Andy Martino, SNY.tv | Twitter |
The Mets are just about done speaking to new candidates to lead baseball operations at a crucial time for the franchise. The time for brainstorming is over, and the team is now scrutinizing individuals, and what kind of leader each person would be.
Each of the six known interviewees brings questions, as anyone would. Kim Ng, Chaim Bloom, De Jon Watson are impressive in different ways, but have never done the job. Dave Littlefield's record in Pittsburgh was uninspiring at best. Doug Melvin is not exactly new school, though his reputation as a "great guy, and open minded," in the words of one baseball official makes him intriguing in this field.
I've been asking executives around the league for opinions on these people for weeks, and Cardinals director of player development Gary LaRocque has easily raised the most questions among those who have worked with or around him.
LaRocque's record in player development for the Cardinals is strong, and the Mets need help in that area. But the truth is, multiple people who worked with him in the Mets front office in the late '90s and early 2000s are concerned that he is using the Mets to leverage the Cardinals into a contract extension.
"He was like a used car salesman and a bad office politician," said one former colleague. When I pointed out that the phrasing was harsh, the source joked, "Hey, Bud Selig was a used car salesman!"
The Mets are declining to comment on the process, or even confirm or deny interviews. LaRocque did not respond to a message.
Others noted that when Tony LaRussa was running the Arizona Diamondbacks, he interviewed LaRocque for the GM job - and LaRocque then got a multi-year extension to remain with the Cardinals. The Mets just went through this with Cleveland GM Mike Chernoff, who is now working on a new deal with the Indians.
According to sources, LaRocque has not been told if he will get a second interview with the Mets. Don't be surprised if he does, though, because he has maintained a relationship with Fred Wilpon. It's unclear if the elder Wilpon is aware of the extent of LaRocque's complicated relationship with his former Mets co-workers.
LaRocque's time with the Mets ended with a demotion - once an assistant GM, he was a pro scout before leaving for the Cardinals, where he has enjoyed undeniable success.
He clearly has his strengths, but it's an undeniable fact that if he becomes a finalist, others in the Mets' orbit will reiterate their concerns about what they perceive as a possible agenda.