NASHVILLE — Craig Counsell’s decision last month to pass on the Mets’ manager opening, choosing instead to take that job with the Cubs, has yielded another direct ripple effect that may well impact them for many years to come.
In the hours after the Cubs dumped David Ross out of nowhere in favor of Counsell, their bench coach, Andy Green, asked them for and received permission to reach out to other clubs. It was time to move on.
Now, he is the Mets’ new senior vice president of player development, overseeing the farm system — a role critical to owner Steve Cohen’s long-term goal of using homegrown players to become a perennial contender.
“When stuff went down with Rossy losing his job, I picked my head up that night and sent one text out,” Green said. “It was to David. I didn’t reach out to any other team at that point in time.”
“David” was Stearns, the Mets’ president of baseball operations. They had spoken in the weeks prior — including spending a whole day together at one point — because Green, too, was a candidate to be the Mets’ manager. Although they hit it off, in Green’s view, the club hired Carlos Mendoza instead.
That was fine. Green wanted to talk to Stearns more anyway, in part because Stearns had inquired previously about whether he had ever considered moving to the front office — an indication, Green said half-jokingly, that he wasn’t going to be the pick to run the dugout.
Green was upfront with Stearns then that, yeah, he felt he’d ultimately go the executive route. A series of former bosses had told him that was his destiny. He didn’t think the change would come this fast, though.
“This became the one option I fixated on,” he said. “[It was an] opportunity to do something really special with somebody that I felt like I connected with. It is as influential as a spot as any other in the organization, partnering with people to develop the talent that ultimately creates the culture of success. That’s what you get to do in this job.”
The biggest change the Mets are trying to institute in the minor leagues is a lack thereof at the top. Green is the fifth person to lead the player development department in the past five-plus years. As much as the manager and general manager roles have turned over, so has this one, from Ian Levin to Jared Banner to Kevin Howard to Jeremy Barnes back to Howard and now to Green.
Those aren’t household names, but they aren’t supposed to be. Levin (assistant GM) and Barnes (hitting coach) remain with the Mets; the others are elsewhere. The severe instability has impacted the Mets’ ability to develop players, since none of the above stayed in the job long enough for their philosophies, personnel moves and other decisions to truly take root.
“Any time you bring in somebody new, there’s a learning curve that slows down a little bit of the forward progress because you have to stop, pause and get to know everybody, find your footing and start going again,” Green said.
Stearns said: “Hoping throughout the organization, we can create a sense of stability. I think that it is needed . . . Not only at the executive levels, I think it's throughout. So that's one of my goals.”
Across close to a quarter-century in professional baseball, Green, 46, has played, coached and managed in the majors and the minors.
In 2009, he got into four games with the Mets, a cameo just successful enough for him to raise his career average from .199 to .200. From 2016-19, he was the manager of the Padres.
The biggest difference so far, Green cracked: wearing a quarter-zip, the unofficial uniform of non-uniformed personnel.
“His understanding of the baseball development process — from the moment a player gets into the system, through the minor leagues, up through the major leagues — is pretty unique,” Stearns said. “Because he’s experienced it both as a player and a coach. So now he gets to see it as an executive.”