Saturday, November 21, 2020

The Waiting Game

Last week I read that the Mets were going to make a decision on their President of Baseball Operations position within the next week to ten days. It's fairly safe now to assume that this isn't likely to happen within that time frame, unless the Mets are prepared to name former Marlins exec Michael Hill, the only person they've interviewed so far, to the position. Clearly the Mets are operating on a different timetable than was expected, prepared to let Sandy Alderson and the people working under him lay some of the groundwork for the new Mets era. So, while it's a bit surprising that so little has happened up to now, it's not really cause for concern.

Some rumors have been trickling out, like the one that said Cleveland's Mike Chertoff was the frontrunner in the search for a PBO. This prompted a "Not that I'm aware of, wrong again" tweet from Steve Cohen, and the word is that Chernoff really isn't a candidate at all, which probably indicates he has no desire to leave Cleveland. I can't help but wonder if the reason that there hasn't been any interviews beyond Hill yet is that none of their top choices are interested and/or available.

An article in The Athletic by Ken Rosenthal and Jayson Stark that I discussed in Tuesday's post made the point in how much more difficult it is to hire well-regarded PBOs and GMs away from other teams these days. Teams are much less willing to let these guys go these days, and many of them aren't interested in leaving where they are comfortable and successful. It does seem, at least from what I've been able to read, that the Mets have had no success in even getting meetings with the top names on their list.

Then there's the departure of Theo Epstein from Chicago. He doesn't seem interested in any new job currently, and it's always struck me as quite unlikely that he would take on the Mets position. He's already broken "curses" for both the Red Sox and Cubs. While the Mets are considered an attractive organization now since the Wilpons have been replaced by Steve Cohen, this looks to me as almost a no-win situation for Epstein:

  • He'd have to work under Sandy Alderson. While I don't think that would be as onerous as working under someone who wasn't a baseball legend and a noted good collaborator, Epstein will have options available in the relative near future of only answering to an owner, perhaps even with an ownership stake in a team.

  • He's already won twice with two teams that had waited 86 years and 108 years for a title. If he did it again with the Mets it certainly wouldn't compare as an accomplishment. If he didn't win, however, that would be a stain on his legacy.

  • Even if Steve Cohen opens the bank vaults for Epstein, how much money would it take to change his mind? He's made a lot of money from Boston and Chicago, and I don't think even quite a lot of money would be the deciding factor.

  • My strong suspicion is that Epstein has a been there/done that feeling about taking another job leading another ballclub. Putting myself in his place, I'm pretty sure that I'd be looking for a new challenge, at least in the near future. He might eventually come back to running a baseball operation, but I'd be pretty surprised if it happened anytime soon.

If I seem somewhat dismissive of Epstein as a candidate, it's not because I don't see the benefit of trying to hire the man who is clearly the top baseball executive of this era. I honestly think the one way that you might possibly attract Epstein here is if you got him to come in for a meeting and sold him on the thought that this organization was going to be making history in some manner with the way it operated going forward, and selling him on the excitement and novelty of being a part of that. I'm a pretty damned creative guy, but I can't come up with anything along those lines. If you can, please forward it to Sandy Alderson ASAP. It would be negligent if Alderson didn't reach out to the guy, but I can't see it happening.

Things are happening pretty slow in baseball right now. The Mets are proactively stockpiling some depth, like the signing of pitcher Sam McWilliams, but there's nothing particularly sexy happening that would satiate the desire of a starving Mets fan for something substantial to take place. Then again, looking around baseball, nothing much is really happening anywhere yet. The nontender deadline in MLB is December 2, and there's a sense around the game that nothing much will happen at all until that date passes. Not only will there be a lot of new free agents on that date, but it's conceivable that some teams will save money on non-tenders and use that money for other purposes. Which I guess is good news for the Mets, giving them more time to make a decision on their PBO job.

Of course, there's no guarantee that there will be anyone in place on December 2, either, but at some point soon I would expect to see some movement in this direction. It doesn't seem very logical to me that this search would drag on very long into December, even if Sandy Alderson is inclined to take his time deciding on the next tier of candidates down on their wish list. If this coming week's Thanksgiving holiday precludes much movement this week, the following week turns the calendar over to December and brings on that non-tender deadline.

At some point soon, probably not too far into December, some of these free agent dominos are going to begin to fall. The longer the Mets go without doing any other interviews, the more likely it is that Alderson and the team already in place won't be waiting for a PBO or GM to step in and take the reigns. We've already heard that they're already engaged in discussions with representatives of some of the free agents. I'd be really surprised if bigger signings than McWilliams weren't happening for the Mets in the first half of December, whether an executive has been hired or not. Hey, I've waited more than a decade for an interesting winter, I guess I can hang on a little longer.

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I know this is beginning to be a recurring message lately, but please be a bit patient if the posting gets a bit sporadic again here. Lisa had to go back to the hospital for the third time yesterday. It's been discouraging to watch her go through some struggles over the last few weeks, but we're still keeping good thoughts that we'll get to the other side of this thing. Writing about the Mets has been a helpful distraction for me through all of this, but some days I just don't have any energy left over to write anything worthwhile.

Please stay safe, be well and take care.


 Follow me on Twitter @MikeSteffanos

5 comments:

  1. Sorry to hear about Lisa's ongoing health issues. Having experienced a myriad of them myself, I know what it's like when you feel fairly normal and think you can resume everything you used to do, but are told you are limited. They are telling you for your own good, not just to be vindictive or petty or to avoid lawsuits.

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  2. I am sorry to hear about your wifes continuing health struggles Mr. Steffanos. Prayers for her and the family.

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  3. Mike, I'm so sorry to hear of Lisa's setback. A quick recovery is in our thoughts.

    Another Mets piece on that is on the mark. I just 'found' your site here a few weeks ago, but have found your writing and ideas to be spot on. Thanks for your efforts here and looking forward to more of your insights as you are able. In the meantime, take care of the important things!

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  4. First off, thanks to everyone for your thoughts on Lisa. Reese, we're not the ones pushing for a discharge. There's a big COVID-19 spike in Waterbury now, and they discharged her twice without taking care of her issues completely. They will NOT do that again this time. Les, please feel free to call me Mike, never can get used to mister. My old high school football coach used to call me that while he was telling at me. 😀 Thank you, Remember1969. The only real reason to write is because someone else finds your writing useful. It always means a lot to hear that

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    1. Ok, Thanks Mike. I look forward to reading your next article.

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