The Mets front office is again in disarray. Recovering from the Porter debacle falls squarely on Sandy Anderson. It won’t be an easy task.
The Mets needed a front-office vacancy in an important job like a general manager – as they say – like a hole in the head at this point in the offseason.
The Jared Porter debacle came out of nowhere.
With less than three weeks before pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report to the Mets Training Center in Port St. Lucie, Florida, suddenly it’s Sandy Alderson and a bunch of second-stringers running the front office.
While Jared Porter is thoroughly a scumbag, the Mets were hired based on an exhaustive experience.
That was back up by recommendations from some of the best in baseball, who worked at and above Porter’s level.
How Porter snuck under the radar of the Chicago Cubs regarding ongoing incidents of misbehavior since 2017, and how or why the Mets apparently didn’t ask the “right” questions of Porter during an extensive interview process, is a matter that belongs, not here, but in the hands of Major League Baseball.
Because the facts of the matter point to Porter merely as the poster-boy for a deeply seeded problem in baseball that requires their immediate attention.
A quick and incisive look at the larger problem can be found in an illuminating report filed for the New York Daily News by the Mets beat writer, Deesha Thosar, who recounts her lonely and troubling experiences colleagues, some of whom can only be classified as pigs.
Okay, digression over and back to the main thrust of this essay.
Mets: Alderson Pondering The Front-Office Alternatives
The Mets hired Jared Porter after an exhaustive search for the best GM talent available at the time. Aside from his now apparent character deficiencies, Porter’s baseball acumen was unquestioned.
Of particular value was the volume of contacts he had built up over the years with baseball people “in the know.”
In baseball and everywhere, information is power. A GM’s ability to go through his roll-o-dex to find, for example, the right person to call to get the “truth” about a player the Mets are considering trading for – is a widely sought commodity.
I won’t say it, but I will ask if the “don’t ask, don’t tell” mode is how Porter survived so long in the Chicago Cubs organization.
Maybe that’s something Theo Epstein, whose tenure with the Cubs recently ended with a high-level job with Major League Baseball, might be tasked to look into…
So, that’s number one – how to replace Porter’s talent and expertise brought to the Mets.
Mets: Running Through The Alternative Strategies
But secondly, the Mets handle a promotion from within to GM if there is to be one.
As explained by Joel Sherman in an article for today’s New York Post,” the easy call here would be to either elevate Zack Scott or at least give him the interim title. Alderson did not dismiss that as a potential outcome during a conference call Tuesday with reporters”.
The problem is this. Scott has value to the team as evidenced by his number two position in the Mets’ internal pecking order.
So as things work in baseball, for Alderson to now go outside in a search to fill the position, awkward is the only word that would be apt to tell Scott he is being passed over again for the job.
One solution, and the one I support, is to kick the can down the road, not hiring anyone for the job, leaving Alderson to suit up for GM and Baseball Operations’ dual responsibilities for this year (only).
That way, all the wannabees (about eight of them) and their egos, including respected and experienced long-time Mets employee and former GM Omar Minaya, are neutralized and go back to resuming the job(s) they were hired to do.
While not filling the position keeps everyone in the Mets front office family happy, and fighting with their hands raised high in class – “Teacher, teacher, me, me” – for the remainder of the year, there is still left open the question if Alderson can do the dual job with effectiveness.
Remember, Sandy Alderson was last under the Mets’ hire in 2018, and it’d take the good portion of a day to comb through all of the transactions that have occurred in baseball since then at the front office level.
Moreover, his more recent baseball positions have been more of an advisory capacity with the Oakland A’s and San Diego Padres, with rarely any direct contact with other team personnel when trade talks were underway.
It’s not a knock on Alderson as much as it’s saying – it is what it is.
Mets Sandy Alderson: Your Choices – Pick One
This brings the pendulum back to three viable choices before the Mets. One, maintain the status quo, keeping the GM position open until a time yet to be determined, with Alderson filling the void doing double-duty.
The second choice is to promote Zack Scott as the inside heir to the job with the explicit knowledge that he is on probation from now until the end of the 2021 season, after which anything goes.
The Mets’ final choice is to go outside, conducting another search to fill the GM spot, letting the wannabes, including Scott, make their individual decisions as to whether or not they wish to remain with the Mets or seek a position with another team.
I don’t favor this option, and here’s why.
Jamming Up Thr Mets Overall Goals
The first question I have is how the Mets and Alderson break through the retreads’ ice that automatically becomes “favorites” to land the job.
Add to that any number of former GM’s looking for a job whose names are most familiar to Alderson, and it becomes a harder sell for the Mets to claim this is a “step forward” rather than a hope to find lightning in a bottle.
Operating on the Mets inside if I was, Sandy Alderson needs to recognize he can’t do all the work himself. Even with health issues and age (I can say that – I’m 73 too) aside.
There are too many pre-established goals and concerns laid out by Steve Cohen in a plan to rejuvenate the Mets brand – and they all fall under the purview of Chief of Baseball Operations – and Sandy Alderson.
Alderson was the guy hired by Cohen as his right arm in seeing that the Mets farm system receives the attention it deserves.
Distractions like the one under discussion now don’t help.
Alderson’s is intended as a delegator position that requires none of the heavy-lifting assigned to a team’s general manager..
Typically, he reaches out to the best available talent in the Mets organization with an assigned task and an instruction to send me weekly updated reports on your progress.
On the opposite hand, general managers, as things go in baseball today, have a phone tethered to ear.
They wake up two or three times a night to check for messages, and their brains unconsciously record a “to-do” list of calls to make when they wake up the next morning.
This is not Sandy Alderson, circa 2021. He needs help, and I, as much as you perhaps realize that.
As I’m writing, as so often happens, I’m changing my mind, believing the Mets instead should appoint Scott as the Interim General Manager, and beyond that, let the chips fall where they may.
Mets: An Organization Predicated By Leadership
The Mets began a new era when Steve Cohen purchased the team.
Barely off the ground and fresh off Francisco Lindor’s acquisition as the shortstop and face of the team for the future, the unexpected has occurred with the “death” of a key family member.
Steve Cohen did his part by immediately and justly firing Jared Porter following his inexplicable behavior.
But Steve Cohen can’t “fix” the problem created by Porter’s dismissal as GM.
That, at least for the moment, falls under the bailiwick of Sandy Alderson, who, with a boss waiting for solutions and not excuses, may yet have to move to a neutral corner – telling Cohen -“We’re good, hold on at least for the 2021 season”.
The chances are that given Cohen’s self-described three-year plan to reach the top (whatever that means nowadays), Alderson is given the most powerful solutions in these matters -time!
It Won’t Hurt Sandy – Kick It Down The Road
After all, what’s the rush? The Mets are in one of the most prime positions of any team in baseball.
They are a large-market team operating in MLB cities’ capital, with a new owner who’s deep pockets and inner desire to make his tenure something special – would be a grand-slam for nearly all teams and owners.
Therefore, the hiccup created by Jared Porter must be cast aside as only temporary, as hiccups almost always are.
With a return instead of immediate focus by the talent still available to Alderson, fill an upgrade in center field, third base, and a mid-line starting pitcher to work behind Jacob deGrom, Marcus Stroman, Carlos Carrasco, and David Patterson/Steven Matz/Seth Lugo.
With George Springer’s disappearance off the board, the list of Mets off-season targets has dwindled to almost none.
Filling the remaining upgrades in centerfield, third base, starting pitcher, and perhaps another reliever or two should not be all that difficult.
I don’t work cheap, Sandy. But I’m always here to help.