The new President of Baseball Operations is officially on the job. Here are some quick thoughts on Day 1 of the David Stearns era.
We've been talking about David Stearns for a while in this space, particularly since the Mets announced on September 12 that Stearns would, indeed, be taking the PBO job. What was especially gratifying was that, after almost three years of constantly reading why potential targets were afraid of taking on the job, Stearns confirmed today that he was eager to accept the position. This is even though Stearns — a native New Yorker who grew up a Mets fan — understands all too well the pressures of the top job in this market.
If you're new to this site, you can look at my last half-dozen posts to see my hopes for what David Stearns might bring to the table running the New York Mets, in particular, my most recent. Regular readers don't need me to rehash those thoughts here again. Now that Stearns is officially in charge, I very much look forward to checking out the moves Stearns makes to try to fulfill the goals he articulated at his press conference: being immediately competitive while not sacrificing the long-term goal of sustaining winning. That mandate has been around since Steve Cohen purchased the ballclub. Having a talented leader like Stearns in charge makes that ultimate goal feel closer to attaining.
Of course, we won't see much in the way of moves until the playoffs end. If the World Series goes all the way to Game 7, that won't be until November 4 — and that date is contingent on not having rainouts push things a bit later. So David Stearns has a month to dive in as deep as possible on the Mets organization and prepare for free agency and potential trades.
For now, here are a few quick thoughts after watching the introductory presser:
- Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but I thought this piece by Joel Sherman in the Post was unfair, particularly accusing Stearns of ordering a "hit job" on Buck Showalter while being "not present at its execution." As Stearns noted at the press conference, he was officially a Brewers employee until today and could not talk to Showalter. Stearns did reach out with a phone call today to Buck, although he has yet to speak to him. Decisions to let a manager go are part of baseball. I feel bad for Showalter, who seems like a fine man, but Stearns didn't act improperly here, and Joel Sherman has been doing this job long enough to know better.
- Stearns came across well at the press conference. He's obviously a very smart guy. Like many very intelligent people, Stearns doesn't go out of his way to "sound smart." He talked like a real person and didn't lean heavily on the baseball jargon or technocrat jibber jabber. He sounded warm and relatable as he spoke about his excitement about taking on this job. I can see why people enjoy working for the guy.
- When asked the inevitable Pete Alonso question, Stearns handled it well. He certainly didn't commit to a long-term contract for the slugging first baseman but alluded to Alonso's undeniable skills and popularity here. Everyone understands that, in a perfect world, the Mets would extend Alonso to a reasonable contract that doesn't carry too late into his 30s. However, other clubs and Alonso himself will have a lot to say about how this plays out. It definitely did not sound likely that Pete would get traded this winter, but, of course, there's always the possibility that another team would blow Stearns away with a great offer. I do expect he's playing for the Mets in 2024. It's anyone's guess what happens after that.
- Besides promising to cast a "wide net" in finding the next manager, David Stearns gave no hint about what exactly he's looking for in Showalter's replacement. It's going to be interesting to see which coaches keep their jobs. It certainly won't be all of them. Pitching coach Jeremy Hefner, who has survived regime change in the past, probably stays. The front office also seems to be high on hitting coach Jeremy Barnes. Eric Chavez will likely get an interview when that wide net casts out for a manager search. If he doesn't get picked, however, a new manager would probably want to choose his own bench coach.
- Speculation on Craig Counsell is fun, and he'd undoubtedly be a great hire, but I'll believe that the Wisconsin native is taking this job if and when there is an official announcement.
Okay, that's a few quick thoughts on the matter. Now we get to sit back and watch other teams play for a title, hoping some interesting tidbits of news trickle out on the Mets over this next month. Here's hoping that the Mets start making regular playoff appearances shortly.
Be well and take care.
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