Call it the baseball equivalent of “Dewey Defeats Truman!” Call it premature (if you are not a Mets fan) or prescient (if you are a Mets fan, as this long suffering reviewer is--emphasis on both “long” and “suffering”), but Kettmann adroitly details the arc of Sandy Alderson’s leadership of the baseball club that suggests that, at the end of the 2014 baseball season, the Mets were well-positioned to play meaningful games in September as their owner, Fred Wilpon, had long desired.
When Alderson took over the Mets, to say that the ballclub was reeling is an understatement. They hadn’t gone to the postseason after Carlos Beltran struck out looking in Game 7 of the 2006 National League Championship series against the Saint Louis Cardinals and had suffered two consecutive years of last-minute collapses in 2007 and 2008, only to fall out of contention pretty early on in the ensuing years. Of course, Bernie Madoff had pretty much put the kibosh on any extravagant spending by bilking most of the Wilpons’ millions. Enter Sandy Alderson,
he of the “Moneyball” Oakland Athletics fame. In Kettmann’s detailed rendering, Alderson took careful inventory of the Mets’ threadbare farm system, built the team via drafts (Matt Harvey and Jacob deGrom) and trades (sending Beltran to get Noah Syndergaard), and implored the owners and the fans to be patient before looking for results.
Kettmann had covered Alderson when the latter was with the Athletics and so was able to get him to cooperate on this book when Alderson took over the general manager position with the New York Mets. That access shows, in many fly-on-the-wall incidents that Kettmann weaves throughout the narrative as well as in the rationale that Alderson offers for many of his moves.
In reading the book, the average baseball fan would not surprised at the Mets’ success in 2015 to beat the vaunted Washington Nationals to win their division. Alderson’s many moves--including
the close-to-the-deadline trade for slugger Yoenis Cespedes--certainly helped. But what the fan would observe is also that luck plays a big part in making a genius of a general manager. Kettmann’s book is a must-read for those who want to get a deeper insight into the game.