Wednesday, May 28, 2014
Worth asking: Is Alderson on way out?
By Adam Rubin
NEW YORK -- The firing of hitting coach Dave Hudgens as part of an eventful 48 hours at Citi Field leads to a couple of meaty questions about the direction of the organization:
Is Alderson’s time running out as GM?
Sandy Alderson is in the final season of his original four-year deal and has yet to produce a winning record. The team has an option on Alderson’s contract for 2015. The educated speculation about ownership is that while the Wilpons are disappointed with the timetable for rebuilding, they would stay the course with Alderson because they have gone this far down the road.
Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY SportsDave Hudgens' media tour has created a stir.
Still, you have to start wondering if Alderson may be out after this season.
Economics dictate decisions. And it’s clear the organization is revenue-starved -- a perception that has been reinforced by Saul Katz’s reported interest in selling (which has been denied by the team). So if the fans become so negative toward Alderson that they will not buy 2015 tickets without his ouster, that seemingly could motivate ownership to jettison him.
Bottom line: The worse attendance gets this year, the more likely Alderson is gone, even if it’s not overly likely.
"If I were the owners of this club, would I be impatient at this point? Yeah, I'd be impatient myself," Alderson told "The Michael Kay Show" on Tuesday on ESPN New York 98.7 FM. "But, as I said, I think we've made a lot of progress. It doesn't show in this month's won-loss record. But in terms of what we're doing in the farm system, with the players we have coming and the fact I do think we've got some young players who are very close to making big contributions, we've made progress. But it obviously hasn't shown over the past two weeks."
Does Hudgens have a point?
When Willie Randolph and his coaches were fired at 3 a.m. (yes, midnight Pacific) in California back in 2008, the ousted staff was handed paperwork prohibiting them from disparaging the organization if they wanted to continue collecting their paychecks. So it was mildly surprising the Mets did not prevent the ousted Hudgens from going on a media farewell tour in which he went on to suggest:
• Fans make Citi Field too toxic for the players;
• SNY’s popular broadcast crew poisons the positive environment;
• Ownership restraints hamstring Alderson, who unhindered would be replicating his success with Oakland.
Hudgens bringing up booing by fans is troublesome. Fans who pay Citi Field prices can boo if they choose. That has been established and is nonsensical to litigate again. What is concerning is that fan booing has infiltrated the player/coach psyche. Curtis Granderson a week earlier had expressed that he did not understand the psychology of why fans boo. The amazing thing, too, is that the booing is relatively tame compared with the Shea Stadium days.
It’s also not smart to pick fights with ultra-popular Gary Cohen, Keith Hernandez and Ron Darling.
The final topic is the most meaty. Hudgens asserts that Alderson, without ownership restrictions, would be building a winner. There’s little evidence to support that given Alderson’s poor track record of identifying talent with the Mets.
Is an $85 million payroll an anchor around the GM? Of course. But even Alderson acknowledged he has not made the most of the resources at his disposal.