No interim titles. No quick searches. No bandages.
Sandy Alderson now has to take over running the Mets baseball operations until next offseason. He needs to bring stability and confidence to that department and make it attractive so that come October/November 2021 the best candidates are lining up to interview as opposed to what happened this last time.
The Mets could not recruit enough quality aspirants for president of baseball operations in Alderson’s opinion. So they tabled that and moved to just hire a general manager and landed on Jared Porter. And Porter has now landed on the Mets. Turned them back into the Wilpon Mets. An organization hugged by a black cloud.
Alderson had delivered a mission statement to Steve Cohen, which led to his hire as team president. He envisioned the Mets becoming a beacon rather than a laughingstock; implicit was stepping away from the Wilpons into a new reality. At his introductory press conference in November he put these words to that thought: “We have a chance to be an iconic franchise … We have a chance to write an epic story.”
Then Alderson’s first major hire turned out to have a closet full of awful. It was revealed by ESPN on Monday night that in 2016 — while a Cubs executive — Porter had sent more than 60 harassing and lewd texts and pictures to a foreign female reporter. Alderson said that Porter copped that those were indeed his texts and pictures. The Mets had no choice and by Tuesday morning Porter was fired and, at 41, probably done with a career in Major League Baseball.
The runner-up to Porter, Zack Scott, also was hired to be an executive VP and assistant GM. The two had worked together in Boston. But those who know the inner dynamics of the Mets say Cohen and Alderson had been so impressed with Scott in the interview process that they pushed the idea on Porter more than vice versa.
So the easy call here would be to either elevate Scott or at least give him the interim title.
The Mets shouldn’t do that. Scott was brought in largely to bulk up and build out the Mets’ analytic wing. He was admired in Boston for his work in this area. But he was not viewed as a dynamic figure, the kind you could imagine sitting at the podium and selling a big-market team’s visions. At least not yet. So why the rush to even give Scott the interim tag?
Consider this a 12-month audition. The Mets can see how he operates. How he fosters culture within the organization, handles increased responsibility, etc. If all goes well, the job will still be there come next offseason and all Scott will be doing until then is the job he was hired for, but with a bit more responsibility.
Remember that before Porter and Scott were hired, Alderson had led an operation that signed Trevor May and James McCann. They had begun the main legwork on the trade that would net Francisco Lindor and Carlos Carrasco. Those who were dealing with the Mets say that Porter was merely running Alderson’s playbook.
At that introductory press conference, Alderson had offered: “I’m not going to make the baseball decisions. I expect a seat at the table, but not at the head of the table.”
But there is some Hyman Roth in “The Godfather: Part II” in that. Alderson is too big a personality and thinker to have influence and not wield it. So let’s not even pretend he is not at the head of the table, especially now.
And it is where he must be.
Because he and Cohen are auditioning too. When Cohen’s money was injected into a big-market franchise, the thought was that candidates would flock to run the Mets’ baseball operations. Cohen and Alderson were dismayed when that didn’t occur. One reason why is that the best and the brightest — those that Cohen and Alderson were initially convinced would all but beg for the job — took themselves out of consideration over concerns with Cohen.
One of those candidates said “Black Edge” was being passed around like a library book among the top crop. That book detailed — among other items — a toxic culture at Cohen’s SAC Capital, which went defunct after paying a record $1.8 billion fine for insider trading. Cohen’s follow-up firm, Point72 Asset Management, settled a claim last year with a female employee who alleged a sexist work environment.
These matters gave pause to owners before they approved Cohen’s purchase of the Mets and threw up a stop sign to candidates to run baseball operations.
So Alderson and Cohen have this year to show this is a new business, new day and the new Mets. Alderson has to find the old Marine in himself and take on the task of running baseball operations and providing relentless signs of success, workplace sanctity and persistent competence. It can’t be farmed out to Scott or to someone who would emerge from another search so close to the start of spring training when even more candidates will be off limits.
Cohen insisted his Mets would have integrity at its core, which he cited in firing Porter less than 12 hours after the lurid revelations.
That is merely step one away from the first crisis. The next step must be Alderson running baseball operations for this year. It is the best alternative to try to turn yet another epic Mets disaster into an epic story.