The New York Mets have announced that they’ve hired former Yankees Assistant General Manager and former Angels, GM Billy Eppler, to be their new GM.
OK, Let’s back up a little bit.
Several front office personnel that have worked with Billy Beane, Theo Epstein, and Andrew Friedman have gone on to become very good General Managers themselves. As a former Yankees’ assistant GM, Billy Eppler was of course a protégé of Brian Cashman. In other words, he studied under a fourth-degree black belt in the ancient art of good but not good enough.
Here’s the kicker: When Eppler was given the keys to run the Angels (an organization with considerable financial resources) he couldn’t even reach Cashman’s level of “OK”…
When Eppler took over for Jerry Dipoto mid-way through the 2015 season, he inherited a team that averaged 88 wins per season over the previous four seasons and had the best player in the world on the roster. That’s a team that’s not that far away from competing for a championship.
From 2016-2020 under Eppler’s guidance, the Angels played .468 baseball – that’s an average of 76 wins per 162 – and had a grand total of zero seasons playing over .500. You may be thinking “Well, he had the organization re-tooling, shedding bad contracts, going with younger players from within the organization”, etc.
Nope. In the five seasons prior to 2016, the Angels average payroll was $130.8 million per season. In the five following seasons under Eppler, the payroll jumped to $168.8 million per year.
Enter the Mets and the unintentional comedy that is their organization. Instead of looking through the front offices of the Giants, Rays, Dodgers, or As to find someone who would be both available, and had experience working with a top-flight GM, the Mets decided to talk to Beane and Epstein (who they knew would both say no) and David Stearns who wasn’t going to make a lateral move even if Milwaukee allowed it. When Plans A through C predictably failed, they went to Plan D, which was Eppler. (On a somewhat related note Mets, it is in fact, OK to consider interviewing a woman or person of color for the GM position.)
The good news for both Eppler and the Mets is that the bar is very low in Queens. If Eppler manages to avoid texting sexually explicit photos to journalists or getting arrested, he’ll be doing better than his two predecessors. (Quite literally, unfortunately…)
For Mets’ fans sake, I hope I’m wrong, but I don’t see how this ends well for them.
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