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SportsColumnistsDavid Lennon

Mets, Sandy Alderson need to respond to misconduct by Jared Porter and Mickey Callaway with more diversified front office

Mets general manager Sandy Alderson before a game

Mets general manager Sandy Alderson before a game against Atlanta at Citi Field on Sept. 27, 2017. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

The Mets have more pressing needs at the moment than Trevor Bauer or Jackie Bradley Jr. A much bigger hole than a front-line starter or centerfielder.

We’re looking at the front office. And it now seems long past time to put somebody in place that can bring about real, significant change — in conduct, in behavior, in simply presenting a different voice and perspective to the Flushing operation.

The Mets can call this person whatever they want. Maybe it’s under the umbrella of assistant GM — Zack Scott just got bumped up to acting GM — or a new title, such as a vice president of quality control. But hire them. Soon.

Because claiming ignorance, over and over, isn’t cutting it anymore for the current regime. Neither is a pledge to overhaul the vetting process for job candidates.

It’s reasonable to believe that president Sandy Alderson wasn’t complicit in overlooking any of the alleged sleazy transgressions by former GM Jared Porter or manager Mickey Callaway, who was fired by the Mets for his on-field performance after the 2019 season. But having two serial-texting predators harassing female reporters under his employ reveals at the very least an apparent blind spot for this behavior, and it can’t continue.

Not for Alderson’s sake, and not for the Mets, who just three months into Steve Cohen’s culture-changing ownership of the franchise are backsliding into all-too-familiar clownish territory.

But here’s the good news for them: It’s never too late to do the right thing. We’re not advocating that any current member of the organization lose their job over the Callaway allegations, published Monday night by The Athletic. Incredibly, Callaway was only suspended Tuesday by the Angels, who vowed to "work closely with MLB to conduct a full investigation." Still, it figures to be only a matter of time before he meets the same fate as Porter.

As for Alderson, he’s in a position to instantly make an impact on what he already admitted is an institutional crisis for baseball. He can expand his front office with a snap of his fingers, and entrust this person — a woman’s viewpoint and experience should be a priority — to assist him, or Scott, or even Cohen in areas where the Mets have previously failed.

It’s understandable that Alderson didn’t want to go outside for Porter’s replacement so close to spring training. He should take his time X-raying the backgrounds of the next round of candidates for any job, not just GM. Porter’s incriminating behavior — to the best of anyone’s knowledge — occurred mostly on his cell phone, as detailed by ESPN, so you can see how that could evade Alderson’s scrutiny. As for Callaway, who was hired by Alderson before the 2018 season, it’s certainly possible that asking around the league a bit more could have produced some red flags.

"I was appalled by the actions reported today of former manager Mickey Callaway," Alderson said Monday night in a statement. "I was unaware of the conduct described in the story at the time of Mickey’s hire or at any time during my tenure as general manager. We have already begun a review of our hiring processes to ensure our vetting of new employees is more thorough and comprehensive."

Great. It’s a start. But this isn’t just about the process. If a team is sorely lacking in analytics data, the fix is to bring in someone to revamp the department. Same with pro scouting, draft prep, etc. So shouldn’t it be the same for avoiding the Porters and Callaways in the future?

According to the female reporters in The Athletic story, Callaway often acted like a creep in plain sight, as well as the stalking text messages, during his two-year tenure as Mets manager. While addressing these problems typically falls to the Human Resources department, it’s clear this requires a more hands-on approach by the front office.

When these stories broke about Porter and Callaway, the Mets didn’t provide statements from HR. Those people didn’t appear on Zoom calls. It was Alderson in the media crosshairs, being forced to explain himself in real-time for someone else’s sordid conduct years ago.

For that reason, Alderson should be as ready as anyone to diversify the Mets’ front office, to add a trusted lieutenant who can help remedy this obvious problem. Alderson twice has denied any knowledge of illicit behavior, but the stain is sticking to the Mets nonetheless. Perception is reality in this 24/7 media landscape.

I do believe that Alderson would have acted differently had he known about the dark sides of both Porter and Callaway. But that doesn’t matter anymore. It’s now about the Mets being better moving forward. Major League Baseball has recently hired a new Chief People and Culture Officer, Michele Meyer-Shipp, to address these issues, so change is underway. The Mets have to do more than talk about it.

Cohen and Alderson pledged to be aggressive in improving the Mets, in every area, with an emphasis on integrity. And here they are with another chance forced upon them. Again. The Mets should take advantage of the opportunity to rise above it rather than wait for more dirt to be thrown on them.

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