Predicting baseball is awfully tricky business, so we won't say that the Mets have made the first step toward a World Series title by hiring Sandy Alderson to be their next general manager. But we will say that it is a hiring that falls right in line with other moves made by sputtering franchises that wound up paying off quite handsomely down the line.
In 1979, the Giants missed the playoffs for the 15th straight year and were being run into the ground by Wellington Mara's refusal to hire people who actually knew football to make football decisions. He finally saw the light and hired George Young, a veteran of very successful front offices in Baltimore and Miami, and his personnel acumen set the Giants off on a run that has restored credibility to the franchise on and off the field.
The results aren't in on Donnie Walsh's work with the Knicks just yet, but it is hard to find fault with the way he's brought respectability back to Madison Square Garden. The reason for that change is Walsh's insistence in setting out a plan of attack and following it every step of the way. The team is finally conducting itself in a professional manner again and it would be surprising if that didn't lead to better results on the court in the near future.
But the Mets don't need to look outside their own past for a move of this nature. In 1980, the Mets hired Frank Cashen, who helped build the terrific Orioles teams of the 60's and 70's, to run their baseball operations. A team that was a laughingstock when Cashen was hired was rebuilt into a champion through shrewd trades at the major league level and a wildly productive minor league system that churned out several star players in a short period of time.
Alderson has similarities with all three of those men. He's stepping into a situation that's been mismanaged to the hilt, he was very successful in his past jobs with Oakland and San Diego and he's known for getting deeply involved in every aspect of an organization. Perhaps most importantly, all have made plans and stuck with them in the face of criticism. No more of the Omar Minaya changing when the wind blows philosophy of running a team. He hasn't even officially taken the job yet and there are already reasons to start taking the Mets more seriously.
The first is the news that he's talking with Paul DePodesta and J.P. Ricciardi, who worked with him in Oakland along with protege Billy Beane, about getting the band back together in Queens. Because of their shared histories, you'll hear a lot of tired Moneyball cracks should this come to fruition but what you should really take notice of is Alderson's attempt to bring in as many bright baseball people as possible in an effort to overhaul the Mets organization.
Also encouraging is the fact that Alderson's successes in Oakland and San Diego came with much smaller budgets than the one he will have to work with in New York. Given his commitment to innovative approaches to building an organization, that's pretty exciting because he'll actually have the resources to put them all into action on a grander scale than he could with the other two teams.
Again, that doesn't mean it will all work out, but better Mets days feel a lot more likely with Alderson's arrival than they did at any point in the last few years. That's a pretty good place to start the next chapter in the history of the franchise.