Earlier this offseason, as the Mets searched for a new head of baseball operations, one aspect of the front office’s future was clear to owner Steve Cohen and team president Sandy Alderson: Ben Zauzmer would be a significant part of it.
As it turns out, the division rival Philadelphia Phillies had the same idea.
Zauzmer, 29, came to the Mets last year from the Los Angeles Dodgers to oversee rapidly expanding analytics and research and development operations. Under Cohen, the Mets have grown one of the smallest analytics departments in the sport into one of the largest.
He quickly distinguished himself as a prime example of what Alderson was looking to accomplish with the team’s culture upon returning to the Mets in 2020.
The man more responsible than anyone for the proliferation of analytics in the sport — it was Alderson, as GM of the Oakland Athletics in the 1980s, who first brought mimeograph copies of Bill James’ Baseball Abstracts into a front office — felt that a recalibration was in order.
The industry had bent a bit too far toward data, and needed infusions of empathy and humanity.
Alderson, Cohen and then-acting GM Zack Scott saw in Zauzmer an executive highly capable of innovating with numbers, but also one with an unusually high EQ, or emotional quotient. He is skilled at relating to others and communicating complex concepts without condescending.
Earlier in the offseason, before the team homed in on Eppler as its new GM, the Mets heard from the Phillies with a request to interview Zauzmer for an assistant GM opening, according to league sources.
This would have been a promotion for Zauzmer, a native of the Philadelphia area. But Alderson and Cohen made clear that Zauzmer was too valuable to lose.
In November, the Phils hired Anirudh Kilambi, 27, as assistant GM overseeing research and development. The following month, the Mets promoted Zauzmer to assistant GM.
Now, he assumes an expanded portfolio, not only working on analytics and R&D but advising Eppler more broadly and directly, as an AGM does.
Zauzmer’s dual skills with numbers and people will be key in working with a manager who does not suffer fools gladly.
Buck Showalter will be happy to receive any input that helps the Mets win a game, but is experienced enough to expect that information be presented clearly and with respect for those on his staff who have differing viewpoints.
The Mets do not want an analytics guy to tell bench coach Glenn Sherlock and third base coach Joey Cora that they are Luddites. They want an analytics guy — indeed, an entire department — that respects lived experience and is able to add to it.
That’s what Alderson sought when given the chance to remake the Mets anew — and, once he found it, he was not going to let slip away to the Phillies.
Source: Yahoo Sports