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Greg Prince and Jason Fry
Faith and Fear in Flushing made its debut on Feb. 16, 2005, the brainchild of two longtime friends and lifelong Met fans.

Greg Prince discovered the Mets when he was 6, during the magical summer of 1969. He is a Long Island-based writer, editor and communications consultant. Contact him here.

Jason Fry is a Brooklyn writer whose first memories include his mom leaping up and down cheering for Rusty Staub. Check out his other writing here.

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You Can Spell Eppler Without Era

Did we have a Billy Eppler Era? Not quite two years since becoming GM; can’t say they weren’t eventful. Lots of high-profile free agents, which had a lot to do with the owner’s wherewithal to spend, but somebody had to do the hands-on negotiating. Handful of trades that didn’t pan out, then a slew of future-leaning swaps that look good in down-the-road terms, but that’s necessarily TBD. Whatever went on in the way of organization-building, which is never apparent to the layperson until somebody writes a story telling us what was built was just what was needed or clearly not enough. Not an excessive amount of public paeans to “culture” that I can recall, which was refreshing. One season making the playoffs. One season nowhere near them. Mysterious exit late one afternoon that grew a little less mysterious as that afternoon’s evening wore on.

Eppler said on Thursday he was leaving the Mets so David Stearns could have a “clean slate” in creating the Mets in his own president of baseball operations image, which seemed a little curious at first report, in that dating back to midsummer, Steve Cohen indicated Eppler would be around under any POBO to be named, giving him far weightier a vote of confidence than he gave Buck Showalter. Confidence in Showalter evaporated by Sunday, but at Stearns’s introductory press conference on Monday, David gave Billy what sounded like a unconditional endorsement, or at least didn’t euphemize too hard when asked about his predecessor continuing on in a different/diminished role.

Take ancient precedent with grains of salt, but when reigning Met GMs Joe McDonald and Jim Duquette were informed they would soon be reporting to newly named successors (McDonald to Frank Cashen in 1980, Duquette to Omar Minaya in 2005), those arrangements didn’t last long, and the former GMs each soon moved on from the organization for posts elsewhere. Although Stearns was hailed in advance as a superexecutive the brilliant likes of which we’ve never before seen, I thought there has to be some level of discomfort for Eppler being told he was no longer the lead non-Cohen decisionmaker in these parts. But if all concerned were on board, so be it. I’d already spent more time than I cared to this week trying to remember the names of Mets general managers since 2018.

Within hours of his graceful resignation, we learned via multiple outlets that Eppler is apparently under investigation by MLB for improper use of the injured list, which seems unfair, given that the Mets looked sick all of 2023, so maybe there weren’t enough of them sent to a doctor. It probably means guys who weren’t injured were put on the injured list to ease roster logjams. The Mets always seemed to have a roster logjam and somebody always seemed to be going on the IL to make way for the next fringe character.

But I’m just speculating, not only about this investigation business, but any of it. When we watch a game, and we see somebody strike out, we can say what we saw and perhaps articulate a legitimate opinion of why what just happened happened. “He swung at the pitch and didn’t hit it because he swings at pitches he can’t hit.” Discerning front office machinations without first-hand knowledge or access to an informed source willing to whisper in our ear that, for example, it was Eppler and not Showalter who insisted Daniel Vogelbach was exactly the kind of DH this team needed in its lineup most days amounts to guessing while trying to sound intelligent.

So I don’t know any more than anybody else about what all went on beyond the surface in the Billy Eppler Era. I’m not even sure if there was a Billy Eppler Era. Eras in Flushing tend to be fleeting.

9 comments to You Can Spell Eppler Without Era

  • Rumble

    Great article Greg, and insight. I don’t know what happened behind closed doors either regarding this latest of all too many Met controversies, but Mets are better off without Eppler. And given Cohen’s history, can anyone really be surprised a SC underling had a pattern of breaking the rules and the Eppler IL allegations are true? “Cohen was never charged by prosecutors, but in 2013 SAC as an institution agreed to pay a record $1.8 billion fine, becoming the first major Wall Street institution in a generation to plead guilty to criminal misconduct. Under Cohen’s watch, eight SAC employees, including Martoma, either pleaded guilty of securities fraud or were found guilty at trial. In the wake of the fine, the fund rebranded itself as a family office called Point72 Asset Management that manages his personal fortune.”

  • Joey G

    Proba-Billy will not be missed (other than perhaps by free agents in the Land of the Rising Sun). This is a man who could not identify a decent reliever even if he tripped over one, and who subjected us to more Vogey than applicable Federal regulations should allow (by the way, there should be a law against trading a relief pitcher named “Holderman”). Those who occupy the Mets GM chair seem in short order to spontaneously combust like Spinal Tap drummers. The Bob Scheffing Curse? I am also curious who dropped the dime on Eppler. I can’t imagine that Buck took kindly to such roster manipulation machinations, or perhaps it was Tim LoCastro, who spent a multi-month stint on the IL with an apparent case of hitlessness. Maybe Colonel Mustard in the drawing room. I put the probability of Billy getting another job in MLB at 27.338%. Good luck to him and sayonara.

  • Subie

    I’m sorry but this is ridiculous. Every team manipulates the roster as needed to have enough players. I have never heard of MLB investigating any other team for it. But what’s most ridiculous are all the keyboard warriors who think they know things and make wild unsupported accusations. Including Rumble whose accusation here against Cohen is completely unsubstantiated and would be totally inadmissible in any real investigation. Im not defending anything Cohen did at his hedge fund,but to extrapolate it to saying he therefore urged Eppler to do something with the Mets roster is absurd and defamatory. But it appears baseball has it in for the Mets and the only way to combat it (other than get rid of MLBs anti-trust exemption which should have happened long ago) is to win. I’m so glad you acknowledge that you don’t know anything about the specifics here. No one else seems to.

    • Rumble

      No allegation against Cohen was made, merely pointing out given Cohen’s history, “can anyone really be surprised . . . the Eppler [not Cohen] IL allegations are true?” Bottom line is, regardless of why Eppler left, or the IL allegations, the Mets are better off without Eppler, someone who somehow managed to have a career sub-500 winning percentage as a gm working for two of the wealthiest and free-spending MLB owners. There’s no conspiracy against Eppler or the Mets and baseball doesn’t “have it in for the Mets.” Rather, the Mets have unfortunately engaged in plenty of self-sabotage throughout the years to be responsible for their own franchise sub-500 winning percentage. As you said, the only way out is to win. In my opinion, they have a better chance to win without Eppler. Here’s hoping to a new era filled with winning under Stearns.

  • Seth

    If Greg’s speculation is correct, why is this such an egregious crime? So he manipulated the roster a bit, and a couple of guys went on the IL. So what? It didn’t ultimately help the Mets’ season, so it can hardly be considered cheating.

    • mikeski

      If I’m cheating at poker and you beat me anyway, that doesn’t mean I wasn’t cheating; it just means the cheating didn’t work out like I planned.

      I read where this came about as a result of an “anonymous” letter to MLB. I’m going with Scherzer as the author.

      Not really, I suppose, but he seems like enough of a d*ck that he would do something like that. Scherzer holds grudges.

  • Eric

    Couldn’t hit lefties, run, or field at all. He hasn’t even played 1B once as a Met. Until he heated up, relatively speaking, a below-average hitter while used exclusively against righty pitchers, his supposed specialty. With such a narrow lane, he needs to be at least a Silver Slugger-quality hitter within his role to justify an MLB roster spot. I can’t think of another major league baseball player like Vogelbach.

    Good point with McDonald and Duquette. Still, it was telegraphed since Eppler was hired as GM that Cohen was seeking a POBO, likely to be Stearns, who’d slot in above GM, like the Dodgers’ chain of command. We understood that Eppler was essentially an interim leader from day one. We thought Eppler understood his role would shift once a POBO was hired. It’s not like Eppler was a hotshot GM or POBO candidate who had his pick of jobs around the league. So it’s odd that he would suddenly change his mind within a week of working under Stearns. It’s also odd that Eppler would quit over an MLB investigation of the Mets’ IL usage. Whether it’s like the McDonald/Duquette scenario or the investigation, it seems, as Greg says, there’s more behind Eppler’s resignation than what’s on the surface.

    It’s only been 5 days since the Mets played their 2023 game, and I miss baseball.