Not sure what to make of all of this. It is the 4th "Club President" In four years. Maybe we should rename the team, 'Mets WEST'.
Overall this can't be bad though. Sandy is a great baseball man, and a great Baseball mind. Hopefully we can keep Bochy and Towers.
SAN DIEGO -- An organization that has drifted through much of its 37-year history with all the grace and direction of a metal ball bouncing through a pinball machine caromed off of another bumper Tuesday.
The bells clanged, the lights lit and, in naming Sandy Alderson as the club's new chief executive officer, San Diego Padres owner John Moores gushed, "My expectations for Sandy are modest. I want him to turn this into the best baseball franchise in America."
Now anybody familiar with Alderson's work with the Oakland Athletics in the 1980s and early 1990s, or with his work in the commissioner's office over the last six years or so, knows that Alderson possesses one of baseball's best and brightest minds.
Acquaintances of the Padres know that, historically, whenever they've been presented with a chance to strike gold, they've usually found a way to turn it back into dust.
What a match this could be.
Nothing is ever foolproof in Padreland, but it is difficult to imagine them screwing this one up. Alderson is so good, so smart and he's generally been successful in anything he's tried to do in the game, the way Starbucks is successful in its little coffee endeavor.
He did, though, swing and miss on his first cue in his new job.
In response to Moores' challenge to "turn this into the best baseball franchise in America", the obvious response from Alderson should have been that "this is either a threat to be ignored or an offer to be accepted."
That, perhaps, was his shining moment while overseeing the umpires in the commissioner's office. Those words, his most famous quote ever, were uttered back in 1999, when he steadfastly stood up to Richie Phillips, the bully who ignorantly ran himself and, unfortunately, several umpires aground when he sent baseball the infamous letter threatening mass resignations in the midst of a labor stalemate.
It played right into baseball's hands and Alderson, leading the way, got the umpires reorganized exactly as he wanted to.
He also did a pretty good job of organizing the Oakland A's the way he wanted as well. Under Alderson's watch, the Athletics won four American League West titles, three consecutive AL pennants (1988-90) and the '89 World Series.
On the other hand, he is coming to a franchise that once inexplicably invited Roseanne Barr to "sing" the national anthem and once dealt with a clubhouse insurrection when then-owner and McDonald's magnate Joan Kroc took away the beer. After which closer Goose Gossage accused her of "poisoning the world" with her hamburgers.
Then there was the last time the Padres hired an executive out of the league offices in New York: Poor club president Chub Feeney became so frustrated with things that he flipped off a fan at the ballpark ... on Fan Appreciation Day.
More recently, the Padres had a pretty good thing going as they steamed toward the opening of Petco Park. Then the stadium project was delayed by several frivolous lawsuits, federal investigators descended on Moores to check out reports of unlawful gifts bestowed upon him by a city official and, eventually, the owner chased off then-president Larry Lucchino, whom Moores once called "the smartest man in baseball."
Somebody reminded Moores of that Tuesday and wondered where Alderson fits.
"I'd have to say Sandy has probably got more baseball experience than anybody on the planet, outside of a certain fellow who lives in Milwaukee," Moores said, referring to commissioner Bud Selig. "Larry was a CEO, and a good one. He had a hand in the stadium in Baltimore that changed the game forever.
"Sandy is a nuts and bolts baseball guy. He was a GM, a very successful GM for a long, long period of time."
In San Diego, Alderson, who received a five-year rollover contract, will pretty much wield a wide-ranging hammer. He will oversee baseball operations -- GM Kevin Towers will report to him -- and, though Dick Freeman will remain as president and chief operating officer, Freeman has been at least partially neutered.
"I don't pretend to have the answers today," said Alderson, 57. "To the extent that we have weaknesses, we'll strengthen them. To the extent that we have strengths, we'll leverage them."
Among the leadoff items on Alderson's itinerary will be the status of veteran manager Bruce Bochy, who is in the final season of his contract. Towers and Freeman negotiated a multiyear extension for Bochy during spring training, according to multiple sources -- only to have Moores toss it into the garbage can.
Moores, it turns out, was negotiating to bring Alderson aboard at the time, and he wanted to give Alderson as much of a blank slate as he could.
"From here on out, it's going to be (Alderson's) call," Moores said. "I expect to be consulted. But I'm highly confident from here on out that personnel decisions will be his. It is highly unlikely that he will come to me and say, 'I'm not sure, John. What do you think?'"
What John should think -- and should have done -- is this: He should have agreed to extend Bochy's deal this spring for a couple of reasons.
One, Bochy, who has managed the Padres since 1995, is well-respected throughout the game and his teams rarely underachieve.
Two, Bochy has been exceptionally loyal to Moores, especially through the lean times of the early 2000s -- a time when Bochy had very little talent to work with largely because Moores did not jack up the player payroll as promised after voter approval for a new ballpark. Bochy never complained.
Alderson, who was headed back to New York to tie up loose ends in leaving his job in the commissioner's office, does not expect to make any big decisions soon.
"I met with Bruce (Monday) night, and with Kevin," Alderson said. "I understand that's something that's been hanging here. It's something, obviously, I'll have to address.
"As I told Bruce last night, from a distance and from people I talk to, I have nothing but respect for him."
Towers, meanwhile, is signed through 2007, with a club option for '08. Alderson also spoke highly of him, called him a friend and didn't insinuate that there would be much change in the way the business of baseball is conducted.
For his part, unless Alderson has a hidden agenda, Towers' job could become more pleasant: Where he once had a direct line to Moores, in recent years Freeman has been placed between them in the organizational flow chart. As such, when Towers has wanted to make a move, Freeman has been the man to take it to the owner. And Freeman is more beancounter than baseball man -- which is a philosophical fit with Moores, who has been one of Selig's foot soldiers defending fiscal restraint and small-market ideals -- and perhaps not the guy you want presenting your baseball case to the owner.
Alderson, as a baseball man, could be a better lobbyist on behalf of Towers.
"My first love is on the baseball side," Alderson said.
He continued: "For me, the job description, to paraphrase what I've described to the umpires, is to make the San Diego Padres the best franchise across the country. That means winning. It means a whole host of things ... it's not just coming to games, it's being proud of the club that represents you and represents your city."
Moores talks about excellence, and Alderson has the pedigree to deliver.
But it also shouldn't be forgotten that after chasing Lucchino away in 2002, Moores has been responsible for three different presidents running the organization -- Bob Vizas, Charles Black and Freeman -- and now he's handing control to Alderson.
That's a whole lot of instability.
Now the question is, will Moores sit back and let the new baseball man work?
Alderson arrives as a proven commodity.
In the baseball world, Moores is still trying to become one.