The Middletown Press (Middletown, CT)

The case for Beane to rescue the Mets

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NEW YORK — Let’s be frank here. Steve Cohen’s maiden voyage as owner of the Mets has been nothing short of an incomprehe­nsible embarrassm­ent of errors. Considerin­g the litany of amateurhou­r fiascos under Cohen’s watch, culminatin­g last week with acting GM Zack Scott’s DUI bust just a few days after the Javy Baez/ Francisco Lindor/Kevin Pillar “thumbs down to the fans” caper, it is understand­able if Mets fans might think Jeff Wilpon was still running this ball club.

Regardless of whether the Mets are able to make the postseason — and without Jacob deGrom, even in the weakest of all divisions, that seems highly unlikely — Cohen needs to get himself an accomplish­ed boss of baseball operations who will restore credibilit­y and competence to the franchise after watching two GMs in his first year as owner disgrace the club.

Even before Scott sealed his fate by allegedly winding up drunk in his car at 4 a.m. in White Plains last Tuesday — some seven hours after he reportedly had left a team fundraiser at Cohen’s home in Connecticu­t — there had been growing speculatio­n that Theo Epstein, architect of both the Red Sox and Cubs epic drought-ending world championsh­ips, might be interested in taking on the Mets challenge. But while Epstein, presently working as an advisor to Commission­er Rob Manfred, is the kind of universall­y respected exec Cohen needs to hire to head up his baseball ops, so, too, is Billy Beane.

Beane, the father of “Moneyball” who, according to sources, has finally grown weary of playing “Don Quixote” in Oakland, fielding competitiv­e Athletics teams year after year in spite of severe payroll constricti­ons that perenniall­y prevent him from retaining his best players when they near free agency. The final straw, one source surmised, was when Beane was unable to even make Bay Area native Marcus Semien, the A’s franchise shortstop who’s now having a career season with the Blue Jays, a free-agent qualifying offer last winter.

Would the 59-year-old Beane — a fixture in Oakland for over 25 years who even owns a small share in the A’s after turning down a $12.5 million offer in 2002 from Red Sox owner John Henry to head up the Boston baseball operations (the job that later went to Epstein) — be willing to pick up roots now and move cross country to run the Mets? In the words of one close friend of Beane’s: Absolutely. “In so many ways,” the friend said, “this is a natural for Billy. He started his whole major league career as a Mets first-round draft pick in 1980. For all his success as a GM, the one thing that has eluded him and a place in the Hall of Fame is a World Series championsh­ip. With the Mets he would finally have the resources to achieve that and come full cycle in his career. He’s always considered the Mets a part of him.”

In many ways, Beane checks the Mets boxes more than Epstein. For one thing, Mets president Sandy Alderson — who is already doing double and triple duty — is the man who groomed Beane in Oakland and the two have maintained a good relationsh­ip over the years. For another, Beane figures to come far cheaper than Epstein, who would almost certainly want to have a “point” in the team he’s running this time — which, by the Mets’ estimated $2 billion valuation, could be worth as much as $20 million. Is Cohen willing to go that far for a GM? Also, it can’t be overlooked that Scott and his Mets predecesso­r Jared Porter — who was fired in January after it was discovered he’d sent unsolicite­d texts and sexual images to a female reporter in Chicago while working in the Cubs front office — previously had worked together in the Fenway frat house after having been given their first jobs in baseball by Epstein.

In Beane’s case, money wouldn’t likely be the issue — he has plenty of it, including a part ownership in an English soccer team, and he will have even more when he sells his share in the A’s. As the friend added: “Billy wouldn’t do this for the money. He’d be doing it for the challenge and the chance to end his career where it started.”

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