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Is Sandy Alderson Overrated?

By Mike Silva ~ October 18th, 2010. Filed under: Mike Silva, New York Mets.

Sandy Alderson has been the rumored front runner for the Mets vacant GM position for the last couple of weeks. Hearing that a second interview will come this week fuels speculation the organization has made their choice. I believe Alderson will bring discipline, vision, and respect to an organization that’s lack all three for quite a while. There has been one voice spreading caution about the choice of Alderson and its freelance baseball writer Paul Lebowitz.

Would it be the Athletics’ Alderson who worked hand-in-hand with a great manager and crafted a powerhouse (backed up by money)? Or is it the caricature from Moneyball? The man who had far too much power and ego for his own good with the Padres?

That’s the big question Lebowitz challenged his readers with in a piece last week.

First, he points out that Oakland’s success under Alderson was less Moneyball and more payroll, as Oakland spent like a big market club under the Haas ownership. When the payroll went, so did Oakland’s talent, as well as manager Tony LaRussa. It should be pointed out that Alderson was the brain behind the hiring of Billy Beane, and eventually the Moneyball revolution. As much as we love “value” and the importance of doing more with less, it’s impossible to sustain long term success with a payroll significantly under $100 million dollars.

Next, he points out the Padres mediocre draft record under Alderson, who took over as president in 2005. The farm system is one of the reasons why Omar Minaya eventually lost his job. If Alderson performs in a similar fashion as he did in San Diego, perhaps the Mets won’t be in a significantly better place. On the flip side, as Lebowitz points out, he did work with Kevin Towers to bring in Adrian Gonzalez, Heath Bell, Chris Young, and Scott Hairston for very little. Gonzalez might be the signature move for his tenure in San Diego as they “stole” a franchise player from under the Rangers nose.

The draft is very difficult to grade considering that Alderson was only four years on the job. The Yankees are praised for their farm system, rightfully so, but the 2006 draft is largely what put them in the position they are today. Even the Yanks have struck out at times, and we don’t know how much of a budget Alderson had to go over slot in San Diego. Of course, his relationship with Bud Selig is another reason for concern because will he adhere to the commissioner’s slot process? I would argue that relationship may allow him to work around it. Most times its ownership that makes that decision, not the general manager. Besides, I don’t see Alderson as someone that will allow phantom rules to get in the way of his success.

Finally, Alderson’s philosophy on how the field manager is only there to carry out the organizations philosophy does have some holes. His example was Bud Black, who was given the job without much experience, and presided over a team that collapsed down the stretch in 2007, and was awful from 2008-2009. I don’t see Black enough daily to judge his overall body of work, but he did lead a team that averaged just a shade over four runs a game to ninety wins.

Overall Lebowitz’s makes some fair points, but he shades Alderson’s resume by pointing out accentuating the failures, and not delving enough into the successes. As much as Oakland had payroll in the late eighties he had a good draft record, obtained Dave Stewart and Dennis Eckersley for nothing, and the foresight to hire Tony LaRussa who failed in Chicago. His San Diego resume is spotty, but four years isn’t enough time for me to really judge. Besides, the Padres had a good season this year and perhaps we can credit Alderson and Towers for much of that work.

Again, Alderson will bring vision, discipline, and respect to the Mets organization. Does that guarantee success? No, but it puts them in a far better position than they were under Omar Minaya. Alderson still gets my vote.

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Mike Silva has hosted sports shows on 107.1 FM Champions ESPN Radio Long Island ,1240 AM WGBB , Blog Talk Radio and live from Mickey Mantle’s Restaurant. He’s also built and maintained two popular social media hubs: New York Baseball Digest and Sports Media Watchdog. Mike has broken national and local stories, as well as been mentioned on the YES Network, SNY.tv, WFAN, Sports Illustrated, ESPN, NY Daily News, New York Magazine, Journal News and the NY Post. Contact Mike professionally at mikesilvamedia.com

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4 Responses to Is Sandy Alderson Overrated?

  1. 86mets

    My biggest problem with Alderson is his view on what the managers real role is. I think baseball games are supposed to be run from the dugout, not the front office. It almost seems that Alderson prefers to dictate strategy from behind the desk instead of allowing the manager to do that. I hope I am completely wrong on this, I really do. However, if Alderson can bring stability and a winning formula to this franchise I’m all for it. If he can positively impact the way the Mets operate and improve their reputation in the game I say Go For It!

  2. carl

    oh boy here we go again!

  3. USMF

    Can someone please explain to me why the Yankees are considered to be great when it comes to drafting players? Excluding Hughes, who have the Yanks drafted int he past 15 years that have become anything more than a average player at best?

    Sabermetrics are great when used properly…but like any other stat available, they don’t tell the full picture of a player…and to see that, you have to watch a player everyday. Not too mention, not every valuable player fits into that sabermetric nut shell and not every player who does is actually good. I just read somewhere that sabermetics say that Castillo is not really that bad a player.

    What makes evaluating GMs so much more difficult is a GM’s influence can taint a team for years after they have been fired. Omar inherited a bad team with no farm. Other than Wright and Reyes, there wasn’t much there. He’s leaving the team as a .500 team with a talented but not deep farm.

    So if the team makes the playoffs in 11 or 12, is it because of the new GM or because of the young talent like Davis, Thole, Neise, Pelf and others? If the team sucks, is it because of guys like Bay, Wright, Reyes and Santana that Omar invested a lot in?

  4. eddie86

    The real question is…what has Sandy done to improve this team?…sign a bunch of scrubby relievers?…if he really wanted this team to win he would have got then Mets a ”real ”closer when they had a winning record…but no he waits for the team to start losing so he doesnt have to make a trade to improve the team!…Horrible GM.

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