What’s Autonomy Mean Anyway?

For an individual, Dictionary.com defines it autonomy as: “independence or freedom as of one’s will or actions.”  A Major League Baseball General Manager would never be fully autonomous right?  He always will have to answer to his bosses, the owners, especially for moves involving significant amounts of money.   And yet, the buzzword is back.

At Monday’s press conference, the buzzword was back as both Jeff Wilpon and Fred Wilpon insisted that the new General Manager would have complete autonomy, just as Omar Minaya did.

Maybe I’m being a pedant here, but we’re talking in code words.  Of course the General Manager would never have complete freedom of will to do as he saw fit an remain employed.  The question is really one of degree.  How much autonomy could a GM, whether it was Omar Minaya, or the next one expect?  “Complete autonomy” in the baseball sense should be redefined as the freedom to make moves that fit within a pre-set budget.  The Mets set budgets.  And Fred Wilpon acknowledged that the team regularly exceeded them.  That’s not autonomy.  The GM’s decisions then become subject to prior approval.

Ed Price at AOL FanHouse does not believe Minaya had autonomy:

“So when Jeff Wilpon responded to a question on whether the new GM would have autonomy, and responded, “The old general manager had that,” it was basically a lie,” he wrote Monday.  He continues, “The next GM should be fully aware that those promises [of full autonomy] weren’t kept to Minaya, and probably won’t be to him.”

Saturday, Joel Sherman also wrote that the Mets did not give Minaya the full autonomy they claimed they were going to.  He thinks that Minaya wanted to sign Matt Holliday last winter, but ownership didn’t want to spend the extra money, so the Mets ended up with Jason Bay.

At ESPN, Tim Kirkjian said alluded to problems in the Mets hierarchy.  He claims he spoke to a potential managerial candidate who said, “I think the Mets are so messed up right now, I wouldn’t want to take the job right now.”