About 30 Mets fans packed into the Yogi Berra Museum in Little Falls, New Jersey on Saturday to listen to the man who is responsible for the rebuilding project in Flushing that happens to be going very, very well at the moment.
Sandy Alderson was making the rounds on his book tour to promote Baseball Maverick and sat down to answer some questions from fans. Alongside him sat Steve Kettman, who penned the story about the long and successful career of Alderson. From the time he was winning a World Series with the Oakland A’s to his current rebuilding project with the Mets, but there wasn’t much talking about the book. Mets fans wanted to talk to Alderson about the 2015 team.
The optimism was noticeable throughout the crowd, as the Mets were riding a six game winning streak (now eight!). People were asking questions about a variety of subjects, ranging from what Alderson thinks about setting up sustained success, to what his time in the military meant to him and how it still influences him today.
Alderson was asked a question almost right away about the Mets’ young pitching. What was his secret to gathering so many young arms? Alderson immediately pointed to how important it is to build up the farm system and how important it is to keep draft picks and he stressed that a big reason for that is because these great players come out of nowhere sometimes.
As far as the team is concerned, first of all I think that one of the reasons we are successful now is because we’ve now had a couple of players basically come out of the woodwork both of whom were drafted by the previous regime
The first one is Steven Matz who was drafted as a second round pick, now in that year we didn’t have….It’s a long journey back, and really Steven’s been able to come back, really from nowhere in terms of his prominence in the system….now he’s not pitching for us at the moment but he will be soon I’m sure. And the other is Jacob deGrom, who was a mid-round pick, who was really a shortstop in college, I know most of you know that story, but again to end up with somebody of his ability out of a position in the draft is very unusual
Of course he was asked about Wilmer Flores when the question came up about how much he values defense and speed, because those aren’t Flores’s strengths. However, Alderson just said, “In my opinion there’s really only been one team in recent years to win on speed and defense and that was the Royals last year. Most teams don’t win that way”. Alderson stressed the importance of manufacturing runs. He suggested that the reason the Mets have been winning is because of their smart hitting approach, and that hitting a home run is just as important as knowing how to hit situationally.
One thing that most of us in the crowd were surprised to learn was that Alderson is the chair of the MLB Rules Committee. So, he took questions about that and discussed how they are really working to cut down on the length of games. He talked specifically about just killing the “dead time” in games. When the commercials end, play should be ready to begin right away.
I asked Alderson a question regarding something that Terry Collins said the other night. I wanted to know what, as the chair of the rules committee, he thought about possibly expanding rosters to 28-30 guys, and having some guys inactive every night, especially considering the rash of injuries the Mets have faced, Alderson said
“I’m more interested in how we maximize utilization on the roster at 25….”I understand the benefit of having more players and maybe having more pitchers would reduce injuries but the idea of the rules committee is to analyze each proposal, and anticipate unexpected consequences as opposed to coming up with new rules that will make the game better.”
A great time was had by all on Saturday as Alderson waited an extra 30 minutes to sign books and take pictures (including mine). Sure, it was one of the nicest days of the year outside, but the really exciting stuff was going on inside the theater at the Yogi Berra Museum—and later, on the field in Queens.