PHILADELPHIA — Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said Saturday that the timing of a Newsday report this week that revealed organizational discord from top to bottom was “unfair,” though he did not dispute the main issues raised including his own frayed working relationship with manager Terry Collins.
The Mets are not expected to retain Collins, the team’s manager since 2010. An official decision will not be announced until after the season, though as recently as last week, Alderson and Collins had not yet discussed the future.
Collins, the longest-tenured manager in Mets history, has indicated that he has no interest in retirement.
Discussing the Newsday report, which brought to light dysfunction that has harmed the culture within the organization, Alderson took responsibility for his role in the breakdown.
“It’s a point that I frankly take to heart all the time,” said Alderson, who heads up the franchise’s baseball operations. “I’m the leader of this group. I feel responsible for every aspect of its operation, particularly in those areas where we may fall short.”
Those areas were highlighted in the report, in which more than a dozen team insiders spoke on condition of anonymity about problems ranging from the meddling of owner Fred Wilpon in baseball matters to Collins’ deteriorating relationship with his players and with Alderson himself.
Before Saturday night’s 7-4 win in 11 innings over the Phillies, Alderson lashed out at the willingness of players and team personnel to discuss internal matters under condition of anonymity, even asserting that he would fire any team officials he found to have been quoted in the report.
Alderson also called the timing of the article “unfair,” with just three days left in the season, and with Collins’ future uncertain. An official decision will not be announced until after the season, though as recently as last week, Alderson and Collins had not yet discussed the future.
“Any seven-year relationship has its ups and downs, OK?” Alderson said. “I’ve been married for 47 years. It doesn’t mean that my wife and I have to agree on anything. It doesn’t mean I haven’t slammed the door and walked out and taken a walk from time to time. But ultimately, the tenure, the success that [Collins has] had, to me, it speaks for itself. There’s always going to be disagreements from time to time. That’s inevitable if you have more than one person thinking creatively and constructively about what’s best for the organization.”
With the Mets, those disagreements begin at the top, sources told Newsday. Wilpon repeatedly prevented the firing of Collins at various points during his tenure, even against the advice at times of his son, chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon, and Alderson.
Nevertheless, regarding autonomy with baseball decisions, Alderson insisted that he was pleased with his arrangement with the Wilpons.
“I have worked with ownership for seven years and I’m totally happy with the way in which those relationships exist and the way in which we have conducted ourselves together over the last seven seasons,” said Alderson, whose contract is up but is expected to remain as general manager.
An ex-Marine hired with a reputation for bringing discipline, Alderson acknowledged his inability to change the culture within an organization that has long been synonymous with dysfunction, a label that has only stuck under the stewardship of the Wilpons.
Those issues arose once more in the form of officials ripping Collins’ bullpen management and players grousing about a perceived lack of communication — all anonymously — triggering the latest firestorm in a tortured season filled with them.
“It speaks to the possibility that the structure or discipline internally doesn’t exist to the level that we’d like,” Alderson said. “That may be a function of having so many young players, a function of having a losing season, it could be a function of a number of different things coming together. I don’t want to overreact. But at the same time, I think we have to accept the fact that this happened and we have to be aware of that.”
With the season coming to a close, Alderson said he has conducted exit interviews with players and will seek ways to improve the culture.
“They should be voiced in a constructive not a destructive or an anonymous way,” he said regarding player complaints.
The season represented a stark departure from the success that the Mets experienced under Collins in 2015 and 2016, when he was lauded for his clubhouse management. Alderson lamented that the report and its aftermath “overshadows to this point seven years of outstanding service.”
“Ultimately, decisions are made and we march together as an organization,” Alderson said before the penultimate game of the year. “I think that’s the story of the last seven years, not what we’ve seen written over the last two or three days.”