Photo: Mets Underground
Two weeks ago Mets ownership – Fred and Jeff Wilpon – fired both its general manager and on-field manager, and finally realised what the rest of us knew to be true for some time: it’s time to start over.Now the Wilpons are charged with choosing new management. And despite the team’s struggles, it’s certainly a coveted job. The Mets have a beautiful new ballpark, a passionate fanbase, and owners with a deep checkbook.
But that checkbook was put to use inefficiently last year. The team spent more than $132 million only to win 79 games. That’s $1.68m per win, about half a million above the league average.
We’d love to see the Mets throw whatever it takes to hire Moneyball mastermind Billy Beane – if only to see how he would fare given a a top-5 payroll to work with – but with a 2.5 per cent stake in his current team, the Oakland Athletics, that’s nothing short of a pipe dream.
There are some promising candidates out there though.
Byrnes was handed an eight-year extension in 2007, two years into his tenure with the Diamondbacks, only to be fired this past season. He was considered a promising talent evaluator, but a string of bad trades has to make you wonder whether he's lost his touch.
Currently a Detroit Tigers assistant GM, Avila has deep connections in Latin America and was one of the architects of the loaded Marlins teams from earlier this decade. He signed Miguel Cabrera for the Marlins, and drafted World Series MVP Josh Beckett. He also saw the value in speedy second-baseman Luis Castillo as a minor leaguer, but knew to trade him before he became the overpaid albatross currently on the Mets roster.
Baird has six years experience as a general manager with the Kansas City Royals earlier this decade, and four years experience in a high-pressure media hub as the current assistant to Red Sox GM Theo Epstein. That combination, plus a recommendation from the highly-respected Epstein makes him an attractive candidate.
Dan Jennings is an assistant general manager with the Florida Marlins. Marlins executives are admired for their continued success -- only the Yankees have won more championships since the Marlins' inception -- despite some of the lowest attendance and payroll figures in all of baseball. This year they finished atop the Mets in the standings with 40 per cent of the payroll.
Ng is most likely to break the gender barrier in baseball's executive suite, and there'd be no place sweeter to do so than her hometown of Queens. Having spent 11 years with the Yankees and Dodgers, she's accustomed to working in high-pressure environments and is familiar with the analytic techniques currently en vogue.
Hart built a stellar reputation as GM of the Cleveland Indians from 1991-2001. During his tenure, the Indians were a perennial contender with stars such as Manny Ramirez, Jim Thome, and Sandy Alomar Jr. He left for the Texas Rangers in 2001 and spent four largely unsuccessful years handicapped by the contract his owner handed to A-Rod. He's under contract as a senior advisor through 2013.
As Assistant GM for the Dodgers, White is credited with creating one of the best farm systems in baseball -- a key to any successful rebuilding project. Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, and Clayton Kershaw are just three of the big names to pass through in recent years, and the Mets could use an injection of cheap, young talent.
Alderson constructed the Oakland A's championship teams in the late 1980s, and was an early adopter of statistical analytics when new owners ordered him to slash payroll in the mid-1990s. He famously hired Billy Beane to succeed him and currently works in the commissioner's office.
Stealing away the top executive from the World Series contending Texas Rangers may seem unrealistic, but perhaps restoring his hometown team to glory will be too good an opportunity to pass up.
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