As smart as Sandy Alderson is, it’s doubtful even he knew what he was walking into when he took the job as Mets General Manager.
Having gone through combat in Vietnam and navigated his way around the legal profession before entering the dysfunctional and illogical world of baseball, one would assume Alderson was ready for anything.
But as his first season as Mets GM reaches its halfway point and the team is playing far over their heads and expectations, he’s confronted with the choice of trading or not trading Carlos Beltran, Francisco Rodriguez and any other player on the roster. On one hand he has the faint hopes that the team can stay over .500 and within striking distance of a playoff spot and keep them to placate the masses and let things evolve (or devolve) naturally.
On the other, it’s clear the decks and build for 2012 and beyond.
It’s not as simple as it must’ve appeared when he took the job.
Running a New York team isn’t a matter of saying, “this is what’s best for the organization, this is what I’ll do”. There are ancillary factors that have to be accounted for. When he was the GM of the Athletics, he had the best manager in the game in Tony La Russa and an ownership that spent money. The fans were supportive while the team was good and once things came apart, the attendance and interest dropped; La Russa left and no one paid much attention to the A’s or Alderson anymore. It’s not hard to function with no pressure and no expectations.
With the Padres, there was the Moneyball afterglow in which Alderson took the presidency of the club as the conquering hero, the man who was behind the “genius” Billy Beane; he sought to validate the book and it didn’t work.
In his other endeavors, he’s been known as a problem-solver and straight-shooter.
Now he’s with the Mets.
He’s dancing through the Madoff raindrops; waiting for the ownership/cash circumstances to play out; enduring the questions of what’s going to happen with the current players and the looming free agency of Jose Reyes.
It’s not as easy as following the blueprint of doing what needs to be done; of ignoring all obstacles real or perceived.
Alderson has the media intimidated. He’s not here to be everyone’s friend and while he clearly has an interest in how he’s perceived in an “I did this” sort of way, he’s not going to fall into the Omar Minaya trap of being nice and wanting “friends”; of having people like him at the expense of doing his job properly.
The Mike Francesas and Joel Shermans of the world have learned first hand what it’s like to be on the receiving end of a subtle, eloquent Alderson backhand; both cower at the mere hint of the wrath of Sandy.
Alderson’s not betraying his hand for the trading deadline. He’s straddling the line with the knowledge that this solid burst of Mets play is partially a mirage and partially due to parity—it’s unlikely to continue; even if it does, the Phillies, Braves and other playoff contenders are too strong for the Mets to keep up with them over the summer.
It’s a truth that must be accepted and accounted for in moving forward.
As painful as that is, it’s for the greater good of the organization if decisions are made for the future and not a present that will beget nothing in the end apart from critics saying, “well the Mets weren’t as bad as we thought”.
It’s a meaningless “compliment” and contributes nothing to the future of the franchise.
I have confidence that Alderson will do what must be done for the Mets.
And whether the public at large/media likes it or not can’t factor into the equation.