So our friends Mark Armour and Dan Levitt are continuing to roll out their Top General Managers in MLB history. They, of course, are the co-writers of In Pursuit of Pennants, which examines how front offices have historically found innovative ways to build winning teams.
Last week, they named ranked Sandy Alderson 12th Best GM of all time, which led to some hot debate as you would imagine. But this time I think most Mets fans will be pleased and will whole-heartedly agree with their choice of Frank Cashen as the 10th Best GM of All Time.
“Frank Cashen had two stints running a big league baseball operation. In his first job he oversaw a budding great team as president and later kept it contending in the GM role as well. At his second stop he took over a long struggling franchise that needed a complete transformation. He succeeded at these two opposite challenges masterfully, meriting his status as one baseball’s best baseball ops executives.”
“In early 1980 Nelson Doubleday, the new owner of the New York Mets, talked Cashen back into baseball, giving him complete control of the club (acting as both GM and the COO). The Mets had been a woeful team for four years, and in 1979 played before fewer than 800,000 fans (still the low water mark for the team). Cashen told ownership that he needed at least four years to turn the organization around, and he began by revamping the scouting and minor league systems. Over the next several years the Mets developed Daryl Strawberry, Dwight Gooden, Kevin Mitchell, Lenny Dykstra, Mookie Wilson, Rick Aguilera and several others.”
“Cashen’s biggest decision for 1984 was the hiring of new manager — Davey Johnson, who Cashen knew from his Oriole days. Johnson had managed in the system, and like Cashen wanted to play the kids rather than continuing to lose with veterans.”
Of course the Mets would go onto win 90 games that year after having won fewer than 70 for seven consecutive seasons, and then the rest, as they say, is history.
This is an excellent read with some great biographical research. Check out the rest of the article here.