Jeff Wilpon, the Met’s Chief Operating Officer, if we believe him, wants to do the right thing by fans of the team, and the players in the clubhouse. Just below him in the organization’s “power pole” sits a man whose time has come and gone. And therefore, he needs to be gone.
Once upon a time, Sandy Alderson built a powerhouse major league organization all by himself. He did it with vision, vigor, and results that were unparalleled at the time in baseball. As General Manager of the Oakland Athletics from 1983-1997, the Athletics’ minor league system was rebuilt, which bore fruit later that decade as José Canseco (1986), Mark McGwire (1987), and Walt Weiss (1988) were chosen as American League Rookies of the Year. The Athletics won four division titles, three pennants, and the 1989 World Series during Alderson’s tenure. (Source: Wikipedia)
It was not an accident, but if you notice the dates, we’re talking two decades of time between then and now. If we examine ourselves over the length of our time in the workforce, would it not be fair to say that we reached a pinnacle of desire and achievement at some point in time until we reach a comfortable resting place, to ride out the remainder of our days? We do no harm, but do we do much good?
From the outside looking in, and obviously, I make no claims as even an amateur psychologist, Sandy Alderson has reached the point in his career where the fire is no longer burning.
Seemingly, and I’m assuming to the chagrin of many of us, all the Wilpons ask of Alderson is to hold down the fort while they have a chance to recover the millions they lost during their excursion with Bernie Madoff. Lower the payroll and keep it low.
The Wilpons have a right to operate this way. This column has argued endlessly urging a different and more far-reaching tact, but that’s not what this is about.
This is about Sandy Alderson, who despite the limitations placed on him, has yet to recover the ingenuity and daring he once had when he was with Oakland.
And that is a problem that needs to be extinguished by Jeff Wilpon. The Wilpons make the point for the Mets that payroll does not necessarily equate to championships. They are correct, but the person they put their trust in to do that, unlike Brian Cashman of the New York Yankees, has not gotten the message. Or, more likely, he doesn’t want to hear because it means real work, on the phones 24/7 seeking deals where they aren’t, but you make them happen.
Creativity and using money that is available wisely wins championships. Sandy Alderson was, at one time, a pioneer in the field with the small market A’s. Now, the best he can do is grab Adrian Gonzalez off the scrap heap, sign a reliever no one has barely heard of or harness Jay Bruce to a contract and call it a day.
The Wilpons brought in Mickey Callaway to manage the Mets. That was a move of foresight and brilliance for a team that needs to transform its culture in the clubhouse. But the real power in any major league team rests with the general manager, and that’s where the Wilpon’s need to recognize the job is only half done.
The trend in baseball is moving away from septuagenarian general managers like Alderson and more towards younger, more creative, and more energetic “baseball people” who can find their way on their own, even when there is no map.
The wrong decision would be to promote recycled Omar Minaya, as good as he is if Alderson is fired. The search for a new GM, if it is conducted smartly, will light up the baseball world as well as the Mets fan base.
Because in spite of the well-earned gloom and doom about the Mets franchise as it exists today, nothing like “New York” attracts true-fledged baseball talent to this city. The Wilpons have the ball in their hands.
We’ll end with this video I stumbled across during a search…will you laugh or cry?