NEW YORK (WFAN/AP) — Sandy Alderson is ready to take on his latest role: Mr. Fix-it for the New York Mets.
Better bring the entire toolbox.
Alderson was introduced Friday as general manager of the Mets, taking over an underachieving team that’s looking for a facelift but is loaded with question marks on and off the field.
“It’s really a thrill for me to be here, to have this opportunity,” said Alderson during his introductory press conference. “It’s an iconic franchise in a great city, a city that inspires all of us to dream big.”
“This is truly a great place to be, a great opportunity to have.”
1010 WINS’ Al Jones reports from the press conference
Alderson beat out former Arizona Diamondbacks GM Josh Byrnes to replace Omar Minaya, fired along with manager Jerry Manuel in a major shakeup following the Mets’ fourth consecutive season without a playoff berth.
The 62-year-old former Marine and Harvard Law School graduate returns to a job he hasn’t held since 1997, when Alderson ended a long and successful tenure as Oakland Athletics general manager.
He has plenty of work to do in New York, where he inherits a high-priced roster beset by injuries to stars such as Johan Santana, Jason Bay, Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran.
First up, however, is finding the Mets’ next manager.
Alderson said he expected to be interviewing candidates for manager as early as next week. “I think it’s import for a manager to be analytical,” he said “but also intuitive.”
“That manager may have experience or may not have experience at the Major League level.”
When asked about his philosophy of approach Alderson responded that there will be an emphasis on on base percentage among other statistics. “Mathematics, I don’t think, lie,” he said.
“It’s not inconceivable that, given what we have, we could do very well this season.”
When asked about gaining insight from recent Mets seasons Alderson said, “I think there’s a lot to learn from history, but our focus will be on 2011.”
Alderson neglected to compare his managerial style to previous GM Omar Minaya, but described himself as “friendly but professional.”
One of baseball’s most respected executives, Alderson arrives with an impressive resume and staunch support from commissioner Bud Selig.
Alderson built power-packed teams in Oakland that won three straight AL pennants from 1988-90 and a World Series title in ’89. He was chief executive officer of the San Diego Padres from April 2005 to March 2009, leading the small-market club to three winning seasons and consecutive division titles.
He also hired Padres skipper Bud Black, a top contender for NL Manager of the Year this season.
Before that, Alderson served as executive vice president for baseball operations in the commissioner’s office from 1998-05. To take control of the Mets, he’s leaving his post heading up baseball’s efforts to reform operations in the Dominican Republic.
His new job comes with challenges, too.
Despite an opening-day payroll of $133 million, fifth-highest in the majors, the Mets finished fourth in the NL East at 79-83. It was their second straight losing season, both snarled by a string of injuries, following September collapses in 2007 and 2008.
Several snags remain.
Santana is expected to miss the start of next season following shoulder surgery. Bay, signed to a $66 million deal, provided little power at the plate before a season-ending concussion in late July. Oliver Perez ($12 million) and Luis Castillo ($6 million) each have one year left on unwieldy contracts that hamstring the roster and limit front-office flexibility.
Beltran is owed $18.5 million in the final season of a seven-year deal. Once an All-Star center fielder, he’s missed much of the past two seasons because of a troublesome knee injury that required surgery and hindered his play. Can he stay healthy and be a productive everyday player?
Francisco Rodriguez will be coming off thumb surgery for an injury he sustained in a fight with his girlfriend’s father outside the family lounge at Citi Field in August. The closer also has criminal charges pending against him.
Furthermore, chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon, the son of controlling owner Fred Wilpon, has a reputation for meddling in baseball decisions. The farm system is far from flush and fans have grown restless — even uninterested.
Attendance at pitcher-friendly Citi Field dropped considerably in the ballpark’s second season.
But the Mets, only four years removed from a Game 7 loss in the 2006 NL championship series, have big-market money to spend and some key pieces already in place, including third baseman David Wright and pitcher Mike Pelfrey.
Now, they begin a new era and turn to Alderson to build a blue-and-orange winner.
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.
From the Mets
Mets Hire Sandy Alderson As General Manager
FLUSHING, N.Y., October 29, 2010 – The New York Mets today announced they have hired Sandy Alderson as General Manager. He becomes the 12th General Manager in franchise history. Alderson, whose baseball career spans four decades and includes six division titles, three American League pennants and one World Championship, signed a four-year contract through 2014 with a club option for 2015. Terms of the contract were not disclosed. Alderson will oversee the Baseball Operations department and report to Chief Operating Officer Jeff Wilpon.
“Sandy has the intelligence, leadership and creativity to reinvigorate this franchise and implement a structure and system that will produce a winning and contending team for the long term,” Wilpon said. “His success and vast experience are unmatched, uniquely qualifying him to lead our baseball department.”
“I am thrilled with this opportunity and am eager to work with Ownership and the entire organization to achieve a successful and sustainable future for the Mets and our fans.” Alderson said
Alderson, 62, was the architect of the Oakland Athletics teams that played in three consecutive World Series from 1988-1990 and won the championship in 1989. Oakland captured four American League West Division titles in 1988-90, and 1992. Alderson served as General Manager from 1983-1997 and President from 1993-1995, and 1997-1998 before leaving to join the Office of the Commissioner.
In his role as MLB’s Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations from 1998-2005, Alderson oversaw baseball operations, umpiring, on-field operations and security and facility management. He helped baseball expand internationally, securing MLB’s participation in the historic games with the Cuban National Team in 1999 and the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, where Team USA won the Gold Medal. He also created MLB academies in Australia, Italy and Compton, California.
In April 2005, Alderson returned to the front office and became Chief Executive Officer of the San Diego Padres. During his four years in San Diego, Alderson led the franchise to back-to-back playoff appearances for the first time in club history in 2005 and 2006, winning the National League West Division title both seasons. He was responsible for the club’s daily business and baseball operations and instrumental in bringing the inaugural World Baseball Classic to San Diego in 2006.
Alderson most recently served as a special consultant to the Commissioner for Latin America, leading the sport’s efforts to combat identity fraud and performance-enhancing drug use by baseball prospects. He was appointed by Commissioner Bud Selig to that position in March 2010.
Alderson, who served four years as a Marine Infantry Officer with a tour of duty in Vietnam, holds degrees from Dartmouth College (1969) and Harvard Law School (1976). The Seattle native and his wife, Linda, have two adult children.