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New York Is Oakland

Some already wonder if new Met GM Sandy Alderson can transition from small-market Oakland to major market New York.

Look, from a geographical standpoint, John Harper's argument that New York is not Oakland is a sound one. The two municipalities are vastly different in size, state location, time zone, and number of quality bagel eateries.

But both his logic and his conclusion, from a managerial standpoint, leave much to be desired.

Harper writes:

So now, after he is introduced Friday as the Mets' new GM, Alderson has to remember that he is not in Oakland anymore as he begins the process of hiring a manager. In other words, let's hope he is willing to be flexible about his organizational philosophy that deemphasizes the importance of the manager.

In New York, the manager matters more than most places. The scrutiny on every decision demands a certain type of personality, as does the magnitude of dealing with the media - as well as creating the right clubhouse culture.

His lead (and seemingly only apples-to-apples) example: Art Howe. Simply put, Howe succeeded in Oakland, failed in New York. Howe is laid-back. Ergo, it takes a high-spirited manager to succeed in New York.

There's an elephant in the room, though (unfortunately, not this one): the rosters of the 2001-2002 A's and the 2003-2004 New York Mets. It is distinctly possible that Howe's laid-back style is what motivated peak-level Tim Hudson, Barry Zito, Mark Mulder, Eric Chavez and Miguel Tejada, while failing to lift Vance Wilson, Jeff Duncan, Jorge Velandia and Jae Weong Seo to the same levels.

Or perhaps the Athletics were a vastly better team, proving Alderson's point that a manager doesn't matter all that much.

The further problem with Harper's conclusion is that it isn't supported by even recent history. He points out that compatibility with the media is desired, which Alderson has never opposed (nor is it probable that he would). But while Joe Girardi has a sometimes-rocky relationship with that media, Harper writes:

Joe Girardi has survived and even thrived to some extent despite being a control freak who gives the impression that he would be more comfortable undergoing a colonoscopy than he is dealing with the New York media on a daily basis.

But $200 million worth of talent smooths over a lot of issues.

In other words, win, and it doesn't matter. Talent on the field triumphs over a manager who fails to fit his criteria. See also, Willie Randolph and the 2006 Mets. See also, 2002 Oakland Athletics.

His simplification of Moneyball,

the sabermetrics philosophy built around on-base percentage, plate discipline, patience and extreme intolerance for bunting,

misses the entire point of the book. The approach is about finding market inefficiencies. At the time of the book, those were the market inefficiencies.

But a market inefficiency that persists to this day in many corners is overpaying a manager to work at cross-purposes with the organizational philosophy. This is true in New York. This is true in Oakland. This is true everywhere.

Fortunately for the Mets, it appears their new GM understands that.