With Sandy Alderson stepping down as the General Manager, and the New York Mets suffering through a second straight losing season, it is obvious that changes need to be made in the Mets organization from top to bottom.
Here, we have three ideas that could reshape the Mets franchise. If you are looking for a list of free agents to sign, trades to make, or reasons to fire manager Mickey Callaway, this article is not for you.
“The ability to learn faster than your opponents may be the only sustainable competitive advantage”.
We have a three step plan to remake the franchise, and to grab that sustainable competitive advantage.
1) Hire Bill James from the Boston Red Sox
2) remodel/design all minor league complexes to function more like college campuses
3) Hire a new GM, and a new a President of Baseball operations from outside of the Mets organization (or even from outside of baseball itself)
Step one: Bill James
James has been one of the pioneers of baseball research since the 1970s. He coined the phase ‘Sabermetrics’ and has published countless works on baseball. No one has thought more about baseball, over the last 30+ years than Bill James has. If the Mets are going to use this opportunity to seize a competitive advantage, they need to start thinking differently. Bill James would be the perfect person to help push the Mets in that direction.
James has worked for the Boston Red Sox since 2003, as a senior advisor on baseball operations and has been part of three championships. He mostly works now on special projects, and advises on some off season moves. His influence with the Red Sox front office peaks and valleys, so it is possible he could leave the Red Sox if given an specific task within the front office. The Mets should give Bill James that task.
Step two: Transform all minor league facilities
The majority of minor league players live at a near poverty level. Majority of minor league players make less than $10,000 per season. These are wages even below standard minimum wage levels. Ask almost any minor league player what their biggest issue is, and it is generally things outside of baseball. Where to live and how to pay rent. What to eat and how to pay for it. Many minor leaguers are struggling so much just to get by, that baseball becomes more a burden rather than a way forward.
College prepares students for the next step in their lives, and so should minor league baseball. It is reported that it would cost a major league club between $2 and $4 million a season to house and provide all meals for an entire minor league organization. This is a small investment that could pay tremendous dividends in the future.
There should also be classrooms, for English and Spanish lessons, and a place to teach baseball theories, plays, ideas and game situations all the way down the organization.
Adding state of the art training facilities, combined with the nutrition program, allows teams to monitor, control, and hopefully maximize training gains.
By doing all of this, players can put more of the focus and effort on developing their baseball skills. Teams would benefit by maximizing the skills of the players. If an organization’s minor league players develop quicker, with maximum gains, it will only help the major league team. This is one way the New York Mets could put themselves far ahead of the competition. The Mets recent purchase of the triple-A team in Syracuse, New York would be a great place to start this.
Step three: The Front office
Another way to put the Mets ahead of the competition, is to remake the front office staff. Sandy Alderson and his staff have done a great job over the last few years. But it is clear with how the last couple of seasons have gone, there needs to be a new voice, with a plan going forward, for both long and short term success.
The same issues seem to keep plaguing the Mets for the last decade or so. Injuries, break down in communication, and decision making issues (like when to call up a player, or when to put another on the disabled list; when did the Mets know how injured Cespedes was?) all happen with too much frequency. Strong leadership can help deal with these issues.
The New York Mets should hire both a new general manager, and a President of Baseball Operations, and both should come from outside the Mets organization. It is even possible, and possible better, if the Mets even looks outside of baseball itself, for the future leaders of the club.
The job is too complex and too complicated for one person. The President of Operations could look at the long term plans, like modernizing the minor league system. The general manager could focus on day to day activities of the club.
In 2011 the Houston Astros hired Jeff Luhnow as their general manager and President of Baseball operations. Prior to this, he was the St. Louis Cardinals director of scouting, and was responsible for running their drafts. This includes the Cardinals 2009 draft, which many consider to be one of the best drafts ever. Before being hired by the Cardinals, he was a business consultant, never having worked in professional baseball.
One of his most important hires has been Sid Mejdal. He is the Houston Astros Director of Decision Sciences. Before that, Mejdal was a rocket engineer for NASA.
The Mets do not need to hire these guys, or anyone like them. But these two men look at baseball differently. They examine not just what to do, but how they came to that decision. The New York Mets need to look at how they have made the decisions they have made recently. They need to start looking at baseball in a new way, and push the organization forward.
Despite successful seasons in 2015 and 2016, the New York Mets have fallen behind other Major League Baseball teams over the last decade. To move ahead, the Mets need to start thinking about all areas of baseball differently. They can do this by be reshaping their front office. From there, remodeling the minor league system could give the New York Mets a significant competitive advantage.