Will the Manager Be the Big Acquisition?

Ken Davidoff reports that the Mets are already discussing names for various leadership roles, including the on-field manager:

It doesn’t sound as though Bobby V. is the favorite, however. The Mets will be hesitant to pay Valentine the “star manager” money (think about $3 million annually) that he deserves, and although Valentine and the Wilpons have maintained good relations the past eight years, there might be hesitance to re-enter into a working agreement.

Nevertheless, given that public relations and ticket sales will factor heavily into this decision – there are no new star players coming through that door, so the manager will be it – we can’t discount Valentine II.

Davidoff also suggests that Omar Minaya will be replaced by another GM, but I don’t know how much a General Manager directly affects ticket sales — the average fan (i.e., those that don’t read Mets blogs every day) tends to have more of a connection to the manager in the dugout than the one in the front office.

One must wonder if the hiring of the next Mets manager will be the “big” acquisition of the offseason.

Every winter the Mets make a big splash of some sort to improve the club generate ticket sales. For 2005 it was Pedro Martinez / Carlos Beltran; 2006 it was Carlos Delgado / Billy Wagner; 2007 was Moises Alou; 2008, Johan Santana; 2009, K-Rod / Putz; 2010, Jason Bay. Considering that the Mets are unlikely to shell out the money for a huge free-agent such as Cliff Lee, and don’t have the trading chips to acquire a similarly big name, their “big splash” could well be the naming of a new manager.

Ironically, Davidoff could be right when he states that Bobby Valentine’s salary could be too rich for the Wilpons’ taste. It’s funny that the owners wouldn’t blink at approving $36M for Oliver Perez or $25M for Luis Castillo, yet have serious reservations about spending $3M on Bobby Valentine. Makes one wonder.

But three million dollars for a manager beloved by fans is a heckuva lot less than $85-$100M+ for a 32-year-old pitcher whose presence may have less impact on putting fannies in the seats. This point is especially important when you consider that on his own, Cliff Lee is unlikely to be the “last piece” of the puzzle that sends the Mets into the postseason. The Mets have several issues to address — the health of Johan Santana and Carlos Beltran, the closer role, Jason Bay’s return to form, for example — and one big-name player can’t fix them all. However, a new manager with a track record of success in Flushing and ability to entertain the press will give the franchise a new face to look at, and promote the image of good things to come. Even if the Mets struggle through another losing record in 2011, the combination of new leadership in the dugout and home-grown youngsters on the field will be enough to sell tickets through 2012. Who knows it might even result in a playoff appearance by 2013.

From a business perspective, making a manager the “big” acquisition makes good sense — it’s a low-risk, low-cost proposition that is likely to result in positive returns. We’ll soon see if that’s the “splash” the Mets make this winter.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. Andy September 16, 2010 at 12:00 pm
    Nice post, Joe. What happened to your supporting cast?
    • Joe Janish September 16, 2010 at 11:05 pm
      Thank you. Seems the end of “meaningful games” has crushed the spirit of the others — and I can’t blame them. Back to a one-man band for a while.
  2. micalpalyn September 17, 2010 at 6:08 am
    IF there is a new GM ….Towers) or whomever…I expect the same wilpon-speak and the cliches about autonomy…etc.

    then Ala Harazin, Phillips, and even Omar there will be trades and FA signings……But better results?

    I think Omar has done HIS job. There is a ML nucleus, a young core and a new stadium. There are TWO potential young closers, at least two young starters. AND Reyes Wright, Santana, Beltran, Pagan, Ike Davis, Bay, Pelfrey, even Krod are a decent core to a roster for a new GM or manager…….5 all-star players………better than what omar/Wille had.

    BEWARE: I think DW is a prime candidate to be traded by a new GM.