When San Diego’s History Repeats Itself In Queens

After reading Joe D’s post on SandyBall, I remembered an interview I did with an author from Gaslamp Ball, a San Diego Padres fan site.

Joe D points to the fans view of Alderson from his time with the San Diego Padres, and I couldn’t help but think about this quote from the Gaslamp author:

“In most cases I felt that he was trying to do the right thing by building from within and creating a “pipeline” of young talent, but he left the club in a worse place than when arrived.  Much of that can be blamed on owner John Moores divorce, but Alderson needs to take his share of the responsibility.”

Most Padres fans I encounter either through personal connections of keeping pace with Gaslamp Ball feel that Alderson didn’t accomplish what he set out to do, but they also point to a disaster of an ownership situation. Remember, Alderson was brought in by the owner and was pretty much there to do the role the General Manager was supposed to. They created a problem from jump street because they still had Kevin Towers who was GM, but they brought in a President whose goal it was to run the organization. It was a power struggle from day 1.

All of that doesn’t concern me though to be honest. What concerns me is when history starts to repeat itself. Here are some examples: (All Padres related quotes courtesy of Gaslampball.com)

September 18th, the Mets fire AAA Pitching Coach Mark Brewer. GM Sandy Alderson didn’t go into much detail, but Paul DePodesta did when he said:

“When you have a system where people are going to run through a number of different stops along the way, and they’re going to have a number of different instructors – in our case from the Dominican Summer League and all the way up to New York – it’s important that they get told the same things. “

September 28th, 2008, the Padres hitting coach Wally Joyner resigns right before the season ended much to the surprise of Padres fans. Joyner told XX Sports Radio that he resigned because he felt he wasn’t involved in things he should have been involved in as a hitting coach and felt other people would try to talk to hitters and go against what he was telling them.

When Alderson was asked about it, he said

“Resigning six days in advance and taking a few shots in the meantime — going into the clubhouse and doing what?  Teaching a philosophy that we don’t accept or subscribe to?  He put us in a very difficult decision.”

Paul DePodesta took it a step further,

“Readers have asked that I comment about the resignation of our hitting instructor, and this is my way of doing so. If Wally really didn’t believe in our philosophy, then he absolutely did the right thing for everyone involved. I’m sure it was not fun for him to swim against the tide, and he realized that it wasn’t good for the organization either. Again, this is not offering any judgment on who is right or wrong – that’s immaterial, and there really isn’t a right or wrong philosophy.”

Jose Reyes & Trevor Hoffman

If you don’t know, many Padres fans blame Sandy Alderson for the fact Trevor Hoffman left San Diego the way he did. If you don’t know, Hoffman had a contract offer from the Padres following the 2008 season, and they pulled that offer in November before it was signed – which made Hoffman a free agent.

From that point on, Alderson played a similar game to the one we witnessed with Reyes. Here are some quotes that may sound a bit familiar to you:

“I have reached out through a number of sources to try and initiate some conversation with Trevor.  It hasn’t been successful yet.  I remain open to it and I hope at some point he will as well.  That’s kind of where that stands at the moment.” – Sandy Alderson

Then 1 week later, Trevor Hoffman said

“We haven’t gotten any phone calls. We’re more than willing to listen to anything out there. They’re the ones that took the deal off the table. They’re the ones that wanted to go a different direction. If they reach out and legitimately want to make a point of talking, they know how to get ahold of us.”

Then after a month of “no talk”, rumors came out that Hoffman may sign with the Dodgers or Brewers – Alderson responded with

“It sounds like something is imminent. We have not renewed our offer or an offer and at this point wouldn’t expect that we would.”

5 days later, after no offer or official contract talks

“Padres fans, including me over the last several years, have been privileged to witness Trevor’s year in, year out excellence. The sound of “Hells Bells” and the appearance of Trevor jogging to the mound late in a game will be sorely missed, as will his many off-field contributions to the San Diego community.  We wish him well in Milwaukee.”

These situations seem pretty similar in some ways, and what concerns me is not that Alderson didn’t want an aging closer – what concerns me is that he seemed to go about negotiations with a Padres Hall of Famer in almost the same way he went about negotiations with a player who could have been a Mets Hall of Famer – yet we are being told with regards to Wright that Alderson learned from his mistakes with Reyes? How can that be if he didn’t learn from his mistakes with Hoffman a few years prior?

If Alderson is in Flushing to turn the team into a winner, and not simply to get the finances in order – then he needs to avoid making similar mistakes from his last job in San Diego. I believe Alderson likes to control the organization in every aspect, and if you’re winning – that’s a good thing. If you’re not – then you’re going to get run out of town quickly. With regards to Hoffman, I think that was Alderson’s way of putting everybody on notice that the players and the fans do not call the shots – and I believe that’s exactly what he did in the Reyes negotiations. I do believe Reyes had his faults as well but with regards to Alderson, it was his first real chance to put his own stamp on the Mets and show everybody who was in charge.

I still contend, the David Wright contract will tell you everything you need to know about Sandy Alderson and this franchise’s future. Extending Wright to me is a necessity because it sends a message to the fans, the players, and everybody else that the financial problems of the past are done. It tells me that David Wright was given a few reasons to believe the Mets intend on righting the ship very soon.

It also shows an ability to learn from mistakes, and understand that even if you’re not always a fan of longterm deals, sometimes it is in the franchise’s best interest to commit.

If they let him walk, or trade him for questionable prospects, it will simply prove that they aren’t here to try and build a winner anytime soon but merely get the Wilpon’s back on their feet financially and roll the dice with their prospects and hope they were right.

I’ve said from the start that I am willing to give Alderson 3 years to prove he wants to win in New York. I recognize he came into a job where the team was in financial crisis, I accept it – because I cannot change it. His interview toward the end of the season with WFAN’s Mike Francesa put a lot of pressure on this off-season, because it put supporters like me in a spot to say “prove it.”

He made a lot of statements, and he’s going to be held to those statements. If he doesn’t come through with some drastic roster changes for 2013 – his supporters like myself will simply respond with the same words he uttered with regards to Wally Joyner – “Teaching a philosophy that we don’t accept or subscribe to?  He put us in a very difficult decision.”

About Michael Branda 267 Articles
Michael Branda grew up a Mets fan watching the mid 1980's teams and his favorite Met of all-time is (and was) Wally Backman. When it comes to sabermetrics versus old school thinking, he's in the middle and believes adopting new ways to get answers is helpful, especially when the old way has not produced results.