Sandy Alderson was interviewed by Mark Feinsand of MLB.com in a two-part interview. In the first part of the interview, he discussed the 2017 Mets among other things. In the second part of the interview, he talked in-depth about his beginnings in baseball.
Alderson’s first baseball job was as a general counsel for the Oakland Athletics in 1981. He was actually an associate attorney at a San Francisco law firm and ended up getting that job because Roy Eisenhardt (one of the partners he worked closely with) and his family bought the team from Charlie Finley.
Back in the early 80’s, having a full-time general counsel was quite new. Therefore the position didn’t come with a large workload. Alderson’s workload changed after manager Billy Martin was fired. Martin not only performed managerial duties, but also acted like a general manager.
“We hired a new manager, but there was kind of a void there,” Alderson said to MLB.com in regards to baseball operations. “I was given that responsibility without any experience or real knowledge of the game or of the position. It kind of grew from there.”
Taking on this new role was not too overwhelming for Alderson as he had help from Eisenhardt. He also feels his past experience with the United States Marine Corps as well as his former law job were helpful in successfully taking on this new challenge.
“I was a lawyer for five years, and I had been in the Marine Corps, so probably my Marine experience was as informative as anything,” Alderson told MLB.com. He went on to say it gave him, “basic leadership principles, organization, discipline”.
Alderson was apart of one of the most successful runs in Oakland Athletics history from 1988-1990 as the team made three straight World Series appearances and won it all in 1989. Besides the A’s even better 1972-1974 run, this was easily the best stretch since moving to Oakland. Times have changed since then and Alderson mentions how signing the wrong player back then equated to losing a few hundred thousand dollars while mistakes nowadays can lead to losing a few million dollars.
“Players make it, players don’t, players perform, players don’t,” Alderson said to MLB.com. “The outcome is not always within your control. What we try to do is focus on the day-to-day process and hope that we’re increasing the chances of success by being systematic and organized and process-oriented.”
That explains the conservative approach Alderson has taken while signing players. When Alderson signed Curtis Granderson to a four-year, $60 million contract at the end of 2013, it was the biggest free agent signing in his tenure with the Mets. The largest before that was Frank Francisco who was signed to a two-year, $12 million deal in 2011.
Of course part of the reasoning was that the Mets were still rebuilding and recovering from the Bernie Madoff ponzi scheme. Still, Alderson has never been the type of general manager who just signs players for the heck of it. If he gives out a big contract to a player like Yoenis Cespedes, it’s because he is confident that he is worth it.
From Alderson’s time with the A’s and later the San Diego Padres, he learned valuable lessons and tried to put them into use in New York.
“The fan base in New York is large, knowledgeable and demanding in some ways — but surprisingly patient in our case for the first few years that I was here,” Alderson said to MLB.com.
New York is not the easiest place to work in regards to baseball jobs. Alderson has recently shown success, but fans have let him hear it along the way. Since 2011 he has created one of the best rotations in baseball and revamped the Mets farm system.
The teams he has put together have made back-to-back playoff appearances and won the 2015 National League pennant. The team is not done yet. That World Series trophy is the ultimate goal and the Mets hope to take the next step in 2017.