The Mets haven’t officially said they are going outside to fill their general manager opening, but indications are strong that is their intention. Interviews with several Mets executives revealed the belief is strong that the team will hire from outside the organization to replace Sandy Alderson.
Alderson stepped aside weeks ago, replaced on an interim basis by a three-headed setup that includes John Ricco, Omar Minaya and J.P. Ricciardi. All three are well-respected but none is currently expected to get the full job. Ricco had been considered the heir apparent in some circles, but others say a tip off to the Mets plans came when he wasn’t named the lone interim replacement. Some within the organization say Ricco is aware of ownership’s intention to go outside for the main job, though someone suggested he wasn’t necessarily told that in those exact words — “not directly,” is the way it was put. Ricco, who’d be a popular choice among many of the underlings for his well-known loyalty and team-first attitude, declined comment on that subject. Some suggest, perhaps hopefully, that the organization “could turn back toward” Ricco, though that phrasing obviously presumes they have indeed already turned away.
The main hesitancy on Ricco seems to be a reluctance to give the impression there’s a status quo following two straight rough seasons, and while Ricco is also well-liked by ownership, one of the owners is said to want someone more adept at handling the media, a major factor in Mets land, where image is important. Despite this perceived shortcoming, Ricco is indeed the one of the three entrusted to handle those duties now, though his counterparts Minaya — who is said to have the ear of owner Fred Wilpon, and should have a big say in who gets the top job — and Ricciardi were longtime GMs with proven track records in that department.
All the Mets are saying for now is that they will have a GM search, which was written here first, but which hasn’t begun in earnest yet, and appears likely not to truly kick off until very late in the season, or perhaps even after it. Ricco has been asked to be a big part of the search, which shows you how much they believe in his ability to put the team ahead of himself. All Ricco would say was, “We’re trying to get the team moving in the right direction.”
Some names are starting to be heard, though it’s so early in the process that it hasn’t really begun. With that caveat, here are a few names that continue to bounce around in Mets and baseball circles …
— Ben Cherington: The former Red Sox GM has a lot of things going for him, including the fact that he was the GM of a World Series winner in 2013 in Boston before he was displaced following a couple rough seasons by the more established Dave Dombrowski. He decided not to stay as an underling with limited power and instead moved to the Blue Jays. He has a very good reputation with the one knock being an up-and-down record in free agency – though he was excellent with the less-expensive purchases (Stephen Drew, Mike Napoli, etc.), which might serve him well with the Mets. As a bonus, he lives in Connecticut with his wife, Tyler Tumminia and their children; Tumminia is also involved in baseball as a top executive with the Goldklang Group, which owns and operates multiple minor league teams. He's been one of the names mentioned since Fancred first learned that the Mets would look outside the organization.
— Josh Byrnes: He’s a two-time GM who was runner-up to Alderson back when he was hired, so Mets people know him and like him. He won a division title with the Diamondbacks, but didn’t have an especially long stay there, where they’ve had a veritable merry-go-round of talented execs in the GM role, before moving on to San Diego, where he had a short stay before running afoul of a higher-up who was himself soon dispatched. Byrnes is known for his ability to pick managers – he had Bob Melvin and picked then-executive A.J. Hinch in Arizona (who are two of the best in the business), was a clear influence to bring up Dave Roberts for the Dodgers from San Diego and was even Theo Epstein’s main assistant in Boston when they picked Terry Francona (Joe Maddon was the runner-up in what might be the best managerial search ever undertaken).
— Jared Porter: Mike Hazen’s top lieutenant in Arizona is yet another disciple of Theo Epstein (the same goes for the first two), and he seems to win wherever he is, first in Boston, then with the Cubs and most recently in Arizona. His rep is growing, and he will be a GM before long.
— Jed Hoyer: Yet another who’s worked under Epstein for years. Hoyer, who’s now Epstein’s GM with the Cubs, has also enjoyed great success. There’s a serious question as to whether Hoyer would want the job, or whether they’d let him go for what amounts to a lateral move.
— Mike Chernoff: The longtime Indians GM is well-respected, and has the low-revenue team in first place yet again. The New Jersey product and Princeton graduate may also not be let out of his deal, if he even wants to go.
— David Stearns: Minaya originally hired the Manhattan product as a Mets intern, and he’s progressed rapidly to become the Brewers GM. He grew up a Mets fan, but there’s considerable doubt as to whether he’d go — or whether Brewers owner Mark Attanasio would let him go.
— Dan Duquette: Over a five-year period he had the Orioles with the best record in the AL East, even above the Yankees and Red Sox. That’s not an easy trick. When they O’s inevitably fell, he engineered a successful sale this trading season. The cousin of former Mets GM and current SNY broadcaster Jim Duquette, he has a contract that expires with the Orioles after this season and many expect him to be a free agent again at that time.
— Doug Melvin: The former Brewers GM’s name has been heard (he’s close to Minaya), but he would seem to be a long shot, as he doesn’t fit the mold of the recent GM and was also recently inducted into the Brewers Hall of Fame. He did a nice job in Milwaukee that looks even better when you consider the hauls he got back in his late sales of veterans (Zack Davies, Josh Hader and others came in those deals).