Monday, October 25, 2010
The Next Mets GM? Howard Megdal throws his hat into the ring
There is a lot of talk about the changes happening to the Mets organization. The fans are almost rabid for a different regime, with names like Sandy Alderson and Josh Byrnes coming back this week for second interviews and there is even a group of holdouts hoping that Texas Rangers GM Jon Daniels might consider leaving the AL to come and fix the Mets.
But there is another candidate... one that knows the Mets inside out and feels he could return the franchise to the heady days of 1986 and 2000. A candidate that is less known, but perhaps just as qualified as the larger names mentioned in the same breath as the ones above. A candidate that has suffered with the rest of us Mets fans over the years, and one who decided to do something about it.
Howard Megdal is someone Met fans should reconize. He writes for SNY.tv, MLBTradeRumors.com and NYBaseballDigest.com and provides keen insight with his analysis. He has covered the team for the New York Observer and is the Editor in Chief of The Perpetual Post, an online "newspaper" that covering everything from Politics, Sports, Humor and News. He's also the man behind MegdalforGM.com... a website dedicated to getting Howard noticed in his quest to be the next GM for the New York Mets.
Two particular items on his website sum Howard's passion for the Mets up nicely. I quote:
"He has lived and loved the Mets since he was six years old. When he was 13 years old, his school Principal forced Megdal to spend the day in his office, since the school had declared Phillies Hat Day, and he refused to remove his Starter pinstriped Mets cap. Had he agreed to remove the Mets hat, he would have been set free. But that was too high a price to pay.
Since 2005, Megdal and his wife have created an increasingly intricate chart of the organization’s major and minor league players. They currently use a 24X36 mockup of Citi Field mounted on their kitchen wall, with tabs containing each player’s name, position, and a headshot for easy identification."
With this in mind, I just had to talk to Howard and pick his brain about his quest. Many fans have dreamed about being a GM for their favorite team, and as much of a longshot as I might be, Howard is taking his shot. He and I talked a little about what he would do if the job became his.
IT'S OUTTA HERE: Ok, to start, a number of people (and fans) usually feel they know what it takes to run a sports team, but most would likely crumble under the real pressure of the job. You aren't just a fan off the street making this claim, but what makes you think you are the man for the job?
HOWARD: Well, I've covered the Mets, and MLB, for most of my adult life. I have a knowledge of both the Mets and the league to rival those in charge, and I've seen, again and again, players I've judged to be on the rise or on the wane to follow that path. No one is perfect, of course, but those decisions compare favorably to the people in charge.
IT'S OUTTA HERE: Ok, let's say you have the job. What is the FIRST move you make?
HOWARD: A tough question to answer, as I'd need to know what my budget is, what other teams are willing to do, etc. Clearly, second base needs to be addressed, along with the back of the rotation, right field, and the bullpen.
IT'S OUTTA HERE: Who is on your potental manager list? Give me three names and a quick reason why for each.
HOWARD: Again, I might well go with an unknown here. I don't think a name manager is particularly important, and rather it is a waste of resources. A manager capable of reasoned in-game strategy, who won't alienate his players, is all I'd want.
IT'S OUTTA HERE: The impression the average person seems to have of the Mets organization is that the franchise as a whole (front office, ownership, medical staff, PR department, the team) is a punch line. What needs to happen for this to change?
HOWARD: Simple: winning, and doing so transparently. If the team has a single story for every event, and success is frequent, the Mets won't be a punch line anymore. Remember when the Red Sox were a punch line? Not that long ago.
IT'S OUTTA HERE: Give me your player wish list from the 2011 free agents.
HOWARD: I strongly prefer Carl Crawford to Jayson Werth. I also think Cliff Lee will get way too many years at way too much money.
IT'S OUTTA HERE: Are there ANY "untouchables" on the team? How about in the minor league system?
HOWARD: It is hard to imagine a trade that makes it worth trading David Wright or Jose Reyes. Generally, there aren't many Mets around who would be at artificially high value, which is what makes a trade candidate for me, rather than some standard of excellence. If Washington offers Ryan Zimmerman and their top six prospects for David Wright, he's no longer untouchable. Naturally, they won't do that, but less-extreme versions of trades like that exist for all players.
IT'S OUTTA HERE: It's often been said the Mets need to establish a "Mets' Way" of playing. What sort of style should this team have? What would you stress as the type of play (and players) you want that will help the club succeed on the field?
HOWARD: I personally think this is ridiculous. You can have a masher at first base, a speedster at second, etc., and provided that player is boosting overall team value, there doesn't need to be a team theme.
IT'S OUTTA HERE: The attendance has been dropping the last few years, even with the new ballpark. Obviously winning will draw fans, but what else do you feel is needed to increase ticket sales?
HOWARD: A sense from the team that they care about the fans in a fundamental way. Things like elimination of Banner Day and Old Timers' Day are a great example of doing things the wrong way. I've proposed student rush tickets, for instance, but there are many ways to make fans more valued. For instance, at Stubhub, you can actually choose your seats. At Mets.com, you can pick a price level. Guess why fans kept going to Stubhub?
IT'S OUTTA HERE: Do you allow the manager to pick his own staff fully or are there some coaches you want and will assign them yourself?
HOWARD: I want to choose the pitching coach. That seems vital. I'd also let the manager know I expect a certain level of competence from the third base coach. Teams lose runs every year when that job goes to the wrong person- and I don't just mean what we see (runners thrown out), but also what we don't see (runners unnecessarily held).
IT'S OUTTA HERE: You know this team. You've seen the strange and bizarre things that have surrounded them the last few years. What would you do to avoid simular incidents and public embrassments?
HOWARD: Like I said: a single voice, a single story. Things will happen, they happen to all teams- the Mets seem to exacerbate every one of them with multiple leaks and unnecessary extension of stories. That needs to end.
IT'S OUTTA HERE: Is the integrity and reputation of the franchise at an all-time low? Will free agents WANT to come here?
HOWARD: Absolutely. It's about the money, and winning. The Mets should have both with even basic competence in management.
Those are the three words Howard has on the banner for his "Megdal for GM" webite. Just from his answers it seems he takes those three words seriously. I don't know who will be the next Mets GM (I strongly think it's going to be Alderson though) but the Mets could do WAY worse than consider a man who seems to know what the Mets could use in righting the ship.
Check out Howard's work at:
and of course, www.MegdalforGM.com
Howard can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.