Loyal readers of this website (yes, there are a few) know that I am a frequent critic of Sandy Alderson. My opinion of Alderson’s job as Mets GM is evident on the homepage of this site, which features a category titled “Alderson Sucks.” At various times over the years I have called him a “man without a plan,” a “coward” and a “liar.” I even thought I wrote that the Mets would never make the World Series with him as general manager. I can’t seem to find that one; perhaps I softened that. But I did think it. So given the events of the past couple of months, obviously I was wrong about Sandy Alderson. So this is my mea culpa.
Yes, Alderson did build a World Series team. He did indeed have a plan, which was to wait until the young pitching was ready to blow the rest of the league away. And it worked. The fact that they lost the World Series was not a reflection on him. The GM can only get them there. Then it is up to the players to win.
In a May 8, 2014 column, I wrote:
In this post I will attempt to explain why I think Sandy Alderson has been and always will be a failure as Mets general manager. And that includes the possibility, becoming more remote every day, that the Mets will emerge as contenders over the next couple of years or even win a World Series in this decade. The reason is simple — the past three years, and possibly this year and next year, did not have to be so bad.
And this is where the “but” in the headline comes in. I still say these past few years did not have to be so bad, and this is where my criticism of him was valid.
We all know Sandy Alderson was hamstrung when he walked into the doors in Flushing. He took over a team that needed rebuilding from top to bottom (although, as it turned out, Omar Minaya left behind a farm system that while not deep, did have several quality players in it). Minaya also left behind a bloated payroll, which combined with the impact of Madoff scandal left Alderson little room and money to improve the team.
But there was some room and some money, and time after time, Alderson picked the wrong players on whom to spend those limited funds. Had he been a better judge of talent, his Mets teams would not have been as bad. Recent success cannot erase those failures.
Then there was his passive approach to team building. Alderson was finally active at the trade deadline this season, making the trades that pushed the Mets into October. He said he would only make those trades when the Mets showed they were ready to win. But why not force the issue and make the Mets ready to win? Remember in 2012, when the Mets got off to that good start? They were in first place as late as June 3 and were within striking distance at the All-Star break. But they came out of the break losing 11 of 12, so Alderson did nothing to improve the team. But maybe had Alderson been aggressive during that slump, they could have turned it around and done then what they did this year.
Finally, we have Alderson’s attitude towards the fans. Had he shared his master plan with us, perhaps we would have been more forgiving of his inaction. Instead, he just strung us along. Then there was his consistent lying to the fans about potential player acquisitions and payroll. Perhaps he was taking the heat for the Wilpons on the latter. But the just don’t say anything about money at all. The lying cannot be forgiven regardless of how many World Series appearances the Mets make.
I know what you’re thinking — “well, this is a hell of an apology, trashing the guy again!” But I am not trashing Sandy Alderson anew. I am pointing out that my past criticisms of him were valid when I made them, which does not make them any less valid now.
But I was very wrong when I said that Alderson could not deliver a winner to the Mets. He absolutely did. But that does not mean I have to agree with the road he took to get them there.
I do have a new-found respect for Alderson. He has certainly earned it. So I will not be as hard on him as I have in the past. That starts with removing the “Sucks” part of the category title.
But that does not mean he is invulnerable to criticism; but going forward I will do it while toning down the rhetoric. It never came from hatred of Alderson; rather, from the frustration of watching my favorite team lose year after year. But now that losing is over. And we have Sandy Alderson to thank for it. I won’t forget that.