MLB: New York Mets at Pittsburgh Pirates

To all the GM candidates I loved before

After a going without a general manager for almost six months, the Mets have narrowed down the field to three names, a motley crew that doesn’t seem to give a clear answer for how the team envisions the role in the context of a crowded front office.

The Veteran: Doug Melvin

The only remaining candidate with prior experience as a GM, Melvin spent long stretches with the Yankees, Orioles and Rangers before landing with the Brewers. The 66-year-old was endorsed by Bud Selig as “a baseball man,” answering the question of whether one could be any vaguer with praise than Terry Collins.

The team likely views the longtime exec as the safe choice, viewing his GM experience, which saw mixed results, as a potential weapon in rebuilding the struggling franchise. While he’s not known for an analytical approach, a feature that likely appeals to the elder Wilpon, Melvin has a reputation for bridging divides and encouraging collaboration, something essential given how many different voices the Mets have in the front office right now.

The Rookie: Chaim Bloom

Just 35 years old, Bloom made his way through the Rays organization from intern to Senior Vice President of Baseball Operations. His work in transactions and scouting is likely appealing to the Mets, who were less than happy with Alderson’s results in that regard in recent years.

Bloom also took a hand in developing the franchise’s organizational philosophies and player development, two areas the Mets currently struggle with. He’s got a reputation for being very sharp and open to analytics, and is a strong bet to shake things up and try new and creative approaches wherever he eventually ends up. That’s a pretty exciting proposition for a team in a serious rut, but it’s hard to imagine the team taking a real chance.

The Wild Card: Brodie Van Wagenen

Van Wagenen’s presence on this list is fairly surprising given that his primary qualification seems to be that the Mets really want his client, Jacob deGrom, to stick around for cheap. The longtime sports agent has seen a lot of success, representing stars like Robinson Cano and Tim Tebow, as well as a number of Mets including Yoenis Cespedes, Brandon Nimmo and Justin Dunn.

With the amount of wheeling and dealing Van Wagenen has done with the team, it’s safe to assume they have a pretty good sense of his skill set and general philosophy about baseball, but it’s hard to imagine a candidate with less available information about how he would operate in this radically different role. Does he value analytics? Maybe. What about the international market? Perhaps. Organizational philosophy? He’s got one somewhere. Probably.

The Verdict

All of the smart money should be on Melvin, no question. Fred Wilpon loves his “old school” mentality and he’s an open book when it comes to how he would run a team. The Mets are risk-averse to a fault and Melvin is the perfect candidate to give them the cover of experience without having to take on any new ideas.

This utter lack of imagination is all the more frustrating given that Bloom is a rising start in baseball operations and a team as dysfunctional as the Mets should be champing at the bit to bring him on board before he realizes what he’s gotten himself into. The Rays haven’t seen bountiful success in the time he’s been with them, but what they’ve done with such limited resources is remarkable and any team laser-focused on the bottom line would be lucky to have him. Is there a chance he blows up? Sure, but it’s nothing compared to the strong likelihood that Melvin will fizzle.

As for Van Wagenen, he’s such a closed book, it’s hard to say what his odds are of scoring the job, or why it is that he has outlasted more predictable candidates like Kim Ng. Could the Mets be sweetening him up for friendlier contract negotiations with deGrom? Is it wildly cynical to even be considering that possibility? Yes and yes.

So, congratulations to Doug Melvin in advance for winning the 2022 “Getting Slammed on His Way Out the Door” award.

Photo credit: Charles LeClaire – USA Today Sports

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