As I type this, Fred and Jeff Wilpon are giving a press conference regarding the firings of Omar Minaya and Jerry Manuel. There have been some high points. Fred Wilpon acknowledging that the Mets haven’t won enough and, for the first time I can recall, speaking passionately about the team and saying that it means a lot of him and his family.
This one didn’t ring true, though: Jeff Wilpon, when asked if the next Mets’ GM will have full autonomy to make personnel decisions:
“The old general manager had that.”
Fred Wilpon added that Omar Minaya’s lack of autonomy is “a perception that’s out there, and it’s an incorrect perception.”
I guess the reason that perception is out there is that there have been countless reports by well-connected reporters saying otherwise. This perception isn’t helped by Fred Wilpon going on to admit that he and Jeff “don’t know how to pick ballplayers,: and that “there
isn’t one major decision that hasn’t been made at the Mets that hasn’t
been made with the three of us,” referring, I presume to both of the Wilpons and Minaya.
If the owner and the team president are in on every major personnel decision with the GM, how on Earth does the GM have autonomy?
According to STATS, INC., the average game in 2015 was 2 hours, 56 minutes. That’s six minutes faster than games in 2014.
The gains came in the first half, when games averaged 2:53. Second half games averaged three hours even. One can probably thank the expanded rosters in September for that, as games then see many more pitching changes. Of course, it’s likely that second half games were faster in 2015 than 2014 as well given the rules changes.
Those changes: agreement to enforce the rule requiring a hitter to keep at least one foot in the batter’s box and the installation of clocks timing pitching changes and between-inning breaks in ever ballpark.
It remains to be seen if MLB stays satisfied with that modest improvement or if chooses to go the way Triple-A and Double-A leagues did. They installed 20-second pitch clocks and started penalizing violators with balls and strikes. Triple-A’s two leagues, the International and Pacific Leagues, saw game-time decreases by 13 and 16 minutes, respectively.
I’m so old I remember when general managers used to run baseball operations departments. Now they’re basically assistants.
The latest example: the Oakland Athletics have promoted Billy Beane to vice president of baseball operations and have named David Forst general manager. Forst has been with the A’s for 16 years and has been Beane’s assistant for 12 years, so it’s not exactly a situation in which Forst will be making the final calls. The official move came today, though the move has been in the works for some time, it seems.
Someone with a lot of good front office access is going to write a good story this winter about the title inflation going on in Major League Baseball over the past year. And it’s gonna be great when one of his or her sources breaks the pattern of saying “well, baseball transactions are so much more complex these days . . . ” and admits “hey, if Theo gets a fancy title and La Russa gets a fancy title I WANT A FANCY TITLE TOO.”
Not that it’s much of a secret as it is.