Let me put it this way: if midway through Sandy Alderson's news conference, I'd have awakened to a 30-something Victoria Principal in the shower, it wouldn't have surprised me.
Better yet, it would have been a trade down. That's how excited Mets fans should be about the hiring of Alderson.
Let's see, what are the problem areas the Mets have had for the past 20 years? OK, a failure to effectively communicate their message from the top. An inability to properly evaluate choices throughout the system in both a short- and long-term basis. An understanding of the need to spend money wisely -- on the draft, for example -- instead of unwisely -- on things like Gary Matthews Jr. A wariness of long-term contracts for veteran players and of the aging curve generally. That a manager is less vital than the players around him, and that he needs to adhere to the overall organizational philosophy. That statistical information is our friend.
That's pretty much everything, from a baseball perspective. And Sandy Alderson didn't merely address all of those things in a comprehensive way on Friday, he has a demonstrated level of excellence in every one of those areas.
So anyone who isn't giddy about the prospects of this organization moving forward -- nothing guaranteed, of course, as nothing is in baseball -- isn't paying attention.
There will be a contingent of Mets fans, of course, who aren't satisfied yet, and understandably so. When I tell you that a well-run organization is overwhelmingly likely to consistently win, it is easy to remember that teams seven games up with 17 to go overwhelmingly win their divisions. The improbable has consistently happened to the Mets over the past five years, and not in a good way.
But Alderson, and the seeming All-Star team of baseball minds he is assembling, should provide a proactive, effective management team. Indeed, the statement he made that caused the most consternation in some quarters -- that due to unruly spending in the past, the Mets would not be active players in this winter's free-agent market --should be one of the greatest causes for celebration.
For one thing, this winter's class is uninspiring. Someone is going to pay good money for what are likely the decline years of Cliff Lee's career. Same goes for Jayson Werth. Only Carl Crawford offers any of his prime in a medium-term deal, and most of the remainder of second-tier players will be overpaid due to the absence of viable alternatives.
Moreover, that the Mets will stay away from anchor contracts will mean the flexibility to add good ones when the opportunity presents itself. Better still, if you like seeing your baseball team add talent on the cheap, we'll immediately get to see Alderson and company in action stretching what dollars remain to be spent. I believe the difference between past offseasons and this one will be huge, but will only be apparent over the length of a subsequent baseball season.
It would appear the worst case, as one executive told John Harper, is that the Mets won't be ahead of the league's curve the way the Athletics were. Here's the money quote:
"Sandy was at the forefront of the Moneyball stuff, but everybody has caught up. So I'm going to be curious to see how he adapts, especially in a big market. I'm really curious to see who he brings in to manage."
There's so much there, no? For one thing, the idea that everyone has caught up is pretty silly. This is the Myth of the Rational Marketplace applied to baseball. Really? All 30 teams are no operating optimally? We are well short of that. For more, visit Kansas City, or Houston, or Pittsburgh, or Baltimore ... I could go on.
For another, though, let's assume that eventually happens, that all 30 teams operate optimally, the Mets included. By merely getting up to speed with the rest of baseball, operationally, the Mets will become one of the four or five best teams in baseball, consistently. With management equal, the Mets have more money than practically anyone. When the minds are equal, advantage New York.
It's the reason the rest of the country roots so hard against New York teams. It takes overachieving by other markets and significant mistakes by a New York team to make for the kind of gap between the Mets and the elite of baseball possible. The Phillies, salary-wise, made up the gap between Philadelphia and New York. But they did it largely on the back of postseason appearances that, should the Mets have been operating optimally, never would have happened.
Of course, with the Yankees across town, spending more money and operating pretty rationally in their own right, the Mets never have to worry about the kind of dominance that would make baseball boring. Even without the Yankees, such things don't happen in this sport -- consider that for all their riches, the Yankees have just 27 world championships to show for a hefty bill.
But for the Mets, with just two world championships to show for a surprisingly similar amount of spending, the return on their investment just got a whole lot better. Or as Sandy Alderson put it, the organization must invest in short-term bonds, medium-term bonds, some U.S. Treasury notes ...
Seriously. The Mets have a man in charge who uses diversified portfolio analogies. Peak-era Victoria Principal, I hope you never show up.