After Day 1 of the Sandy Alderson Era Friday at Citi Field, this much we know: The Mets' new general manager knows how to work a room - in this case, the spacious Caesar's Club. But that performance, along with a lengthy resume, is the only way to judge Alderson at this point. In other words, hiring him was the easy part.
The good thing is that Alderson didn't stand at the podium and try to sugarcoat the Mets' situation, which is not great as the team switches into decision-making mode for the 2011 season and beyond. But Alderson does appear to have a plan and a philosophy, which he broke down into segments of "30-60-90" days as the club heads into the winter months.
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"The baseball calendar waits for no one," Alderson said. "We're looking at the end of the World Series here in the next few days. We've got general managers' meetings approaching. We have the winter meetings. The calendar marches on."
Taking that a step further, it's a little more than 100 days before the Mets open spring training in Port St. Lucie, Fla., so yeah, Alderson has plenty of work to do and a relatively short time to do it.
So let's break it down and take a closer look at the first 30 days, which could be the most important of the entire offseason:
Assembling a front office
It took the Mets more than three weeks to decide on Alderson. Now he will have to pick up the pace on any front-office hires, as well as appointing a manager, to have them in place by the time the GM meetings begin Nov. 17 in Orlando.
Alderson is likely to hire Grady Fuson - a former top scout in Oakland - for a similar job with the Mets. He also could add either Paul DePodesta, his former stat guru, or J.P. Ricciardi in an assistant GM role, according to people familiar with the situation.
Alderson will rely on those trusted lieutenants to help analyze the roster. Assistant GM John Ricco, kept on after Omar Minaya's firing to aid in the interview process, also will remain with Alderson.
"In baseball, it's not always the result that best defines the effort - it's about probabilities," Alderson said. "Sometimes it's bad luck. Sometimes there are other things that come into play. But our goal is to constantly improve the probabilities of success to the point where we will have that success on a consistent basis. So putting together the front office is critical."
This position seems to have been de-emphasized. All the focus on Alderson and his "Moneyball" philosophy suggests that the Mets will stay away from "dugout dictator" types who could detract from the organizational game plan.
Bobby Valentine, who could have been considered weeks ago, likely now is out of the mix, as is Joe Torre. Wally Backman will get an interview, but after only one season with Class A Brooklyn, he probably is not a top candidate.
For the right blend of experience, fire and even Mets ties, John Gibbons and Clint Hurdle should make the list, which the Wilpons indicated Friday was at roughly a dozen. This year's third-base coach, Chip Hale, and Bob Melvin, a Mets scout this season, also will receive strong consideration.
"The key to any successful leader is his or her ability to command respect," Alderson said. "The question is how you do that. In terms of managing, I really believe the most critical thing that a manager can do is somehow motivate players over a 162-game season.
"But when you think in terms of motivation, you have to think in terms of what contributes to that charisma or that leadership ability, and part of it is professional competence. You're not going to maintain credibility with players if you are not professionally competent."
Early roster decisions
Almost forgot - the players. Alderson is facing some rapidly approaching contract deadlines, and then it's off to the GM meetings, where the groundwork is established for trades and free-agent signings. Those usually come during the winter meetings, which begin on Dec. 6, or later that month.
Alderson was able to extend the deadline on signing Hisanori Takahashi to Friday. But because of an unusual rule, if Alderson cannot work a deal by then, Takahashi won't be able to sign with the Mets until May 15, meaning the lefthander will sign elsewhere. Also, the Mets have until Nov. 15 to pick up the $11-million option on Jose Reyes for next season, which certainly will happen, even if they plan on working that into a multiyear deal.
Of course, Alderson could stick with the option year and try to deal Reyes. The GM indicated he will be heavily involved in trade discussions this winter.
"I think that we're going to be busy," Alderson said. "But that's first and ultimately only to assess the market. We don't know what's out there. We need to be actively engaged in finding out what's available to us, who has interest in some of our players, and just assess things as we have more information, but right now it would be hard to say how active we're going to be in actual transactions. But we're going to be out there fishing."