation had potential to send their offseason into chaos. With less than a month until Spring Training, the Mets lacked an on-field leader.

                  To patch that hole as seamlessly as possible, they looked within the walls of their own clubhouse. The Mets are close to finalizing a multiyear deal to make Luis Rojas their next manager, general manager Brodie Van Wagenen announced Wednesday, pivoting from Beltrán to one of the industry’s most well-respected rising leaders.

                  The son of longtime Major League player and manager Felipe Alou, and the half-brother of former Mets outfielder Moises Alou, Rojas was the Mets’ quality control coach and outfield instructor last season. That was the 38-year-old’s first experience on a big league staff, after he spent 13 years as a coach and manager in the Mets’ Minor League system. Rojas also has experience managing in the Dominican Winter League.

                  https://twitter.com/jjcoop36/status/


                  “He has literally trained his whole life to be a manager,” Van Wagenen said. “He comes from a legacy family. … He is respected by the players. He is trusted by the players. And he’s someone that we have great confidence in, [with] his ability to lead our team now.”

                  As a child, Rojas spent summers in Montreal, hanging around Hall of Famers like Pedro Martinez and Larry Walker as he shadowed his father in the Expos’ clubhouse. Rojas and Felipe Alou are now the sixth pair of father-son managers in Major League history. Two of the other five sons -- David Bell with the Reds, and Aaron Boone with the Yankees -- are active managers.

                  In 1958, Felipe Alou became just the second Dominican native to play in the Major Leagues (and the first to make the transition directly from the island) when he debuted in right field for the San Francisco Giants. Alou also became the first Dominican to manage in the Majors when he was hired by the Montreal Expos in 1992.

                  In the D.R., Felipe went by his paternal last name, Rojas. A mixup over Latin American naming conventions led to a Minor League official listing his surname as Alou, that of his mother. The error stuck.

                  “Growing up in that environment was very impactful, very influential in my baseball growth,” Rojas said last spring. “Just being born in a baseball atmosphere, right away opening my eyes on baseball from the beginning of my understanding was just really helpful. Right away, I wanted to follow my brothers’ steps. I wanted to follow the family’s steps.”

                  His opportunity to do so resurfaced last week, when the Mets parted ways with Beltrán in the wake of MLB’s report on the Astros’ sign-stealing operation during the 2017 season. With three and a half weeks to find a replacement, the Mets looked internally, sorting through notes from their initial manager search in October. Rojas was a “serious” candidate then, in Van Wagenen’s words, but lost out to Beltrán.

                  This time around, given his knowledge of the Mets’ inner workings, Rojas seemed a natural fit.

                  “He’s someone that the organization knew extremely well, and he’s someone that the players knew extremely well,” Van Wagenen said. “When it came to this unfortunate circumstance, we didn’t want to change the values that we outlined for ourselves in the initial process. We wanted to continue the momentum that we have with the work that’s been done in preparation for Spring Training, and we felt like Luis was in a position to be a leader of that group.”

                  As quality control coach, Rojas served as a liaison between the front office and the clubhouse, distilling analytical information in a way that players could digest. He also put in many hours as an outfield instructor, flying to California last winter to help Jeff McNeil work on his defensive skills. Within the clubhouse, Rojas has many proponents, including a vocal backer in veteran second baseman Robinson Canó.

                  Part of Rojas’ support comes from the fact that nearly every homegrown Met played for him at some point in the Minors. First baseman Pete Alonso, who was with Rojas from 2017-18 at Double-A Binghamton, said in a tweet that it was “awesome playing under him and having him on staff last year as well.” Pitcher Marcus Stroman, who met Rojas last summer, added: “Love love love it.”

                  “Loved being around him on the bench last year,” Stroman wrote. “Always teaching and full of knowledge. Super laid back and brings nothing but great vibes each and every day. … Excited even more for the year!”

                  Rojas, who becomes the second-youngest Major League manager behind Minnesota’s Rocco Baldelli, will begin his work for the 2020 season immediately. After the Mets introduce him formally in the coming days, he will fly to Florida to continue preparing for Spring Training. The Mets expect to make a hire to replace Rojas at quality control coach, but do not anticipate any other coaching-staff changes.

                  “The short version is he’s very, very well-qualified, and we anticipate him to be a great addition to our team,” Van Wagenen said. “We think that he has the ability to be consistent, to be calm under pressure and to understand the opportunity that this team has as we head into 2020.”



                  Father-son duos to manage in MLB
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                  • #10
                    Everything You Need to Know About Luis Rojas

                    by Nathalie Alonso @NathalieMLB
                    22 Jan 2020

                    A version of this story first ran on July 2, 2019.

                    NEW YORK -- As a result of a paperwork glitch that happened more than 60 years ago, you can't tell by his name alone that Luis Rojas, who is set to become the next Mets manager, is carrying on the legacy of one of the Dominican Republic's most distinguished baseball families.

                    Rojas' father is Felipe Alou, who in 1958 became just the second Dominican native to play in the Major Leagues (and the first to make the transition directly from the island) when he debuted in right field for the San Francisco Giants. Alou also became the first Dominican to manage in the Majors when he took the reins of the Montreal Expos in 1992.

                    In the D.R., Felipe went by his paternal last name, Rojas. A mixup over Latin American naming conventions led to a Minor League official listing his surname as Alou, that of his mother.

                    The error stuck. Two of Rojas' uncles, Felipe's brothers Jesus and Matty, also adopted Alou as their last name as they put together solid big league careers. And Rojas' half-brother Moises Alou made six All-Star teams in 17 Major League seasons as an outfielder, including six with the Expos.

                    In their baseball-crazed homeland, the Rojas-Alou clan is royalty.

                    The spotlight is now on Rojas, who is poised to take over as Mets manager just weeks before Spring Training. He replaces Carlos Beltrán, who “mutually parted ways” with the organization after Major League Baseball issued its report on the Astros’ sign-stealing operation.

                    Rojas, who is entering his 14th season with the Mets, first joined the big league staff in December 2018 when incoming general manager Brodie Van Wagenen named him the first quality control coach in franchise history.

                    As such, Rojas, 38, found himself drawing on the summers he spent shadowing his father in Montreal as a teenager in the '90s. The time he spent rubbing elbows with Moises, Pedro Martinez, Larry Walker and other accomplished Expos players left him with a nuanced understanding of the dynamics of a big league clubhouse. Rojas considers it a boon to his coaching career, because he didn't make it to the Majors as a player.

                    "Looking back, in this role, it was very valuable to have grown up in a baseball environment," Rojas, speaking Spanish, said last season. "I got comfortable interacting with big league players ... interacting with them, watching how they worked day to day, how they interacted amongst themselves, how they got along in the clubhouse."

                    Back then, teams weren't concerned with launch angles, spray charts or defensive shifts -- elements of today's game that have become Rojas' bread and butter. As a quality control coach, he was a uniformed liaison between the Mets' analytics staff and the coaching staff. It was his job to help coaches and players -- in his case, hitters -- digest the information.

                    "He does a great job of filtering through some of the analytical numbers and stuff like that to make them a little more usable," former Mets manager Mickey Callaway said at the time.

                    Rojas, who also served as the team's outfield coach in 2019, emerged as a fit on the Major League staff because of his overall baseball acumen, as well as his familiarity with the young players on the Mets' roster, said former Mets GM Omar Minaya, currently a special assistant to Van Wagenen.

                    From 2017-18, Rojas managed at Double-A Binghamton, leading the Rumble Ponies to a playoff berth in ’17. He has also managed in Rookie ball (2011), Class A (2012-14) and Class A Advanced (2015-16). Pete Alonso, Jeff McNeil, Dominic Smith, Amed Rosario, Brandon Nimmo and Tomas Nido were among the young Mets players under his watch at some point.

                    "When Brodie came on board, when we broke down our better, top-ranked personnel in the Minor Leagues, he ranked right up there as one of the top guys as far as managers and an overall baseball man," said Minaya, who was the Mets' GM when Rojas got his first coaching gig with the organization, in the Dominican Summer League in 2007.

                    "We interviewed other people for the job too, but he fit the role perfectly. He's not only a well-rounded baseball guy, but he's also open-minded to information, how to manage information, how to use information for the hitters and everything else. He fit the role because of the knowledge, and he fit the role because of the relationships with some of the players."

                    Manager in the making

                    Even before interviewing for the Mets’ managerial position last fall, Rojas would often get the question: Did he aspire to be a Major League manager?

                    His answer was yes.

                    “It's a goal that could come up at some point, so you prepare for that," Rojas said during the 2019 season. "That's something that right now I can't control. … What I want is to keep preparing, keep adding to my experience with the guys and enjoy this.”

                    Minaya was among those in the Mets' organization who saw this fit coming.

                    "It's in the genes for him," Minaya said last year. "In due time, he's going to be a Major League manager -- a very good Major League manager."

                    As a manager, Rojas is likely to be somewhat of a hybrid.

                    The proliferation of advanced analytics across baseball is reflected in the rise of the young, numbers-savvy skipper, valued for his ability to connect with players even in the absence of managerial experience. Aaron Boone of the Yankees, Gabe Kapler of the Giants and Rocco Baldelli of the Twins are among the recent hires who fit that mold.

                    In Moises' words, Rojas is also "a modern guy who loves statistics, analytics" and draws praise for his communication abilities. But having taken his first coaching job in his mid-20s, Rojas has also amassed the experience of a baseball lifer. His managing credentials include five seasons in winter ball in the Dominican at the helm of the Leones del Escogido (a team his father once managed), which he led to a league championship in the 2015-16 season.

                    The GM of those Leones teams was none other than Moises, 15 years his senior, who considers his little brother's passion for the game to be his "chief virtue."

                    "Luis loves baseball. He breathes baseball. He was like that from the time he was young," Moises said, in Spanish. "I've always said, and it's not just me, that Luis will one day be a Major League manager."

                    His former charges also speak glowing of "Louie," citing his demeanor as a strength, alongside his knowledge and pedigree.

                    Alonso, who played under Rojas in two seasons with Binghamton, called him "one of the most even-keeled managers I've had." McNeil, an infielder/outfielder who played for Rojas at various levels in the Minors and has worked with him on outfield defense this season, echoed the sentiment.

                    "I think he'd be a great big league manager," McNeil said last year. "He knows the game really well. He comes from a big baseball family. His emotions [are] real calm. He gets along well with the players. He's just a baseball guy. I think he'd be a tremendous manager."

                    Smith, a first baseman learning to play left field with Rojas' help, remembered the support he found in Rojas when he made the jump from high school to pro ball.

                    "I was 17, turning 18, playing my first full season and he was my manager," Smith recalled. "Being a young kid around a bunch of college guys, that can be overwhelming, especially [in] your first stint in pro ball. I’d just come from high school, and he definitely helped me with not stressing and putting too much pressure on myself and having fun with the game.”

                    "As a friend, outside of baseball, he tries to be the same with us," said Nido, the Mets' backup catcher. "Nothing changes. He's not set on one way of thinking. He listens to what we think and how in some situations we might think differently. He's willing to listen to different opinions.

                    "He's someone who lets you play and isn't trying to change everything about you. He trusts you and gives you confidence, no matter how good or bad things are going for you."
                    That's by design.

                    "The advice I always got from my dad was to be the same with the guys, on and off the field," Rojas said.

                    Nathalie Alonso is an editorial producer for LasMayores.com, the official MLB page in Spanish.



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