The Mets, who specialize in swinging and missing, finally hit one deep.
Long a team that's needed an adult in charge, in hiring longtime baseball man Sandy Alderson as their new general manager, they finally have one. (No formal announcement has been made for the move first reported by SI.com, but it could come from the Mets on Friday.)
A sorry organization that for too long has resembled a kindergarten class with a substitute teacher and no milk and graham crackers finally will come to order. Alderson, 62, is a brilliant man with lots of baseball experience and the discipline that comes with serving four years in the United States Marines Corps.
Already, you can picture him backhanding Jeff Wilpon from across the desk when the meddling son of owner Fred Wilpon bursts in with his next "brilliant" plan. For too long, these plans from the know-nothing, would-be baseball genius has helped sink the Mets, turning them into the game's laughingstock.
The downfall of former GM Omar Minaya, a good baseball man and an even better person, was that he could never just tell Jeff no. Minaya had several other faults as well -- lack of vision, fuzzy focus, just too darned nice at times -- but make no mistake: Having neither the authority nor the gumption to stand up to Jeff Wilpon was at the top of the list.
That will not be a problem for Alderson.
That said, I'm not convinced that he's the long-term ticket to the Mets returning to the World Series. I was front-and-center among his critics when he was running the Padres, mostly because I'm not convinced that his philosophy is the way to win in today's game.
When he was club president, Alderson's Padres veered hard toward on-base percentage and away from any thought toward speed and defense. Historically, that's his modus operandi. But in this post-steroid era, too many clubs are proving you can't play station-to-station baseball and sit around waiting for the three-run homer.
That worked for Alderson's Athletics in 1989 when Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire were swinging it -- with some added pharmaceutical help -- and baseball was a different game.
The Padres under Alderson in 2008 started the season with Paul McAnulty in left field, and it was an insult to anybody who understood how Petco Park plays. I've harped on this plenty in the past, probably too much -- McAnulty is a pleasant fellow who probably doesn't deserve to be trashed indefinitely as the Poster Boy for bad decisions.
But those '08 Padres lost 99 games -- injuries to Jake Peavy and Chris Young didn't help -- largely because of faulty front-office decisions. Bottom line in baseball is putting players in position to succeed. Too often, Alderson's Padres didn't.
That said, he took more blame than he should have. His hiring as club president dovetailed with John Moores essentially becoming an absentee owner because of a nasty divorce. As such, the Padres chopped their payroll from somewhere near $70 million down to the $40-million range. Alderson took a lot of bullets for Moores, and for that, I hope Moores wrote Alderson several jumbo-sized checks.
Alderson doesn't always have the smoothest bedside manner -- his cold-hearted botching of the Padres' split with beloved closer Trevor Hoffman alone probably cost the club a large percentage of the season-ticket holders who fled by the thousands after that wretched '08 season.
But sometimes what didn't work in one situation is called for in another. The Mets' home park, CitiField, plays a lot like Petco in that it has a very large outfield. If Alderson is going to stubbornly cling to his own personal baseball philosophy and field big slugs who take walks and get on base a lot without being able to run, then lots of opponents' hits will be dropping and eventually the Mets will have to hire someone else.
We'll see how that plays out soon enough. The important things now for the Mets are that Jeff Wilpon will be kept at arm's length from the baseball side of things, and that the new GM is not a puppet through whom Wilpon can operate.
Finally, the Mets finally have what they've badly needed: An adult in charge, and order about to be restored.