Andy Martino, SNY.tv | Twitter |
Over the past several weeks, we've been working every day to bring you news of the Mets' manager search. We've reached out to everyone who might know anything, and spoken to many of them. We've smoked out many of the first-round candidates and finalists.
But we haven't been able to do the most important thing: Peek inside Brodie Van Wagenen's brain. And neither, it seems, has anyone else.
Because of that, it's impossible to label a frontrunner. There remains a high level of mystery and intrigue in this process, including a potential "bombshell candidate" yet to emerge, in the words of one plugged-in source.
In talking to people involved in this process, two themes have threaded through nearly every conversation: 1) Van Wagenen is open to advice from his staff but is fully in charge of this process; and 2) he is devoting an extraordinary amount of energy to preventing leaks.
While it's impossible to fully achieve secrecy when so many reporters are poking around -- we have many of the names, after all, despite a lack of official confirmation from the Mets on any of them -- Van Wagenen has succeeded in keeping quiet his personal inclinations.
We do know that he has been working very hard to determine which of the candidates he feels most connected to. He has conducted countless telephone conversations, in-person interviews, and in-person follow-ups.
He has been spotted around town holding informational meetings, and has called everyone he knows -- and some people he doesn't -- who might be able to offer insight into the contenders.
We gather that Van Wagenen and Eduardo Perez made a strong connection. We hear that Carlos Beltran interviewed as well as anyone. We believe that the Phillies have been drawn to Joe Girardi more strongly than the Mets have.
We also know that the Mets have kept a second list of candidates to speak with, in the event that none of the interviews produce the right fit. Perhaps Mr. or Mrs. Bombshell is on that list.
But those are fragments. We don't even have all the candidates' names.
From the names that have emerged, we can see that Van Wagenen is searching far and wide for a person with whom he feels a personal connection. To his credit, he appears poised to ignore the noise about Girardi, and take a short-term PR hit if Girardi goes to Philadelphia.
Winning the news cycle is not what's important here. Van Wagenen is the type of GM who makes his presence felt in the clubhouse and manager's office. His front office demands a heavy hand in game planning, which is consistent with broader trends in the game.
For this to work, he needs to hire someone with whom he feels a strong personal connection. And since he's not talking to anyone these days, we're on a fool's errand trying to guess who that person will ultimately be.