In his fifth season as general manager of the New York Mets, Sandy Alderson finally deserves a pat on the back for assembling a division championship team. It took five—often times agonizing and frustrating years, but the 67-year-old front office executive has the Mets in the postseason for the first time since 2006.
Alderson inherited a roster littered with aging superstars, a bloated payroll and a front office staff resting on the laurels of a magical 2006 playoff run.
In 2008 principal owners Jeff and Fred Wilpon invested in Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme and ran into financial trouble.
The Mets were set to open their brand new ballpark, Citi Field, in 2009 and the Wilpons were starting to lay the groundwork for a new organizational philosophy that would see the team drastically slash payroll from over $135 million in ’09 to around $101 million in ’15.
In 2010 the new regime was in place with Alderson hiring manager Terry Collins to oversee the rebuilding process in New York. The most critical hiring Alderson made was appointing J.P. Ricciardi to special assistant to the general manager. Ricciardi, 56, served as the general manager for the Toronto Blue Jays from 2001-2009. Alderson’s ties to Ricciardi date back to their days with the Oakland Athletics when Billy Beane hired Ricciardi as Director of Player Personnel.
Slowly, but surely the Mets started to rebuild a barren farm system by stockpiling prospects through trades and the draft. New York sent Carlos Beltran to the Giants in exchange for Zack Wheeler and acquired Noah Syndeergaard and Travis d’Arnaud in a trade for Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey.
The Amazin’s selected Steven Matz in the second round of the 2009 MLB draft, Matt Harvey in the seventh round of the 2010 MLB’s First-Year Player draft and Jacob deGrom in the ninth round of the 2010 MLB draft.
The Mets kept and developed their young assets and they’re starting to see the fruits of their labor. The Amazin’s have built one of the most coveted starting pitching staffs in the game, by simply building from within instead of overpaying for high priced free agents.
Alderson’s drastic departure from Omar Minaya’s free agent spending spree was initially greeted harshly by fans, but now the general manager’s long-term vision is breeding optimism and excitement in the Big Apple.