In the fantasy world that we've created for the Mets, Sandy Alderson was sitting with a Johnnie Black in front of his television last night when Brian Wilson struck out Nelson Cruz. He took a slug, put the tumbler down on the coffee table and stood up before saying to no one in particular, "Alright, now let's get to work."
Alderson probably liked what he saw as the Giants spilled onto the field to celebrate. They were not a super team who toyed with the rest of the league all season before cruising to a title that always seemed preordained. They were imperfect when the season began, they struggled every step of the way and didn't secure a spot in the playoffs until the 162nd day of the season. They weren't favored in the NLCS or World Series, yet they are the ones who will be feted with a parade in San Francisco later this week.
The most encouraging part of the team is the makeup of the lineup. With the exception of catcher Buster Posey, every key position player is a veteran cast off by other teams that found themselves in the Giants lineup because G.M. Brian Sabean collects experienced bats with a zeal normally reserved for "Star Trek" afficianados and things touched by William Shatner. This is the kind of lineup, in other words, that can be put together on the fly with good scouting and a willingness to take a risk or two.
Posey is, of course, a high draft pick and the best position player on the team, which starts the second, harder, half of the work. The brilliant Giants rotation of Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Jonathan Sanchez and Madison Bumgarner is totally homegrown and is clearly the biggest reason why they are going to get rings on Opening Day in April. You don't build that kind of staff overnight, three of them were first rounders and you get lucky when you wind up with a talent as rare as Lincecum's, but building one should be Alderson's first priority.
The Giants, like the Mets, play in a ballpark that is slanted toward the pitchers. The playing fields are expansive, stiff breezes blow in from the bay and it can be mighty cold even when the rest of the area is in short sleeves. Those are things that Omar Minaya used to talk about using to his advantage, but then he went out and signed Jason Bay. Alderson should see what happened with the Giants and what happened with the A's teams he left in Billy Beane's hands and know what the best route forward for the Mets will be.
It's all easier said than done, but the Mets hired Alderson because he's a man who knows how to create and execute a plan. That plan feels like it started to reveal itself over the last few weeks thanks to a team that the Mets replaced when they came into existence.