Kool Keith As Manager?

kool_keith.jpgIn case you missed it, WFAN’s Mike Francesa asked Keith Hernandez if he would consider managing the Mets. To the surprise of many, Keith answered “yes”.

Hat tip to Mark Healey of Gotham Baseball, since I wasn’t listening to the M&M boys.

Strange answer by Keith, for several reasons. First of all, who ever would have believed that Keith would want a full-time job? As my wife astutely pointed out to me recently, Keith’s life is close to perfect: he gets paid to watch baseball games, he only works a few times a week, he can say whatever he wants, there’s no pressure, no one’s criticizing his work, and everyone loves him. The toughest parts of his job are the commute from Sag Harbor and pulling the wrapper off his Tootsie Roll pop.

Also unusual that Keith would answer in the affirmative, knowing full well that the media would jump all over the quote, and cause more of a circus in the Mets’ clubhouse. The last thing the Mets need right now is more controversy, and the last thing Willie Randolph needs are people publicly jumping in his grave.

It’s also disrespecting to Randolph, and establishes a wedge between Keith and Willie — generally, it’s not a good idea for a TV personality to create tension between himself and the manager of the team he’s covering.

Instead of giving Francesa an answer, he could have simply stated something professional such as, “I don’t comment on jobs unless they’re vacant.”

But, Keith is Keith, and has always been a straight shooter. I didn’t hear the radio program, but from what I gather, he didn’t actually appear on the show — Francesa stated something to the effect of, “well I asked Keith if he would take the job and he said ‘yes’.” So perhaps Hernandez assumed that particular conversation was “off the record” — and thereby has the opportunity to deny or retract the statement.

Let’s say, however, that Keith would take the job … do the Mets want to offer it?

I’m not seeing it, mainly because Keith has zero experience as a manager, and in fact has never been a coach. As much as I like Keith’s old school approach to the game and his take-charge personality, I’d hope the Mets would first consider people who are putting in their time and have some kind of experience — i.e., Ken Oberkfell, Gary Carter, Howard Johnson, Tim Teufel. It’s fairly rare for a broadcaster with no previous coaching nor managing experience to jump in the dugout … the only one I can think of is Jerry Coleman, who left the booth to manage the Padres in 1980. The Padres were “stinkowski” back then, however, with on-field highlights relegated to the San Diego Chicken; Coleman’s hiring was more a publicity stunt than an attempt to improve the team.

If anyone is going to go from TV personality to Mets dugout, it will be Lee Mazzilli, who I think was unfairly fired as manager of the Orioles. Maz was highly respected by the Yankee players and staff when he served as bench coach there, and made the most of a no-win situation in Baltimore. The only issue — if you can call it an issue — is that Mazzilli’s background could be too similar to Willie’s to appease the fans. In other words, like Willie Randolph, Mazzilli was trained under the guidance of Joe Torre in the Bronx.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. Micalpalyn May 23, 2008 at 1:32 pm
    The team photo would be double-billed as a steel cage match…..
  2. isuzudude May 23, 2008 at 2:25 pm
    I wouldn’t blame Keith for honestly answering the question at all. He’s a broadcaster, not a Mets PR representative, so he should have no preference as to whether he adds to the Mets woes or not. Further, I really don’t think he meant to do any harm with his comments.

    The person I blame for letting this get out is Francesa. If indeed the question and answer were part of a private conversation, Fat Mike has no right to blurt out that info to millions of people over the radio w/o getting permission from Keith first. And think about it, this is exactly what Francesa wants – Mets dissension. Anything to fan the flames away from the Yankee debacle of 2008. He knows the Keith comments are going to stir up another media frenzy that will make the Mets look bad and keep them in the 3-ring media circus even longer. It’s a calculated and dubious act on Francesa’s part, and one that is sure to be followed by countless others of the media who want nothing more but to see the Mets lose while singing the graces of the “beloved” Yankees.

    And, in my opinion, I think Keith would make for a terrible manager.

  3. Micalpalyn May 23, 2008 at 2:25 pm
    Larry Dierker : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Larry_Dierker

    2. Interesting Joe: Thanks for writing this piece. Obviously the mill is hyped. Metsblog is buzzing and the feeding frenzy is in full effect. I am NOT in Willie’s corner (obviously) but I agree with what Isuzu and SK said in that ATL looked as focused and ready (with some umping help) as ever in this series. But I think this SWEEP will return to bite them later.

    3. IF willie is fired, I agree that the names above will be considered. You do not include Wally Backman though. Is he ever going to be considered again? He was before. Is his exile from the MLB permanent? Would this be a good time to ressuect him from the heap having the same pedigree as the Tim Teufels, Keith Hernandez and Lee mazili’s but with managerial experience?

  4. joe May 23, 2008 at 10:41 pm
    If it were me in charge, Wally Backman is at the top of the list. However, we have to work within reality, and there’s no way the Wilpons ever do something as “crazy” as hiring Backman. If they’re too scared to go against the commissioner’s idiotic “slot” rule regarding bonuses to first-round draft picks, there’s no way they hire someone who has been unfairly blackballed by MLB.

    But, again, considering the flaccid personality of these Mets, a guy like the fiery Backman is MY choice — hands down.