Mets GM Sandy Alderson, who is in his eighth year with the club, discussed his future plans and potential successor with SNY contributor Andy Martino.
Regarding how much longer he wants to hold the position of GM, Alderson said it's something he thinks about "from time to time."
"Throughout my career, I've never really focused on the next thing," he said. "I've always kind of said to myself -- I tell people this, too -- focus on the job you have right now because it's the most important job you'll ever have."
"I've never been all that self-directed," Alderson continued. "But when you turn 70, you do start to think about those things. I enjoy what I'm doing, and as long as I have the opporutnity and as long as I'm capable, I enjoy it."
However, in terms of eventually not being in the position of GM, Alderson admitted "the season is winding down" in that aspect of his professional life, while citing assistant GM John Ricco as someone who deserves an opportunity to be his successor -- and noting that he thinks Ricco would make for a good GM.
"I think absolutely that John will," Alderson said. "He's very -- I hate to use the word analytical -- but he's well organized and understands the field side as well as the office side. Has tremendous respect among those who are working at the Mets and throughout baseball. I think John at some point will do a great job."
If the Mets are winning and in a good spot when Alderson retires, Ricco will almost certainly get the job. He's qualified, perfect for being a modern day GM, and he's earned the gig. If the Mets are struggling and thinking they may be due for another rebuild, I'm not sure how ownership will handle the transition. It could certainly be entrusted to John, but it would also be understandable (given his connection to Alderson, Omar Minaya, and Jim Duquette) that the Wilpons would want a new perspective and voice when carving a new path...
That said, I always liked the idea of having Alderson be the general strategist or President of Baseball Operations with Ricco serving as the day-to-day GM charged with making things happen. This is how things work with the Dodgers -- Andrew Friedman (President of Baseball Ops) and Farhan Zaidi (GM), and the Cubs with Theo Epstein (President of Baseball Ops) and Jed Hoyer (GM).
The thing is, Zaidi and Friedman are 41, while Hoyer and Epstein are both 44. Sandy is 70. Ricco is 49. I heard people in baseball speculate that Minaya, 59, was brought back to be a potential President of Baseball Ops or general strategist one day, especially in the event Alderson is unable or unwilling to fulfill his full two-year commitment.
When Minaya rejoined the Mets as GM in 2004, he hired Ricco, who had previously been working at the Commissioners office. Minaya officially named Ricco his Assistant GM in 2006.
John Ricco, who has been a Mets assistant GM through three regimes, could receive the GM opportunity once Sandy Alderson retires. (JOHN RAOUX/AP)
The way it stands, Minaya is 100 percent focused on the farm system. I've seen him in Mets camp, talking with old friends, reporters and watching only prospects from the sidelines. He does not yet know the system inside and out, he told me, so he's using this time to see as many kids as he can.
The point is, Minaya is hardly interfering with Alderson and Ricco and the rest of the front office, who are often watching or interacting with big-league talent. In fact, I haven't seen Minaya and his colleagues together in public at all, which doesn't mean they're not together or collaborating behind the scenes, but -- on the surface -- it does look like Minaya is being truthful when he talks about helping to direct the farm system, because that is literally the only part of the team I have seen him watching.
Nevertheless, if Alderson needed to or wanted to leave at some point during the next year or so, Minaya would be a nice interim choice to work with an elevated Ricco and continue whatever path is currently in place. However, given Minaya's age and predilection for scouting, and given where the game is headed using statistical analysis, the better future bet might be teaming Ricco with someone that has been successful and at the forefront of using newer tools to run a baseball team.
The above only underscores the crossroad moments facing the Mets these next two years, during which everyone in the organization, including Alderson, expected to be in the postseason with a vibrant and dominant young pitching staff. It hasn't consistently worked out and the clock is ticking -- not just with Alderson, but with his pitchers, many of whom will be free agents during the next few years.
The game is changing -- just look at the free agent market and the age of and insight from coaches and executives. And how much the Mets will be willing to change, or need to change, remains to be seen...