The Mets search for a Director of Baseball Operations presents an opportunity to “own” NYC, but who is willing to take on the daunting task?
Typically, the Mets, as a big-market team in what many call the Capital City of Baseball, would have candidates lined up at the door for a job in their front office.
But the situation now is that two big names like Theo Epstein and Billy Beane did not automatically jump at the opportunity to become the Mets Director of Baseball Operations (DOBO).
Thus, there is cause to wonder if anyone is able and willing to put their career on the line by joining the Mets.
In the case of Epstein, if he wanted the job, Steve Cohen would have hired him in a New York minute. But Epstein decided to make a farce of the Skype “interview” by demanding a chunk of the Mets franchise.
Ditto Billy Beane, who has earned the respect of the Oakland A’s, where he is currently employed, to receive permission from the A’s to interview – if he wants to.
The same is true for David Stearns, currently tied to the Milwaukee Brewers while they fight to win their ALDS battle against Atlanta.
From there, there is a host of media-propelled candidates for the job, but as far as we know, Steve Cohen’s secretary is not facing a deluge of calls coming in, begging for a chance to speak with Cohen.
Mets: An Organization With Many Moving Parts
The unique aspect about the current state of the Mets franchise is there is no singular part of the organization that requires a tweak here and a tweak there to put aside so the next part can be tackled and pronounced complete.
Instead, the Mets are besieged with challenges on all of these fronts:
- They do not have a manager.
- They do not have a general manager.
- The Mets have 13 free agents, including Noah Syndergaard, Marcus Stroman, Javier Baez, and Michael Conforto, to weigh and make decisions.
- The Mets also have eleven players eligible for arbitration, including Pete Alonso, Jeff McNeil, Dominic Smith, and Seth Lugo, all requiring complex and potentially divisive outcomes.
- The Mets 2021 season, if nothing else, showed a lack of depth in their farm system, forcing the team to rely on a bunch of spirited but not ready for the long haul replacements when injuries hit. This rebuilding task alone is enough to keep a DOBO busy for years.
The Mets Elephant In The Room
However, even if we assume a qualified candidate is willing to take on the job, another matter may trump everything in their decision.
By reputation and his close ties to Steve Cohen, Sandy Alderson is a powerful presence in the Mets front office. Unless Cohen surprises everyone by relieving Alderson of his duties, he’ll be there for the 2022 season.
The question, however, is where Alderson will end up in the decision-making Mets process.
Any DOBO worth his salt will not want to be in a position where he has to “clear” everything through Alderson.
Potentially worse is the new DOBO walking into a situation where Alderson has already hired a manager, general manager, and has made impactful trades and free-agent signings.
Alderson has said he will refrain from doing so and would instead leave these and other decisions to the incoming hires, and if he could, he’d instead move on from the daily chore of running the team.
But in any event, Cohen will need to draw clear lines of authority during the interview process before anyone will ask for and take the jib, if offered.
Mets: No Room For Error And A Ticking Clock
On the other hand, the Mets are well aware of the decision made during the waning tenure of the Wilpons when their financial difficulties caused disinterest in the team.
Mets fans recall how the team handed Brodie Van Wagenen their GM job and later watched a series of ill-advised moves made by the inexperienced newcomer, with no one to hold him in check.
Adding intrigue and edginess to all of the above sits Steve Cohen, a man who is still learning on the job how to navigate the landscape of the baseball business, so foreign from his wild success as a hedge fund genius.
Stuck between the proverbial rock and a hard place, Cohen knows he needs to move quickly to bring his DOBO on board, lest the rest of the league passes him by when free agents hit the market after the World Series, and teams begin to make headline trades.
But to move rashly by settling for a willing but less qualified person for the job or to not move at all presents the possibility of a predicament the Mets may never recover from.
Whether or not Cohen expected to find himself dealing with this kind of intense pressure when he bought the Mets for $2.4 billion is anyone’s guess.
Steve Cohen: A Man In Over His Head?
But as a man who tried unsuccessfully to purchase the Mets for more than a decade, he might end up as the poster boy for the adage – be careful what you wish for.
On the other side of the ledger, though, stands the man who single-handedly built an empire, albeit in a different endeavor, with perseverance, hard work, and an unending determination to complete the task.
Thus, the Mets offseason and their future are reduced to whether or not Steve Cohen still has the magic powers to overcome and thrive in a distressing but ever-challenging situation with the Mets, a team he wants so badly to fix and make right.
In the meantime, step right up if you are qualified, ready, and willing to join Cohen as his Director of Baseball Operations because, at this moment, no one is banging on the door.