There has been so much written about the Mets and their search for a new General Manager but as Mike Silva and I discussed this morning on the phone, most people are missing the main reason why certain candidates have either withdrawn their applications or did not make the first cut.
Ownership does not view this as a total rebuild–they want to contend in 2019. And many candidates do not want that intense pressure right away but that is the expectation of ownership. They want the autonomy that we saw in both Chicago and Houston to strap down the whole roster and that will not happen.
Now don’t get me wrong–candidates should ask ownership about payroll to evaluate the feasibility of contending but their mindset needs to be contending in 2019. But if candidates think this is a TOTAL rebuild they have either not applied or have not made the cut in the first round.
The candidate also needs to possess a proven history of working with agents as the team’s young pitchers will need to be evaluated quickly to assess long term contracts vs year to year arbitration acceptance.
The way the game has evolved over the last few years making power hitting and a bullpen being far more important than starting pitching is at play here as most candidates agree with that mindset. I am not sure everyone in the decision process–namely Fred Wilpon-agrees with that.
That is why this candidate needs to be special–they need to use both analytics and old-school approaches in their decision-making process. It will have to be a person who understands this position can be one that brings the game back a bit. By that I mean put more emphasis on pitching, defense, speed and not necessarily only rely on home runs and the bullpen.
The New York Yankees have done that and a power-laden lineup with a bullpen have created October failure while the Red Sox approach with a multi-faceted lineup coupled with great starting pitcher has seen success. I believe both the Astros and Yankees had more power and better bullpen personnel. The Bosox landed Nathan Iovaldi at the deadline which was an unheralded trade but proved to be a key part in getting them to a World Series.
If I had the candidates that made the cut in a room I would give them one message–Take this job and understand that the farm system is in better shape than it was 12 months ago and you have a winning starting rotation in place. Your success will depend on getting more offense, rebuilding the BP and making defense a priority. You should build a lineup that has some power but also possesses hitters that can make teams pay for infield shifts.
Analytics are a great tool but have provided some basic issues in how teams are built. First of all, the idea in this sport is to score runs and that can be done in a myriad of ways. Teams can do it with power or with speed coupled with clutch hitting. I prefer a hybrid because against superior pitching it is harder to stop a multi-faceted offense.
I know that is not a popular view of the game but this is a sport about adjusting and now analytics has swung the game far too much– not taking into account what is inside a player’s soul. You don’t see that on a spreadsheet. You only see that with your 2 eyes. Both are good tools to use in tandem but to only look at one is so counter-productive–you are not using all of your resources.
Finally, I would tell candidates this is a job that could put you on the map for changing the game and seeing the hybrid strategy is the way to go. You can be a trendsetter and in a copycat business like baseball you will be the one others will copy rather than just following the sheep because if you fail you can always say “the numbers show I made right decision.”
Most will shy away and not want to take the job–and to me those who say no have done you a favor–because this person needs to be a special candidate. To be clear, special means very few candidates will fulfill the job description.