Guide to the Mets GM Candidates

Being freshly single can be both exhilarating and terrifying. Just ask the New York Mets.

Owner-person Jeff Wilpon and Assistant GM John Ricco have spent this past week speed-dating five candidates for the team’s open general manager position: Josh Byrnes, Allard Baird, Logan White, Rick Hahn, and Sandy Alderson. All five are white men (majorities?), so per MLB rules there will need to be at least one minority candidate interviewed for the job. Additionally, the Mets are reportedly waiting for permission to interview other peoples of interest. But those are the five mystery date contestants so far.

As of a few weeks ago, I was only vaguely aware of the existence of maybe three of these dudes. I figured I’d do some research into these candidates, and then present it as a public service announcement (with guitars!) Here we go:

Josh Byrnes

Notable Former Jobs: GM of the Arizona Diamondbacks, 2005-2010 (355-369; 1 playoff appearance); Previously Assistant GM for the Boston Red Sox and Colorado Rockies, and Scouting Director for the Cleveland Indians.

Stats/Scouting/Negotiating: Stats/Scouting

Special Abilities:
A mixture of advanced statistical analysis and traditional scouting. Byrnes has dealt with interfering ownership before in Arizona. Lived in the desert for last job, so you can forget to water him during off-season and he’ll be fine.

Why he’d be a good GM: Open to the newest tools available for player evaluation, be it scouting, video, or statistics. One of the Theo Epstein types, a young, smart GM, and worked with Epstein in Boston. Used to be babysat by a teenage Julia Louis-Dreyfus, so he could probably get her autograph if you asked nicely.

Why he’d be a bad GM: Hired executive with no managerial experience to be manager of Diamondbacks, seemingly just to show off how smart he was; players revolted. Arizona had losing record over his tenure, and his Wikipedia page is written by Diamondbacks fans who can barely contain their seething hate. Worse of all, Byrnes is an English Major, so he probably likes to proofread over people’s shoulders, which is annoying.

If he were a late night TV talk show host, he’d be:
Jimmy Fallon. He should be much better (decent on SNL, the Roots are his backing band), but it just doesn’t seem to work for some reason.

* * *

Allard Baird

Notable Former Jobs: Over eighteen years, he worked his way up from minor league hitting coach to general manager of the Kansas City Royals, 2000-2006 (381-576, 0 playoff appearances). Currently Assistant to the GM in charge of scouting for the Boston Red Sox.

Stats/Scouting/Negotiating: Scouting. Definitely not the other two.

Special Abilities:
Baird already has experience trading Carlos Beltran for an unequal return, which is relevant to the Mets job. Charming in his general ineptness. He wears broad shouldered suits that cause him to resemble Talking Heads frontman David Byrne. I’m also pretty sure he was actually promoted from “Assistant to the GM” to “Assistant GM” by the Royals.

Why He’d be a Good GM: He wouldn’t, but he has a reputation for being up-front and a generally good guy at least.

Why He’d be a Bad GM: Signed Mike Sweeney to a long term contract extension instead of Carlos Beltran, effectively saying that you can’t put a price on hugs. Signed Juan Gonzalez and Angel Berroa to bad deals, among others. Little to no success in the draft despite focusing on it. Baird didn’t have much success in Kansas City, so I have no idea why that would change in New York.

If he were a late night TV talk show host, he’d be: Carson Daly. Nice guy who worked hard all his life only to discover he isn’t any good at his dream job.

* * *

Logan White

Notable Former Jobs: Assistant GM of the Dodgers in charge of scouting. Scouted for the Orioles, Padres, and Mariners, primarily on the wild, wild west coast.

Stats/Scouting/Negotiations: Scouting. Just scouting. Player scouting, advanced scouting, boy scouting, cub scouting, girl scouting. It’s all this guy does.

Special Abilities: Uses statistics and probabilities to determine success rates for drafting certain types of players. Values plate discipline over raw power for hitters. Uses SAT scores and birth order in a test that is supposed to objectively determine an amateur player’s makeup, which is both cool and kind of creepy.

Why He’d be a Good GM: The Dodgers have drafted well, coming up with a plethora of homegrown talent (Matt Kemp, Clayton Kershaw, Chad Billingsley). White knows what he’s doing. He leans towards scouting, but also isn’t afraid of using computers to quantify things.

Why He’d be a Bad GM: Possibly only understands scouting, making him Omar Minaya 2.0. Seems to really like it on the West Coast, having worked there most of his life, so he might listen to “California Gurls” without a hint of irony.

If he were a late night TV talk show host, he’d be: Jimmy Kimmel. I don’t think he’s leaving LA.

* * *

Rick Hahn

Notable Former Jobs: Current Vice President and Assistant GM for the Chicago White Sox. Former agent at Steinberg, Moorad & Dunn.

Stats/Scouting/Negotiations: Stats/Negotiating. Agent-turned front office guy who likes sabermetrics.

Special Abilities: Understands contract negotiations from both sides of the table. Hahn studied things like statistical and regression analysis at Northwestern University’s school of management and brought his knowledge to the White Sox. He might wear a Harvard Law sweatshirt around all the time just so people ask him if he went there.

Why He’d be a Good GM: Probably the voice of reason restraining Kenny Williams’ boldness. Clearly doesn’t like small ball and sometimes mentions advanced statistics such as FIP and WAR in his explanations of moves. Hahn has a great understanding of baseball economics and statistical analysis, two things the Mets didn’t seem to have a grasp of over the past six years.

Why He’d be a Bad GM: Not much experience in terms of scouting, so might need to be paired with a White or Minaya-type. Additionally, John Ricco is already the Mets special negotiator guy, so there’s some overlap in skills. Finally, Hahn is possibly the most indistinct looking member of the human race — in the only picture I can find of him on the internet, he appears to physically embody the fiftieth percentile.

If he were a late night TV talk show host, he’d be: Conan O’Brien. Harvard man favored by the geeks, but there are some doubts about his ability to carry the entire show, particularly when dealing with meddling hands from above.

* * *

Sandy Alderson

Notable Former Jobs: GM of the Oakland A’s from 1983-1997 (1200-1164, 4 playoff appearances, 3 AL pennants, 1 World Series Championship). Former CEO of the Padres, VP of Operations for Major League Baseball.

Stats/Scouting/Negotiations: Stats, I suppose, but his real talent is pinpointing who understands these things better than him, and then hiring that person.

Special Abilities: Alderson is essentially a walking GI Joe figure. Former Marine, another Harvard Law graduate, undergrad degree from Dartmouth, Alderson could probably kill a man with one finger. He was born with the inability to create or take BS from anyone —  he’s a more socially adapted version of Dr. House. Much like all Sandys, Alderson possess the unbelievable ability to walk out of a drive-in movie.

Why He’d Make a Good GM: Alderson built the Oakland dynasty of the 1980s, so he’s done this before. He doesn’t seem like the type to allow ownership to meddle. He was performing advanced statistical analysis way before anyone else. Took an outsider approach to the game, running his organization like any other business, and was not afraid to break tradition.

Why He’d Make a Bad GM: Hilariously overqualified. Probably more suited to be commissioner of baseball than a general manager at this point, so if he’s taking this job, it’s because he’s bored — or because he sees it as a sadistic challenge.

If he were a late night TV talk show host, he’d be:
Johnny Carson. Old (well, dead in Carson’s case) and over-qualified, but probably the best fit if he wants it.

Well, those are the five so far. There will be others, and I’ll add on then in another post as they’re announced. Until then: I’ve got chills. They’re multiplyin’.

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25 Comments

Filed under Columns, Mets, Words

25 responses to “Guide to the Mets GM Candidates

  1. I believe I read somewhere that MLB might waive the minority rule because the Mets have a solid record employing minority execs – Minaya, Randolph, Manuel.

    • Patrick Flood

      I just did some brief research, and it looks like the only requirement is that a minority candidate be CONSIDERED, not necessarily interviewed. So many they’re okay as is.

  2. Patrick Flood

    Did more in-depth research. There was a directive issued by the commissioner’s office in April of 1999. It sounds like it’s a really vague rule, one that MLB almost never enforces with fines, which is why no one knows what the rule is. So, it sounds like if the Mets ask nicely, MLB will say it’s cool to not interview anyone.

  3. And the new GM of the NY Mets is…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….Bobby Bonilla (LOL!!!!!!!)

  4. “Hahn is possibly the most indistinct looking member of the human race — in the only picture I can find of him on the internet, he appears to physically embody the fiftieth percentile.”
    Brilliant!

  5. JJJ

    The fact that the Wilpons trust Ricco to the extent that he’s interviewing his potential boss makes me think he needs to go too (hell, just the fact the Wilpons like him at all should be an indictment). Which is another vote for Alderson, because he’ll have the authority to send him packing, or at least, send him to the back of the line.

  6. So… would, say, Ed Wade be your Leno?

  7. “Worse of all, Byrnes is an English Major, so he probably likes to proofread over people’s shoulders, which is annoying.”

    It should be “Worst of all.”

    • Proof positive re English majors are annoying.
      Did you just read Jeffie’s statement to the world?
      Gosh what a wordsmith, about on par with his management level.
      Probably his defense is that his dog ate the first draft.
      Yet another reason to fire Horowitz.

  8. Almost as funny as the Mets. Thanks for lightening the mood. This is like waiting for the jury to come back into the courtroom with a verdict. If they hire Baird, I’m quitting as a fan.

  9. It is just a shame the Mets are once again irrelevant in October. I can’t say that I am too confident in any of these GM candidates. From what I read Alderson is the no nonsense guy, who won’t be one of the Wilpons bitch. That’s great and all, but how many championships has he won? He discovered Miguel Tejada. Wow! Our last GM discovered another juice head from D.R. (Sammy Sosa).

    I am so disappointed by this team. Everything is one disaster after another. I like Kenny Williams. Why don’t they ask permission to speak to him?

  10. Let’s hope the new GM picks a manager familiar with the intricacies of NL play. A manager with an AL background having to learn on the job is a worst-case scenario for the Mets. When he was given the job, Willie Randolph expressed his bewilderment at the complexity of late-inning NL strategy without
    benefit of a DH.

  11. This was great, Patrick. Thanks. I hope all regular readers of Metsblog get a chance to go through it. You do need to link to get to any of the write up.

    Re. Byrnes, I’m not bothered by experienced executives having makde bad trades in the past. If you’re going to be an active, proactive GM, chances are good you’re going to make some mistakes. With Byrnes we have a relatively small sample size to analyze, but they don’t stand out at all. If I were interviewing him, I’d dig a little bit on the three way deal with the Yankees and the Tigers, and ask if there are some things he’s learned from it, one year later.

    His few trades seem to be overreaches for the guy who may not have impressive stuff but perhaps has the stats and decent control (e.g. Ian Kennedy). Like with the mgr position, is a similar dynamic going on, where he’s very attractive to the guy who the world will be overly impressed with should he suceed? Sounds warped if so. Guys who go under the radar or whose talent go unappreciated should be targets, but you have to be somewhat underwheling in the goods you give up for those types of guys.

  12. Take Alderson off the list and the list is totally underwhelming.

  13. Good article about the possible GM. I would like to see the Mets also interview Kim Ng for the GM position. Could you please make a list of who you think would be the top two or three Minority canitdates for being GM would be? Should the Mets break the glass ceiling by hiring a women GM?

    • Patrick Flood

      I like Ng — she’s been an assistant GM in well run organizations for a while.

      The only problem with a Ng-Mets hiring might be the Bill Singer incident from 2003, when Singer, then assistant GM for the Mets, mocked Ng for her ethnicity. http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=1662212

      • Singer was the one in the wrong. I don’t think that would hurt her. But you here something is something else to think about it. The Dodger made the bold move that would change Baseball by signing The Great Jackie Robinson. Who is a big part of Citi Field. So be bold and Get Kim in the organization either as GM or a key postion. But I like either Sandy or Kim as the new GM

      • Patrick Flood

        Ah, no. I didn’t mean that it could hurt Ng’s chances of being hired; rather, I meant it might hurt the Mets chances of hiring her, if she’s holding a grudge or something.

        There are so few women working in MLB front offices, meaning it’s an enormous untapped market of talent. I would love to see the Mets give Ng a shot.

  14. Ng for sure!
    We men have proved we can’t do the job.
    Reaching out to women and Asians and smart people is the way to go.
    Big bonus point is that she went to our local high school.
    Talk about kill or be killed.

  15. I disagree with hiring Ng as the Gm. Right now the Mets need a proven commodity. Someone who will stand up to the Wilpons and outline a concrete plan. Kind of like when Donnie Walsh took over the Knicks in 2008. Even though it’s a different sport and the Knicks plan didn’t work out perfectly, it is that sort of foresight and leadership that will eventually lead to more wins.

    Previously I mentioned that Kenny Williams would be a great hire. I would like the Mets to look into the following candidates.
    Billy Beane ( we all know his story)
    Pat Gillick ( I know he doesn’t want this job but money talks)
    Steve Phillips… ( I’m going to get ripped apart for even mentioning his name but he was right about Strausburg. It can’t hurt to give him an interview, he has had more success than most of the other people they interviewed.
    Theo Epstein( probably unrealistic but why not ask for an interview )

    I know most of these guys I mentioned are long shots, but I think the Mets should be interviewing as many candidates as possible. Just get me a championship.

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