Editor’s Note: This is the debut blog post from former major league general manager Jim Bowden, who has been hired as an analyst for ESPN.com. Bowden will write “The GM’s Office” blog, part of ESPN.com’s SweetSpot Blog Network, and provide multimedia analysis across ESPN’s digital platforms. Bowden became the youngest GM in MLB history when the Cincinnati Reds hired him in 1992 at age 31. He served as senior vice president and GM for the Reds from 1992-2003 and for the Washington Nationals from 2005-09. He was named MLB Executive of the Year by Baseball America in 1999.
As a former general manager, I look forward to sharing my angle of baseball here at ESPN’s SweetSpot Blog. A general manager’s view of baseball is often times unique and usually different than that of a player, manager, scout, coach, member of the media or fan. Doesn’t make our opinion right or better; it's just coming from a different vantage point.
The general manager’s position today is much more sophisticated and complex than it was a decade ago. The job consists of in-depth player analysis, including: scouting (professional, player development, amateur, video and computer), statistical components (including sabermetrics, new-wave algorithms, plus old-school numbers), medical evaluations, make-up, character, intelligence, instincts, family background, education and financial history.
It’s also an advantage to a GM if he has a strong legal, financial, medical and negotiating background. Strong leadership, communication and people skills and evaluative ability are a must. Most successful GMs are long-term visionaries who have the innate ability to know when to shift the emphasis to today, when their team has a chance to win a World Series.
GMs oversee four major areas: (1) the major league club; (2) the scouting department; (3) player development; (4) industry issues. To win a world championship you have to be successful in all four departments.
Please feel free to give me feedback or subjects you want me to address in the future at my Twitter account: @JimBowdenESPNxm. Thanks for reading.
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Jose Reyes will be a free agent after the 2011 season. Reyes, 27, is in his prime and finally healthy again. He has an OPS of .812 to go along with a .315 batting average, 11 stolen bases, 19 runs scored and is presently one of the best leadoff hitters in the National League. He has range to both sides, can turn the double play and has a gun from the hole. His best years should be the next four. He is a building block to a championship-caliber club. If I were running the Mets, I would sign him long-term and continue to build around David Wright, Ike Davis and Reyes.
I talked to Mets GM Sandy Alderson during spring training. He was evasive with his plan for Reyes. However, he did tell me that if the Mets are in a pennant race, Reyes more than likely would finish the year with the Mets. To be realistic, the Mets don’t have enough pitching to contend with the Phillies, Braves and Marlins for 162 games. Therefore, the decision should be simple: either sign him or trade him by the July 31 deadline. It doesn’t make sense to get only two draft picks as compensation if he leaves as a free agent.
Mets manager Terry Collins told me Tuesday that Reyes wants to stay with the Mets and, in his opinion, Reyes isn’t going anywhere. However, here’s the problem: Reyes is going to want a seven- or eight-year deal in the $15 million range and the way he’s playing, he’s going to get it. Based on the ownership financial issues, and the fact the Mets are several players away from contending, I think a Reyes trade is more likely than a Reyes signing ... at least by July 31.
Therefore, let’s look at the some of the most likely trade partners and possible players that Alderson would be asking for in return:
1. San Francisco Giants -- They’re not trading any of their four starters: Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner or Jonathan Sanchez. Instead, the Mets would target 1B/OF Brandon Belt, minor league right-hander Zack Wheeler, shortstop prospects Ehire Adrianza or Brandon Crawford and second baseman Charlie Culberson. The Mets might ask for four players and the Giants might offer three. Any deal of this magnitude will have the contingency of signing Reyes to a long-term deal prior to the transaction closing.
2. St. Louis Cardinals -- If the Cardinals decide they are not going to commit to Albert Pujols, they could decide to make a deal for Reyes and continue to improve the team up the middle. The difficult part is these two teams don’t match up well. The Cardinals could offer pitching prospects Shelby Miller and Tyrell Jenkins and maybe even future closer Eduardo Sanchez. However, they really don’t have any young position players to make this work (Colby Rasmus and David Freese are not being traded).
3. Boston Red Sox -- The Red Sox could be a good fit, if they’re willing to sign another Carl Crawford-type deal, which they might not want to after the start he’s had. A package that included shortstop Jose Iglesias and former LSU stud Anthony Ranaudo would be a good starting point to a potential package.
4. Cincinnati Reds -- The Reds have the best farm system of any team that has a need for Reyes. Although they are happy with Paul Janish defensively at short, can you imagine Jose Reyes on the Reds? Instant World Series contenders (if they’re not already). A package would have to include one of their top catching prospects, either Devin Mesoraco or Yasmani Grandal; middle infielder Billy Hamilton or Zack Cozart; a young bat like Juan Francisco; and a starting pitcher with tremendous upside like a Homer Bailey. If the Reds want Reyes, if the Reds can afford Reyes, they have enough to get Reyes.
5. Los Angeles Angels -- The Angels have talent to deal and the resources to sign Reyes. The Angels desperately need a long-term solution in the leadoff spot and Mike Scioscia has always built his teams with defense up the middle. Reyes would be a perfect fit. The Angels could offer major league talent back, including a package or combination of players: one of their three catchers (Bobby Wilson, Hank Conger or Jeff Mathis), an everyday shortstop (Erick Aybar), a rotation arm (Tyler Chatwood) and/or a second baseman (Alexi Amarista).
The Twins, Brewers and Nationals are three other teams that could really use Reyes. However, due to either financial reasons or lack of high-level prospects, it is extremely unlikely a deal could be made with any of those teams.
Follow Jim on Twitter: @JimBowdenESPNxm.