The Mets, who haven’t made the playoffs since 2016, fired Luis Rojas on Monday. Officially, franchise owner Steve Cohen declined the team option on the 40-year-old’s contract for 2022. In two seasons managing the Mets, the COVID-19 pandemic shortened the 2020 campaign in which the team went 26-34, and this past season, when they lost eight of their final 12 games to post a mark of 77-85, Rojas was 16 games under .500.
He has been a member of the Mets organization since coaching their Dominican Summer League squad in 2006. “The entire Mets organization is grateful for the dedication and devotion that Luis has exhibited over the last two seasons as manager,” said Mets President Sandy Alderson in a statement. “He has shown a great commitment to the Mets over many years in multiple capacities. These decisions are never easy, but we feel a change is needed at this time.”
For his part, Rojas was non-controversial in exiting. “I want to share such heartfelt gratitude to so many in the Mets organization for not only the last two seasons as manager, but for the last 16 years in a variety of roles,” said the son of former major leaguer Felipe Alou in a team released statement. “We live in a results-oriented business, and am deeply disappointed for our staff and fans that we didn’t reach our goals this season.”
The Mets didn’t end up 11.5 games behind the National League East division champion Atlanta Braves primarily because of Rojas. He was a symptom, not the source. The failed campaign began by ousting highly regarded hitting coach Chili Davis and assistant hitting coach Tom Slater in early May. Alderson essentially designated them scapegoats for an offense that went on to be putrid the ensuing five months, affirming Davis wasn’t the issue.
The Mets finished the season 27th out of 30 teams in Major League Baseball in runs scored with just 636. The pitching staff, with ace Jacob de Grom making only 15 starts resulting from several injured body parts including his right forearm, lat muscle and shoulder, did an admirable job posting a collective ERA of 3.90, ninth overall. But they couldn’t carry an offense that was an albatross.
Even before the season began there was a sign Alderson had made poor decisions in structuring the Mets’ leadership. In January, general manager Jared Porter was terminated after being accused of sending unsolicited sexually explicit texts to a female reporter in 2016 while employed by the Chicago Cubs. Affirmation came on Aug. 31, when acting general manager Zack Scott was arrested for drunk driving hours after having attended a fundraiser at the Cohen’s house in Connecticut.
The necessary changes in the organization shouldn’t exclude Alderson. There’s a reason why the small market Tampa Bay Rays, with far less resources than the Mets, have been vastly more successful over the past decade. The fundamental answer is the minds and baseball philosophies of those in the executive offices