This is my Mets management plan. There are many like it but this one is mine.
President -- John Hart
Hart is currently an adviser for the Texas Rangers and a studio analyst for the MLB Network. He enjoyed tremendous success as the Indians GM in the '90s and was also GM of a mediocre Rangers club in the early '00s. Jon Daniels succeeded Hart as Rangers GM before the 2006 season and the franchise is one of the healthiest in baseball. Hart has demonstrated a progressive approach to running an organization, and no, that isn't code for "obsessed with statistics". His background is on-field development -- he managed in the minor leagues throughout the '80s and eventually managed the Indians for one season in 1989. Yet despite an on-the-surface old school mentality, he has been a leader in front office innovation. Nontraditional hires are his trademark. Baseball newbies Mark Shapiro (Princeton University), Chris Antonetti (Georgetown University), Josh Byrnes (Haverford College) and Paul DePodesta (Harvard University) were among his lieutenants in Cleveland. They signed young stars like Jim Thome and Manny Ramirez to team-friendly deals before the practice was fashionable. All available scouting and statistical tools are utilized under Hart regimes, which is all one can ask for as a fan.
This plan entails Hart as an adviser to the GM, a Sandy Alderson/Billy Beane type arrangement. However, Hart as GM is also appealing. Alderson is another of my preferred options for some kind of front office role. Considering he essentially just started his job as MLB envoy to the Dominican Republic it seems unlikely he would jump at a front office position. Hart appears more available.
General Manager -- Rick Hahn
Like Hart, Hahn is a total Mets outsider, something I prefer given the familial hires of the last two decades. The general manager selection should be an effective business manager, not just a great scout or statistics specialist. Hahn has the right mix of applicable educational background (University of Michigan undergrad, Harvard law, Northwestern business school) and on-the-job experience (nine years experience in the White Sox front office, currently serving as Assistant GM to Ken Williams). The White Sox official site lists his duties:
Rick Hahn's primary responsibilities include assisting Senior Vice President/ General Manager Ken Williams with determining the club's roster composition, all player acquisitions, talent evaluations and contract negotiations, as well as with overseeing every element of the organization's baseball operations activities, including the scouting and player development departments.
As Williams's right hand man, Hahn has experience in every aspect of running a ballclub. The White Sox aren't a perennial powerhouse, but they did win the World Series in 2005 and won the AL Central in 2008. They generally contend and Hahn has been a part of that. Plus he spoke about win values in an old New York Times article, melting my true SABR heart. Lip service? Possibly. But it sure beats the "false hustle" and "our plan, I like our plan" type mumbo-jumbo spewing out of Flushing in recent years.
Hahn has long been listed as a top GM candidate -- Baseball America named him the #1 GM prospect this year. Apparently, he declined to be considered for past GM openings (Pirates, Cardinals) but has made it known that being a GM is his goal. If not Hahn, other preferred (and realistic) candidates include Josh Byrnes, Dan Jennings and Ben Cherington.
Manager -- Chip Hale
The Mets' manager hire is far less important than the front office restructuring. Hale is in a tie with Bobby Valentine for my first choice. I went with Hale because:
- I have reservations about Bobby V's apparent desire to have a say in front office decisions.
- Bobby V probably wouldn't come cheap. Available funds are best utilized on players.
- Hale's last name fits nicely with Hart and Hahn.
Hale possesses qualities that I look for in a managerial candidate -- former player, success managing at a high level (he managed the Triple-A Tuscon Sidewinders to a league best 91-53 record in 2006), experience coaching in the major leagues (he coached with the Diamondbacks before joining the Mets as third base coach this season) and as a bonus he is familiar with the Mets roster, without being a holdover from the 2007-2008 Willie-led failures. There is no stench of collapse on Hale. He has impressed as a third base coach this season. By "impressed", I mean "fans aren't tearing their hair out over Chip 'The Windmill' Hale". It doesn't mean all that much, but still makes me confident that he can make strong decisions under pressure. If an intelligent hire is made in the front office, I trust that a comprehensive managerial search will take place. Interview invitations sent to multiple qualified candidates and an explanation for the eventual decision is, once again, all one can ask for as a fan.
N.B. -- My plan also features Jeff Wilpon's exit from Mets baseball operations. I don't know to what extent Jeff has meddled during the last few seasons but I do know that I want him out of the decision-making process.