The New York Mets and New York Yankees both failed in their own way in 2010. The Yankees like to boast that if they don't win the World Series, then the season's a failure. Well, they didn't win a championship, so they're a failure by their own definition. And the Mets were a failure by anyone's definition, whether it's Webster's, George Steinbrenner's, Fred Wilpon's or thousands of angry fans' meaning of the word ‘failure.'
But with the upcoming hiring of Sandy Alderson, the Mets have finally done something right (they do that every once in a while, right?). They had to go outside the organization this time to hire a GM. And hire one with clout, experience, dignity and a big-city sophistication, who can deal with the media better than Omar Minaya did, and better than the Mets have done in a long, long time. By all accounts Alderson won't be a puppet of the Wilpons, and will have the backbone to send Jeff back to his room if he tries to meddle (though Jeff insists he's not a meddler). Alderson is a former marine after all.
It's the first time the Mets have not promoted from within or brought back a former employee to take charge of the team since the days of Frank Cashen. And what did he do? Only built a powerhouse that won the franchise their last World Series. Like Cashen before him, who had a hand in building the 1966-'71 Baltimore Orioles, Alderson has already put together a champion in the 1989 A's, with those late-'80s teams going to three consecutive World Series. Alderson also had his fingerprints on the A's of the early 2000s; Tim Hudson, Jason Giambi, Miguel Tejada and other cogs in those playoff teams were all acquired under his watch. He has his hands full with this Mets squad, though. What will he do with Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo? Will he trade any of the core players? Who will be the manager? Nobody knows yet, but Alderson will certainly instill confidence and stability to the organization that is much needed. Should we be worried that his Oakland A's were riddled with steroids and he's been working for the dubious Bud Selig? I hope not. Those issues aside, as soon as his hiring is announced, he'll bring instant credibility to the Mets.
As for the Yankees, they obviously don't need to tear anything apart. Their season wasn't any kind of disaster; maybe only by Yankee standards. There were chinks in the armor and small warning signs all year that this wasn't their season. Brian Cashman's acquisitions of Nick Johnson, Javier Vazquez, Chan Ho Park, et al. were complete failures. The team's aging players, such as Alex Rodriguez, Andy Pettitte and Jorge Posada, had to battle injuries that come when you reach their age. Derek Jeter acted his age, not by coming down with bursitis, but by his performance on the field. Thirty-six-year-old shortstops usually don't hit .330 anymore, and his already limited range became even more limited. The Yanks also spent chunks of the season waiting for Curtis Granderson and Mark Teixeira to "come around." They managed a World Series with A. J. Burnett last season, but couldn't hide him this year. Phil Hughes is still developing, despite his 18 wins. A-Rod seemed to sleepwalk through the postseason, seeming like he got his "clutchness" out of the way last year, so didn't have to bother with that in 2010. And Joe Girardi's binders took on a life of their own, with the manager coming off as more tense and rigid than ever.
But the Yankees' big decisions will be how much to spend on their aging core (and will Pettitte come back at all?) and what to do with the DH position and the rotation. Girardi's a lock to come back, so they just need tweaking. But for the Yankee organization, tweaking means a Cliff Lee here and a Carl Crawford there. For the Yankees, the road to not winning the World Series is like a death march, but they're certainly in much better shape than the Mets. They have some players to sign and decisions to be made, but most of their roster for 2011 is already in place. A few prudent moves by Cashman this winter should make the Yankees World Series contenders once again.