On October 21, 2018, my colleague at MMO, Jack Ramsey, wrote an article examining the presumed five remaining candidates for the Mets GM position while detailing their experience in the majors. The candidates are Doug Melvin, Kim Ng, Chaim Bloom, Brodie Van Wagenen, and Casey Close, each of whom, as Ramsey points out, seem to have the necessary background for the position. Whoever gets the job will have several members of the old guard from the present-day Mets to deal with. It has been made clear by current Mets management that manager Mickey Callaway, pitching coach Dave Eiland, one-third of the current Mets GM trio, Omar Minaya, and others, will be remaining. Thus, the new GM will inherit a preexisting condition with important cogs for the Mets already in place. Perhaps this is why many potential candidates decided against pursuing the job as they wanted a bit more say on matters of personnel and not have shared responsibility with a Minaya-type in the equation.
Interestingly, there have been several recent major league teams who have had shared leadership in their front offices and have had a good deal of success. Other teams, such as the Miami Marlins, have not been as fortunate. Although the Marlins are clearly a work in progress, general manager Michael Hill calls few if any of the shots as CEO Derek Jeter is clearly in charge of baseball operations. On the other hand, the Oakland Athletics, who made it to the AL Wild Card Game this year, fared better with dual leadership. David Forst is the GM of the A’s and has had significant input in their success, but Billy Beane, the Executive Vice-President of Baseball Operations, appears involved in every baseball decision and gets most of the notoriety for the A’s successes (and failures).
In 2015 and 2016, the Arizona Diamondbacks had Dave Stewart and Tony LaRussa basically running the team together with mixed results. The San Francisco Giants had some success when Bobby Evans and Brian Sabean were used as a combination GM although they had their worst finish in 2017 in 30 years leading to the dismissal of Evans. The St. Louis Cardinals utilize the duo of President of Baseball Operations, John Mozeliak, and Vice-President and General Manager, Michael Girsch. Under this regime, the Cardinals have gotten the reputation as a stable, detailed oriented team with a desire to use home-grown talent. The Chicago Cubs employ President of Baseball Operations, Theo Epstein, with General Manager, Jed Hoyer. The Cubs won their first World Series in forever in 2016 with this duo had the helm. The Milwaukee Brewers turned things around quickly under David Stearns coming to within one game of a World Series appearance in 2018. He had help from several sources in the front office especially in the area of the quick salary dump employed by the team prior to rebuilding.
That brings us to the participants in the 2018 World Series, the Boston Red Sox and the Los Angeles Dodgers. Dave Dombrowski is the President of Baseball Operations for the Red Sox. He was responsible for the acquisitions of starter Chris Sale and closer Craig Kimbrel. In 2017, he created a position for his friend Tony La Russa–vice-president and special assistant to the president of baseball operations–in which the former manager will assist in player development and act as a consultant to the coaching staff including rookie manager Alex Cora. The Dodgers are run largely by the duo of President of Baseball Operations, Andrew Friedman, and General Manager, Farhan Zaidi. Although they have the league’s highest payroll, their emphasis has always been on home-grown talent. Clayton Kershaw, Corey Seager, Cody Bellinger, and Kenley Jansen all came through the Dodgers’ organization.
Obviously, given the right circumstance, a two or three-headed general manager position can work. The very participants in this year’s fall classic, both run by a plurality of individuals, is proof of that. There have been other organizations that have not been as propitious. That brings us to the Mets. A general manager will be hired someday soon with some pieces of the team already in place for management and coaching positions. Can the round peg fit into the square hole? Fundamentally, it has shown it can work. It will not be easy as most GMs prefer to hire their own manager and then let him hire his staff. Hopefully, this next hire will be fit the partially made mold nicely. It would be nice to see some stability in a team that has playoff aspirations in the near future. The Mets previous GM, Sandy Alderson, was hired after the 2010 season and sadly left due to health concerns in July of 2018. He led the Mets to a World Series in 2015. Let’s hope the next GM can take the mantle and despite some obstacles, lead the team to success for a very long time.