Sandy Alderson differs from Omar Minaya in many ways, not the least of which is his interview style. Minaya was a master of saying absolutely nothing in as many words as possible. Alderson, on the other hand, is more of a straight shooter.
After Tuesday’s 4 p.m. trade deadline passed, Sandy spoke with reporters who grilled him on his inaction. The team is all but eliminated from the playoff race, they said, so why not sell and look toward the future? Why not at least trade Scott Hairston, who will become a free agent after the season, for a prospect?
Alderson explained that the return for Hairston would not have been sufficient, “maybe not even top-30 prospect status in an organization.” A logical explanation.
However, his response to a question from Adam Rubin of ESPN New York, who asked what value there is in holding onto players to increase the win total of a non-playoff team, was eye-opening.
“Well, maybe you’re not a Mets fan, Adam,” Alderson said. “Or you’re not a Mets employee. Or you’re not a Mets observer. You’re certainly a Mets reporter. It’s not clear to me you have the same mindset as all the other constituencies that relate to the Mets.”
I’m a Mets fan. My mindset is that the Mets blew it this season, and now the sole priority should be future success. My mindset is that I want the Mets to win the World Series.
Sandy Alderson has a more complex view.
“We’re about changing impressions, changing perceptions,” Alderson said. “And you do that with wins and losses, primarily.”
Impressions? Perceptions? Is this the same Sandy Alderson we thought we knew?
The common perception of Alderson — and of the entire Mets front office — is that he doesn’t give a crap about what the fans think; that he’s a moneyball man with sabermetrics on the brain; that he has a plan to help the Mets win, not now but in the future, and that he won’t do a thing to jeopardize it.
Clearly, it’s not that simple. By not buying during and just after the All-Star break, Alderson suggested he’s all about the future. And yet, by not selling at the trade deadline — and based on his comments — he suggested he does care about the rest of 2012.
Here’s the real explanation: Sandy does think the Mets’ performance in the next two months matters; he does think perception matters. But that’s not because he cares about your feelings. Rather, it’s because selling tickets matters. The Mets are still hurting financially, both because of poor box office sales and due to the lingering effects of the Madoff lawsuit. The better the team plays in August and September, the more people will show up to the games and, presumably, the more people will buy tickets for 2013.
The Mets could have traded Hairston for a low-level prospect, and it may or may not have helped the team down the road. However, Alderson decided it was more beneficial to keep a positive “perception” — win a few more games, sell a few more tickets — than it was to marginally improve the farm system.
So, what do we learn from all this? Mainly, we learn that Sandy is not a saber-robot. The future is his priority, yes, but at the same time, he believes it’s important to keep morale at reasonable levels as the franchise develops.
Sandy cares. Take solace in that.