This week, this little gem found itself in the Daily News:
Toughness: The Mets are looking for an executive who will stand up to players, and shrug off criticism from the New York media. There is a perception among some major league executives that in recent years Mets players have become accustomed to getting their way too often.
Really? Well, maybe if the writer who covers the Mets for the Daily News these days had actually been around for the last 10 years or so (or maybe did a little research) he’d know that the current mishmosh of what the Mets call a chain of command exists because Fred and Jeff Wilpon have allowed that to be the case.
The open door policy of ownership has made for a completely fuzzy chain of command for a long, long, time. Allowing underling front office execs like Steve Phillips (when he was under Joe McIllvaine) Al Goldis, Bill Livesey and Tony Bernazard (avove, left) to have direct lines of communication to the owner, has allowed for “end arounds’ around every single GM the Mets have had since Frank Cashen.
Then there’s this:
Balance between traditional scouting and newer statistical analysis: The Mets will never hire a GM who professes blind faith to sabermetrics – the club has long admired Terry Ryan’s work with Minnesota, a more traditional team – but are looking for some openness to that perspective.
You know why the Mets would never hire a sabermetric GM? Because then, the “baseball-savvy” Wilpons would have nothing to offer at the meetings, that’s why. Of course there’s also the fact that there’s no such thing as a purely sabermetric GM. In any event, Jim Duquette had that blend of advanced metrics / traditional scouting and had a great staff in place in 2004. But rather than be allowed to run his team, he was forced to deal with Goldis and Livesey from day one.
”We knew when Jim took over that that we had to hire two superscouts right away,” said Fred Wilpon, the Mets’ owner. ”Now Jim has two guys who are very, very important to him.’
I have interviewed several former Mets employees for my upcoming book and one of them nearly fell out of his chair when I told him that it’s been portaryed as if Duquette had asked for permission to bring in the two “superscouts” and had hired them mimself.
“That is so much (bleep),” said the former front office exec. “Jim has been around baseball for a long time, he knew all about the horror stories that came with Goldis (in Cincinnati) and Livesey (in Tampa). He already had a core staff pf guys he trusted in New York, and why the hell would he have hired a guy (Goldis) who was friends with the owner?”
Well, it is true that Duquette had worked in front offices, including the Mets, for years. So, why would he need two outsiders from other organizations, both of whom whose most notable successes were nearly a decade — and a team or two — in the past?
And the Goldis hire is even more bizarre. While it’s a fact that Goldis is a member of the Scouts Hall of Fame, he had been paid by Fred Wilpon to be a hitting coach for Jeff Wilpon when the latter was a kid in the 1980’s. To portray him as a Duquette hire, or to suggest it was Jim’s idea is preposterous.
In any event, the article introducing Mets fans to the superscouts had another few nuggets:
Goldis and Livesey are using spring training to help Duquette evaluate the organization and will spend the season watching the Mets’ home games, traveling to minor league affiliates and scouting amateurs around the world.
Amid speculation that the Mets could package prospects and trade them to Texas for ALFONSO SORIANO, the team owner, Fred Wilpon, said the club had no intention of dealing SCOTT KAZMIR, its top pitching prospect. ”He’s not going anywhere,” Wilpon said.
Now am I bringing up past history to write “Bad Stuff ‘Bout the Mets”? Hardly. What I am doing is pointing out that the Wilpons don’t ever give up input, and seem to truly believe that they are the best suited to make baseball decisions.
What more important baseball decision is there to be made then hiring a new President / GM?
Now Fred Wilpon, who was dazzled by Art Howe, openly opined for Omar Minaya and handed the keys and bags of money to Al Harazin is huddling with Jeff Wilpon and Saul Katz to determine the next era of Mets baseball?
Forgive me if I am overly skeptical.
In 1980, Nelson Doubleday owned over 90% of the Mets when he hired Frank Cashen, Fred Wilpon owned about 2.5 % at that time.
Since 1987, when Fred Wilpon became a full partner (and in 2003, the Big Kahuna), the Mets GMs have been either assistants of the man they replaced, or ex Mets execs who returned from another organization (where they hadn’t won diddly).
Duquette, who was given 1 1/2 years to clean up the SP / Wilpon messes of 2001-03, was forced to get on a plane to go to the DR to explain to Jose Reyes that he had to move to 2B to make room for a Wilpon brainstorm (Kaz Matsui). He was also forced to offer Vlad Guerrero the most ridiculous contract ever offered a Type A free agent.
But none of this is news to anyone who’ever had the guts to really look deep into the infrastructre of this team.
And just in case you thought things wre different now, here’s some tidbits from the Times:
The Mets may not come to any conclusions until the end of the season, leaving open the possibility that they could miss out on other potential candidates while they agonize over their front-office setup and composition.
The wait and see approach really worked last winter, didn’t it? Will Carroll from Baseball Prospectus says that the Mets have already started to interview GM candidates, but that was after yesterday’s report from the New York Times that said otherwise. Ah, those media-savvy Wilpons.
Minaya’s future with the team is in the hands of the three top executives in the Mets’ organization — Fred Wilpon, the chairman and chief executive; Saul Katz, the president; and Jeff Wilpon, the chief operating officer. Those three must first agree on the direction the team will go, then pursue the person they want to lead it.
The track record is astounding, so Mets fans should be relieved.
The Wilpons and Katz will not interview potential candidates until they determine the professional fates of Minaya and Manager Jerry Manuel, and inform both men. They will also refrain from hiring a manager until they determine whom the top baseball executive will be — whether it is Minaya or someone else — to avoid foisting a manager on a new executive without his input.
What is there to evaluate? How much more uninspired, bloated roster baseball do you want to watch?
With Towers going to Arizona, another potential candidate could become available. Jerry Dipoto, a former Mets pitcher who grew up in New Jersey as a devoted Mets fan, had served as the Diamondbacks’ interim general manager. He is known to the Wilpons, and the Mets have a history of hiring people they are familiar with.
He loves the Mets, once pitched for the Mets and the Wilpons know him. Helluva resume. Then again, it was far more substantial than Tony Bernazard’s was when Minaya handed over the organization to him.
When the Mets were looking for a new manager in 2005, they interviewed Willie Randolph, Jim Riggleman, Terry Collins, Carlos Tosca and Rudy Jaramillio and “flirted” with Jim Leyland. So far, it looks like they are setting up Mets fans for another one of these dog and pony shows. I’ll be there when they have the Press Conference to announce the new GM. I just hope for the Mets fan sake that it will be day of real anticipation, not the same old Wilpons crying wolf. In the meantime I’ll be covering a postseason full of teams with more of a will to win than massaging their own bruised egos.