Billy Eppler Blew His Opportunity
Last offseason, the New York Mets sought to hire a President of Baseball Operations. Unfortunately, they struck out for a consecutive year.
This had them shift their focus to GM. Eventually, they landed on Billy Eppler, who seemed more consolation prize than getting who they wanted.
The who, what, where, when, and why doesn’t matter. Eppler had the job. With that job came opportunity.
However, when you don’t win the division, and you’re out in the first round of the postseason, you didn’t do enough. For Eppler, there are a few areas where this definitely applies.
One criticism down the stretch was the Mets waited too long before calling up Francisco Álvarez and Mark Vientos. That may or may not be fair. On that point, it didn’t seem fair to declare them not ready all season only to throw them into a pennant race and demand/need performance.
The issue is that trade and not giving the prospects a look earlier forced his hand on Darin Ruf. With Ruf and Tyler Naquin, it was certainly a forgettable trade deadline for the Mets. For his part, Eppler has no remorse:
Billy Eppler does not feel that the Mets' decision to prioritize long-term thinking at the trade deadline impacted their chances to win this season:— SNY (@SNYtv) October 14, 2022
"It's hard to pinpoint what would've been better" pic.twitter.com/vN8DK082Mv
To a certain extent, only he knows whether he could’ve or should’ve done more. What we know is the Naquin and Ruf trades were maligned at the time (the packages, not the players), and the Mets didn’t win.
When a team wins, there is forgiveness on overpaying in trades or missing out on players. That’s the way it is and should be because at the end of the day, it’s about winning in both the short and long term.
Fact is, the Mets didn’t win. With that, Eppler blew his opportunity.
Yes, the Mets announced he was returning as the GM. As Eppler indicated, Steve Cohen wants him to immediately get to work. The Mets need that because there is a lot of work to do on the roster.
That all said, the Mets have said they’re looking to hire a President of Baseball Operations. It’s something they’ve been trying to do since Cohen purchased the team.
With that comes someone working over Eppler. Eppler’s autonomy and control goes away. He now reports to someone who also can recommend firing, retaining, or reassigning him.
At least in theory, if the Mets win the division and World Series, he becomes the POBO. Perhaps, the Mets don’t pursue one. After all, why hire a decision maker over the guy who just built a World Series winning roster?
However, the Mets didn’t win. Both Ruf and Naquin didn’t perform with Naquin being left off the postseason roster. The Mets are pursuing a POBO to whom Eppler will report.
In the end, Eppler blew his opportunity. He will now be second in command, and his power will be at the whim of the POBO and Cohen.
Hopefully, this is the best case for the Mets organization. For Eppler, it’s not the worst case, but it is also not ideal. After all, this is a job he certainly wanted.