The New York Mets are in the market for a new General Manager, and one guy who has recently made the team’s list of candidates is St. Louis Cardinals’ director of player development Gary LaRocque, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports. LaRocque, who was the Mets’ scouting director from 1998-2003, has played a significant role in the Cardinals’ lengthy run of regular season success and would be well qualified for the post. Reading deeper into Puma’s article, however, shows that the front office may be planning a very narrow minded search for the franchise’s GM.
The reason candidates like LaRocque may climb to the top of the Mets’ list is due to a belief among front office officials that the team became too driven by analytics during the latter years of Sandy Alderson’s tenure. Puma states in his article that Mets’ officials believe that “a veteran leader with a pure baseball background would help shift the organization toward the center.” The struggles of Mickey Callaway, who was an outside the box hire as manager, lend further credence to the front office’s belief that they have gone too far in the analytics direction.
This is a bad idea, and ruling out candidates simply because they aren’t traditional baseball lifers is a terrible way to approach a GM position. A lot of the bright young minds in baseball, such as Jed Hoyer and Andrew Friedman, are experts in analytics and have used them to build winning teams around the league. There have been numerous reports that the Mets don’t even listen to their own analytics people, who reportedly advised the team not to sign Jason Vargas. Deadspin also noted that the team hasn’t listened to the recommendations from its own pro scouting department, which suggested cutting Jose Reyes a long time ago.
The clear problem here is the Wilpons, who are way too involved in the franchises’ baseball decisions to the detriment of the Mets. Ruling out candidates just because they favor analytics is not the right way to fill a GM position. The right way to fill that position is to interview a wide range of candidates, hire the best one you can, and let that person have full control of the baseball decisions with proper support in terms of financial resources. Until that happens, the Mets are going to cycle between philosophies without an end in sight.