Earlier this month, the Lancaster Barnstormers of the independent Atlantic League named Von Hayes their new manager. Among the other names on the short list of candidates for the job was Hall of Famer Gary Carter. Carter was supposedly very close to getting the job, but Hayes pulled ahead and was able to land the position.
The talk, and this is a reasonable point, is that Hayes was selected because of his incredibly popular stint with the Philadelphia Phillies during the 1980's, and that goes a long way in drawing fans to an independent team like the Barnstormers. But I would counter with the argument that Carter is a Hall of Famer, and he doesn't just pull in the local Pennsylvania fans...he's a national draw. I know right now I have no interest in attending a Barnstormers game...but if Gary Carter were managing the team, I'd be making a trip to Lancaster. This is also the league that includes the Long Island Ducks and Bridgeport Bluefish...so chances are I would even catch one or two Barnstormers road games.
So why else might a team pass up Gary Carter for Von Hayes? Could the reasons be the same as why a major league team might pass up Gary Carter as their hitting coach (the Colorado Rockies last year), or first-base coach (the New York Mets)? Or why a Triple-A level team might pass him up as manager (the L.A. Dodgers' affiliate)?
At first glance, Carter seems like a great candidate. His track record is impressive - managing two years at the lowest minor league levels, he posted very impressive records:
2005 (Gulf Coast League): 37-16, first round playoff exit (0-2)
2006 (St. Lucie Mets)
1st Half: 40-30
2nd Half: 37-32
Postseason: 5-0 and won the championship
He's also savvy with the media. In fact, I think this media savvy could be his strongest point...and his weakest. No manager in the world would be more willing to talk to the media, win or lose, after a game, than Gary Carter. He loves the press. No question about it. But that might also be a drawback...in this day and age, where someone as ornery and secretive as Bill Belichick (different sport, I know, but the parallel can be made) is having so much success while giving the media hardly anything to work with, a team might not be looking to hire someone so willing to talk.
I also think there's a stigma that no one wants to work with Carter, and this is what bothers me the most. I think Carter was a little too much of a go-getter as a player, too willing to kiss up to the right people. It made him a success, no doubt about it, but I think now that some of the people in important positions are his former peers, instead of the people he was kissing up to, he's sort of receiving a little bit of what those people felt he had coming. Perhaps they have an idea that Carter thinks he's better than them...and maybe he doesn't do too much to dispel that thought. But something like Carter turning down a Double-A managing job with the Mets, maybe that turned people off - who does Gary Carter think he is, does he think he'll go straight to the majors without paying his dues? I don't know what the problem is.
This bothers me, especially the fact that I believe so many baseball people aren't crazy about Carter (which is just my assumption...it's not a fact, but when you hear people/broadcasters/former players talk, you get that impression) because as far as I can tell (and with the bias that Gary Carter is my childhood sports hero), Gary Carter is a nice guy. For all his faults, he's not going out and doing bad things - he's a good role model, and I'm glad he's mine. I just wish I could continue seeing him involved in the game at the major-league level again.
TRADE NEWS: The Minnesota Twins and the Tampa Bay Rays made a trade Wednesday, where Matt Garza and Jason Bartlett went to the Rays, with Delmon Young and Brendan Harris going to Minnesota. I think this is a great trade for both teams, and I also think it means the Twins are working on other things....namely, a trade of Johan Santana to the Mets for Jose Reyes. I don't know whether or not it's possible, but I do know that Brendan Harris played a lot of second base last year, and if the Twins put him at second (Luis Castillo was dealt at last year's trade deadline, as we know), they'll still need a shortstop after dealing Bartlett. Reyes? Perhaps.
The Mets also added a reliever Wednesday, trading for Brian Stokes from the Rays. Stokes had a 7+ ERA last year, so I don't know how much relief he'll provide, but the Mets are involved in this trade market, that's for sure.
GOODBYE, TOM: One last note - Tom McCarthy, the Mets' radio announcer with Howie Rose, for the past two seasons, has left the Mets to go back to Philadelphia with the Phillies. I always liked him. Too bad. I wonder if Ed Coleman now moves up to permanent game-calling status, and his 'Mets Extra' pre-and-post-game shows get handed off to someone else. Could be a big shift on the radio side.