By Jason Keidel
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The New York Metropolitans just got exponentially smarter. We don’t know if they got any better.
Invading the Ivy League, they’ve hired half the staff of the Harvard Crimson. Apparently John Nash and Stephen Hawking weren’t available.
Sandy Alderson, the new boss with a beaming résumé, may be the man for the job. New Yorkers, as impatient as ever, exhausted and exacerbated by the provincial failure that is their baseball team, want to predict the next six seasons based on the last six weeks. It can’t happen that way. This project can’t be timed with a stopwatch.
The Mets, shackled by bloated contracts, a swath of empty seats, and a stable of unappealing players, have a daunting hill to climb, and it doesn’t merely vanish by throwing diplomas at the problem. Mets fans, praising the Lord for these laudable executives, are in a rebound relationship, In essence, anyone other than Omar would do, the first skirt to flash a little flesh.
Alderson is his own man, and it seems he wants to own his men, as well. If his new manager must come with a leash, an Art Howe clone, then the new Mets will feel like the old Mets, a team with the corporate monotone of an accounting firm.
And Alderson does regurgitate some of the boring platitudes that have defined the Mets for a decade, talking about process and procedure and protocol, the Jerry Krause sentiment that organizations win championships – which is fine as long as Michael Jordan is the face of the franchise, not Toni Kukoc.
Time is the primary concern with Alderson, who hasn’t run a baseball club since Bill Clinton ran America, hasn’t assembled a baseball delight since Deee-Lite topped the music charts. He’s a Marine. He’s a Harvard grad. He’s a professor. Perhaps he’s a plumber on his day off. Alderson may be the mirage of the dot-com stocks that plunged almost overnight. Or he could be the savior, the man with enough rank to whip a rank team into shape.
Is this the managerial Dream Team? Is it a front office or a think tank? The Mets look good on paper, as always, a beautiful park with a struggling squad. Alderson seems rather smart and noble. Now we’ll see if he’s able.
The first order of business is to clear Carlos Beltran from the books. Beltran, a divine talent who has produced sublime seasons, typifies the maddening stupor the Mets have become, often loaded with skill but a dearth of will.
Beltran said he would waive his no-trade clause, a de facto white flag from a player who has been paid for six years but only produced for three. A few years ago he was named one of People magazine’s “100 Most Beautiful.” That alone encapsulates the Mets, cosmetic to the core. Alderson’s task is to disband a group of pretty losers.
Oliver Perez and Luis Castillio the second and third of the three stooges who skipped the trip to Walter Reed, are virtually immovable. The team’s rotation is as shaky as the San Andreas Fault. As Johan Santana recovers from surgery, losing a mile or two off his fastball every season and making his changeup more hittable than ever, the Mets need a new ace very soon. Alderson said the team was not spending big money on free agents for a while, which means the Mets’ mantra could be “Wait until next year!” before this year begins.
There is nothing about Alderson or his newly minted minions that suggest failure. Yet you can’t help but expect it. The Mets earned the city’s cynicism, a fan base calcified by constant choking. It just feels weird, turning the National League into the Ivy League, while the team languishes near the cellar with a stellar (see: pricey) roster. But Alderson can blast fresh air into the franchise in one move.
Give Wally Backman a shot. He’s a lifelong Met who can manage and comes with the requisite hunger for a listless team, too often seen through the murky lenses of Jerry Manuel and represented by the media-awkward Omar Minaya. New Yorkers can handle failing but they can’t handle quitting, which has been the Mets’ trademark since Game 7 in 2006.
Thomas Jefferson said a little rebellion is good for us. Alderson, a proud jarhead, can make a jarring move by promoting Backman, a rebel with a cause.
Feel free to email me: Jakster1@mac.com
- DePodesta Joins Alderson In Mets Front Office (newyork.cbslocal.com)
- Coleman’s Corner: Mets’ First Interviews (newyork.cbslocal.com)
- Coleman’s Corner: Mets Gaining Some R-E-S-P-E-C-T (newyork.cbslocal.com)