While everyone has visions of Theo Epstein as the Mets’ new President of Baseball Operations (PoBO) – dancing in their head, there’s another candidate out there who was instrumental in two different organizations winning the World Series yet no one will touch him with a 10-foot pole. That guy is Jeff Luhnow, who’s better known for being suspended for a year for his alleged role in the Astros’ sign-stealing scandal rather than for helping to lead the Cardinals and Astros to championships.

Perhaps the Mets – with their brief ties to Carlos Beltran – are the last organization that could gamble on Luhnow. But instead of viewing this as an appeal to hire Luhnow, let’s proceed with the idea of examining his candidacy as a thought experiment. If you were going to draw up qualifications for the PoBO, what would you want and how many boxes would Luhnow check? Here are some thoughts:

Quality MLB Experience – no more rogue Brodie Van Wagenen hires
Someone significantly younger than Sandy Alderson, a person who could be around for 20 years or more
An individual open to receiving information from traditional and non-traditional sources
Someone who others want to work for – no sense hiring a genius with zero people skills

According to Wikipedia, Luhnow was one of the first waves of non-traditional baseball hires after the Moneyball A’s. He joined the Cardinals in 2003, after working as an engineer, management consultant and technology entrepreneur. He was looked at suspiciously at first but no one could argue with the results. He helped build the Cardinals’ baseball academy in the Dominican Republic and beefed up their presence in Venezuela. In 2004, he was promoted to VP of Player Procurement and in 2006, he was named VP of Scouting & Player Development. His first three drafts resulted in 24 players to reach the majors, the highest total in the majors, including ones who played a big role in the team’s 2011 World Series victory.

Following the 2011 season, Luhnow was hired by the Astros and was joined by many of his former colleagues, who made the move to Houston with him. By 2015, the Astros were considered among the best front offices in the game, with ESPN saying this:

No team has fewer wins than the Astros over the past 10 seasons, but the team’s commitment to analytics is second to none. After the 2011 season, GM Jeff Luhnow brought former NASA analyst Sig Mejdal with him from the Cardinals, and they have put together a unique collection of data scientists, with colorful titles to boot: director of decision sciences, medical risk manager and analyst, and mathematical modeler.

Not only did the Astros commit a full-time position to medical analysis but also they brought in PITCHf/x expert Mike Fast (a former engineer) to focus on that data source.

snip

All signs point to the Astros being the mystery team that purchased a Cray supercomputer last spring, allowing for fast computation of large amounts of data, and they are learning how to translate their analytical prowess into realized gains on the field. Their use of defensive shifts evolved through back-and-forth between the field and front office staff, culminating in the Astros deploying the shift more often than any other team in baseball last season. Without a doubt, the Astros are all-in.

And you probably know the story from there. Everything was rosy until the sign-stealing scandal broke, which ended up with manager A.J. Hinch and Luhnow both being suspended for a year. But now, Luhnow is saying he was made a scapegoat and that his punishment was the direct result of a negotiation between MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred and Astros owner Jim Crane. Luhnow is suing to recoup $22 million in lost wages.

Luhnow proclaims his innocence and it’s impossible for an outsider to know what really happened. But it’s not hard to believe his version of events. Crane not only didn’t receive any blame under Manfred’s investigation, he was actively distanced from the cheating scandal and was allowed to “keep” the 2017 title. And on top of that he gets out from a $22 million expense. It sure worked out nice for Crane, didn’t it?

It makes me think of Bob Dylan’s “Hurricane,” the song where he examines the plight of former boxer Rubin Carter, who spent nearly 20 years in prison for a murder he didn’t commit.

“How can the life of such a man
Be in the palm of some fool’s hand?
To see him obviously framed
Couldn’t help but make me feel ashamed
To live in a land
Where justice is a game

Now all the criminals in their coats and their ties
Are free to drink Martinis
And watch the sun rise
While Rubin sits like Buddha
In a 10-foot cell
An innocent man in a living hell”

There’s a huge difference between murder and stealing baseball signs. But it’s certainly possible that Luhnow is being framed much like Carter was. And if there wasn’t the cheating scandal surrounding him, he’d be one of the most desirable candidates around for PoBo, for the Mets or any other team.

It’s just a thought.

36 comments on “Wednesday catch-all thread (11/18/20)

  • Name

    I believe the GM (virtual) meetings should have started yesterday. Haven’t heard any news but it’s not like reporters can walk up to a GM or front office execs and start a casual chit-chat with them.

    Wondering who is repping the Mets if at all.

    • Brian Joura

      I’d be shocked if it wasn’t Alderson. Maybe Ricco but it seems like he’s been involved in more business issues than player ones.

  • Remember1969

    A different topic, but seeing as how this is the catch-all thread . . .

    Since all of you are sports, and in particular Mets fans, I am wondering if anybody knows if there is any value to older sports related publications. I have quite a few of the Inside Pitch Mets magazines from the mid 90’s thru the early 2000’s, along with a whole bunch of Sporting News, Sports Illustrated, and Baseball Weekly newspapers/magazines from the 70s, 80’s, and 90s. Most are in pretty decent condition. I am not sure (a) if they are of any value, or (b) if I even want to keep them. I haven’t looked at any of them in a long time, but it certainly doesn’t feel right to put them in the recycle bin. Is this kind of thing in anybody’s wheelhouse of knowledge or interest?

    • Brian Joura

      When in doubt on the “value” of something – first step is to check eBay. I looked at Sports Illustrated, specifically Gooden, and starting bids were all over the map. But what they had in common was no bids on them, regardless of the price.

      If you’ve got the time, your best bet might be to package 3-5 similar items together. All Gooden covers or all Marlins covers or all World Series champs covers. My guess is you still won’t get a lot but you might be able to make a couple of bucks.

  • JimO

    Onto the Mets outfield question: Will it be: 1) George Springer, 2) Marcell Ozuna, or 3)
    Jackie Bradley Jr. ?

    • Mike W

      Or could it be someone else. Tampa Bay is going to be dumping salaries. It could be Kiermaier in a package with Snell.

  • MattyMets

    Jim O – Of the 3 OFs you mentioned, the only one that interests me is Springer. Bradley has been a very inconsistent bat and he’s a lefty. Ozuna is not a good defensive player. If we can’t get Springer, then I would pivot and either try to trade for a CF or find a platoon partner/defensive replacement for Nimmo.

    On an unrelated note, my favorite broadcast line of 2020 goes to Gary Cohen: “Wilson Ramos needs two light changes to cross the street.”

    • JimO

      hahah….on the Cohen “Ramos” quote.

  • TJ

    No thanks on Luhnow. Interestingly, our new owner was in a very similar situation, presiding over an organization where “alleged” cheating was occurring, but he was able to resolve his involvement with $1.8 billion. Lastly, the Hurricane was a good move, and Dylan wrote a catchy song, but many disputed his “innocence”, including one of the murder victims. Many times there is a big gap between “not guilty” and “innocent”.

  • Bob P

    There’s a report just out that Cano tested positive for PEDs and is suspended for the entire 2021 season. That will change a lot of things this offseason if true.

    • Brian Joura

      What a maroon

      • Bob P

        Yep

      • José

        Damn! Just when it looked like he turned the corner offensively.

        1. Does he forfeit his 2021 salary thereby reducing the payroll?
        2. Didn’t an opinionated and somewhat reactionary poster (no names mentioned) always maintain a hostile attitude towards Cano as a past and (likely) future cheater/druggie?

        • Steve S.

          Yup, Cano forfeits his entire $24 million salary—most of which would have been paid for by the Mets! McNeil will probably be the FT 2Bman.

  • TJ

    The Mets’ news just keeps getting better…this stuff is too good to be true.

    I’d like to specifically congratulate Name, may he have a wonderful toast this evening.

  • HOF19

    I know there might be a commenter on Mets360 that might even be happy about the developments with Mr . Cano .

  • Name

    Wow. I guess there is justice in this world. While a batter may get 3 strikes before they are out doping needs to be 1 strike and you’re banned for life. Cheaters never change.

    Steve Cohen – you’re on the clock now. You have 24 hours to make a statement and ensure that this pathetic loser is never associated with the Mets ever again.

    • José

      OK, it was you that called Cano out as the future cheater, right?
      I have little doubt of your prescience and aptitude.
      But do you have to be so consistently prickly (by which I mean “like a cactus”, not the other thing)?
      Think of the positive effect of your wisdom if you’d ratchet “it” down just a bit.
      Just some friendly advice from an admirer

    • HOF19

      Just now the Guys on SNY Network are saying they are of the opinion that Cano has played his last game in a Mets uniform .

  • HOF19

    Anthony Dicomo on his twitter account reporting that Cano (by rule ) forfeits his 24 million dollar salary for 2021 in its entirety .

  • Chris F

    Rarely does good news come to the Mets in such abundance. We get real resolution to move McNeil to second, save 24M$, and ultimately have reason to bench Cano forever. Sure, his contract will be there, but saving 24M$ opens the door.

    Cano – once a cheater always a cheater. The fountain of youth at the end of syringe. Rotten dog.

  • JimO

    Well this is one big time situation. Does that mean we can cut him completely? Or do we need to retain his contract till it runs out?

  • Mike W

    No wonder why Cano played better last year. He was on the juice again or as Barry Bonds would say, on the cream. This guy is a giant idiot and it makes our former GM look even more like an idiot.

    But, you know what. It is good news. Gives us $ 24 million back for at least this year. And now, we know where Jeff McNeil will be playing. He is playing were he should be playing.

    I do hope that we never see him again in a Mets uniform. My guess is, we wont. Doesn’t seem like Cohen will tolerate this.

    Goodbye Robby

  • Metsense

    It appears that his 2020 statistics are suspect and his 2019 statistics are reality.
    In 2022 Cano will be 39 , miss a season and still owed $48M. Cohen should tell Cano that he should retire and give him a buy out . Cohen should inform Cano, in no uncertain terms, he will not be a Met in the future even if he has to release him. New ownership, new tone, move on, good riddance. Cohen should then send $48M bill to BVW !

    • MattyMets

      Cano is an idiot. He not only just cost himself $24mm, but also any hope of making the HOF. For the Mets, this is great news. Now we’ll have a real infield with Alonso at DH, Smith at first, McNeil at second, Gimenez at short and hopefully a new third baseman and catcher. LFGM!

    • Peter

      Makes sense.

      The short season and powerful PEDs gave us unsustainable numbers.

      McNeil gets to settle in at 2B.

      24million could help land JT Realmuto.

  • John Fox

    Concerning the remark in the article about boxer Rubin Carter that he served time for “a murder he didn’t commit”. Juries twice found Carter guilty of triple murder. The first trial was overturned because one of the state’s witnessed recanted their testimony. In the second trial the witness admitted he recanted only because some of Carter’s people paid him $27,000. After the second trial, the judge ruled that the prosecutor should not have argued that the motive for the murder was racial revenge. The judge never said Carter was innocent. The prosecutor could have tried Carter a third time, but since his parole was coming up fairly soon he decided not to. Oh, and shortly after Carter got out of prison he had an argument with a civil rights activist, a black woman who had worked to free him. He ended the argument by punching her in the face and sending her to the hospital for a month, but she refused to press charges. Reference is an NJ.com article of a few years ago.

  • TexasGusCC

    Well, good thing Cano has a few years left on his deal.

  • Brian Joura

    From an article posted at the time of the press conference announcing the Mets’ trade for Cano and on his previous PED bust:

    “In a statement at the time through the players’ association, Cano pointed out that furosemide “is not a performance enhancing substance” and added that he “would never do anything to cheat the rules of the game that I love, and after undergoing dozens of drug tests over more than a decade, I have never tested positive for a performance enhancing substance for the simple reason that I have never taken one.”

    “There are things that I can’t talk about under the Joint Drug Agreement,” Van Wagenen said. “Obviously, in my previous job I had privileged information. I’m not going to talk specifics about it. But suffice it say, if I had any concern about Robbie’s physical state or performance ability going forward, I would not have made the deal. And just to clarify, too — and I don’t want to get into semantics — but I do think it’s important remembering Robbie was not suspended for a PED. He was suspended for a diuretic. That’s all I’ll say about that.”

    https://www.newsday.com/sports/baseball/mets/jeff-wilpon-doesn-t-believe-robinson-cano-is-a-drug-cheat-1.24219899

    This time around it was Stanozolol. From Wikipedia: “Stanozolol is one of the AAS commonly used as performance-enhancing drugs and is banned from use in sports competition under the auspices of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) and many other sporting bodies.”

    I’m not the steroids hardliner that either Chris or Name are. But there are explicit rules and Cano broke them. And he can’t dance around it this time.

    The Mets got better today in several different ways.

  • HOF19

    For about 5 nights-in-a -row now the SNY Network guys saying Mets #1 priority ?????????…………………….Trevor Bauer .

  • Chris F

    Here is the info on stanozolol from USADA.

    https://www.usada.org/spirit-of-sport/education/what-is-stanozolol/

    it is a Schedule III controlled substance.

    Time to just eat the contract and let the rat go. He’s the new Cespedes, with a different coat.

    • TexasGusCC

      Cespedes never cheated, he got hurt. It’s hard to understand why so much hatred for a player that got hurt and tried to play hurt. It’s one thing to have Jeff Wilpon feel cheated, and it’s quite another for the fans to hate Cespedes so much. For what exactly?

      • Chris F

        Lazy laggard “playing” on a bloated contract. Me first, team last. Glad he left. And my money says Cano will never be in a Mets uniform again. Mr. Cohen make it so!!!

  • MattyMets

    Gus, if Cespedes got hurt playing rather than messing around on his ranch and then lying about it, fans might feel differently. We looked the other way with his other antics because he was so awesome, but this was hard to overlook.

  • MattyMets

    A lot of talk about Lindor, but what about Arenado? https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2020/11/nolan-arenado-trade-rumors-rockies.html

    Best third baseman in baseball would improve defense and lineup, but I’m not sure how this could work out as a balanced trade that would satisfy both teams. He’s a great player but that is a massive salary with an opt out, so how much do you really need to give up?

    • Metsense

      Arenado makes $35M each of the next four years. His contract has 6 years and $199M remaining on it. He is not going to opt out and risk that kind of money. If the Mets’ priority is a 3B then why should the Mets trade players and paid a $35M salary when LeMahieu is available ? Arenado is a very good player but there are better options with $35M.

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