After watching Sandy Alderson in action after his third off season of inactivity, I have come to the conclusion that he is no Frank Cashen. Hell, he’s not even Steve Phillips.
A general manager taking over a troubled team has to be bold, and Alderson is anything but bold. The only bold moves he has made thus far is letting Jose Reyes go for nothing and trading R.A. Dickey. The Carlos Beltran trade, while certainly good, was not bold because he was just dumping a player at the end of his contract who had value to a contender. Any idiot could have made that trade.
Frank Cashen was slow out of the blocks as well. He took over in January 1980 after Doubleday and Wilpon bought the Mets, which was a franchise in severe trouble. By the time the new front office was in place, most teams had made their major moves, so Cashen really had nothing with which to work. His second off season was kind of quiet as well, but Cashen got into the swing of things in the middle of 1981, making a bold trade for Ellis Valentine.
But it was the off season prior to 1982 when Cashen really got going (two years on the job — the same as Sandy Alderson now). He traded for George Foster and dealt Lee Mazzilli, the team’s most popular player, for Ron Darling and Walt Terrell. Mets fans were outraged, even more angry than when Reyes flew the coop.
Prior to 1983 Cashen reacquired Tom Seaver and during the season traded for Keith Hernandez. The rest is history.
Phillips took over under different circumstances. When he was given the job in July 1997 the Mets were seven games over .500, finally emerging from the fog of six straight losing seasons. This was the famous “skills set” speech that Fred Wilpon gave in explaining the untimely and undeserved firing of Joe McIlvaine.
But Phillips went to work right away. Less than a month later he made a six-player deal with the Cubs, trading Lance Johnson, who led the league in hits the prior year, starting pitcher Mark Clark, who led the team in wins in 1996 and Manny Alexander for Turk Wendell, Brian McRae and Mel Rojas — a bold move to trade two of your team leaders.
Prior to 1998 he acquired Al Leiter, and during the season he made the franchise-changing Mike Piazza deal. And the rest is history.
Again, Phillips took over a team on the upswing, but still, he acted boldly to make the team better. This is something that the timid Sandy Alderson has not done.
The Mets needed a bold, creative general manager after firing Omar Minaya following the 2010 season. Instead of going for one of the younger guys, the Wilpons, at the apparent behest of Bud Selig, took the safe route and chose Sandy Alderson. So far, the Mets are not any better for it.