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The Mets have a new manager at least partly because Mickey Callaway repeatedly made strategic mistakes during games over two seasons, but also because there hasn't been a bench coach savvy enough to avoid at least some of the train wrecks.
Which brings us to the Mets' next piece of business: find the right guy to ride shotgun for Carlos Beltran and make his transition to managing as smooth as possible.
In short, find the right bench coach.
Is that Terry Collins?
Beltran has expressed an interest in having his former manager in that role, and a source says Collins would take the job if offered. But there is no indication so far that either GM Brodie Van Wagenen or Mets ownership is ready to usher the former manager back into the spotlight.
Remember, although Collins still has a job in the organization as assistant to the GM, his tenure as manager ended with some bad blood on both sides. And that could still play a part in any such decision.
Anyway, though both Jim Riggleman and Gary DiSarcina have to be considered culpable in Callaway's misadventures, it shouldn't be that hard to find a competent bench coach.
Asking around among scouts and executives on Monday, I heard several names that seemingly could be good fits: John Gibbons, Pete Mackanin, Rich Donnelly, Fredi Gonzalez, Sandy Alomar Jr., and Ron Washington.
Four of them are working for other organizations, while Gibbons was out of baseball last season after two stints as Blue Jays manager. Donnelly is a long-time major league coach who managed in the minors for the Mets last season.
More on them shortly, but I spoke to Donnelly about the importance of the job of bench coach -- a job he had working for Jim Leyland --and what makes a good one.
"I think the biggest thing is the manager has a lot going on all the time," he said, "so it's the bench coach's job to be looking a couple of innings ahead, at potential matchups and moves that were part of the pre-game preparation.
"It sounds easy but I'm telling you, the game moves fast when you're making the decisions. It gets hairy in there, especially in the seventh, eighth, and ninth innings. So when things get tight, when the place is rocking and everything seems to be going 100 miles per hour, you better have the right answer when the time is right to make a suggestion to the manager.
"That's where you need to build trust in the relationship. The bench coach can't be somebody who really wants to be the manager of the team. I've been on teams where that was an issue. Years ago, I was on a staff where the bench coach had business cards printed up calling himself the assistant manager. Eventually the manager found out about it and fired the guy.
"But I've also been on teams where the bench coach is completely loyal and he plays a huge role in advising the manager on strategy, in helping him maintain relationships with certain players, even smoothing things over with the media. A good bench coach can handle any situation."
With that in mind, here's a look at those aforementioned potential candidates:
Perhaps most significantly, Collins built a close relationship with Beltran when he took over as Mets manager in 2011 and isn't looking for another managing job. In addition to helping with in-game managing, Collins always had a strong relationship with the media, even in tough times, which could benefit Beltran in dealing with his twice-a-day press conferences.
Came up as a catcher in the Mets' organization and managed in the minors for them between two stints as manager of the Blue Jays. Gibbons is something of a media darling with his laid-back, likeable personality, but wasn't afraid of confrontations with players in Toronto. Scouts say he has a good feel for strategy.
A highly-regarded coach who has had limited stints as manager of the Reds and Phillies but, to the surprise of many, was never given a real shot to manage a contender. Among those who admired his work was Yankees GM Brian Cashman, who years ago told me Mackanin was someone he considered good manager material. Currently a scouting adviser for the Phillies.
Former manager of the Rangers, but Washington is perhaps best known for his years building relationships as a coach through individual work with players, especially on their defense. Currently the Braves' third-base coach.
SANDY ALOMAR JR.
Long considered a manager-in-waiting, the former catcher has interviewed for a handful of jobs over the last several years, always coming up short. Has coached for several organizations, including the Mets as catching instructor in 2008-09, and is considered a sharp baseball mind who eventually will manage. Currently the first base coach for the Indians.
A baseball lifer who says he has managed some 1,600 games in the minors, and coached another 3,000 in the majors sitting beside Leyland, either as third-base coach or bench coach. Says he learned from the best, Leyland, in how to manage players as well as game situations.
In addition to managing the Mets' rookie-league affiliate in Kingston last season, Donnelly coordinated both the big league spring training camp and extended spring training as well.