To no one surprise, the Mets declined Luis Rojas’s option yesterday, making the Mets a team in search of a manager.
However, don’t expect that search to begin anytime soon, because Steve Cohen and Sandy Alderson will have to fill several other front office jobs, including – and especially – the President of Baseball Operations (PBO).
Cohen learned the hard way last year, that MLB works differently than Wall Street, where collecting talent and getting around non-competes are solved with a signature at the bottom of a check.
Baseball works differently than that, because organizations can refuse their under contract officials the chance to interview elsewhere. Alderson last year found that out when trying to hire a PBO. Remember Cohen didn’t take over the Mets until November of last year, when teams are in full swing of the off-season.
So Cohen and Alderson will try it again in search of their white whale, who will stabilize the Mets and make them into that iconic franchise Alderson likes to talk about.
The usual suspects are out there. Theo Epstein, being the most notable, since the former Red Sox and Cubs president, works for the MLB front office and can interview at any time.
SNY is reporting the Mets will reach out to Epstein, but you have to wonder of he is really on the top of the list. He’s been working for MLB since the beginning of the year. If Cohen really wanted him, don’t you think the Mets would have reached out already, especially after Zack Scott went on suspension?
The gut here says the Mets have different plans in mind. Even though you cant formally interview until the season is done, you have to think Cohen and Alderson have gaged back channel interest.
You hear Milwaukee PBO David Stearns as a possibility. Heck, he worked for the Mets and made the woeful Brewers into perennial postseason players. However with one year left of his contract, the Brewers will probably want serious compensation for their head honcho (Francisco Alvarez anyone?).
Rather, it seems like Alderson will first target his old protégé, Billy Beane.
It makes sense, since Beane once played for the Mets and got his first inkling of being a executive from watching Frank Cashen back in the day. And yesterday, Beane was very coy when asked about the Mets job.
“I don’t even respond to newspaper articles,” Beane said. “It’s all speculation… Normally the process [is] they would call the owner, which is how it goes. And it’s happened in the past.
“This has happened through my career. It’s a credit to the organization. It’s all speculation…For me to worry about this and lend credibility to it, it’s all just press reports.”
Notice he didn’t say “no.”
Beane will also merit compensation, but Oakland is in a very different position than Mulwaukee. They want a stadium built, either in Oakland or in Las Vegas. Right now, that means ownership will need some sort of nest egg to get any stadium plan off the ground.
That good news if that Cohen has money, plenty of it and if all it takes is writing a check, then so be it.
Beane will also have to divest himself of his ownership piece with the A’s, but all of that can be worked out.
Plus, his relationship with Alderson will mean there won’t be any conflicts if the Mets Presidemt wants a seat at the table.
The knock on Beane is that his “Moneyball” philosophy only gets his team so far and can’t win in the playoffs, but with the Mets he won’t be on a shoestring budget, which means he won’t be turning over his club searching for value every year.
That’s talk he may take his manager Bob Melvin with him too. Melvin is a fine manager, but if the Mets must give a huge compensation package for him, then look elsewhere. John Gibbons, who was picked right behind Beane in the first round in 1980 for the Mets, could be a possibility.
Beane has other interests in soccer and helping bringing franchises public. All of that can be done as well under Cohen, who has the capital to make it all happen.
It sounds like a cliché, but this is a franchise altering off-season for the Mets. They need to get the PBO right and need someone who commands respect off the bat. There are very few candidates that have that and will be available for Cohen and Alderson.
Beane seems to be the right pick from that group.
Cohen needs to get him at all costs.