When he became the Mets general manager after the 2010 season, Sandy Alderson inherited a terrible, debt-saddled team with a limited payroll even though they play in the nation’s largest media market.
Despite leading the Mets to a World Series in 2015, the team lost more than they won during Alderson’s seven-year tenure, even as he and then-manager Terry Collins worked to get the most out of the limited resources afforded to them.
Now, with his return to the club as team president under new owner, Steve Cohen, Alderson has what any baseball executive dreams of — access to all the resources needed to transform the Mets into a perennial contender.
Alderson’s optimism for the Mets was more than palpable in his appearance Tuesday at Cohen’s introductory press conference, following the club’s new billionaire owner who promised that he’d do what it would takes to win.
Cohen brought in Alderson to serve as the Mets president after meeting him at an event earlier this year and developing a professional rapport. Alderson told the press he believes he and Cohen are “very well aligned” in terms of philosophy, strategy and execution of a winning vision.
Not long after Cohen signed the final papers closing his $2.4 billion purchase of the Mets Friday, and Alderson assumed control of the club he ran between 2011 and 2018, there was an immediate front office shakeup. General manager Brodie Van Wagenen was out after three disappointing seasons, as were many of his deputies.
“Anytime there’s a change in ownership or leadership at the top, there are going to be changes made in the levels of leadership,” Alderson explained to reporters Tuesday. “It’s not because people aren’t capable or competent … but in terms of how we envision the team being structure, it’s the decision-making processes that have to be aligned with the personalities.”
In other words, Alderson noted that he’s giving a fresh start to the new Mets president of baseball operations, who will report to him. The club is in the process of interviewing candidates and Alderson expects to make a hire shortly.
That person will then be tasked with filling the other positions such as general manager. Where that leaves current Mets manager Luis Rojas is somewhat unclear; Alderson said he talked with Rojas and told him that, in all likelihood, Rojas will be back in the dugout for the 2021 season — though the final decision rests with the incoming head of baseball operations.
Meanwhile, Alderson asserted that his current front office regime are filling the general managerial duties for the moment — reaching out to player agents and speaking with players.
He believes the Mets are in fine shape to take advantage of an unusual free agent market this year, and build around the current core of Mets stars like Jacob deGrom and Michael Conforto — many of whom Alderson brought into the organization while general manager — to make the team a serious contender in 2021.
What does that mean? Much like sports agent Scott Boras did, he compared it to shopping in the supermarket.
“We’re going to make sure we’ve got enough meat and potatoes, but we’re going to shop in the gourmet section as well,” Alderson said.
Like Cohen said at the press conference, Alderson stated that the goal is not just to build the Mets into a winner next year — but for seasons to come. He spoke about a desire to shake off the Mets’ bad reputation and turn a perceived losing on-field culture into a winning one.
“We want to be iconic,” he said. “The Mets have a chance to do that. We have that opportunity in part because we’re well-located, but in order to get there, we’ve got to be sustainably excellent. That’s the way we get there.”