If you're looking for a silver lining to the latest mess in Queens, imagine how bad this Mets situation would look with Omar Minaya at the wheel?
In a court motion, the Wilpons are alleging that the Madoff trustee is engaging in "character assassination" by suing for a return of monies gained through their association with the financial charlatan. That allegation is presumably being made out of the opposite side of the mouth than the one that is talking about selling off a portion of the team so that they can assure business as usual because it would be hard to assassinate the character of people who are confirming the notion that there's reason to be concerned about the need to return significant cash.
Credibility: Still not a Wilpon strength.
Minaya would not be the man to put a brave public face on this issue. His press conferences were always exercises in some kind of experimental theatre devoted to putting supremely unqualified men on stage in an attempt to project some kind of authority. If he had to deal with questions about Madoff, there's a pretty good chance it would devolve into some kind of Iraqi shoe throwing incident.
Sandy Alderson doesn't have that problem. The man has radiated a sense of control since he took the job in October and showed no signs of losing control during Monday's conference call to announce the signing of R.A. Dickey to a two-year deal. Shockingly, no one asked about the knuckleball-throwing pitcher and everyone asked about the knuckleball financial dealings of ownership. Alderson handled it well.
"You're right to say some circumstances have changed, but would it have changed my decision? I don't think so. From my standpoint, I'm not surprised by this development just because the Madoff situation was a backdrop to the Mets, a well-known backdrop. My enthusiasm and energy for this position and my confidence in the Mets is undiminished. ... "I want to emphasize the plan we've pursued over the last couple of months, was limited by only one fact - and that was the level of existing payroll. ... If there was a financial problem before, and it's being addressed, that can only be positive from my standpoint."
You have to believe Alderson is telling the truth about his lack of regrets about taking the job because it would be a pretty big shocker if he didn't make sure that his rear end was covered in this very set of circumstances.
Knowing about the Madoff issue, Alderson almost certainly would have demanded a contract clause protecting his entire salary should the team get sold to someone else. What's more, moving toward making the team leaner in the event of a sale is something designed to make him look good while trying to compete with the bloated payroll of undertalented players that the Wilpons provided him would be much more difficult.
If anything, Alderson's presence seems like another sign that change is coming to Flushing. He's Bud Selig's boy and he came to town in the first place to stop the bleeding caused by mismanagement over the last few years. He's more than capable of manning the fort while the league and the Wilpons figure out a way to exit this mess with the least possible additional damage to a franchise that should be a source of pride rather than a laughingstock.
Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City and is a contributor to FanHouse.com and ProFootballTalk.com in addition to his duties for NBCNewYork.com. You can follow him on Twitter.