The Mets’ search for a Director of Baseball Operations (DOBO) begins in earnest with Theo Epstein interviewing while Billy Beane plays it coy.
There’s good news in the Mets’ camp if reports are true that Steve Cohen is jumping on the task to hire a Director of Baseball Operations (DOBO), a position that entails all Mets personnel decisions in the future.
As discussed in yesterday’s column, with a myriad of items on their To-Do List this offseason, nothing moves forward until this void is filled.
Leading Off For The Mets Is Theo Epstein
To the surprise of no one, the first name on Cohen’s list and according to multiple reports, the first to be interviewed is Theo Epstein, an event that might occur as soon as this week.
Epstein is widely known and respected throughout the baseball industry as the one-person superhero who took two franchises, the Cubs and Red Sox, to World Championship titles following decades of despair.
With that, talk between Cohen and Epstein need not be related to baseball management skills. Instead, the focus of the conversation will shift to Epstein’s re-commitment to the daily grind of a DOBO’s job and the almighty dollar.
The first part will fall on Epstein to convince the Mets that at 47, he is willing to devote the time and energy to get the job done in New York.
With the Cubs, Epstein reportedly received $10 million per season, a figure that is not likely to scare Cohen away. But the ultimate decider may turn out to be a request/demand by Epstein for a small piece of the team.
Billy Beane: Tied Down With Battleship Chains
Moving over to Billy Beane, readers may recall a piece I published here two years ago, touting the reasons why the Mets should go all out to land Beane. Nothing has changed since then and Beane would be a wise hire.
With Beane, we have someone who is not a “free-agent” like Epstein is. Beane is contracted to the Oakland A’s, and there is no interview unless the A’s release Beane to sit down with the Mets.
Perhaps that is why Beane is playing it coy and trying to play both sides of the fence when he addressed the swirling rumors.
“I don’t even respond to newspaper articles,” Beane said. “It’s all speculation… Normally the process [is] they would call the owner, which is how it goes. And it’s happened in the past.”
One connection that can’t be overlooked is that Beane has strong ties to Sandy Alderson, who gave him a job as a scout after Beane’s playing career ended, and Beane succeeded Alderson as the A’s GM back in 1997.
As these things go, the more, the merrier, and we’ll also be hearing about Milwaukee’s David Stearns, who would require his employers’ permission before speaking to the Mets. Another possibility is Dodgers executive Josh Byrnes.
Mets Steve Cohen Balancing The Balls
In any case, the ball remains in Steve Cohen’s court as he weighs between the need to act with acceleration and the need to act judiciously because there is no room for error on this appointment.
Because he is a free soul, the edge in terms of moving along with alacrity is on Epstein; the main question is does he want to enter a situation with the Mets that is far worse and more perilous than the ones he faced in Chicago and Boston, where the fans were as surprised as anyone at Epstein’s good fortune in turning things around.
No matter what anyone says, there is no harder and riskier place to work in baseball than the city of New York, and that goes for players, DOBOs, GMs, managers, and on down to clubhouse attendants and batboys.
The pressure to win following five consecutive non-playoff finishes will be daunting for anyone willing to enter the fray.
However, the good news is that Cohen appears to be concentrating on people who’ve been around the block a few times, and he is not interested in the Van Wagenen and Luis Rojas learn on the job type candidates.
We’ll see how the interview with Epstein goes, trying to read between the lines from ensuing statements to the media by both parties, but at least we know the process is underway…
Postscript: 3:30 PM ET 10/6/2021
According to Mike Puma and the NY Post, Steve Cohen and Theo Epstein met today and quickly decided the marriage would not work. Wonder why – stay tuned.