Allard Baird believes the New York Mets are ready to win now.
“You need impact starting pitching and they have it here. That was one of the attractive things,” he said Thursday, a day after leaving the World Series champion Boston Red Sox to become an assistant general manager under new Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen.
New York’s rotation is headed by NL Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard, and it also includes Zack Wheeler, Steven Matz and Jason Vargas,
But the Mets were next to last in the major leagues with a .234 batting average, just ahead of Philadelphia, and 21st with 170 home runs. Three years after winning the NL pennant, New York finished fourth in the NL East at 77-85.
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“There are areas that we need to improve, and I know Brody is working extremely hard, as well as everybody else in the organization, to get there as quick as possible,” Baird said. “I think it goes well beyond the major league club. It’s the things that do not make the headlines that we’re attacking.”
Baird was the Kansas City Royals’ general manager from June 2000 to May 2006 and spent the last 12 years with Boston, including the last three as senior vice president of player personnel. His title with the Mets is vice president and assistant general manager of scouting and player development.
New York also hired Adam Guttridge as an assistant GM — he had been an analytics consultant to teams after spending five years working for the Milwaukee Brewers, the last year as manager of baseball research and development.
John Ricco was the only assistant GM under Van Wagenen’s predecessor, Sandy Alderson. Ricco also is senior vice president for baseball operations and was one of Alderson’s trio of top executives along with special assistants J.P. Ricciardi and Omar Minaya. Ricciardi left three weeks ago.
Baird’s offseason home had been in Miami, but he kept a New York apartment even before the Mets hired him and already has moved. He was surprised when the Mets hired Van Wagenen, who had represented players as the co-ahead of CAA Baseball.
“The leadership and the vision that Brody has for this organization as a whole really played into this,” Baird said. “When he was named general manager, I have to admit I took a step back because I’m thinking how is this going to work? I know that he has attributes as a communicator, knowing what players go through.”
Baird said he was convinced to take the job during a conversation on Thanksgiving, concluding “we had a chance to do something special here.”
While New York has not had a large analytics staff compared with some other teams, Baird said data already is in place “and we probably in my mind need to utilize it more in different ways.”
“The bells and whistles should never get to the scout. The bells and whistles do not have to get to the player development staff. The bells and whistles never have to get to the individual player,” he said.
Instead, the burden falls on the pedagogical skills of the coaching staff, what Baird says is “the ability to take that information, break it down, make it simple, filter it through, get it to the players and be able to make themselves better instructors.”
New York already has revamped its on-field staff, bringing in longtime big league manager Jim Riggleman as bench coach for Mickey Callaway, who took over as manager from Terry Collins after the 2017 season.
Notes: Infielder Dilson Herrera agreed to a minor league contract and will attend big league spring training. He made his big league debut with the Mets in 2014, was traded to Cincinnati in 2016 and hit .184 with five homers and 11 RBIs in 53 games with the Reds last season. … OF-1B Jordan Patterson was claimed off waivers by Cincinnati, three days after the Mets claimed Patterson from Colorado.