I don't know how many hours I've run with Sandy Alderson, or how many miles we have traveled, but it has been enough time and distance to realize Sandy is smart, competitive and driven to accomplish his goals.
During my days as an executive with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Alderson became a regular running partner when Major League teams would assemble for General Manager Meetings and the annual Winter Meetings.
We would meet early in the morning and head out for the nearest trail. The time and miles passed quickly as there always was plenty to talk about.
During my tenure as general manager of the Dodgers, Alderson was the GM of the Athletics, a position he held for 14 years.
When Alderson joined the Oakland organization in 1981 as the team's general counsel, the last thought in his mind was that one day soon he might end up in charge of baseball operations.
Two years later, the Oakland ownership dismissed Billy Martin as the team's GM and replaced him with a 35-year-old Alderson.
A lot of people in baseball wondered what the A's ownership was doing hiring a young lawyer and moving him into the GM position, when most general managers were people who had spent lifetimes in professional baseball.
Nearly 30 years later, no one in baseball questions the talent, ability and knowledge of Alderson, who turns 63 next month.
Sandy Alderson is one of the game's most respected executives and that adds up to particularly good news for a Mets club that has had more than its share of bad times recently.
Alderson is one of five candidates who has interviewed for the Mets' general manager job.
I have great respect for the other candidates, but Alderson is the perfect fit for a franchise that needs vision, discipline and a single spokesman on key baseball issues.
The Mets face a huge challenge to bring their organization back to a top level and I don't believe there is anyone who can match Alderson's resume when it comes to experience at every level in the game.
He has been a successful general manager with a World Series championship to his credit; served as executive vice president for baseball operations for the Commissioner's Office; moved on to become the CEO of the San Diego Padres and now works as a consultant for Major League Baseball with a focus on resolving a multitude of problems in the Dominican Republic.
He is a graduate of Dartmouth College and Harvard Law School and served a tour of duty with the United States Marine Corps in Vietnam.
If you question the Mets giving their most important position to a man about to turn 63, you have never run a mile with Alderson.
He keeps his mind and body in great shape and there never has been a point in his life when he has slowed in his desire to learn as much as possible.
At a time when many teams are headed by youthful general managers -- the Rangers' Jon Daniels was five when Alderson first became the GM of the A's -- Alderson was really the man who started to open minds to a different background in the GM position.
When Alderson became the general manager of the A's, he surrounded himself with veteran baseball people. He listened to all views and then made a decision.
Alderson also took an early interest in the analytical part of the game and it was his protégé Billy Beane who gained fame with the book "Moneyball."
Another one of Alderson's assistants in Oakland was Walt Jocketty, who has enjoyed a fine career as the GM of both St. Louis and Cincinnati. It is no surprise that both Beane and Jocketty credit Alderson with advancement in the game.
When Alderson returned to the team level with the Padres as CEO, there were those who thought he would collide with then general manager Kevin Towers. It didn't happen. If fact, Towers has said that working with Alderson was a great learning experience.
Even though the Mets face a huge challenge in a major media market, Alderson has shown time and again that he is up to any challenge the game has to offer.
When Alderson was the executive vice president of the Commissioner's Office in 2000, he fielded a question from Sports Illustrated on possible use of performance-enhancing drugs by players by stating: "There's enough anecdotal evidence that we ought to start looking into this. You start by not ignoring the problem anymore."
Alderson's cool and calm response to tough questions was the reason the Commissioner Office selected him to appear on "60 Minutes" when the program was looking into the subject of steroid use by players.
And just what answers does Alderson hold for the Mets?
You can be sure he will give great attention to hiring a qualified manager, if given the opportunity. He will place great emphasis on scouting and player development.
He will build a pro scouting staff stocked with veteran people who know how to do their jobs.
He will give credit to others while taking responsibility for the fate of the Mets.
It would seem as though Alderson's long journey in the game has led him the doorstep of the Mets.
It's the best decision the Mets have been faced with for a long time.
Fred Claire was a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers from 1969-98, serving the team as Executive Vice-President and general manager. He is the author of "Fred Claire: My 30 Years in Dodger Blue." This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.