Why Doesn't Anyone Want to Run the Mets?
With an owner worth $16 billion, the country's largest media market, and a fanbase as passionate as any in the world, what could go wrong?
Baseball’s general managers have descended on Carlsbad California to gather and scheme ways to make their teams better. Or to tank and save money. Whatever floats their owner’s yacht.
But one marquee team is without a GM and reportedly having a hell of a time finding anyone to take the job. Yes I’m talking about everyone’s favorite sports train wreck, the New York Mets. The team’s general manager job is allegedly so undesirable that their leading candidate is rumored to be Adam Cromie, a guy I’d never heard of because he left baseball four years ago to work for a white shoe law firm.
The Mets president of baseball operations, Sandy Alderson, has been in the game for four decades and knows everyone. So if he’s having problems finding a candidate to fill the vacancy the situation must be dire. Yesterday Alderson told the media that some people don’t want to be in New York. Others, he said, don't want the pressure of competing every year, because the Mets new billionaire owner vowed to never tank a season even when the team isn’t very good. Some have speculated that no one wants the Mets’ job because it comes with annoying strings. Alderson will oversee the person who takes the position, and his son Bryn will also stay on as an assistant GM. Dealing with any daddy/son office combo does seem like a nightmare, because the son will never get fired if things go sideways.
Despite the filial cluster fuck, it’s honestly shocking that nobody wants the Mets job. A year ago this month I wrote about how the Mets are on track to remake themselves in the Dodgers image. The Dodgers are good now because in 2012 they replaced the man who drove them into bankruptcy with a deep pocketed ownership group and they’ve spent a ton of money ever since. A year ago this month, the Mets followed the Dodgers playbook by shedding their previous broke owners for the hedge fund billionaire Steve Cohen. According to Forbes, Cohen is worth $16 billion, making him the richest owner in MLB and the 48th richest American.
This is a reader supported newsletter, and free and paid versions are available. The best way to support my work is by taking out a paid subscription. Take advantage of 20% off a yearly subscription now:
It would be one thing if, say, Cohen was a cheap billionaire in the vein of Donald Sterling. But when he bought the Mets he promised fans he would spend money to win. He backed up that claim by inking superstar shortstop Francisco Lindor to a 10-year, $341 million extension. Anyone who takes the Mets job is going to be bringing thousand dollar bills to the dollar craps table. Spending money doesn’t guarantee championships. But look, the Dodgers lead the league in payroll almost every year. They’ve been to the World Series three of the last five years, and to the NLCS in five of the last six. Drafting guys like Walker Buehler, Corey Seager, and Cody Bellinger obviously helped this run of greatness. But they were also willing to pay Mookie Betts what the Red Sox would not, and take on Max Scherzer’s pro-rated $30 million dollar salary this season on top of the $31 million they paid Clayton Kershaw and the $40 million they flushed down the drain on Trevor Bauer. Is it any wonder that a rich team like them is usually one of the last teams left standing in October? The only issue would be if Cohen were a bad boss who meddled in everything and insisted on signing off on every minor decision. The Dodgers principal owner, Mark Walter, is the best kind of owner because he’s willing to spend a ton of money and he doesn’t nitpick every single roster move. He’s gotta sign off on large salary expenditures, like every owner in pro sports, but he’s not going to call the dugout in the seventh inning and scream at Dave Roberts for pinch hitting Matt Beaty instead of Albert Pujols.
But Cohen’s only been an owner for a year so it would be a record if everyone in the game already decided they wouldn’t work for him. Is it more because of the Mets’ most recent front office catastrophes?. Yes, the organization has been mired in a bigger mess than usual this season. Its GM heading into 2021 was fired for alleged sexual harassment. The guy they installed in the position to replace him on an interim basis was fired after he was arrested for DUI. Their previous manager Mickey Calloway was also fired from the Angels after allegations of chronic sexual harassment surfaced, much of which took place while he was in New York. All of these incidents point to a club with character blindspots at best and organizational rot at worst, but I believe both can change with the right people in charge. Things were so bad with the Dodgers back in 2011 that in the spring of that year I received texts from players asking if they were going to be paid that week while their owner scrambled to borrow money to make payroll. Then the Guggenheim Group bought the team out of bankruptcy and hired Andrew Friedman and Farhan Zaidi. Empowered by owners with deep pockets, those two cleaned everything up. They spent Latin American players again. They started allowing scouts to expense plane wifi. They offered nine figure contracts to Clayton Kershaw and Mookie Betts
As for the pressure surrounding the job, there’s no doubt that New York GMs are under more daily scrutiny than in any other city. I’ve worked as a member of the baseball media in both New York and Los Angeles. The NY press is roughly 10 times more intense than its LA counterpart, and 100 times more intense than most of the other markets in MLB. So what?
There are 100 jobs in the United States senate. There are only 30 baseball general manager jobs. There is currently one (1) marquee vacancy. And with rumors swirling that nobody wants this job, whoever takes it could probably fleece Cohen for whatever liquidity seems most spacious to swim in. Last week an AL manager told me he loves his current job but admitted he wants the challenge of managing in a big market like New York or Chicago at some point before he retires. That goal didn’t surprise me. Former ballplayers and Ivy League management consultants run most MLB organizations. They are among the most competitive people I have ever met, and they live and die by the quest for a million tiny hidden edges. I just don’t believe there isn’t at least one top candidate who doesn’t want the risk/reward that comes with the Mets job. There has to be someone great who will relish the opportunity to compete with the best of the best every year and build a dynasty.
Mets fans are so hardcore they even booed their own star players this season, including Lindor. I found this reaction extremely normal. These are people who suffered through the trauma of the Wilpons ownership. They haven’t gotten to enjoy a world championship since 1986, and they obviously want to, badly. Aren’t those better fans to answer to than fair weather fans who don’t really care?
Alderson said some people just don’t want to move to New York because of the city itself, which made me want to rip my hair out. I lived in Manhattan for eight years and they were the happiest of my life. The vibrancy of that city brought me back to life after a severe bout with depression in college, and for that I will always be grateful. I understand that some people—especially with young families— might not be cut out for how expensive and fast paced the city is, but come on. This is the chance of a lifetime to turn a storied franchise around and cement yourself as a permanent legend in the Big Apple.
If no one wants this job then give it to me. I would be rewarded with one of the game’s most passionate fan bases, a filthy rich owner who wants to win, Jacob deGrom as my ace and Lindor as my shortstop in one of the greatest cities in the world.
Where can I apply?