'He’s a Swiss Army knife': How Mendoza stands apart

November 14th, 2023

This story was excerpted from Anthony DiComo’s Mets Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

It’s official: Carlos Mendoza is the Mets’ manager. The team has printed up a new No. 28 jersey for Mendoza in advance of his introductory press conference Tuesday at Citi Field.

But who is Mendoza? He comes to the Mets without the star power of Craig Counsell or the experience of Buck Showalter. In Flushing, he’s less of a known commodity than other recent managerial rookies Carlos Beltrán and Luis Rojas, both of whom spent long stretches in the organization before earning dugout gigs. Mendoza features none of that on his résumé.

What Mendoza does possess is a strong baseball background and, by all accounts, a likeable personality. One of his former bosses, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman, called the hiring “a tough loss” for that organization.

“I think the Mets got a great one,” Cashman said last week at the General Managers Meetings in Scottsdale, Ariz. “He’s from Venezuela, speaks Spanish, speaks English. He’s got structure. He’s got process. He knows the game’s fundamentals. … He knows analytics inside and out. He’s got discipline. He’s not afraid to go at a player when necessary and when it’s required. He’s got a soft touch, too, at the same time. He’s a Swiss Army knife.”

What Mendoza doesn’t feature is any full-time big league managing experience, though his roots as an instructor do run deep. Mendoza began his coaching career as a coach at Yankees Single-A outposts like Charleston and Staten Island. Eventually, he became a Minor League field coordinator and infield coordinator, before earning a place in the Major League dugout beginning in 2018. Once on staff, Mendoza stuck, spending the past four seasons as Aaron Boone’s bench coach.

Along the way, Mendoza gained managerial experience in the Venezuelan Winter League and big-game experience as a bench coach for the Venezuelan World Baseball Classic team. He also backed up Boone on occasion during the regular season and Spring Training. When Boone took a leave of absence for a medical procedure in March 2021, for example, it was Mendoza who managed.

“He comes with a fantastic reputation as a trusted leader and someone who has been beloved in every stop of his career,” Mets president of baseball operations David Stearns said in a statement. “Carlos knows what it takes to lead, especially here in New York, and I am looking forward to partnering with him to bring sustained success to this franchise.”

Ultimately, Mendoza’s managerial reputation will depend upon wins and losses, but he’ll at least have some time to grow into the job. The rookie manager received a three-year contract with a fourth-year club option that, theoretically, should give him a fair runway to prove his worth.

The Mets hope he’ll do so right away. When Steve Cohen finalized his purchase of the Mets in late 2020, he made it clear that he was “not crazy about people learning on my dime.” Mendoza will be doing a bit of that, to be sure, but the Mets are confident he possesses the type of experience necessary to smooth the transition.

“I want Mets fans to know that I will pour every ounce of energy into this job,” Mendoza said, “and we share a common goal of bringing a championship to Queens.”