The New York Mets’ General Manager search is underway, and they have received some input from an unexpected source. Hall of Fame manager Tony La Russa recently called a Mets’ official involved in the search to offer a strong recommendation for Gary LaRocque, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports. LaRocque, the director of player development for the St. Louis Cardinals, is one of four publicly known candidates for the position at this time. La Russa, who worked with LaRocque in St. Louis, told the Post that “I don’t want to disrespect anybody that is being considered, but there isn’t going to be anyone who is better than [LaRocque]”.
Apr 17, 2018; Anaheim, CA, USA; Boston Red Sox vice president and special assistant to the president of baseball operations Tony La Russa reacts before a game against the Los Angeles Angels at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Those are strong words from La Russa, who has been in the game for a long time and is currently serving as a special assistant to Dave Dombrowski with the Boston Red Sox. La Russa told the Post that he previously tried to hire LaRocque for a GM like position when he was in charge of baseball operations for the Arizona Diamondbacks but was denied the opportunity to do so. The post went to Dave Stewart instead, but La Russa noted that LaRocque is “special” and can be a major asset to an organization looking to improve its scouting and player development systems.
That sounds like it would be music to the ears of the Mets, who are reportedly focusing on older school executives with those skill sets to fit the preference of principal owner Fred Wilpon. LaRocque also has strong ties to the organization from his time there as the team’s scouting director in the early 2000’s, a period where he helped the Mets draft David Wright with the compensatory pick they got for losing Mike Hampton in free agency. The Mets also would like a candidate to at least consider retaining current front office personnel such as John Ricco and Omar Minaya, and LaRocque has a working relationship with both men.
The search is still in its first phase of interviews, with Puma noting that DeJon Watson is expected to be interviewed this afternoon. The Mets reportedly have up to five undisclosed candidates in the mix for the post in addition to Watson, LaRocque, Doug Melvin, and Kim Ng. There is no timetable for a hire yet as the team is currently focused on working through their initial round of interviews.