Sandy Alderson had an auspicious debut as the new General Manager of the New York Mets Friday afternoon at Citi Field. There was the presence of a baseball veteran, knowledge and experience that obviously made an impression to Mets ownership during the interview process.
And, Alderson, 62, who at one time built the Oakland Athletics teams that played in three consecutive World Series from 1988-1990, and won the championship in 1989, may be what the Mets need. The immediate impact to slowly begin the process of getting the Mets back to playing baseball in October, though that may take some time.
Alderson is not a new kid on the block and has his own style. That was addressed when the question was asked about how his style would be different from his predecessor Omar Minaya. “One of the things I like about a job like this is you have to act,” said Alderson.
And act he will. With financial flexibility, to make the Mets a contender again and not being the second team in town to the New York Yankees. Though during the course of his introduction to New York, there was no mention of the cross-town Yankees. Just a commitment to be in the free agent market every year, and not immediately in 2011
He stressed more than once about the job being fun, that baseball was entertainment, and not like Minaya, constantly talked about his job being, a collaborative effort with ownership, the players and scouting departments.
“All the elements are here, a great area to be, and great fans,” said Alderson about why he took on the opportunity of a four-year contract through 2014 with a club option for 2015.
There is a lot of work to be done from financial flexibility, player personnel, to the hiring of a new manager. There are some candidates to succeed Jerry Manuel that Alderson has in mind. But the managerial situation will begin in a few days so Alderson can have one in place for the upcoming GM and winter meetings that plans a process for the upcoming season.
There is optimism at Citi Field as a new regime takes over. And that word of Collaboration that was so often mentioned will begin in the front office. Alderson saw that happen in his four years as CEO of the San Diego Padres where he led them to back-to-back playoff appearances in 2005 and 2006 and recently working as a special consultant to the Commissioner of Baseball for Latin America.
Alderson, the 13th GM in franchise history reminds many of Frank Cashen, the Mets Hall of Fame inductee who reshaped the organization and built a championship team in 1986. On Friday that renewed spirit of seeing those days again in Flushing Queens came when Alderson spoke.
But every Mets fan knows hope has always been eternal. Since the Cashen years there have been three close opportunities at bringing the prized trophy home. More so, a 2000 Subway World Series loss to the Yankees when Steve Phillips was the GM, and the 2006 NLCS loss to the St. Louis Cardinals under Minaya, a series that every Mets fan refuses to forget.
Will Alderson succeed in what Omar Minaya could not do the past few years? “There is hope now,” said longtime Mets season ticket holder Eddie Lopez who sat at a table in back of the Caesars Club. “Minaya was around to long and he (Alderson) brings something to the table,” he said.
Lopez was one of the many season ticket holders that were invited to the welcome party because the Mets fan base is so important. The new ballpark, the fans, something also that Alderson reiterated in his remarks that was another reason why he took the job.
“Getting back to being a general manager was something I wanted to do under the right circumstances,” he said. So whatever Mets owners Fred and Jeff Wilpon said to Alderson during the interview process had to be the right circumstance.
It did not work under Minaya, even though he had the liberty to spend money. But you get the feeling there will be no favoritism played, no favors granted to player agents that Minaya had close ties with. The roster comprised from trades and a restructured scouting department that brings in homegrown talent.
Will there be an immediate turnaround? It will be difficult turning it around in 2011 because the Mets are committed to $130 million in payroll. Alderson won’t have the liberty to spend but plenty of roster decisions to address. Oliver Perez, Luis Castillo, who get some of that payroll, and what to do with the bad image and contract of closer Francisco Rodriquez who was recently reactivated.
Alderson is just settling in. He would not provide much as to who or what for 2011, again hiring a manager he can work with is the first priority. But what every Mets fan wants to know, are our troubles and agonizing days of losing coming to an end?
Time will tell as there is hope. Jeff and Fred Wilpon did not have that concerned look, like they did a day after the season ended three weeks ago when they relieved Minaya and did not bring Manuel back.
This time the Mets hierarchy got it right bringing Alderson to New York.
e-mail Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com