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Mets GM: You Don’t Want To Hear This, But They Might Have Found One

Just when I thought the Mets were about to turn the corner, they fumble the search for a new Mets GM with a reach into the recycle bin.

CBS Sports is reporting the Mets have taken a liking to Dave Littlefield as the new Mets GM. Baseball last heard from Littlefield way back in 2001 when he began a six-year stint as the GM of the Pittsburgh Pirates, whose win total peaked at 75 during Littlefield’s reign. Among his noble achievements were:

Left enough decent prospects unprotected that five of the top six picks in the 2003 Rule 5 draft were Pirates: Chris Shelton, Rich Thompson, Frank Brooks, Jeff Bennett, and Jose Bautista. This despite the Pirates having 40-man roster spots available and, you know, being a bad team who seemingly needed young talent.

Took on what was left of Matt Morris‘s contract in exchange for Rajai Davis despite a low payroll at the 2007 trade deadline … then cut Morris after five starts the next spring.

Drafted Bryan Bullington (No. 1), Brad Lincoln (No. 4), and Daniel Moskos (No. 4) in the top five within a six-year span.

Traded Aramis Ramirez, Jason Kendall, and others without getting worthwhile returns.

Reportedly turned down a Ryan Howard for Kris Benson trade … because the Pirates already had Brad Eldred.R. J. Anderson, CBS Sports

Mets GM candidate, Dave Littlefield Photo Credit: Yahoo Sports
Mets GM candidate, Dave Littlefield Photo Credit: Yahoo Sports

Surely, you are all familiar with the explosive careers those draft picks had. That the Mets brain trust would even think of interviewing Littlefield as the new Mets GM is a statement that stands for itself, but when added to the number of potential interviewees for the job who have said, “Thanks, but no thanks” before they even take a flight to New York, the dismal state of the New York Mets franchise seems to be roaring back.

Nearly all major league teams rely on their General Manager as their point man regarding all baseball-related personnel decisions. Owners vary regarding how much control they exert over their GM, interfering only when a GM brings money to the table indicating he wants this guy or that guy.

And in most cases, the degree of owner involvement is decided by their baseball acumen or lack thereof. For instance, the GM of the Florida Marlins, working for Derek Jeter, a man with twenty years of on-the-field baseball experience, along with the credentials as an evaluator of talent, is forced to play ball with his team owner.

Meanwhile, the Mets have Jeff Wilpon, who seemingly has been handed the reigns of running the Mets by his dad, Fred Wilpon. Apparently, Jeff envisions himself as a baseball guy and not just a numbers man. And mainly for that reason, the team is finding it difficult, if not impossible to find brave souls who are willing to enter the hornet’s nest of what is bound to be the job as the Mets GM.

Unlike Jeff Wilpon, I don’t pretend to qualify as a judge of what it takes to be a baseball general manager these days. But I can safely offer this. If all the Mets franchise can do is dig into the recycle bin, offering up a Dave Littlefield, then I’m afraid I can’t trust anything this team does.

To compound the problem, the Mets still have not made clear what the role will be for John Ricco, Omar Minaya, and the other guy whose name I forget, once a new Mets GM is hired. Ricco, for one, is known to have the ear of Jeff Wilpon during the selection process. So what happens later? Ricco disappears, taking a job with another team. Or does he stick around as a potential thorn in the side of the new Mets GM? And while we’re on the topic, don’t forget the name Terry Collins, who is fast emerging as a power broker in the Mets structure as well.

How far Littlefield goes in the interview process is not as important as the fact he’s being interviewed in the first place. It can only be taken as a sign the Mets are once again moving backward instead of forward.

The Mets want and need to get this done, and preferably before the conclusion of the World Series, after which all the wheelin’ and dealin’ begins. But since the Mets do not expect to be a major player over the winter regarding a reshuffling of personnel, why not take the time to find a Mets GM built for the future and not the past?

Written by Steve Contursi

Editor, Reflections On Baseball

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