NEW YORK — Sometime this summer, Luis Rojas was a potential manager of the year contender.
A few months later, he is out of a job.
Rojas was let down as New York Mets manager on Monday after losing two seasons. The team declined his option on his contract for 2022, announced a day after finishing third at 77–85 at the NL East in Steve Cohen’s first year of ownership.
The move was no surprise, the first of several significant changes to come again this season for a club in constant turmoil.
“I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to so many people in the Mets organization in various roles over the past 16 years, not only as manager over the past two seasons,” Rojas said in a statement released by the team.
“We live in a results-oriented business, and are very disappointed to our employees and fans that we didn’t reach our goals this season,” he said.
The Mets said that Rojas is still offered the opportunity to remain in the organization in the assigned role. The club said a decision about the coaching staff would be made in the coming days.
“The entire Mets organization is grateful for the dedication and dedication that Lewis has shown over the past two seasons as manager,” team president Sandy Alderson said in a statement. “He has shown a great commitment to the Mets in many capacities over the years. These decisions are never easy, but we think a change is needed at this time.”
Expected to challenge for the playoffs or for a pennant with $341 million newcomer Francisco Lindor at shortstop, New York led their division for 90 straight days despite a wave of injuries – and Rojas took his steady hand and Received praise for communication skills.
But then everything went haywire in the last two months of the season.
After an All-Star break from a sprained elbow sidelined ace pitcher Jacob DeGrom, New York went into a nosebleed come August. The lineup remained sluggish, even when healthy, and an overtaxed pitching staff began to crack.
Lindor missed more than five weeks in the second half with an oblique injury and didn’t get out of his season-long slump until very late. Michael Conforto, Jeff McNeil, Dominic Smith and James McCann also flopped at the plate, leaving Pete Alonso to carry the load.
In an untimely 2–11 stretch against the Dodgers and Giants, baseball’s top two teams dropped the Mets by five games to over .500 and tied for first place on August 26 for 62–66 and 6 1/2 games. Took. division, he lost the lead for good on August 14 and never really recovered.
A missed opportunity.
Rojas made several questionable decisions during the game, and the collapse was complete when the Mets were relegated from postseason contention on September 25 with more than a week to spare. They were confined to the finish line of their fourth losing season in five years, and finished 10th in the last 13. New York has made the playoffs twice in the past 15 seasons, only progressing on its way to World Series appearances in 2015.
As the losses piled up, Rojas’s fortunes were sealed before the end of the season. New York topped 26-34 during its first year, finishing last in the pandemic-shortened 2020 campaign.
“I’ve enjoyed my time as manager over the last two years,” Rojas said last week, writing already on the wall. “Every day is fun just working with people and connecting with them and preparing. We weren’t able to achieve what we wanted to achieve.”
Rojas was promoted to captain in January 2020 by former general manager Brody Van Wagenen in place of Carlos Beltran. The promotion came just days after Beltran went without managing a single game as part of the fallout from the Houston Astros’ 2017 sign-theft scandal.
With only one big league season under his belt as New York’s quality control coach, Rojas became the team’s fourth manager in 2 1/2 years—and the third in four months. The move was applauded by veterans and young Mets players alike, including players like Alonso, who played for Rosa in the minors.
Rojas has worked in the Mets organization since 2007 and spent eight years as a minor league manager. He is the son of former Montreal Expos and San Francisco Giants captain Felipe Alou, and brother of ex-big league outfielder Moises Alou.
Rojas turned 40 on September 1 and was 24 days older than Rocco Baldelli of Minnesota, the second-youngest manager in the Majors.
“It was fun for him to play,” Lindor said. “I like him a lot. He brings a lot to the game. One of the biggest messages he brought this year was to be fearless.”
Next, Alderson and Cohen plan to seek a president of baseball operations—and that person will likely be tasked with hiring the new manager.
The Mets initially intended to bring on the president of baseball operations the previous off-season, but were unable to interview top goals employed by other clubs, and at least one was not interested in coming to New York.
So the Mets changed course, appointing Jared Porter as general manager to lead baseball operations under Alderson. Porter was soon fired following revelations that he sent unsolicited, sexually explicit text messages and pictures to a female reporter in 2016 while working for the Chicago Cubs.
Jack Scott was promoted to acting general manager, then placed on paid administrative leave in early September after being arrested on August 31 for drunk driving. Since then, 73-year-old Alderson has been playing the role of GM.
Scott pleaded not guilty to DWI charges and three traffic violations. He is due back in White Plains City Court on Thursday.
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