By Ed Coleman
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The Mets have begun interviewing candidates for their vacant General Manager position, and this week promises to be a busy one.
On Monday, Red Sox assistant G.M. Allard Baird met with Mets COO Jeff Wilpon, assistant G.M. John Ricco and other front office members to kick off the process. Baird has been with Boston since 2006, advising G.M. Theo Epstein and overseeing the club’s pro scouting department. Formerly he was the G.M. of the Kansas City Royals from 2000-06.
The Mets are screening young, up-and-coming candidates as well as more experienced baseball veterans, and one of the young front-runners – White Sox assistant G.M. Rick Hahn – is on tap for Tuesday. Baseball America tabbed Hahn their top G.M. prospect earlier this year, and he’s a University of Michigan grad like Fred Wilpon.
Former Arizona G.M. Josh Byrnes is set for Wednesday. Byrnes was fired by the Diamondbacks in July, and has also worked for the Red Sox, Indians and Rockies. And on Friday, it looks like the Mets will convene with Dodgers assistant G.M. Logan White, who has been the scouting director for the Dodgers since 2002 and responsible for much of their fine young talent (Kemp, Loney, Kershaw, etc.). It’s also possible that the Mets could consider White for a similiar position in New York to team with the new G.M. here.
That leaves Thursday as the likely day for the man whose presence looms large over these entire proceedings – Sandy Alderson. Alderson has not been a G.M. since 1998, but he possesses tremendous credentials and a pristine reputation. A Dartmouth grad and former Marine who served in Vietnam then later graduated from Harvard Law School, Alderson was G.M. of the Oakland A’s from 1983-1997, overseeing 4 Division titles, 3 pennants and 1 World Series champion (1989). He also spent 4 years as the CEO of the San Diego Padres.
Thus far, of the candidates that the Mets have expressed interest in and the ones that have responded to that interest, Alderson is the hands-down choice. At their recent press conference, the Wilpons talked expansively about changing the culture of the organization, restoring credibility to a beleaguered franchise that had lost its way. They were looking for a leader with a clear vision, a new direction, a vital sense of purpose. Alderson has a check-mark next to all those categories, and total respect from everyone throughout the game of baseball.
My top choice would have been Pat Gillick. Why? Because Gillick is totally his own man. Even his lieutenants in Philadelphia had a hard time finding Pat when it came time to making decisions. Because Gillick made them all. But there’s no indication that Gillick wants back in after his latest success with the Phillies. Right behind Gillick would have been Kevin Towers. But Towers made it known that he was not going to re-locate very far from his San Diego home, and Arizona – his new gig – is an hour’s plane ride away.
The Mets say they want to, and really have to, alter the perception that exists that ownership is really running the show, and make it very clear that indeed the new G.M. is clearly in charge and making all the baseball decisions. Alderson has enough of a track record, leadership ability, creativity and baseball acumen to make the tough decisions without ownership looking over his shoulder and questioning moves. The other benefit that an Alderson hire brings is the ability for assistant G.M. Ricco to work under and learn from him. Ricco is highly thought of – and well should be – and just needs further experience to eventually succeed at that position.
The interview process will run its course and things will shake out. And maybe it’s somewhat ironic that the film “Secretariat” was just released at this time. For Alderson looks a lot like “Big Red” pulling away from the rest of the field at the Belmont at the moment.
C U soon