Alderson thrilled for Mets fans, homegrown players
NEW YORK -- Just before midnight on July 29, Scott Boras stood in a green jacket in the bowels of Citi Field, grinning while the world scrambled. Mets general manager Sandy Alderson had just announced that no, Wilmer Flores and Zack Wheeler had not been traded to the Brewers for Boras' client, Carlos Gomez, after reports leaked, Flores wept and Gomez's arrival became a foregone conclusion in Queens. What went wrong? Boras, with a knowing grin, quipped: "Sandy must have sent the Brewers pictures of Wheeler's left arm."
A cunning move, given that Wheeler is a right-handed pitcher, had it been even remotely true. Shrewder were the moves Alderson did make. The judgment to nix the deal over questions about Gomez's health served as a particularly pivotal domino. Two days later he acquired Yoenis Cespedes instead, and one of the largest crowds of the season filed into Citi Field. There, 36,164 witnessed Flores' dramatic walk-off home run against the Nationals, and a city began to truly rally around a team that would go 37-22 the rest of the way. The Mets have sprinted through the postseason riding a similar wave.
"It was fantastic to see the fans so engaged and enthusiastic and emotional," Alderson told MLB.com's Jim Duquette before the Mets clinched the National League pennant with an 8-3 win in Game 4 of the NLCS on Wednesday. "That was something we saw during the regular season, briefly, during the Washington series just after the Trade Deadline. We had a sense of that before. Then seeing the crowd during games against the Dodgers and Cubs, it's really been a tremendous scene and reflective of how enthusiastic Mets fans have been over the last three or four months."
Zoom out, and it's not just Cespedes that Alderson is responsible for. New York's revitalized roster is filthy with Alderson's fingerprints, from personnel he brought in to assets he retained and nurtured. That latter list includes Flores, Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey and Steven Matz, all of whom Alderson inherited from Omar Minaya, then refused to part with. The same is true of Lucas Duda, who Alderson chose over Ike Davis in 2014.
Earlier still, he traded for Wheeler, who will slide back into an already scary starting rotation next season. Alderson signed Curtis Granderson, who after a shaky start in Queens enjoyed his most productive season since 2011. He oversaw the team that converted Jeurys Familia into a reliever, drafted Michael Conforto and brought Kelly Johnson and Juan Uribe aboard. And his decision to trade NL Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey for Noah Syndergaard and Travis d'Arnaud in 2012 looks like a heist now.
"You try to make the best deal you can make at the time," Alderson said. "I don't like to rate them, because you're taking a snapshot and you never know how things are going to turn out in the long run."
The long run, Alderson preached since his hiring after the 2010 season, would be worth it if the organization could cultivate a fruitful farm system. It's done that. Sixteen members of New York's projected World Series roster came up in the Mets' system, a fact that Alderson calls "a point of pride for us."
"We've sorted through a few players over time, but the large number we have remaining have really made a big impact," Alderson said. "One of the reasons fans have so closely identified with this team, it's because we have so many homegrown players.
"It's been really terrific to see them grow, literally, game to game, inning to inning. I think that's been the most gratifying."