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How to Win

The Lesson of Yoenis Cespedes

In a previous post, we made the point that every virtually hire is based on past performance.
You hire a student based on educational background.
You sign or draft a ballplayer based on his stats.
But as Wall Street brokers are fond of saying, “Past performance is no indication of future results.”
And the New York Mets are learning that lesson, the hard way, and with an entire city watching. Yoenis Cespedes, their highest-paid player, the one in whom they placed so much hope, is a flop. With a four-year, $110 contract, Cespedes is injured — again — and the way the story unfolded has made the Mets a laughing stock, as outlined here by sports columnist Joel Sherman.
For anyone who hires for a living, the lesson of Yoenis Cespedes is how much a bad personnel decision can hurt an organization. His prolonged absence has not only crippled the team on the field this year (and last), but the contract is a public relations nightmare. And the money being paid to Cespedes could have gone to address other needs within the organization.
It’s important to note that the Cespedes contract is not the only thing that has hurt the Mets year. They have multiple disasters, which makes you wonder all the more how decisions are made in that organization.
Sports writer Kevin Kernan argues in this New York Post article that the Mets signed Cespedes for the wrong reason, namely, that they felt pressured to do so. They also signed him knowing that he had a heel problem that is now threatening his career.
Why did the Mets sign him? Cespedes had led them to the 2015 World Series, and helped them qualify for post-season play in 2016. (There’s that past performance thing again.)
Signing Cespedes to a long-term deal, the thinking back then went, would send a message to the team and to the fans that the Mets were willing to spend money to try to keep winning.
Well, they signed him to one of those multi-year contracts that so often go wrong, and the fans are getting a message: the Mets don’t know what they are doing.
Moral for all who hire: Do it with thought, for the right reasons, and with eyes open to red flags like Cespedes’ bad heels. The bad effects can last longer than the employee does.


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