John Harper, SNY.tv | Twitter |
Nobody I've talked to thinks the Mets are hiring either Mike Bell or Derek Shelton as their next manager, even if the two relative unknowns are getting in-person interviews with GM Brodie Van Wagenen and his staff.
As one executive from an AL team put it, "Most teams in this situation brings in guys like this that don't have a real chance of getting the job."
With that in mind, the early speculation around baseball, at least among the scouts and execs I've spoken to this week, is leaning heavily toward the Mets making the obvious move and making Joe Girardi their next manager, if he doesn't wind up in Chicago with the Cubs instead.
"After what happened with (Mickey) Callaway, I just don't see how they take a chance on a guy with no experience," one exec said by phone. "Brodie might be a guy who enjoys the spotlight, but I think he's smart enough to know he needs to get this right.
"If he goes outside the box and it blows up on him, he's out the door and he's not getting another shot at being a GM. If he hires Girardi, he takes what is viewed as a sure thing and he protects himself somewhat because nobody is going to hammer him if it doesn't work out."
A long-time scout with front-office experience offered a similar opinion, making the point that even the recently retired Carlos Beltran, who has connections with some key members of the Mets' front office, would come with significant risk.
"You can see where maybe guys like Alex Cora and Aaron Boone have made it easier to go that route and hire Beltran," said the scout, "but I think you have to put it in the context of the team doing the hiring.
"The Yankees and Red Sox both had safeguards in place: their level of player talent, the track records of the GMs who made those hires, and the success those franchises have had over the last several years. All of those factors make it easier to take a chance on a first-time manager than it would be for the Mets to hire Beltran.
"There's always some unknown to that kind of hire, no matter how collaborative the job is now. Beltran has a reputation as a guy with great baseball acumen, but until you see how he handles in-game decisions as a manager, and how he handles the public criticism that all managers get at some time or another, you just don't know."
To that analysis I would add, as someone who covered Beltran with both the Mets and the Yankees, he does indeed have a sharp baseball mind but he was also sensitive to criticism at times, and that makes me wonder how he would handle the media scrutiny that comes with the job, especially in New York.
In any case, the feeling among the several baseball people I talked to the last few days is that Beltran is the only first-timer the Mets would seriously consider, based partly on how well their front-office executives know him.
Omar Minaya, for example, was the GM when the Mets signed Beltran as a free agent going into the 2005 season, and he had a close relationship with him. And Allard Baird was the GM of the Royals when Beltran came up in the Kansas City organization.
Ok, if that's the case, why are they interviewing no-names such as Bell, the VP of player development with the Diamondbacks, and Shelton, the Twins' bench coach?
Simple, said an executive who has been part of such interview processes.
"Part of it is you want the chance to talk to people you've heard good things about because never know when another need might arise," the exec said. "Or you might even have a different position in mind even if you're interviewing someone for the manager's job.
"Also, it gives you feedback on your organization that can be helpful. Guys that you're bringing in have done their own preparation by studying various facets of your organization, and they might hit on something you hadn't thought much about or saw from a different point of view. That stuff can be very beneficial."
One person who has worked with Shelton compared him at least somewhat to Boone as someone who connects easily with people, from his bosses to the player, and said that his background as a quality control coach with the Blue Jays gives him a solid knowledge of applying analytics.
As for Bell, the brother of Reds' manager David Bell, people likened him more to A.J. Hinch, someone who spent years working different jobs in the organization and has impressed the D-Backs with both organizational and people skills, among others.
But as those in baseball who have experience in this area say, the Mets just aren't in a position to gamble on a no-name manager, no matter how highly someone might come recommended by others in the game.
We'll see if Van Wagenen comes to the same conclusion.