WASHINGTON -- Amid talk-radio furor over the New York Mets' lineup being dictated to manager Terry Collins by the front office, general manager Sandy Alderson decided to make a spectacle Wednesday.
Alderson playfully interrupted Collins' pregame press conference and handed the manager a lineup card.
"Hey Terry, here's your lineup for tomorrow," Alderson joked.
The Mets have been using an unconventional lineup early this season, with David Wright batting second and now the pitcher batting eighth.
Collins insisted the current lineup actually was drawn up by bench coach Bob Geren in February -- although it is worth noting that Geren has the same Oakland pedigree as Alderson and other members of the front office.
Front offices around baseball often share with managers their views on which players merit time and better placement in the lineup.
The book "Moneyball" -- and Alderson is one of the architects of the system featured therein -- highlights the relative lack of importance of the manager in the overall organization hierarchy. And it stands to reason that a manager with less job security would be more inclined to adhere to what his front office is preaching. Alderson, in the recently published book "Baseball Maverick," labeled Collins' chances of returning for 2015 as roughly 50-50 at one point last August.
"When we put the roster together, the front office makes that final decision with input from the manager and the coaches," Alderson said. "When it comes to the lineup, yeah, the front office has input from time to time. It's up to the manager. And it's no different than infield defensive positioning or anything else. Our job is to provide information. The manager and the coaches decide."
But if the manager knows what's good for him, he'll do what's recommended, no?
"Well, if you want to be cynical, I guess you can look at it that way," Alderson replied. "But Terry and I rarely have conversations about the lineup."
Told someone in the front office must be generating the data on the merits of Wright batting second and the pitcher batting eighth and supplying it to Collins, Alderson replied: "Look, I didn't have any conversation with Terry about the lineup. I didn't talk to Bob Geren about the lineup. I was probably as surprised as many about the lineup."
Trying to explain the explosion of talk-radio discussion about who created the lineup, Alderson added: "I think what happened is people were surprised by the lineup. People don't like surprises, whether it's the media or fans or other people in baseball who've got everything figured out. So when there's a surprise like that, people are scrambling around for some sort of rationale or explanation. Sometimes it gets a little crazy. That's what I chalk it up to -- mostly."
By the way, Collins said he had advance warning of Alderson's prank.
The lineup card Alderson handed to Collins?
"The '59 White Sox," the GM said.