Sandy Alderson and the Audacity of Hope

Posted on November 1, 2010 by

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The Mets gave Sandy Alderson a four-year contract and during his introductory press conference, Alderson seemed to issue as many promises as a presidential candidate.  On the day before the mid-term elections, many people feel disillusioned that more of the promises of the Barack Obama campaign were not upheld.  Will Mets fans feel similarly in 2012 about Alderson?

Among other items, Alderson talked about restructuring the front office, hiring a new manager, instituting a robust player development system and how the Mets should approach free agency.  While that pales to the 506 campaign promises of Obama, as tracked by PolitiFact.com, it does give an indication of how much work Alderson faces as he attempts to bring the Mets back past respectability and into the World Series.

PolitiFact’s “Obameter Scorecard” shows the following record for our President:

 

Promise Kept 122
Compromise 41
Promise Broken 22
Stalled 82
In the Works 236
Not Yet Rated 3

 

A nearly 6-to-1 ratio between promises kept and promises broken would seem to be a good thing in the political arena but for whatever reasons, the electorate seems less than thrilled.  If after two years under Alderson, he delivers 85 percent of what he promises in what can be independently verified, will we as fans be happy?

At the conclusion of the 2010 season, Mets fans were considerably unhappy with ownership, management and a large section of the team’s current roster.  The farm system was considered under-productive and scouts were not held in much esteem.  The best that could be said is that no executive took off his shirt and challenged people to a fight.

Just like Obama on the night he was elected president, Alderson knows the massive challenges that await him.  Now the questions are: How much can he get done in his tenure and Will Mets fans look at the big picture or decide that anything less than a World Series title is a failure?

In politics, there is no prize like a World Series championship by which to measure administrations.  All we have are hundreds of pieces of legislation and executive initiatives by which to judge our president.

Yet in baseball the most we can have is four World Series champions over the lifetime of Alderson’s contract.  Since 26 teams did not conduct a search for a new general manager during the off-season, there must be other ways to grade success in the position.

At the end of each year under Alderson’s watch, fans should give him their own report card.  Some of the items to ponder include:

Did he keep the Wilpons from meddling?
Did the manager he hired do more things to help the club win than he did to screw things up?
Did he give his manager a roster that had a shot at playoff contention?
Were underperforming players kept on the roster for too long?
Were successful rookies given a promotion to the majors?
Were productive trades made to provide in-season reinforcements?
Was impact talent added to the farm system during the year?
Did prospects advance with respected results?
Were reasonable contracts handed out to free agents?
Did he structure contracts so that new payroll could be added each year?

Everyone wants Alderson to bring a World Series championship to the Mets.  But if on Halloween 2014, the Mets still have 1986 as their most recent title, Alderson’s tenure should still be graded as a success if the organization has a chain of command that everyone respects, a manager that the players believe in and follow, a 25-man roster with no outstanding flaws, a farm system with top-level prospects in both Double and Triple-A and flexibility to add payroll while staying within budget.

In 1980, Ronald Reagan famously asked, “Are you better off now than you were four years ago?”  As Mets fans, we expect to answer with an emphatic yes on Halloween 2014.  Hopefully, we will be able to give that same answer much earlier than that thanks to changes made by our new general manager.

And tomorrow, when you go to the polls to do your part in our democracy, ask yourself that same question, albeit with a two-year time frame.  Put aside pre-conceived notions and party affiliations and examine things with a critical eye.  And then vote for people who will act sanely and push our country forward.

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Posted in: Perspectives