It's time for Steve Cohen to address the Mets front office search
With the public narrative getting away from them, it's time for the Mets owner to take control of the situation
To say that the Mets search for a new front office has gone poorly would probably be the understatement of the century — at least based on what we know publicly.
Thanks to some confusing, inconsistent and extremely contradictory reporting of late, it’s tough to know what is actually going on with the Mets’ grand executive search. For instance, in the last day or two alone, it was reported the club had spoken to and possibly offered Brewers GM Matt Arnold a contract to become the next president of baseball operations, didn’t receive permission to interview him, did receive permission to interview him, he pulled his name out of the running, then Milwaukee never granted permission to interview him to begin with and he wasn’t close to ever getting the job in the first place.
But while it’s hard to gauge where exactly the team is at with their search, the public perception is not a good one. The narrative of this hiring process has gotten away from the club, as the “no one wants this job” storyline has continued to circulate throughout the media and the fan base and considering what is public knowledge at this time, how could anyone refute that sentiment?
Thus far, the Mets have been reportedly turned down by Theo Epstein, Billy Beane, Scott Harris and Michael Girsch, while they have been denied permission by the Brewers to speak with both David Stearns and Matt Arnold. The list of enticing choices appears to have gotten even thinner with the belief that execs Josh Byrnes (LAD), Brandon Gomes (LAD) and Peter Bendix (TB) will likely stay in their current roles or receive promotions internally to keep them aboard.
In addition, what has additionally added to the perception of dysfunction here is reports from the New York Daily News that owner Steve Cohen is heading the search himself and bending the ears of non-baseball people like Chris Christie. Add that onto this being the second consecutive year that the Mets have seemingly struggled to bring in a President of Baseball Ops and it’s easy to see why the perception isn’t so great right now.
While he has been criticized for his big online presence at times and should not make it a habit of publicly reacting to everything going on with the club, now is the time for Steve Cohen to come out and address where the Mets are at in this search whether that come in the form of a press conference, written release or something along those lines.
At this point, we’re mere days away from the offseason officially beginning and the Mets have yet to hire a new President of Baseball Operations, GM, manager or coaching staff. They’ve also got quite a roster overhaul ahead of them and likely a work stoppage coming with a gross payroll imbalance all clouding their entire off-season strategy. Addressing and acknowledging the situation in a public manner would not only provide some transparency and possible solace to the fan base but could also prove beneficial for Cohen and the team, who have been unable to control the perception of this hiring process as it has reportedly spiraled to a place they did not want it to go.
This could be as simple as coming out and acknowledging that it’s difficult to lure people away when they’re comfortable with their current positions, and that they still have a number of qualified candidates that they’re speaking with while not jumping the gun and creating a panic hire. Honestly, anything is better than the current situation which has been a lot of silence on their part and a lot of confusion in what has been reported.
“One baseball executive said the perception that this Mets search is a disaster is a bit overblown because most accomplished executives don’t want to leave their stable jobs,” beat writer Justin Toscano reported recently for the Bergen Record. While this may or may not be the case, the longer that a hire does not happen and the team stays quiet, the more this storyline will continue to gain strength,
Obviously, the easiest way this can all change is for the Mets to go out there and just make a good hire. But until they feel they are in a position to do that, it’s on their shoulders to provide some assurances to the public.
“You don’t change the perception without changing the reality,” Sandy Alderson once said at the close of the team’s 2010 season.
Until Cohen and the Mets are able to accomplish that, it’s going to be hard to blame anyone for thinking this situation has gotten out of control.
Addendum by Michael Baron…
The Mets are never obligated to detail their recruiting and employment process publicly. And to be fair, the Mets should never show all of their cards to the public especially with respect to player transactions and rumor. But this is an awkward time for the club - they came off a historically bad conclusion to their season and have mostly wiped the slate clean in the executive wing of their front office and dugout staff. They’ve suffered their share of perception problems already under new ownership between the losing and the controversies within the first iteration of their new front office as well, and they’re back to the drawing board in building almost their entire staff from the ground up.
With so much information - and potentially misinformation - out there about their front office search, both Steve Cohen and Sandy Alderson have an opportunity to control the narrative and create a more positive perception of the state of the franchise merely by updating the public on their search and setting the record straight, even if its an incomplete version of that record and they both say things the public already suspects and knows. Nobody begrudges established executives from not wanting to uproot and move, or organizations who are unwilling to let their star executives leave while under contract.
But for the Mets, it seems like its a meandering, rinse-and-repeat process from a year ago which flopped with no roadmap to an end-state for their baseball operations department.
Perception is reality, as Terry Collins always said.
Transparency and accountability are paramount to running any organization. At the very least, this is an opportunity for the club to improve the perception around the club, if not provide some level of insight as to the challenges and lessons learned in the process. It might also be beneficial to understand what the brass is looking for, if such a candidate exists internally, and what kind of creativity is going into this hire.
The clock is ticking. Fast.