Andy Martino, SNY.tv | Twitter |
Chaim Bloom began his baseball career in player development. Doug Melvin pioneered some of the concepts behind the now cutting-edge art of bullpenning. But listening to much of the chatter around the Mets' GM search, you'd think that Melvin has only scouted games and that Bloom has never left the computer lab.
According to people in rival front offices who know both men, the "old school/new school" labels are not only demeaning to both Bloom, 35, and Melvin, 66, but are inaccurate. In reality, both men occupy a different space in the vast middle ground where most successful executives reside.
Bloom interviews on Wednesday, a day after Melvin. The Mets' third finalist, agent Brodie Van Wagenen, avoids being typecast in this particular discussion because he does not have a front-office background. The other two are victims of myopic, reductive, and in Melvin's case, elitist thinking.
For all the focus on analytics as a potential deficiency for Melvin, the former longtime Brewers GM is highly respected in the game for his open-mindedness. When friends ask him if he is old school or new school, his typical answer is, "I'm in school." In a business marked by rampant arrogance, this humility feels like a market inefficiency.
Other friends of Melvin's in the game are quick to note that 62-year-old Dave Dombrowski is enjoying success with the Red Sox, and that the Phillies won a World Series under Pat Gillick, who was hired at 68. There are plenty of ways to be a good baseball executive, despite recent hiring trends. Not every progressive GM wears Brooks Brothers shirts and holds an Ivy League degree.
Here's a text from a former colleague of Melvin's (who, by the way, is under 45): "Doug is much more in tune with analytics than the public would probably give him credit for. He's a tremendous listener, as good as I've ever been around, and is very inclusive."
A Brewers source said that Melvin would sometimes override his scouts' recommendation and make a decision based on analytics, and sometimes would ignore the data to listen to his scouts -- as any competent GM would.
If Melvin is a victim of ageism, Bloom is being stereotyped as an analytics guy. He has long worked in player development for the Rays and deals with field personnel and players. "He's very personable and intelligent," says one rival executive, whose only issue with Bloom's candidacy is the question of whether he is a seasoned enough leader to take charge of a New York baseball team.
The risk in hiring Bloom would be that lack of experience in a major market. Melvin lacks that, too, but he was the GM in Texas and Milwaukee for two decades, and has a range of experience. Van Wagenen, as a high-profile agent at CAA, is probably the most seasoned on a big stage.
But one label that is not fair to affix to Bloom is "analytics guy." He's a baseball guy -- like Doug Melvin. And the question for the Mets is who has the best personality to lead the people in baseball operations, not who is old school, new school, or whatever other false construct you want to throw around.