Steve Cohen: It was Dave Stearns’ ‘right’ to end Buck Showalter’s Mets tenure

2 months ago 57

The Buck stopped here.

Buck Showalter’s tenure as Mets manager ended Sunday, when Showalter announced he would not return to the job next season.

That announcement came before the Mets played their season-finale against the Phillies.

The 67-year-old Showalter indicated it was a forced resignation as the organization prepares to welcome David Stearns as the new president of baseball operations during a Monday press conference.

A press release issued by the Mets and comments by owner Steve Cohen affirmed that Showalter was forced out.

“When you bring in a president of baseball ops, they are entitled to bring in their own people,” Cohen said after the Mets lost 9-1 to the Phillies at Citi Field. “I wasn’t sure if David was going to join us, and finally he joined us and it became clear he wanted to go in a different direction and that is certainly his right. I gave him that right.”

Cohen said the decision to change managers wasn’t a reflection on Showalter for the team’s disappointing season.

The owner was asked if that meant Showalter still conceivably could have been dumped even if the Mets finished in first place this season.

Mets owner Steve Cohen.AP

“It’s all hypothetical, right?” Cohen said. “There’s always ‘what ifs,’ but in general when you make a change, I strongly believe they are entitled to bring in the people they want to bring in.”

Showalter, who had one year remaining on his contract, presided over a team with a record $364 million payroll that was partially disbanded at the trade deadline because of disappointing performance.

He was informed Saturday night by general manager Billy Eppler that he was out as manager.

Showalter gathered players in his office before Sunday’s game to tell them he wouldn’t be returning.

Showalter led the Mets to 101 victories last season and received a fourth Manager of the Year award.

But the Mets fizzled in the wild-card round of the playoffs, leaving Showalter without a World Series appearance in a managerial career that has also included stops with the Yankees, Diamondbacks, Rangers and Orioles.

“I was honored to get a chance to manage a second New York team and I am proud of what we did,” Showalter said.

As Showalter brought his final lineup card to home plate as Mets manager, the entire team stood outside the dugout to salute him.

Showalter also received an ovation from much of the sparse crowd that had arrived at that point.

Francisco Lindor had championed Showalter’s cause, but said he trusts the organization to make the right decisions.

“There was no conversations [with Cohen] about it,” said Lindor, who indicated he was caught off guard by Showalter’s firing. “That’s their job. I am here to play baseball. … I love [Showalter] and I don’t want him to go anywhere.

“I trust in the organization. I trust in what they are going to do and one of the things Buck said is, ‘You guys will be OK.’ And I trust him. I trust that Billy and Stearns and Steve will guide us in the right direction and it’s going to end up very successful.”

Buck Showalter and Franciso Lindor chat during the Mets’ loss to the Phillies on Sunday.JASON SZENES FOR THE NEW YORK POST

Pete Alonso said he was glad to receive the news directly from Showalter.

“It’s real unfortunate and for me it’s real upsetting because I know how awesome a manager that he is,” Alonso said. “Last year he was a huge, critical part in us making the playoffs. I think he is an excellent leader and evaluator of personalities, not just talent. It’s unfortunate, but obviously with new management they are going to choose whatever direction they want to go in.”

Candidates to replace Showalter could include Craig Counsell, Bob Melvin, Joe Espada and Walt Weiss. Stearns inherited Counsell as manager upon arriving as Brewers general manager in 2015, and that partnership helped Milwaukee become a perennial playoff team.

New Mets president of baseball operation David StearnsAP

Showalter said he would like to manage again in the major leagues if given the opportunity.

“I feel great physically,” he said. “I am very proud, to hold this together in the clubhouse has been one of the bigger challenges of my career, to really stay on top of things. … It’s been a real tribute to the players, too, to the leadership, and that is what bodes well. Somebody will be walking into a great situation here. It’s just a few things that will happen, a lot of it will be the health of the players. I will be pulling for them.”

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