Sandy Alderson arrived at Citi Field on Friday to be introduced to the media for the very first time as General Manager.
Dressed in a light blue shirt and sporting a sharp yellow tie, Alderson was greeted by a small applause as he made his way to the podium to greet the press.
Alderson, accompanied by wife Linda, daughter Kate, son-in-law Greg and granddaughter Morgan, spoke very well and he seemed comfortable both in himself, the ownership and the direction he wants to take the club.
He talked about reducing financial inflexibility, the value he puts on home runs and on-base percentage, the qualities he's looking for in a new manager, why the franchise should never be simply average, and the steps needed to turn the Mets into title contenders.
I wasn't sure just how much importance I wanted to put on what he said today, but he did a fantastic job. His passion for baseball and respect for the fans shone through and I hope this is the start in a new chapter in New York's history.
Here are some quotes from today's press conference at Citi Field.
"If you think of all of the elements, it is an iconic franchise in a great city, a city that inspires all of us to dream big really with stable, caring ownership and perhaps, most importantly committed, very passionate fans.
"I have heard from many of them. I know how passionate they can be even in a short amount of time.
"This is a great new ballpark. The resources that we have, together with these elements, from my standpoint this is truly a great place to be, a great opportunity to have and I am excited about our immediate and long-term future."
"It may sound a little but cliche but we are going to work hard and we are going to work smart and we are going to try to exploit all of the ways that players can be acquired, developed, retained.
"We are going to strive for consistency but above all else, excellence. We want our fans to be proud of what the Mets accomplish, but it is also very improtent for them to be proud of how we accomplish that."
"We have a 30-60-90 day sort of approach. The baseball calendar waits for no one.
"We are looking at the end of the World Series here in the next few days, we have General Managers' meetings approaching, we have the winter meetings and the calendar marches on and we have player decisions to make as early as Sunday.
"We obviously need a manager between now and at least some time in April, so we will be focused on that. We met this morning to begin looking at a long list of candidates and we will whittle that down quickly and move on to the interview process and I would expect would begin some time next week.
"There are a couple personnel decisions to make that relate to Takahashi, the left-handed reliever and we are working on that one at the moment.
"A number of things short-term that have to be revolved but also thinking long-term as well because that is ultimately where our success lies."
"It is not always the result that best defines the effort, it is probabilities. Sometimes it is bad luck, sometimes there are other things that come into play, but our goal is to constantly improve the probabilities to the point where we will have that success on a continued basis.
"I do think many aspects of what you might call an Oakland or San Diego philiosophy pertain.
"The great franchises in big markets generally speaking are also very good at player development. It is not just about beign active in the free agent market, it's about being active and smart in every market whether that is acqauiring a free agent, retaining one of your own players, looking at a six-year free agent or develpooing players,
"I think that the same things pertain whwther you are in an Diego or New York. As far as the philosophy of approach, I actually continue to believe that on-base percentage and slugging and power and so forth are important. The mathematics, I don't think, lie.
"Speed is also important but all of that has to be balanced."
"We talk about a different age and I assume you are referring to the fact that there are fewer home runs hit today than 20 years ago.
"The analogy I use is the gold standard, If less gold is to be found, it doesn't make it less valuable. I think we need to keep in mind what is available to us but also what continues to be important in how one scores runs and that sort of thing.
"I am not abandoning that philosophy but certainly we will look at it as it pertains to this ballpark, the National League, and these times."
"In my years I have worked with managers ranging from Tony La Russa to Billy Martin and so I can appreciate a fiery manager and I think that a fiery manager is actually quite desirable. I think that in some cases the manager is representing not only the organization but also the fans in frustrating situations and acts as a proxy for all of us. And I think that is important in terms of leadership not only in the clubhouse over 162 games for all of us
"But I also think that it is important for a manager to be somewhat analytical, but at the same time occasionally and sometimes often intuitive. We are looking for somebody that is right for our situation. What is our situation?
"You start with the fact that it is NYC and then you start with the fact that it is a franchise that has tremendous upside potential from where it is now reflecting on what it has accomplished in the past so I think that and we are looking for someone that fits intellectual requirements but also intuitive and emotional ones.
"That manager may have experience, or may not have experience at the Major League level, we are very open-minded about it at this point but I do want to emphasize that whoever is selected is going to be the manager in making the decisions and needs to have a certain level of independence in order to accomplish what he needs to accomplish.
"I think we are excited about the candidates that are out there and we are going to look for the person that best fits the bill.
"There has been some discussion about the three paragraphs in Money Ball that relate to me, but I do believe that a manager needs to reflect the general philosophy of the organization. That is important not just for a manager, it's important for the player development system and it's important for every element of the baseball operation to have some sense of consistency of approach of philospiohy.
"The manager is a very critical part of the overall leadership structure and his job is very different from mine and very different from the director of scouting and there are certain qualities that he has to bring."
"This situation is very similar to others where I worked, whether that is with the club or with Major League Baseball. In some instances I will make decisions. In others instances, I will make recommendations. That's the way it should be. That's the way it has been everywhere and that's the way I expect it to be here.
"With respect to recommendations whether it's player-related or otherwise, my responsibility is to make the best case and my goal is that everyone of my recommendations are accepted. but that is a burden on me. As far as the players are concerned, I think those you have mentioned [Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo] and other cases will actually fall in both categories. Some there won't be much discussion in others there will be serious discussion.
"We want to be thoughtful about everything we do and I am certainly mindful of public opinion. but also looking at it from an organizational and personal standpoint. I think we have to be a little circumspect here.
"I think we need to be careful about writing off any player or any other asset without thinking about it carefully."
"I think a big plus is he fact that the system has started to produce players at the Major League level.
"I think that has been a very pleasent developmental over the last year, I think the fans have appreciated that and enjoy those players and [are] beginning to develop an attachment
"If you think about teams and how they evolve, home grown players are very important. They are not just important from a financial standpoint but really more important from a fan standpoint. Fans love to follow players in the Minor Leagues, see them emerge and be successul.
I think that is a real plus. As far as the system is concerned, generally right now it's probably middle of the pack. In our situation, we should never be in the middle of the pack."
"As far as the Major League roster is concerned there is a lot of payroll already committed. One of the things we want to achieve very soon is payroll flexibility.
"It gives us the availbaltity to make decision not on the avalablity of funds but in the wisdom of the acquisition. Being in the free agent market every year will be important to us and we want to have that option, but at the same time what we are looking at in 2011 is a little less flexiviltiy thatn we woild like to have.
"We have a number of players in the last year of their contract, a couple players coming off injuries, we had some underperformance, so we need to look at all of those things. The positive I take out of that is that it is not inconceivable, given what we have, that we could do very well this season."
"My focus is on 2011. I think there is a lot to learn in history, I was a history major in college, but at the same time our focus will be on 2011.
"I've seen what happened in those years...some of the breakdowns that took place, some of the difficult and unfortunate plays and lack of performance and what have you but from my standpoint I'm focused on 2011 primarily and not about things that I hope, at this point, are historical in nature."
In response to a question about bringing in more Japanese players, Alderson said:
"One of the places I got to know Fred Wilpon was on the international committee of MLB and I made many trips to China, Japan and other places. I have tremendous interest in the internationalization of the game, both generally for the benefit of MLB but also for what it can mean for individual clubs.
"There's no reason why we can't be active in all of those places. Not just in Asia but also Europe and other places where the game is emerging. We do have a presence in Asia.
"We have an international scout that is located there, the Japanese pitchers we had last year are represenative of that but China is a wide open market, not just for players but also for extending the Mets' brand and we need to figure out a way to do that in concert with Major League Baseball."
"My own feeling as a fan is that offense sells. But does that mean that there are going to be changes to this ballpark? Certainly not in the foreseeable future as far as I'm concerned.
"I've only walked the park once, but I do come from a ballpark in San Diego where the same challenges exist. We took a look at the dimensions there and we made some changes, not significant ones.
"The other thing I would point out is that the fans of San Diego fell in love with that ballpark and its dimensions and the quality and type of play in that ballpark versus other places.
"It would be premature to even talk about that. This is such a beautiful ballpark, and architecturally it's so stunning, but even that would be a consideration for starting to move things forward."
"We want to be in the market every year, that doesn't mean that we'll sign a player every year but we want to be in the market every year. Will we be in the market this year, aggressively? Unlikely.
"By no means am I looking beyond 2011. I think that our job here is to put the best possible team on the field in 2011 and I think that if we work at it we have every chance to be competitive.
"If we had another 800 at-bats out of Jason Bay and others we would have been competitive. There was a drop-off based on injury and we had some underachievement.
"The thing about baseball is it's so unpredictable. Just because someone had a bad year last year, it doesn't mean that they are going to have a bad year thus year. I'm very optimistic about 2011, but at the same time we have to begin to think about how we approach it on at least an intermediate and to some extent, long-term basis.
"What I mean by that is just setting up a situation where we can be active and aggressive as possible every year, but recognizing that in order to do that there has to be something in reserve. There has to be some thought about the following year and i think that is where we want to be."
When asked to compare himself to Omar Minaya, he said:
"During the interview process I whipped out a couple pages of bullet points so let me just give you what I gave ownership.
- Friendly but professional
- A positive work environment is important to me
- I like to be collaborative. That's the fun thing about the game, it's a team game...teamwork across the board. I don't care what level or what department.
- Analytical but innovative. I like information. That's doesn't mean it's all statistical or statistically based, I trust those subjective viewpoints useful as well because the game is not just about stats it's about character, it's about motivation, it's about the things you can't measure.
- Bold, but alert to risk.
- Humor. It's got to be fun and people have to enjoy themselves.
"It's important to keep in mind that you need to be bold and agile. It's nice to have a process but at some point you have to act. One of the things I like about a job of this type us that you get to act.
"One of the things I really didn't enjoy as a lawyer was advising all the time. Let's go. Let's try something. At the same time you have to understand what your probibilities are, what your risks are you can't be simply mindless to those things.
"Wherever you work the most important part of your work environment is the people you are working with. It's great to have a big office, it's great to be in a particular place, but what's most important is wanting to go to work everyday."