The time has finally arrived. The ideal candidate, the object of the savvy Mets fan’s affection will be free to reciprocate in a matter of three weeks. Heck, he’s already free to negotiate with whoever he wants right now. David Stearns will finally have his Suds City chains broken and he will, if he so chooses, become the President of Baseball Operations for the team in his hometown and for which he grew up rooting. This would dovetail fairly nicely with the Mets’ owner, who may – or may not – have had a similar, if earlier, youthful fan experience. If it happens – this is the Mets after all; this franchise has an uncanny ability to screw up a one-car funeral – it would seem a marriage made in heaven.

On the surface, it would seem ideal from Stearns’s end: coming from the ultimate small-market team, Bud Selig’s former franchise and the poster child for big league revenue sharing to the ultimate overdog city, the Center of the Universe, whose owner has seemingly unlimited financial resources and has shown a propensity to spit on the very idea of the luxury tax, would definitely seem appealing. There is also the relatively simplistic idea that since Stearns achieved a great measure of success while being hamstrung by budgetary restrictions in Milwaukee, imagine what he could do with free rein to spend beaucoup bucks in New York. This was the similar attitude of hockey’s New York Rangers in the early 2000s, when they hired Glenn Sather, the architect of the small-town Edmonton Oilers’ dynasty of the 1980s. “Give Sather the Garden’s checkbook? This will be Oilers East,” said the pundits. It didn’t turn out that way for Sather – Ranger fans are still waiting for a repeat of 1994’s Stanley Cup championship – and Sather made quite a few missteps in terms of player acquisitions early on, wielding that mighty checkbook. So, it’s not a given that Stearns will be able to adapt Milwaukee’s success-on-a-shoestring formula – which has also recently worked in places like Atlanta, Tampa Bay, and Baltimore. We Mets fans look to those teams with longing eyes this year. Let’s face it: Cohen spent a mint to put together a 77-win team – at best. If Stearns can ride in and straighten out this mess, he will be well worth whatever ransom Cohen is willing to pay for his services.

As for how things stand now, the ground has been prepared for Cohen’s arrival. In the past two weeks, the Mets have jettisoned their Pro Scouting Director, their Farm Director, their Performance Director, and their Baseball Development Director. This would indicate a willingness on Cohen’s part to allow Stearns to bring in his own people to man these positions, and if they happen to be some parts of the same team that facilitated his success in Milwaukee, so much the better. Current General Manager Billy Eppler – de facto President of Baseball Operations for the moment – would retain that title but would move down a rung on the management ladder. In my opinion, Eppler would best serve the team by spending most of his time in the Far East. His greatest successes have come from his importing of Asian players, for whichever franchise he has worked. He found Masahiro Tanaka while he was Assistant GM of the Yankees. He found generational talent Shohei Ohtani while GM of the Angels and he brought current NL Rookie-Of-The-Year candidate Kodai Senga here. Were Stearns to come aboard, his first act should be to dispatch Eppler to Japan to negotiate with the Orix Buffaloes and not come home until he’s secured the services of Yoshinobu Yamamoto, the Buffaloes star right hander.

For his part, Cohen just needs to do what we pleaded with M. Donald Grant to do, but never did, and what we pleaded with the Wilpons to do, but never did: just sign the checks and stay out of the way. Acknowledge that you’re merely a fan, however rich and powerful a fan you may be. Put the team in the hands of the baseball people and let them run things. There will be a temptation to look under the lid of your investment to see if it’s come to a boil yet, but you know what they say about watched pots. It’s going to take patience on Cohen’s – and the fans’ – part, but much like how things were early on in Frank Cashen’s tenure, the early bumps will pay off in the end.

Meanwhile, let’s just make sure David Stearns doesn’t end up in Houston.

7 comments on “What would a Steve Cohen – David Stearns relationship look like?

  • ChrisF

    Nicely written Charlie. A very enjoyable read. Stearns is n guarantee about anything to be sure, but it’s clear he at least understands the construction of a successful team. I think you could add Chaim Bloom to the list of architects from a small market club that went to a big club, only to find the winds blowing in his face at all times.

  • Brian Joura

    I’m on record about being against the concept of a PoBO.

    It’s job title inflation that encourages people to do the strategic job of the person below them. The PoBO does the big things of the GM while the GM does the big things of the manager. And the manager becomes a PR man in a uniform.

    This is nothing against Stearns, who seemed like he had a perfect reputation until the Josh Hader trade last year which caused the Brewers to implode. You should want to acquire as many talented people that you can, whether they be players or coaches or front office people.

    It’s just that I never want to hear that the most important job of a manager is to be a great communicator ever again.

    • ChrisF

      Back to RBIs and BA Brian!!

      What’s happened in the last 20 years is that franchises are now worth billions, 10-20 times what their value was at the turn of the millennium. At the same time the entire monitor league structure has dramatically expanded in all aspects, from scouting, to analytics, to concessions. In my eyes this is well past the the level of GM. PBO needs to t have decision making power across the organization as well as setting the entire direction at all levels. That’s way past GM. The GM needs to be the main interface for the bog league squad, executing the vision of the organization at the highest level the club plays. I want this person dedicated on making the Mets win and not tracking how Jett Williams is doing this week,. The game has expanded so dramatically and in value that a PBO should help keep owners in their place and making sure their billions of dollars of investment are working across the while enterprise.

      • Brian Joura

        Now the 2022 collapse makes sense. The Mets were in first place all season until President Sandy Alderson retired in mid-September. The Mets were so shattered by having to perform without a PoBO that they couldn’t function, something that’s carried over to this year. What a weird way to out yourself as an Alderson fan.

        Teams have had farm directors since at least the late 1960s, probably earlier than that. If the GM is spending all of his time worrying about how Jett Williams is doing, well, he’s clearly not using the people he already has under his command. That’s an issue that should be addressed immediately and is likely a fireable offense.

        How long does it take to make decisions? How long does it take to set a direction? That’s not a full-time job for anyone, regardless of how much money the enterprise is worth.

        “Keep owners in their place.” Well, this is the crux of the issue. If the owner has complete confidence in his PoBO to step away and not force trades for 50 cents on the dollar, then that could be a good thing. Yet, somehow if there was one person who could command this confidence, why couldn’t it be, oh, I don’t know, the person you hired to be GM?

        Many years ago, I was working for a company that got bought out. New leadership came in and addressed our company. Essentially, what new chief told us was that usually when you buy a company, the first thing you have to do is go thru and cut out the waste. But since our company was run on a shoestring budget, they actually had to add to what we had. There’s no doubt that there’s a parallel to what Cohen purchased. He had to add significantly to what was in place in terms of personnel.

        Now, you can claim that a PoBO is just that. Me? I’d look at that as an area that you would cut the waste, if it existed, if you had a GM who you felt was up to snuff.

        At the end of the day, I don’t own the team and I respect the right of Cohen to run it the way he chooses. At the same time, I expect him to respect my right to disagree with his decisions. And there are a bunch of things he’s done – or signed off on – with which I disagree. That doesn’t mean that I’m not thrilled that he’s the owner. It’s better than it’s been since Doubleday screwed up and had to make Wilpon an equal. And it doesn’t mean that I believe Stearns has nothing to give the Mets. At the end of the day, we’re discussing semantics here.

        Essentially, they will hire Stearns to replace Eppler as GM and Eppler replaces Bryn Alderson as the third assistant GM. But Eppler gets to keep his title and Stearns is hired at a title where he can get more money. Woo-hoo, I guess.

        As long as they don’t hire another guy to be the manager because he’s a great communicator.

  • T.J.

    The world has changed regarding baseball management, just as it has regarding business and organizational management. For what it’s worth ($0.00), I am fine with the PoBO position, especially in the case of Cohen’s ownership. Cohen is not exclusively a baseball owner, so he needs a go to that has responsibility for the entire operations. Given the complexities of modern baseball, it’s too much to ask from a “GM”. Given the proliferation of technology, media, and social media, the manager position has certainly become as much if not more a marketing position as it has an on-field manager of men and game situations. The pros and cons can be debated, but that’s just the reality of the modern world.

    Stearns has a good resume, is acknowledged as a bright mind, has NY and NY Met roots. He’s young enough to expect him to be around a while. He looks to be a good fit, but we’ll see how the recruitment/negotiation go. If he is hired, I’ll be happy, but it is in no way a guarantee of success no less a guarantee of championships. Did he mess up the Brewers with that miss on the Hader trade? IS he too “nerdy” in reliance of stats over other human baseball factors? Is he too arrogant for the NY press? Etc. If he is signed, I will see it as an alignment of personalities, and a somewhat alignment of particulars to take the team from where it is now to a sustainable contender, in a division with the best team in baseball that has it loaded lineup signed for the better part of the next five years.

    Moneyball with money is nice, but at times the money is just as much a hinderance as it is an advantage. Regardless of PoBO, or GM, or whatever, the other reality is that the owners are making the big decisions. In baseball, that is essentially the big free agent acquisitions, the big trades, the managerial hires, etc. Yeah, he may “defer” to the “baseball people” for draft picks, the Cahna-level free agents, the guy you ger back for trading Pham. And, those moves matter, for sure, but the biggies are the course changers. Is Cohen really going to defer to the GM of PoBO when he and is wife are having dinner with Mr. and Mrs. Scherzer pre-signing? And, is the GM really not going to sign the headliner free agent when the owners says the budget can go up to $450 million to cover penalties? That just defies the basic smell test. This is Uncle Stevie’s gig, for better or worse.

  • Metsense

    PoBO has the final authority for team personnel decisions. He formulate the plan, be it the current one and the 5 year plan.
    The current plan, having high salaried veterans until the development of their minor leagues worked in 2022. It didn’t work in 2023. At least it was recognized early. Eppler did a fine effort in moving the valuable assets and their minors leagues are better but overall the season is a failure. Eppler is a good GM but he a PoBO above him. Stearns would be a great selection..

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