Ranking Mets GMs All-Time

Well, it's official. Sandy Alderson is the 12th General Manager of the New York Mets, bringing joy to the corners of the globe patrolled by stat-savvy Mets fans, and misery among those who heard Alderson say he won't be active in the free agent market this winter.

The legacy he'll be competing against - 49 seasons, just two world championships, despite the riches associated with the largest market in the country – is a decidedly mixed one. Let's rank his 11 predecessors.

1. Frank Cashen

Cashen easily holds the top spot in Mets history. His tenure lasted over a decade. He drafted Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry. He traded for Gary Carter and Keith Hernandez (the latter for a paltry Neil Allen). He made an unpopular decision at the time, dealing Lee Mazzilli for Ron Darling, that proved to be a wise move. He even traded Calvin Schiraldi in a deal for Bob Ojeda prior to the 1986 season; Ojeda went 18-5 with a 2.57 ERA for the Mets, while Schiraldi served up the go-ahead home run to Ray Knight in Game 7 of the 1986 World Series. Now that's a good trade!

2. Bing Devine

Devine came to the Mets thanks to an overreaction from Cardinals' owner Gussie Busch. With the 1964 Cardinals trailing the Phillies by 6.5 games in August 1964, Busch cleaned house. By the time the Cardinals rallied to win the National League pennant, then beat the Yankees in the 1964 World Series, Devine had been scooped up by the Mets.

Devine is responsible for putting most of the 1969 Mets together, from drafting Ken Boswell, Gary Gentry and Nolan Ryan, to trading for Jerry Grote and bidding for Tom Seaver's services. Devine went home to St. Louis before the 1968 season, but his work led to the only other championship in Mets history.

3. Johnny Murphy

Murphy was integral in shaping the team's player development system from the very beginning of the New York Mets, as one of original GM George Weiss' hires. He also finished what Devine started in 1968-69, trading for manager Gil Hodges, World Series MVP Donn Clendennon, and center fielder Tommie Agee. Only his premature death in January 1970 kept him from ranking even higher on this list.

4. Joe McIlvaine

This may seem high for a GM who didn't preside over a single playoff appearance, but consider that McIlvane took over the Mets following a 59-103 season. By his final season, 1997, the Mets checked in at 88-74. He traded Alan Zinter for Rico Brogna. He drafted A.J. Burnett in the eighth round of the 1995 draft. He signed a minor league free agent named Rick Reed, who promptly became a frontline starter. And he acquired John Olerud for Robert Person.

Only the trade of Jeff Kent and Jose Vizcaino for Carlos Baerga and Alvaro Espinoza stands out as a significant error. A large portion of the teams that made the playoffs in 1999 and 2000 should be credited to McIlvane, not Steve Phillips.

5. Omar Minaya

The recently-departed Minaya earns the nod over Phillips, based mostly on the amount of major league talent he leaves behind. Sandy Alderson inherits mid-career David Wright, Jose Reyes, Johan Santana, along with young players like Ike Davis, Jon Niese and Mike Pelfrey. Even Carlos Beltran and Jason Bay offer opporttunities for significant bounceback 2011 seasons.

Still, Minaya must take the blame for failing to properly leverage that talent in 2007 or 2008. Nor did he build an organization to overcome injuries suffered in 2009, and to a lesser extent, 2010. The modest return he received on star players led to his demise.

6. Steve Phillips

Phillips has undeniable strengths and weaknesses in his record. He traded for Mike Piazza, but he dealt Carl Everett for John Hudek. He signed Robin Ventura, but he traded for Mo Vaughn. He acquired Mike Hampton, but he traded Jason Bay for Steve Reed. So clearly, there's fuel for either side of the debate.

The Mets reached the NLCS in 1999 and the World Series in 2000 under his watch, and some of those who follow him on the list lack the positives on his resume, so here he is. But considering he took over an 88-74 team, and left the Mets at 66-95 in 2003, he cannot be ranked higher.

7. George Weiss

This feels too low. Weiss, the mastermind behind the great Yankee teams of the 1940s and 1950s, ran the Mets from 1962-1966. Under his watch, a significant number of the 1969 Mets came to the organization. Weiss also mentored Johnny Murphy, who ranks above him.

Ultimately, Weiss doesn't get credit for his Yankee work in these rankings. And on the field, the Mets lost 100 games four times, climbing all the way up to 66-95 in his final season.

8. Al Harazin

Poor Al. He followed the legendary Cashen, taking over a team that had seen better days. He spent plenty of money trying to avoid a downward cycle, and thanks to Bob Klapisch's book, will be known forever as the GM of "The Worst Team Money Could Buy". The shame of it is, few of his moves look genuinely awful in a vacuum.

He signed Bobby Bonilla, who gave the Mets four seasons of terrific offense, including two All Star appearances. He signed Eddie Murray to a two-year deal, and Murray produced well in both seasons. He traded Gregg Jefferies, Kevin McReynolds and Keith Miller for Bret Saberhagen and Bill Pecota. Saberhagen struggled with injuries as a Met, but also finished third in the 1994 Cy Young voting and pitched to a virtually identical ERA+ as he did in Kansas City.

But the 1992 Mets finished 72-90, the 1993 Mets 59-103. And his drafts were pretty uninspired – the three best players he drafted were Preston Wilson, Vance Wilson and Benny Agbayani. So let's not exaggerate – Harazin put together some poor teams.

9. Jim Duquette

The problem Duquette has isn't a laundry list of failures. But in his short tenure running the Mets, he has a few howlers, and very little to brag about on his record.

The three-year, $20.1MM contract to Kazuo Matsui – and the resulting shift of Jose Reyes to second base for the 2004 season – is one that Mets fans won't ever forget. The same goes for the trade of Scott Kazmir to Tampa Bay for Victor Zambrano. That Kazmir, after four strong seasons, including two All-Star appearances, has cratered due to injury isn't the point. His production represented far more than the Mets received from Zambrano, who hit the disabled list three starts into his Met career, and never performed well. That kind of return for a top prospect like Kazmir is simply unacceptable.

And the three major leaguers from his 2004 draft, one in which the Mets had high picks in each round: Philip Humber, Nick Evans and Mike Carp.

10. Bob Scheffing

Scheffing and his successor, seen below, presided over the Mets from 1970-1979. Scheffing held the job through 1974; McDonald took them the rest of the way to bottom. Who gets the edge here? Scheffing, narrowly.

That is not to say he didn't make a strong bid for that bottom spot. His drafts were generally busts, with the notable exceptions of Craig Swan and Lee Mazzilli. He traded a 24-year-old Nolan Ryan and three other players for Jim Fregosi, coming off of a season when Fregosi hit .233 and battled injuries. In his first season with the Mets, Fregosi hit .232 and battled injuries.

What went right? The team won a NL pennant in 1973, but did so with an 82-79 regular-season record. That's enough to give Scheffing the edge over McDonald.

11. Joe McDonald

McDonald took over a team that had won two NL pennants in the previous five seasons, and turned it into a team that lost 96 games or more in each season from 1977-1979. His best draft picks were Jody Davis, Mike Scott and Wally Backman, with only Backman enjoying success as a Met. He traded an in-prime Rusty Staub for a washed-up Mickey Lolich. And worst of all, he traded The Franchise, Tom Seaver, receiving very little in return: Doug Flynn, Steve Henderson, Dan Norman and Pat Zachry.

By the time Cashen replaced McDonald (precipitated by a change in ownership), the cupboard was bare. How much of that was McDonald's fault is difficult to say – Seaver, for instance, got traded after warring with the team over his salary. But McDonald certainly didn't do more with less.

Put another way: if Alderson's tenure turns out like McDonald's, it'll probably precipitate another sale of the team.


Full Story | 52 Comments | Categories: New York Mets

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52 Comments on "Ranking Mets GMs All-Time"


4 years 9 months ago

If Omar and Steve Phillips are 5 and 6, you know you haven’t had that many good GMs…

HerbertAnchovy
4 years 9 months ago

Sandy Alderson will only be their 12th GM in history.

FarmerErnie
4 years 9 months ago

So much for Medgal for GM. You could have been ranked 12th one day Howard…I’m sure the Wilpons teared as they crossed you off their list of candidates. What a clown.

basemonkey
4 years 9 months ago

Interesting topic idea. Who would like to see this done for other teams?

penpaper
4 years 9 months ago

Was thinking the same thing. Pretty much everything these guys put up is a joy to read. Maybe top 5 gms of all-time for each organization..?

Sniderlover
4 years 9 months ago

Yeah I’d love to read that.

Keep at it guys.

HerbertAnchovy
4 years 9 months ago

Count me in.

The_Silver_Stacker
4 years 9 months ago

There would be some hilarious comments. One thing I find odd is there is a large group of Red Sox fans that love to rag on Epstein, but he is really their best GM ever afterall he brought them 2 Rings and numerous playoff appearances. Just like Cashman who gets ragged on by my fellow Yanks fans

MetsEventually
4 years 9 months ago

Not a very strong history with Minaya on that list…

Smrtbusnisman04
4 years 9 months ago

Objectivity tends to gloss over the horrible details of history. The below market acquisition of Johan Santana is what saves him (Shame on Minnesota!!).

I thought the Heath Bell and Matt Lindstrom trades were far worse than the Scott Kazmir one.

The_Silver_Stacker
4 years 9 months ago

they took less talent from the mets just to get him out of the league

fanofcleonjones
4 years 9 months ago

Only in retrospect. At the time Kazmir was traded he was regarded as one of the top pitching prospects in all of baseball. If the Mets had seriously considered shopping him around, they could have gotten a lot more than Zambrano. That Heath Bell has turned out to be a more successful major leaguer is besides the point.

That said, the Bell trade was certainly foolish in its on right.

Infield Fly
4 years 9 months ago

I am one fan who is OK with Alderson’s plan to pass on free agents this year. You can’t bring change by doing business as usual, and the payroll is already bloated with agents who never lived up to their billing. Let’s get ’em off the books before bringing in any more, and find more effective ways to build a real and lasting contender.

moonraker45
4 years 9 months ago

Great piece Howard. well done.

CitizenSnips
4 years 9 months ago

Was McDonald sent in to purposely sabotage the team? Good god some of those trades were terrible.

Just_MLB
4 years 9 months ago

Minaya really should be 3rd on this list.

mrmet128
4 years 9 months ago

one day it’ll say:

1. Sandy Alderson

2. Frank Cashen

Just_MLB
4 years 9 months ago

not if jeff wilpon has anything to say about it !

mrmet128
4 years 9 months ago

so far its looking like the Wilpons are staying out of it

but can we all just shut up about these rumors about the Wilpons meddling? if you owned a team, wouldn’t you wanna know what’s always going on?

Just_MLB
4 years 9 months ago

its way to early to tell. they did the same thing when Fred hired Omar. as a matter of fact, the big story behind Omar taking the position was the fact that it was with the condition of “full autonomy”. granted, fred i think gets it now, but lets wait til year 3 and see if Sandy still has the same amount of power/influence. ( im hoping he does )

mrmet128
4 years 9 months ago

i think Omar lost his full autonomy because he started making bad moves and was making the team look bad so Jeff got tired of it

Alderson doesn’t look like the type that will call out a news reporter in a press conference, fight with Carlos Beltran over surgery, etc

i think he’ll make smart moves which is something Minaya stopped doing after 07

Just_MLB
4 years 9 months ago

hmm…i think he lost it in winter of 2006. when ownership declined the manny/lastings trade. that told me he had lost some pull already.
then the wilpons constantly pushing players to play through injuries ( reyes, beltran, santana ) in fear of fans running away from Citified. constantly telling the public that said injured player was 1-2 weeks away. ( in 2009 ). Braden Looper/JJ Putz/Brian Schneider even said in interviews that players were told not to report injuries to the public.

Infield Fly
4 years 9 months ago

You are right – Alderson does not look like he starts conflicts in a press conference, but the Wilpons history of interference started before Omar. Meanwhile, Alderson is just starting his tenure as GM and we’re just getting to know him. Optimism is a good thing but let’s avoid the tendency to declare victory before the first down (excuse the football analogy – Jets postgame in the background!). Give him the time to develop his plan, make moves and get a groove going with ownership and with the team. Only then will we know what we’ve got in him — and how the Wilpons will respond.

icedrake523
4 years 9 months ago

Enough with these rumors. Everyone who would know about it has denied it. It’s a baseless rumor the media continues to circulate. But when do they care about facts? The team is a business that the Wilpons own. They have a right, as owners, to have input on the decisions their business makes. The difference now is that instead of having a bumbling moron guide them, it will be someone intelligent, articulate, and experienced.

Just_MLB
4 years 9 months ago

hmmm…u mean like the doctor for the LA Dodgers who came out and called Jeff Wilpon a liar ( with regards to Reyes medical reports ) ?or Nelson Doubleday ( see quotes from 2002 ) ?or the handful of other NL exec’s who have made statements about the Wilpons?Not sure why u would blindly defend someone who is pretty much the MLB equivalent of Charles Dolan. since firing Cashen, the avg shelf life for a GM in Queens is about 2-3 years….just sayin…

just sayin…

icedrake523
4 years 9 months ago

None of them knew anything about how much power Minaya had which is what we were discussing. Even if Minaya did lose power, it was because of what happened in 2009, the underperformance, Tony Bernazard, and then the spat with Adam Rubin.

The Wilpons are no where close to being as bad as Charles Dolan despite how much some Met fans want to think.

Just_MLB
4 years 9 months ago

of course, no one really knew about omar’s declining power. all this innuendo about the wilpons are just rumors. ignore everything u have heard for the past 15 years.

Just_MLB
4 years 9 months ago

how many people have to come out and say the same thing, before u actually start to believe there is truth to it?

icedrake523
4 years 9 months ago

You need to work on your reading comprehension. You’re not getting my point at all.

Just_MLB
4 years 9 months ago

just because i don’t agree with your statement, doesn’t mean I didn’t understand it.

I have several links to people who have all pretty much said the same thing about Jeff Wilpon.
(none of that matters, since u will shake ur head like a 12 year old and say it isn’t true)

icedrake523
4 years 9 months ago

I’ve never denied anything. I said the people who would know about Omar’s autonomy have denied everything the media has said. What Doubleday, the LA doctor, or anyone else have said about Jeff Wilpon is irrelevant to the issue I brought up.

mrmet128
4 years 9 months ago

thank you icedrake. thats what i’ve been trying to say.

Just_MLB
4 years 9 months ago

and who would “those people” be ?

Just_MLB
4 years 9 months ago

Re: manny ramirez – “Omar and the baseball staff aren’t interested,” Jeff Wilpon told Bloomberg News Thursday.

Wilpon said he thought there was a perception that the team’s ownership “said no.” But, Wilpon pointed out, “I don’t have the opportunity to say no because Omar hasn’t brought it to me as an option.”

do u really believe that after 5 years of coveting Manny Ramirez…and no one in LF signed for 2009…that Omar never mentioned Manny ????

if u cant see how ownership refused to be transparent in the way they operated, aside from video-taping the wilpons, nothing will do.

Just_MLB
4 years 9 months ago

..

angryredmenace
4 years 9 months ago

Don’t start tooting the Aldersons’ horn just yet.He didn’t do much in San Diego except get in the way from what i’ve been reading on Padres message boards…

icedrake523
4 years 9 months ago

He was the CEO in San Diego, not the GM.

TapDancingTeddy
4 years 9 months ago

Gil Hodges! Another manager traded for player. I’d say it worked out well for the Mets. He was just what they needed.

Even if he wasn’t, Bill Denehy never did anything to make them regret the move.

mattmosher
4 years 9 months ago

Alderson himself said it on WFAN the other day. “‘Full autonomy’ is a myth perpetuated by the media…not one general manager has it.”

4 years 9 months ago

No matter who is GM the owner is going to have a say in where the money is going, its their money, Repeat “full autonomy is a myth perpetuated by the media… not one general manager has it” and no GM ever will, the idea is a dumb one, “lets just let some one have a free run with my check book” um never going to happen

Just_MLB
4 years 9 months ago

in between full autonomy and what the wilpons do is a balance…how far toward each side is almost negligible. what people really want is transparency and accountability. not using GM’s as a scapegoat. have clearly defined lines of authority. If Jeff Wilpon tells Omar, no u cant absorb Billy Wagner’s 2009 salary when trading him, dont lie to the public and say that the idea was never proposed. rather, justify your decision even in hindsight and say that u didn’t want to because ( insert excuse here ).

same goes for the kazmir trade, the non-manny trade, and a host of other decisions the wilpons have their hands in.

4 years 9 months ago

This seems kind of incomplete and several omissions were made and some mistakes as well..

First Off, Sheffing was the worst, he traded Ryan with 3 other guys for Fregosi, then he traded Ken Singleton, Jorgensen, Foli for a past his prime Staub. Staub was a nice guy but I still don’t understand why it’s not considered a terrible trade by Mets fans. Singleton went on to be one of the best offensive players in baseball from 1975-1981. Then to make it worse Sheffing hired Yogi Berra to be the manager instead of Whitey Herzog after Hodges died in ’72.

Why does Omar Minaya get credit David Wright and Jose Reyes? Those two players were signed when Steve Phillips was the G.M. Phillips might rub people the wrong way but he was a great G.M. for the Mets, He should be ranked 2nd/3rd.

Minaya was terrible. He spent tons of money on Pedro, Moises Alou, El-Duque, Ollie Perez, Luis Castillo and got little to nothing back in return. He gave too much money to Delgado. He let players like Delgado and Julio Franco run the team. He turned the team into a complete joke by ’08-09. He traded Bell, Bannister, and Keppinger and got nothing back in return. He should be close to the bottom.

George Weiss was a racist and cost the Mets Reggie Jackson when he wouldn’t pick him first overall in 1966 because Jackson had a mixed-race girlfriend.

Why does Joe Mac get so much love? Because he made the Zinter for Brogna trade????
How about Kent for Baerga?? How about Burnitz for Dipoda, and Milicki? Saberhagen for Acevedo? Bonilla for Ochoa? Plus he kept Dallas Green as the manager for 3 1/2 years for some odd reason. Then he let Green basically destroy the young pitching staff of Wilson, Izzy and Pulsipher. The only good move he made was the Olerud trade.

Harazin was terrible He spent tons of money and overpaid for Coleman and Bonilla then he made a bunch or pointless trades hired Dallas Green and the team was a disaster. He made one good move he signed Edgardo Alfonzo in ’91. The Saberhagen trade was a toss up.

Just_MLB
4 years 9 months ago

“George Weiss was a racist and cost the Mets Reggie Jackson when he wouldn’t pick him first overall in 1966 because Jackson had a mixed-race girlfriend.”

wow…i never knew this…

Just_MLB
4 years 9 months ago

then again after reading up on Weiss now, it makes all too much sense…
too bad there are alot of met fans who still have those xenophobic tendencies wrapped up inside.

fanofcleonjones
4 years 9 months ago

I believe you’re confusing George Weiss for Bing Devine who, I think, was in charge when Steve Chilcott was drafted in 66.

4 years 9 months ago

This seems kind of incomplete and several omissions were made and some mistakes as well..

First Off, Sheffing was the worst, he traded Ryan with 3 other guys for Fregosi, then he traded Ken Singleton, Jorgensen, Foli for a past his prime Staub. Staub was a nice guy but I still don’t understand why it’s not considered a terrible trade by Mets fans. Singleton went on to be one of the best offensive players in baseball from 1975-1981. Then to make it worse Sheffing hired Yogi Berra to be the manager instead of Whitey Herzog after Hodges died in ’72.

Why does Omar Minaya get credit David Wright and Jose Reyes? Those two players were signed when Steve Phillips was the G.M. Phillips might rub people the wrong way but he was a great G.M. for the Mets, He should be ranked 2nd/3rd.

Minaya was terrible. He spent tons of money on Pedro, Moises Alou, El-Duque, Ollie Perez, Luis Castillo and got little to nothing back in return. He gave too much money to Delgado. He let players like Delgado and Julio Franco run the team. He turned the team into a complete joke by ’08-09. He traded Bell, Bannister, and Keppinger and got nothing back in return. He should be close to the bottom.

George Weiss was a racist and cost the Mets Reggie Jackson when he wouldn’t pick him first overall in 1966 because Jackson had a mixed-race girlfriend.

Why does Joe Mac get so much love? Because he made the Zinter for Brogna trade????
How about Kent for Baerga?? How about Burnitz for Dipoda, and Milicki? Saberhagen for Acevedo? Bonilla for Ochoa? Plus he kept Dallas Green as the manager for 3 1/2 years for some odd reason. Then he let Green basically destroy the young pitching staff of Wilson, Izzy and Pulsipher. The only good move he made was the Olerud trade.

Harazin was terrible He spent tons of money and overpaid for Coleman and Bonilla then he made a bunch or pointless trades hired Dallas Green and the team was a disaster. He made one good move he signed Edgardo Alfonzo in ’91. The Saberhagen trade was a toss up.

Just_MLB
4 years 9 months ago

Minaya was asst. gm and in charge of scouting when reyes, wright were signed. ( he also was responsible for nelson cruz but clinton traded him in 2000 )

LIMETSFAN1
4 years 9 months ago

Give more credit to Joe McDonald. He drafted Allen, Reardon, Scott, Backman, Wilson, Brooks. Traded for Orosco. Most of the trades he made, Seaver, Kingman, etc, were forced on him by ownership DeRoulet and Grant. He also traded for Joe Torre in late 1974 with him in mind as a future manager.

LIMETSFAN1
4 years 9 months ago

Give Joe McD more credit. He traded for Joe Torre because he envisioned Torre a future manager when Yogi was still on-field boss. He traded for Orosco. McD drafted Allen, Reardon, Scott, Backman, Brooks, Mookie to name a few. It was ownership via penny pinching, Grant and DeRoulet who order trades of Seaver, Kingman, etc. Cashen inherited quite a bit of talent thanks to Joe McD. Remember, it was Cashen who traded Scott for Heep and Cashen who traded Reardon for Ellis Valentine.

Rob Stumpf
1 year 2 months ago

A sale of the team? Nonsense. The Wilpons have zero interest in selling.

4 years 9 months ago

May not be a trade rumor but it’s all about the guys who make the trades themselves and have a lot to do with the rumors so I think it fits quite well.

moonraker45
4 years 9 months ago

great pic.