Earlier today, our friend Matthew Cerrone at MetsBlog responded to a mailbag question from a reader who basically wanted to know why Omar Minaya gets so little credit for a team and farm system that is still essentially comprised of a majority of his players.
It actually led to a few emails steered in my direction asking me what my thoughts were on the subject and who was better between Sandy and Omar.
On the surface, it’s difficult to just look at historical results and then use them to compare Minaya’s six-year tenure with Sandy Alderson’s first three years. Just as it is difficult to compare baseball players from different eras, the same can be said about comparing general managers, even when they are only separated by three years.
For one thing, the circumstances and dynamics were incredibly different and you can arguably say they were diametrically opposed to each other. It is nearly impossible to draw similarities between a team that is rebuilding and one that considers itself to be one or two players away from the post season, and that’s essentially what you are doing by comparing our current and former GMs.
The hope is that Sandy will soon be in the same exact position that Omar was, and only then can we begin to draw comparisons.
You’ve seen me write on many occasions that I have yet to see Sandy trade for an All Star caliber player, and it’s true, he hasn’t done that yet. We’ve only seen Sandy trade away talented players for top prospects and he’s been remarkably good at it, netting such big names as Zack Wheeler, Travis d’Arnaud and more recently, Dilson Herrera and Vic Black.
On the flip-side, we’ve seen Omar go out and make trades for All Star caliber players like Johan Santana and Carlos Delgado, two players who were considered the best available at their positions at the time. But what we never got to see, was Omar trading a star player for a top prospect or prospects. You see the two dynamics, windows and short-term goals were completely different.
When Omar was the GM, the Wilpons had a brand new ballpark coming that they thought was going to sell-out everyday for the next 5-6 years. They demanded star attractions no matter what the cost, and Minaya was the perfect man for the job. The fans wanted stars too, and he was there to provide them. Within one year of the Phillips/Duquette era – a rock-bottom era with a farm system in shambles that had just traded away their only top ranked prospect in Scott Kazmir – the Mets were back in business. The winning business.
Of course that ballpark never became the cash cow the Wilpons thought, and then soon after, all hell broke loose when the images of Bernie Madoff being led away in handcuffs were splattered on front pages everywhere. Now we had a win-now team that had no money and no way out. What happened next was inevitable.
Enter Sandy Alderson who was brought here to help free up some money by trading away his best assets, and lets give him credit for getting top value for what we traded. I’m not so sure any other GM could have gotten more. But Sandy was here to slash payroll, and slash he did.
Because of all the financial turmoil and an impending one-billion dollar lawsuit, Sandy had no flexibility for three of his first four offseasons. But he stayed true to his vision and his patient approach and rode out the storm. As fans, we rode out that storm with him.
It has now brought us to this point where we are today, and we’re now seeing Sandy try his hand at spending in free agency for the first time since he arrived. He’s spent close to $100 million already with his biggest acquisitions; Curtis Granderson, Bartolo Colon and Chris Young, all brought here to supplement a young core that this front office believes will contend for a wild card in 2014. We all hope they’re right.
But getting back to the point of this post – which was comparing Sandy to Omar – I hope you are intelligent enough to see the futility of such an endeavor.
I hope you can understand that just like you can’t compare hitters from the Deadball Era to those of the Steroids Era, the same holds true when comparing general managers. It’s a fruitless task that in the end only proves to be a considerable waste of time.
Instead, understand that every GM, good or bad, had nothing but the best interests of their teams at heart. Everything they did was because they truly believed it was best for their teams. And all of them desperately wanted to win – regardless if their teams ultimately did win or not.
Omar Minaya and Sandy Alderson were the perfect GM’s for the tasks that were given to them. Both GMs were good tonics for the team at the time and for the fan base as well.
Anyway, that’s the way I see it.