Buck Showalter’s past is prologue

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The Mets hope their new manager can improve the franchise as swiftly as he did in his four previous managerial stops. Here’s a look inside at what the new boss brought to the Yankees, Diamondbacks, Rangers and Orioles, through the eyes of those who lived it.

As the new Mets manager, the 65-year-old Buck Showalter — in his fifth stop guiding a major league team — will face a challenge that has vexed him throughout his managerial career: finishing the job. Five times over 20 seasons, Showalter has led teams to the playoffs. Twice — with the Yankees and the Diamondbacks — those teams won the World Series the year after he left the dugout. Yet, Showalter himself has not reached the game’s grandest stage. But to distill a career of one of the sport’s premier team-builders to a product of much smaller sample sizes is to miss the point of Showalter.

“When you look at what he did for Joe Torre and for Bob Brenly, he has left a huge imprint on the game of baseball and every organization he’s been a part of,” former Diamondbacks shortstop Jay Bell said, referring to the managers who benefited most from Showalter’s work. “When you are talking about what he has done, you are talking about 40-some-odd years of giving back to the game of baseball.”

The Mets hope to be the next beneficiary. The franchise has reached the postseason only twice in the last 15 years and just completed a 77-win season that has led to significant changes. Assembling the new pieces — from a new-look outfield to the addition of a three-time Cy Young winner — into a cohesive winner is a building project Showalter may find comes easier than in his previous stops given owner Steve Cohen’s checkbook and commitment to winning.

“You have some pretty good pieces there and ownership is willing to make some moves for you,” said former major leaguer Jim Leyritz, who played under Showalter with the Yankees in the 1990s. “Just watching the way Gene Michael and Buck worked together as a general manager and manager, let’s hope that’s the same thing that happens with the Mets with their front office, because if it does, there is some promise ahead.”

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