Sandy Alderson And Frank Cashen: The Same Thing, Only Different

The Mets went to Atlanta last night having lost four of their last six games. It’s never good news when the Mets travel to Georgia – it hasn’t been since that chamber of horrors opened in 1997 – and particularly bad when they go in reeling. So it came as no shock that a pretty good win would morph into a horrendous loss in a matter of moments: same ol’ Mets. We fans were promised that this 2014 season would be different. This would be the year the team turned the corner. This would be the year the finances would be stable. This would be the year we’d catch a glimpse of contention.

Who could blame a Met fan for feeling as though he’d been had? Again?

metsyb-1982In the aftermath of the passing of beloved Mets GM Frank Cashen, much has been made of Cashen’s first four wildly unsuccessful years vs. Sandy Alderson’s current attempts to right the ship. There are similarities, to be sure. Both men had been working in the MLB offices at the time of hire and both came with impressive track records in winner-building. Both men arrived with the team’s infrastructure in ashes. Each man brought along “his people” to work alongside. Both put an emphasis on pitching – prudent in a spacious home stadium. Out of desperate necessity, both preached patience with a young team. Both hired managers whom they could trust – and neither of their first shots at it were what you would call “successful.” Both had teams that consistently sported winning percentages well below the .500 mark. Yes, a case could be made that Alderson – in year number four – is on the same path tread by Cashen and that 2015 will be the year it all bears fruit. At the same time, as similar as the early going of the two regimes looks, they are actually wildly disparate.

For one thing, when Cashen was brought in to run things in 1980, he came along with brand-spankin’-new owners. At the urging of then-Commissioner Bowie Kuhn, newbies Nelson Doubleday and Fred Wilpon brought in an experienced hand, seeing as they had none. In case you hadn’t heard, Wilpon is still here, thirty-four years later, so Alderson is burdened by expectation and limitation from above, while hearing frustration from a fan base that’s all too aware of the fact that Alderson can work no miracles in the absence of real resources. That’s another difference: back in the ‘80s, Cashen did have resources with which to work. The Doubleday/Wilpon fresh money allowed him to send a signal to MLB and the fans that the Mets could be players in the modern management game: he was able to trade for George Foster and sign him to a lucrative contract extension. He was able to bring back fan favorites like Dave Kingman and Rusty Staub to placate those of us pining for the mediocre-ol’-days. He was able to bring Tom Seaver home. All of this before the Mets could harbor any thought of competing. When Keith Hernandez arrived half-way through the 1983 season – another lost campaign – this was the true sign that Cashen meant business and opened the door for the acquisition of Gary Carter, which put the franchise firmly over the top.

No such similar sign seems to be coming from Sandy Alderson. As much as the Met fan wishes this season to be a latter-day version of 1983, it’s getting harder and harder to project this team being that close to contention and it appears that Alderson will not get the same kind of help Cashen had when assembling his would-be dynasty.

More’s the pity.

Follow me on Twitter @CharlieHangley.

8 comments for “Sandy Alderson And Frank Cashen: The Same Thing, Only Different

  1. July 1, 2014 at 3:49 pm

    But the vast majority of the pre-1984 “big money” deals that Cashen did were flops. Foster certainly wasn’t worth the money, gambling on Randy Jones, Dave Kingman and Ellis Valentine didn’t really propel the team forward, either. Only Hernandez could be considered a success. Let’s say 1984 Hernandez is twice as good as 2015 Curtis Granderson — that will be (less than) three wins.

    Cashen succeeded in turning things around mostly due to dealing vets for prospects (Maz for Darling and Terrell and Diaz/Bailor for Sid) and strong drafting (Gooden, Strawberry, Dykstra, etc.).

    Certainly, the jury’s still out on Alderson’s drafting – clearly no one to put up an 8-WAR season like ’84 Gooden. But if the 2015 Mets don’t match the 1984 version, it will be because Doc and Darryl didn’t walk through the door, not because of interference from ownership.

  2. July 1, 2014 at 4:54 pm

    There is a big difference. Cashen made successful trades, in four years Sandy hasn’t made one. Cashen developed players in the minor leagues and made excellent draft choices. Not true with Sandy. All players the Mets have so far developed came from Omar. Frank hired Davey Johnson as manager who was a successful manager and was no yes man to Frank. Sandy hired Terry Collins a failure as managers over 40 game below 500, and someone who would not question any move the GM made.

  3. Metsense
    July 1, 2014 at 6:29 pm

    Alderson and Cashen took a team in ashes and rebuilt the farm system.
    Alderson and Cashen both had losing records the first four years.
    Cashen was willing to leverage his farm system and make trades.
    Alderson is unwilling to do this.
    Knight was obtained by Cashen for three minor leaguers Gerald Young, Manny Lee and Mitch Cook. Cook had been 16-4 at Lynchburg.
    Alderson procastinates on Davis for Joyce
    HoJo was obtained by Cashen for Terrell (who was previously obtained for Mazzilli.)
    Cashen was not afraid to trade established major league players in an attempt to improve the team.
    Alderson won’t get Cashen like results until he trades major league players for the pieces that this team is lacking.
    Cashen was not afraid to hire an independent thinking manager.
    Alderson extended his unsuccessful manager.
    The Mets have become stale and something needs to be done.

    • Chris F
      July 1, 2014 at 6:39 pm

      Wow, Metsense…that pretty much says it all.


  4. Jim OMalley
    July 1, 2014 at 6:42 pm

    Ummmm….the big difference is that Cashen led an organization that was pulling in the same direction from ownership down to the fans in the bleachers. We don’t have that vitality today. We have a limpfish owner trying to stay inside the boys club when the rest of us already know his time is done.

  5. July 1, 2014 at 6:58 pm

    Here is a piece of fun trivia…

    When Juan Legares hit a home run recently, it was his 6th career home run as a New York Met.

    This tied him with two other Mets, who both have 6 career home runs.

    Both of these NY Mets with 6 career home runs in Mets uniforms, played on the 1969 and 1973 Mets teams.

    Can you name them both?


  6. July 1, 2014 at 6:59 pm

    Another Cashen point…

    he had the audacity to promote from Single A….

    Alderson won’t promote from anything below AAA and only after the date of pushing the contract year back.

  7. Patrick Albanesius
    July 2, 2014 at 9:13 pm

    Sandy’s reliance on veterans to carry the team forward while the young boys prove their chops in the minors is probably the biggest difference. Either SA will have to start trimming the fat and let the young men prove what the future is all about, or some critical prospects are going to have to go for a star player from somewhere.

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