Since It Doesn’t Matter Who the Manager Is …

Now that Sandy Alderson is in charge, and we know he does not believe a manager has any impact on a team’s success or failure — provided, of course, said manager follows orders and executes the plan issued from the front office — then how do we go about choosing the next Mets manager?

Seriously — if you buy into this idea that “the manager doesn’t matter”, then, it doesn’t matter who is chosen; ergo, we can choose anyone we want, based on just about anything we want.

Further, it means that Jeff Wilpon can choose anyone he wants to be the manager, based on whatever he deems valuable, and in doing so, he’s not encroaching on Alderson’s “power” — because Alderson doesn’t really care who the manager is, so long as he is a good soldier.

So, if I were Jeff Wilpon, my three most important traits in selecting the next Mets manager would be:

1. Affordability
2. Entertainment value
3. Ticket sales

Number one is a no-brainer; I want someone I can afford, who isn’t going to adversely affect the budget. Number two is partially for selfish reasons — I want to be entertained when I watch my ballclub — but also plays into number three, which is the Ultimate Value of anyone I pay to wear a Mets uniform.

Considering that, let’s quickly go through a list of potential candidates, and rank them from 0-5 in all three of those traits:

[TABLE=49]

You may disagree with some of these numbers, and that’s fine — please offer your perceived ratings in the comments.

I could be wrong, but I believe that the Mets would not see much of an increase in ticket sales that directly resulted in the hiring of Ken Oberkfell, Clint Hurdle, Tim Teufel, Chip Hale, or Bob Melvin. They’re all fine men, but I just don’t see many people thinking “oh wow, now that Bob Melvin’s the manager, I’m going to Mets.com to buy a season ticket package!”. On the other hand, I think that a large number of casual Mets fans would take notice if Joe Torre were hired, and consider buying tickets. (Note I stated CASUAL Mets fans — i.e., not the type who read Mets blogs every day. Just about any casual baseball fan in the country knows who Joe Torre is and most associate him with success.) I also think that former fan favorites Lee Mazzilli and Joe McEwing could generate a modicum of interest. And obviously, I believe that hiring Wally Backman could directly result in ticket sales. There is a large number of fans who loved Wally when he was a player, combined with many more who would pay to see what he might do — whether it’s chew out an umpire or call for a suicide squeeze. Backman is a throwback to the days when managers had personality and color — maybe that means nothing in regard to wins and losses but it is entertainment value. And we’ve already decided that the wins and losses are the responsiblity of Sandy Alderson so what’s the harm in giving the people what they want when it comes to the manager?

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. Seth October 28, 2010 at 3:49 pm
    Joe,

    I enjoy your blog a lot, but I think you’re significantly overstating the idea that Alderson thinks “it doesn’t matter who the manager is.” Here’s the quote you’re referring to:

    “We have a philosophy and we’re going to find a manager who is going to implement that philosophy. We’re not looking for someone to tell us how to run the team, or upon which theory it should be predicated. We already have that. We want someone who is going to implement it for us.’ That’s a very different approach.”

    All he’s saying is you don’t want a manager (like, say, Bobby Valentine) who is going to want to have a lot of power over organizational operations. His point is that the manager is middle management, not senior management, and you want a manager who can fit that approach. In no way does that mean “it doesn’t matter who the manager is.”

    Think of any medium-to-large business. Middle management has an important role in day-to-day operations, and will often have to make decisions without consulting senior management. But ultimately, they’re still middle management, and nobody doubts that. So an organization shouldn’t hire someone who will try to subvert the power structure or undercut superiors. But the idea that the business doesn’t care about the traits of the person they hire is patently absurd.

    What Alderson is saying here, as much as anything, is that you don’t want situations like Jerry Manuel convincing Omar Minaya to make Jenrry Mejia a middle reliever. If Alderson really believes that, as I suspect he does, there’s no way that’s a bad thing.

    • Joe Janish October 28, 2010 at 4:02 pm
      Agreed!

      Thank you for reading the blog. I think that you may have missed the sarcasm of this particular post.

      It’s true, I am oversimplifying the issue — in the same way statheads oversimplify their assessment of a manager based on the number of sacrifice bunts attempted.

    • joe bourgeois October 28, 2010 at 4:04 pm
      Speaking as a middle-manager myself, Seth is 100% correct.

      Just speaking as somebody who keeps up, if he thinks the characteristics of the manager don’t matter at all, why is Alderson (presumably) leaking that he wants somebody with more experience than Wally?

  2. metsie October 28, 2010 at 3:55 pm
    I just love all the backman backers who are today making every post and attempt to skew him as the best guy! lol

    Why does he get a 5 for entertainment value when no one else gets over a 2?

    Who is going to go out and buy season tickets just because Wally is there when they will likely have the same starting lineup next year they had this year?

    You guys are just so in love with a guy who has never managed above AA!

    • Joe Janish October 28, 2010 at 4:05 pm
      I love it too!

      Stick around … I have yet begun … stay tuned for more laughs !!!!!

      LOLZ!!!!!!

      • Mike October 28, 2010 at 5:01 pm
        This is why I keep coming back…

        Joe your sarcasm is often lost on those unfamiliar with you. I sometimes miss it too. I think this whole post is fairly over the top. I really don’t know Wally outside of blogs, and even having watched Playing for Peanuts I don’t think people are lining up to buy tickets because he is the manager.

  3. gary s. October 28, 2010 at 8:07 pm
    my take on backman as manager is that the mets were so bad after the all star break (bordering on unwatchable) that the only positive was for met fans to consider an old fan favorite from our beloved 86 team to take over as manager.WHAT ELSE WAS THERE TO TALK ABOUT AFTER ONE NUMBING LOSS AFTER ANOTHER?i don’t know if he is qualified to be the manager based on winning in the low minors and being a “fan favorite”.i would hope that our new g.m. does.if he passes on backman, i give him the benefit of the doubt.just hire someone with a little fire in the belly.
  4. stephen October 29, 2010 at 9:48 am
    You’re missing a column: willingness to follow Alderson’s philosophy. Given Backman’s demeanor and overemphasis on bunting (Brooklyn was 2nd in their league in sac bunts despite being 1st in BA and HR–I know higher BA = more opportunities for bunting, but still), I’d assume he’d pull a flat zero in that column.
    • Andy October 29, 2010 at 1:42 pm
      It’s possible Wally was following orders from Omar or Jeff in calling for a lot of bunts. Minaya may have thought since Jerry loves bunting so much he should prepare players in the lower levels who are good at it.

      Also, Joe had addressed the Buntapalooza argument in another thread. It turns out that the Cyclones’ best hitter has zero sac bunt attempts. That suggests that Wally understands that the higher the player’s OBP, the worse a gambit the sac bunt is. Maybe his cut-off is higher than you or I would like it to be, but at least we know there IS a cut-off.

    • Joe Janish October 29, 2010 at 9:28 pm
      Willingness to follow the SandyBall plan is taken for granted. There is absolutely no evidence to suggest that any of the listed candidates – Backman included – would refuse to follow orders. All are good soldiers.
  5. John October 29, 2010 at 11:32 am
    You know what manager fits the bill? Willie Randolph. After being a bench coach in Milwaukee and the 2007 collapse, you know he’ll be affordable (5), and you know fans will come to Citi Field just to boo him making ticket sales a 5. Also, while he’s not entertaining with his on-field antics, his Mets teams were competitive, so I guess a 3 there.
    • Joe Janish October 29, 2010 at 9:26 pm
      I have to agree 100% with you, John. Willie got a lot of flak, but the truth is, he was more a soldier than anything else — and in the end, a fall guy. He was brought in to be part of a rebuilding process and work with young players, and three months later MInaya signed Pedro and Beltran and the rebuild idea went to the trash can. But, Willie did as he was told and executed the new plan.

      Willie won’t be a candidate and will never return to Flushing, but he would qualify as an ideal soldier under General Alderson.

  6. mic October 30, 2010 at 9:34 am
    Anger management!!

    Aside from the injury to santana…THIS version of the Mets (Manuel aside) could easily have been in the playoffs. Santana-pel-dickey-niese (when good) were very good. WHICH MEANS…a midseason change in manager or a Cliff Lee trade MIGHT have done it.

    texas-and SF do not impress me.

    Alderson inherit (as he said) a mid tier farm….Omar inherit one DEAD LAST….(Sans Kaz, Peterson, jose Bautista)…Omar hired a rookie manager….will that happen again….(?)

  7. mic October 30, 2010 at 1:04 pm
    disagree, willie abandoned the plan…too much success too early
  8. Andy October 31, 2010 at 1:09 am
    Do they HAVE to choose a manager now? Why not wait and see how the Leones de Escogido do this year? Focus on player moves in the meantime . . .