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The Mets offseason, which has brought a continued torrent of bad publicity, began with two mistakes.
One, the team should never have announced that it was looking for a new president of baseball operations.
Two, the Mets could have saved themselves from a late manager search by simply exercising the 2022 contract option on Luis Rojas.
With every day that passes before the Mets name a top executive, the perception in the industry that the process is flailing increases. Scouts and rival executives are gossiping about the LOLMets again.
It could all have been avoided if we had never heard about Theo Epstein, David Stearns or Billy Beane.
The Mets and Epstein were not going to fit. People in his camp and theirs knew this a year ago. Epstein wanted to be part of an ownership group that constructs a franchise from the ground up, and Steve Cohen wasn’t ready to let him strip the organization down to the studs.
Brewers owner Mark Attanasio was never going to allow Stearns to speak to the Mets before his contract was up, even if Stearns wanted the job (and we hear he was intrigued).
Beane was worth a call, and it’s not like the Mets announced that they reached out. Reporters discovered it. But the overall takeaway from those denials/rejections was to create a negative perception around the organization -- all for a job that didn’t need to be filled.
Make no mistake: The Mets front office needs help. Many in the current group are capable and impressive, but the plan was never for Sandy Alderson to be acting general manager. They did not, however, need to layer over everyone there with a celebrity import.
The current approach should actually have been the first one. Over the past few days, Alderson has been requesting permission to speak to assistant general managers from other teams, including Boston Red Sox executive vice president and assistant GM Raquel Ferreira, Minnesota Twins assistant GM Daniel Adler, and Los Angeles Dodgers assistant GM Jeff Kingston (he will not be interviewing).
If one of those people hits it off with Alderson and Cohen, they could join a front office already staffed by Tommy Tanous, Ben Zauzmer, perhaps Zack Scott and others.
The Mets made significant hires over the past year, beefing up the analytics department and bringing in contemporary voices in player development. They never needed an Epstein or Stearns to come in and gradually remake the organization with their own people.
In the end, all the president search did was lead the world to believe that no one wanted to work for the Mets. Was it worth it?
And if you're finding this exhausting, wait until the manager search begins. Yes, that’s right, we have to endure another one of these later in the offseason.
Rojas was not a perfect manager, but he was dignified and competent with room for growth. And -- importantly -- he was there. It’s okay if you didn’t like it when he opted to pitch to Bryan De La Cruz or whatever. But one more year of Rojas would be one less significant job to fill.
With the Mets’ search for a new executive in an uncertain state, avoiding a manager search sounds like a nice luxury right now, doesn't it?
Now we have that to look forward to later in the winter. I’m tired just thinking about it.
In fact, this entire month has been exhausting for the Mets and their fans. And it was entirely avoidable.
There was a lane in which the Mets picked up Rojas’ option, hired or promoted a GM, and moved on to the rest of their offseason. Unfortunately, the team has taken a far more winding path.