New York Mets General Manager Sandy Alderson called it “a baseball decision” when his team signed Tim Tebow to a minor league contract last September, even though the former football player had spent 11 years away from the diamond. The line drew smirks from just about everyone, and now we know that Alderson may have had his tongue firmly entrenched in his cheek.
Speaking Friday at a panel during the annual SABR convention, Alderson came clean about why the Mets took a chance on the popular former Heisman Trophy winner and NFL washout.
“Look, we signed him because he is a good guy, partly because of his celebrity, partly because this is an entertainment business. My attitude is ‘why not?’ ” he said, per Newsday’s Roger Rubin.
In fact, the team even inserted what Alderson called “an inside joke” into its media-guide bio of Tebow. Usually, such profiles of the Mets’ minor league prospects includes the name of the scout who signed them. But there was one problem in Tebow’s case: The Mets scout who trekked to California in September to watch Tebow’s baseball showcase was not all that impressed, so the team didn’t feel comfortable putting his name down.
“The guy we sent to see him in California did not exactly send back a glowing report. I knew immediately he would not want his name as the signing scout,” Alderson said.
“Ultimately,” he added, “the guy that we put down was the director of merchandising.”
Tebow hasn’t put up world-class numbers — he had a .220/.311/.336 slash line and three home runs in his first 64 minor league games — but the Mets still promoted him from low-Class A Columbia to high-Class A St. Lucie this week. Those stats aren’t the ones the Mets care about, though, and now they’re freely admitting it.
“I actually think it’s been great for baseball. It’s been unbelievable for the South Atlantic League in terms of interest and entertainment,” Alderson said. “We’ll see how far he goes.”