Our friend Matt Cerrone posted a very interesting tweet from ESPN’s Adam Rubin on Saturday.
While it may be true that Rubin has more axes to grind than a jilted Lizzie Borden, this still is very thought-provoking.
Rubin tweeted a point which perhaps none of us had realized, which may indeed be the reason that the team is apparently considering Josh Byrnes and Sandy Alderson as the final two GM candidates, despite Byrnes’ youth and very mediocre record.
Rubin quite accurately states that the ridiculous contract that the DBacks gave Byrnes is still in force—i.e., if the Mets hire Byrnes, they will be able to pay him much, much less than a similar candidate (or Alderson) could demand.
When combined with Byrnes’ youth, record, and the circumstances of his firing, all of which may suggest a serious eagerness and willingness to compromise on his part to obtain another GM position, this writer feels as though a seriously depressing situation may be at hand.
One can easily feel that Alderson, if hired, would have demanded and received a serious pledge of autonomy from the Wilpons and Uncle Saul. Omar may never have had total autonomy. Many fans feel, after the disappointment of the last few years and the feeling that Jeff Wilpon’s complete lack of serious baseball experience may have had a lot to do with it, that it is time for a wise owner in Fred Wilpon to hire someone with background and standing in the business, step back, reign in his son, and let the new GM completely run the team, as Frank Cashen once did.
Regardless of what one may think of Sandy Alderson, it is very difficult to imagine a scenario where he would accept the Mets’ GM job were he not assured that Jeff Wilpon would stay far, far away from him when any decisions on personnel were being made.
Josh Byrnes, while most certainly being a considerably less expensive hire, is 23 years younger than Alderson. While Alderson’s record can be debated, and it has been pointed out here that his steroid-fueled A’s teams did have just five winning seasons in his fifteen at the helm, they did produce three pennants and one title, and largely gave birth to the modern evolution of statistical evaluation of players now widespread in the game.
Byrnes’ record as GM is decidedly mixed, and includes the abominable Eric Byrnes contract, and trading away players like Carlos Quentin and Carlos Gonzalez. Perhaps most troubling is his record regarding A.J. Hinch.
Hinch was hired to be the DBacks’ manager despite supposedly never managing OR coaching at any level. He lasted less than two seasons before being fired, and there have been rumblings that his relationship with Byrnes was a major reason for his hiring, as well as for Byrnes’ supposed reluctance to let him go.
Overall, the DBacks improved in Byrnes’ first years, winning 90 and a playoff spot in 2007, but have regressed every year since.
Why exactly do the Wilpons think that Josh Byrnes is a better candidate than Rick Hahn? Is someone so young with such a mixed record at his one GM post really the best they can find? Is his relationship with the apparently overmatched Hinch not eerily reminiscent of very similar behavior that was roundly pilloried when exhibited by Omar Minaya?
It is entirely possible that we may soon celebrate the hiring of Sandy Alderson, which would mean the Wilpons will be stepping back and letting Alderson run the show; his signing could also signify less financial constraint than is widely predicted.
However, should the Wilpons pick Josh Byrnes over Sandy Alderson, the fan base has every right to feel as though it has been seriously played. Byrnes’ record is mediocre, he would be a significantly less expensive hire than Alderson, and most importantly, there is reason to believe that his hiring would not signify Jeff Wilpon’s removal from decision-making on a level anywhere near what the hiring of Alderson would virtually certainly mean.
While it has been stated here that a younger, better choice than Alderson probably could have been found, the feeling here is very strong that the hiring of Josh Byrnes over Sandy Alderson would absolutely not be that choice.