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:
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.
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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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’.