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Big Name Syndrome

There is a mathematical formula that can be applied to offseasons that follow bad seasons:

(Rumor X Big Name) + (Frustration ÷ Impatience) = Desire Logic

Usually you do the math, multiply it by too many years and add a big, fat $ in front of it. It’s how you get weighed down by contracts like those currently held by Jason Bay and Francisco Rodriguez. It’s how you wind up hoping your team will give one just like it to Carlos Delgado or Juan Gonzalez. You feel cared for when it’s signed, begrudged when it’s not.

That’s in December or January. There’s no telling how you’ll feel in July or August. Or the July or August that comes a year or two or three later, depending on how much you signed the person in question for and how long you committed.

Yet I understand the impulse. It’s a twitch in your system born of losing, or perhaps not winning enough. Somebody’s out there, he’s on your radar, he’s being talked about…Go Get Him…NOW!

Which brings us, maybe, to Sandy Alderson [1].

I’ve lived this long and have never before given more than the most passing thought to Sandy Alderson. I’ve only typed his name for public consumption twice, in these last two paragraphs. I’m not going to pretend to be an expert on the subject of Sandy Alderson, not based on these now three typings of his name.

But he’s undoubtedly the biggest name in the only free agent pool that matters at the moment, the one swimming with general manager candidates. A critical mass [2] seems to be gathering behind Alderson’s candidacy, as if it couldn’t be anybody else; that if it’s anybody else, it would be a letdown. Like pursuing Delgado and winding up with Mientkiewicz.

I’m sure I don’t know if Alderson’s the guy for the Mets. He sure sounds good in the beau ideal sense. Who among us hasn’t wanted a bona fide grown-up, a sheriff to clean up this mess? When was the last time it felt as if somebody upstairs really knew what he was doing, and that our GM — Minaya, Duquette, Phillips — wasn’t on the outside looking in at his supposed peers? So often in the past umpteen years, the Mets give the impression that they’re not run like a genuine baseball operation. They’re run like the Mets.

Thus, it’s tempting to want to hand the reins to an accomplished Baseball Man, someone Widely Respected, someone with a Track Record. Alderson hasn’t even interviewed, yet I’m already sensing a disappointment in the making if he doesn’t get/take the job.

Which is probably the wrong instinct. GM’s aren’t ballplayers. They don’t have statistical profiles on the backs of their baseball cards (I don’t think they have baseball cards, either, which is kind of surprising). We can make educated guesses based on anecdotes from their previous postings and the records of their old teams, but there’s no video. There’s no knowing for sure if their circumstances were their own. How do you account for what owners were like at the last stop, or scouts, or underlings? And does any of it matter when what you really need next are ideas for where the Mets go from here?

Alderson may be the guy. Or maybe somebody with less of a name is a better option. Maybe somebody’s future will outshine Alderson’s past, and that person’s stature will grow as the Mets win. Or maybe Alderson’s best days are ahead of him, in Flushing, turning a quality front office career into a legendarily great one.

The Mets are taking their time deciding, which is fine. It’s recommended. This is a long-term decision, and the Mets shouldn’t be pressured or bullied into arriving at a conclusion because of a perceived lack of inaction [3]. The offseason isn’t going anywhere. A GM will be chosen. A manager will be chosen. Players will be dispatched. Players will be acquired. An offseason will morph into a preseason before we know it. I want to head in that direction under the guidance of the best possible general manager available.

Whoever that may be.

No matter how swimmingly the Alderson interview goes today, stay in the water as long as you need to, Mets. Keep searching until you’re satisfied you’ve found with what you’re looking for…and then give it one more hard stare just to be sure.

Speaking of big names, a reluctant but fond farewell from Faith and Fear to our esteemed blolleague Coop as she clicks off the lights at My Summer Family [4] and reverts to being a non-blogging Mets fan. We look forward to seeing you again next summer (or sooner) in real life, but will surely miss you always in these parts.