Under one heavyweight, two remain – but there are plenty of obstacles.
Steve Cohen and Theo Epstein talked about the Mets president working on the baseball campaign and deciding that the fit wasn’t right. So the easiest solution to fill this important role is from the board. Epstein was the simplest route because 1) he obviously didn’t qualify for the role and 2) he wasn’t affiliated with the team and thus, the Mets didn’t need to get permission to have a conversation.
Two other frontline possibilities for this work — Billy Bean, Oakland Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations and David Steers, Milwaukee President of Baseball Operations — require approval. It is between obstacles; So much in the Stearns case.
Cohen was disappointed last season when he didn’t have access to the top of his list for the position. In his day job – who made him billions of dollars – Cohen follows whomever he wants for his hedge fund. He was one of the reasons he appointed the president of baseball operations last year. In his thinking, it is better to wait than to hire the wrong person. It was just a GM (Jared Porter), then an acting GM (ack Scott) and the Mets started the chain that led to another chapter of inaction.
That is why getting the rent right is still very important. And now, Epstein is off the board.
He’s always a long shot. When Epstein left the Cubs after 2020, he took on two tasks: assisting finance leagues owners with a private equity group, and another helping with matters on the ground, particularly the big capacity change. One position thus enables him to form bonds and knowledge, for example, wealthy people interested in buying a major league team, and another allowing him to acquire himself and gain more knowledge of central baseball.
It works to his current desires. Epstein believes he is part of the analytical runaway that has produced a faint on-field product and wants to be part of that solution. And then they want to bring the group together to buy the team, own a stake in that organization and help redesign the franchise from the bottom up. Cohen’s conversation with Epstein was intriguing – money and the big market could be cute. But in many ways, Epstein has been there and done it.
He is also the architect of the Red Sox and Cubs championships that one day became an executive for the Hall of Fame. Doing it a third time does not boost his reputation because failing it can be a little dirty. Dealing with a down-and-out club or expansion team now presents the kind of challenge that entices Epstein.
So Cohen must hunt elsewhere. He says he doesn’t want to train anyone for this job. In many respects, he needs a new leader to teach him what he does not know about the baseball industry.
Bean will probably get easier than Stearns. But why he is so easy should provide the Mets a break. Bean is the legendary head of baseball operations A, but the clubs that deal with Oakland say GM David Forst is the main man. Bean has many other interests, including a demanding public speaker and owner of two European soccer teams.
If the Mets go with Bean, will they just get Sandy Alderson 2.0, a 15-year-old junior version that oversees baseball operations, but doesn’t grind every day to run it? For example, it could work if Bean, Billy Owens and / or respected manager Bob Melvin brought their staff assessment skills from Oakland. The A’s are in a temporary period that may end up in Las Vegas. Still, will they let Bean or any of his lieutenants leave? For what level of compensation?
Meaning the game is Bean, Alderson Protege, Alderson’s first choice since his shared Oakland time. The theory is that it will not only protect its job in the Mets – someone like Epstein doesn’t want to have any potential interference with the owner line – but he can protect his son, Bryn Alderson, as an assistant GM.
The Bean Mets issued a non-disclaimer earlier this week about the work. He has considerable roots in California, which was a big factor in turning down the Red Sox baseball operations after 2002 (Epstein got a job). And he now has twin teenage daughters, which may reduce his relocation appetite. But can he even think of going full circle — he was the Mets first-round pick in 1980 — and getting out of the world of penny-pinching A is worth trying a big-market approach at age 59?
Stearns is, in many ways, the most attractive candidate. His age is 36. He grew up as a Mets fan in Matsheat. He worked briefly for the team when he rose in the game. He has produced four consecutive playoff teams in Milwaukee (the Mets, in their history, have not made the postseason in three straight .Things). Those who know him say he is adept at managing the up and down, so he has the personality to withstand Cohen’s demands.
But Cohen was unable to gain admission last year. Brewers owner Mark Attanasio is known in the game as a champion for small-market owner reasons. He is particularly annoyed that some players can’t compete with big markets, so when they spot a front office candidate like Stearns, the market pays a good salary (Stearns is believed to be earning more than $ 3 million this year) and then big-market clubs are hunting down emerging stars. This is a philosophical matter, and Attanasio may not be out of it.
But the Steers deal remains only 2022. He is likely to tell Attanasio that he will not re-sign as he wants to move to New York, a new market and / or New York. At that point, would the businessman in Attanasio win? Does he break the principle for significant relief? This could mean higher-than-expected demand, such as Francisco Alvarez or Brett Batty. I doubt if the Mets will do that. But what if Cohen gets Milwaukee out of some payroll prison by absorbing Lorenzo Kane and Jackie Bradley Jr.’s potential $ 27.5 million 2022 salary while sending footage like Tyler Megill to Milwaukee?
At the time, it was a conversation between two businessmen. The Mets may try to wait a year until the Steelers become a free agent, but it will not fill this important role for a second year, making it unsustainable. Plus, it gives others a chance at Stearns – Stearns worked for the Astros and their owner, Jim Crane, is a fan.
The Mets love the clarity of this job this offseason, but the Brewers have nothing to do with the Stearns while in the playoffs. So does Cohen wait for Stearns, turn to Bean, does the industry really escalate by reaching out to Jeff Luhno, dodging his list with the likes of the Dodgers Josh Byrnes or the Twins’ Derek Falvey, surprising us elsewhere?
One item became clear as heavyweight, Epstein, was eliminated from the competition.