Readers of this site know I have backed Sandy Alderson since his addition to the Mets late in 2010. He was handed a truly abysmal situation and asked to rebuild.
Has he succeeded?
While the answer will be unknown until the Mets win (or fail to within the next few years), we have quite a bit of data to analyze and I can safely say the following:
1.) Sandy Alderson dominates trades. Mets fans know this well. Alderson was able to get cornerstone players for aging rentals. He has been able to sell high and win every one of his trades for youngsters to this point.
2.) Sandy Alderson and his team are great at drafting pitchers late in the draft. The list continues to get longer and longer year after year but the pitching in the Mets system is borderline ridiculous and even 13-17 round picks would be top 10 prospects on other organizations. It is tough to say if the hitting will be as good but I think it is fair to say the Alderson administration can draft (even with the bad Cecchini selection).
3.) Alderson and company play the international market well--albeit quietly. You rarely hear about the Mets signing the #1 or #2 amateur international free agent and they never go for the big Cuban or Japanese ticket but a large contingent of the top 20 prospects currently in the system are young international finds by Alderson and his team. Keep in mind, Rafael Montero is one of those guys. Far from a household name when he was signed but he could be an All-Star pitcher some day.
4.) Sandy Alderson has yet to make a good big free agent signing. I guess you could say Bartolo Colon was "good" because he did exactly what was expected (lots of innings, pedestrian performances) but it didn't really help the Mets get better either. Some of his moves have been plain awful (Frank Francisco, Rauch, Farnsworth, Carrasco...pretty much any bullpen addition, actually), some puzzling and "we'll see" (Granderson, Cuddyer), and some simply average (Colon) but my main complaint was his non-moves. Why never bring Endy Chavez back as a fourth outfielder? Why skip Michael Bourn for draft reasons but sign Cuddyer and forfeit a first-round pick? Why let Jose Reyes go? Why completely ignore Robinson Cano? The years in his deals are troubling as well. In no world should Frank Francisco get two years. Nor Cuddyer. Nor Granderson four years.
5.) Despite being poor in the free agent signing world, Alderson has had success with reclamation projects. Marlon Byrd, Jeremy Hefner, Chris Capuano, Scott Rice, LaTroy Hawkins, and Anthony Recker have all helped the Mets win games. If Alderson and his team could be as adept with the bigger ticket free agents, the Mets would have been and will be far better.
6.) Sandy Alderson is an extremely patient GM. Almost to a fault. At times definitely to a fault. Alderson has missed incredible opportunities to improve the farm system and/or the 25-man roster by failing to sell high on current players. The rumors of a Nick Castellanos-Bobby Parnell may be over reported and unsubstantiated, but Parnell had a market and the Mets had replacements for him. Ditto with Scott Hairston, Daniel Murphy, and Bartolo Colon. Sometimes getting something instead of nothing is worth it and with positional logjams in the bullpen, outfield, rotation, and second, each of these non-moves means something will have to give this winter. You cannot have a seven man rotation, three closers, and three second baseman. While some of this still remains to be seen and thus a verdict cannot fully be written, failing to move Hairston and Parnell when they were hot commodities is inexcusable. Colon should have been moved as well. I understand not moving Murphy but he and Gee need to be moved this winter. Let's see how he does.
7.) Alderson does not go over-slot in drafts all that often. Each of his drafts, it seems like Alderson and his team have tried to get a lottery pick to sign late and have not. Or, if that was the plan, they simply could not spend the money (from pressure of ownership perhaps). However, for a team preaching about building the farm system, I want to see more than 95% of draft allocation spent. I want every player I can sign without forfeiting a pick in next year's draft. That's how the good teams are doing it and there's no reason not to.
In conclusion, Sandy Alderson is a solid GM. He understands the market well, his peers respect him, he is a master trader, and his team has a strong collection of scouts and baseball minds. However, he makes a lot of mistakes and we have yet to see what he can do with an open budget and while trying to build a 25-man roster of dominance instead of a farm system of dominance. So, while the verdict is still out, I will cautiously say that yes, Sandy Alderson is a good GM. But he does make mistakes.