Sep 24

Sandy Alderson’s Greatest Hits

For all the griping and moaning done about GM Sandy Alderson’s performance and contract extension, I would be remiss if I didn’t examine some of the positives.

Remember, in evaluating Alderson, you must consider what he was primarily brought in for – to cut payroll. That was his job description; secondly he was to bring in young blood.

ALDERSON: Did some good..

ALDERSON: Did some good..

Let’s call these Alderson’s Greatest Hits:

CLEARING OUT THE DEADWOOD: For several seasons the Mets carried the unproductive and self-centered Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo. Their contracts prevented them from being dealt and they didn’t produce, yet the Mets kept them.

In trying to create a positive atmosphere, Alderson cut ties, which opened the door for fresh blood.

Although Jason Bay didn’t have an attitude problem like Perez and Castillo, he was non-productive, but Alderson worked a buy-out with the swing-and-miss outfielder.

NOT BRINGING BACK JOSE REYES: Yes, he might arguably be the most exciting player in franchise history, but considering the Mets’ financial plight, there was no way they were going to meet the Marlins’ $106 million offer.

Toward the end of his Mets’ tenure, Reyes started to break down – he went on the DL twice in his last year here – and evidenced by his last game, he clearly wanted to get out of town.

Perhaps this was clumsily handled, but Reyes was going to chase every dollar and the Mets weren’t in the ballpark with him. This went a long way toward extending David Wright.

TRADING FRANCISCO RODRIGUEZ: The Mets didn’t get much in return, but they did get rid of a bulky contract.

TRADING CARLOS BELTRAN: Alderson traded the injury prone outfielder for Zack Wheeler, one of the jewels in the Mets’ young rotation. As there was no way they were going to bring back Beltran, they couldn’t have done better. Especially, since Beltran was going to walk and his contract stipulated no compensatory draft pick.

TRADING R.A. DICKEY: Dealing a Cy Young Award winner is a difficult decision, but like Reyes, it was doubtful they could have re-signed him.

In return, the Mets received pitcher Noah Syndergaard and Rookie of the Year candidate catcher Travis d’Arnaud and catcher John Buck.

SIGNING MARLON BYRD: They pulled this out of thin air. Byrd gave the Mets a good half-season before he was traded with Buck to Pittsburgh for Dilson Herrera and Vic Black.

SAYING NO TO MATT HARVEY: Let’s face it, Harvey is good, but also a diva. He wanted to pitch this season against the advice of Alderson and the medical staff. Several times he whined about pitching, but unlike previous Mets’ management, Alderson held firm and Harvey stayed in one piece for at least another year.

Sep 23

It’s Official: Alderson And Collins To Return

The news many Mets fans didn’t want to hear – a three-year extension for GM Sandy Alderson and with it a new contract for manager Terry Collins – was announced this afternoon.

And, that’s a good thing.

“We are excited about the direction the team is headed and look forward to Sandy continuing his efforts to build the Mets into a postseason contender,’’ Chief Operating Officer Jeff Wilpon said in a conference call. “Sandy and his staff have built our minor league system into one of the best in baseball, and will continue to balance player development along with making key additions that will help us reach our goals.’’

ALDERSON/COLLINS: Coming back (AP)

ALDERSON/COLLINS: Coming back (AP)

The minor league system has been greatly improved with the drafting of Zach Wheeler and Jacob deGrom, and trades for Travis d’Arnaud, Noah Syndergaard, Vic Black and Dilson Herrera. (Note: Matt Harvey was drafted in the Omar Minaya regime).

Alderson, hired after the 2010 season, is signed through 2017 while Collins’ option for 2015 was picked up. Alderson hired Collins at that time.

“Terry Collins has done an excellent job for us this season,’’ Alderson said. “The team has played hard throughout the year and this is a reflection of Terry’s energy and his passion for the game and for the Mets. We look forward to his leadership again next season.’’

Both were given “Get out of jail free’’ cards after the news Matt Harvey would miss the season. Despite that, a weak offense and myriad of other issues, the Mets are 76-80 this season after 156 games compared to 71-85 at the same time in 2013, an improvement of five games.

If they finish .500 by winning five of their remaining six games, it would be the first time in the Alderson-Collins tenure.

Just how could the Mets not bring them back, especially considering their mantra has been to make improvement?

There have been the usual grumblings of not spending – they had an $85-million payroll this season – but that’s better than the wasted money spent on the contracts for Jason Bay, Francisco Rodriguez, Luis Castillo and Oliver Perez.

Alderson rid the Mets’ of the clubhouse cancers Perez and Castillo; traded Carlos Beltran for Wheeler; and R.A. Dickey for Syndergaard and d’Arnaud.

On the downside, there were the free-agent signings of Chris Young ($7.25 million over one year); Frank Francisco (two years, $12 million) and right-hander Shaun Marcum (one year, $4 million plus incentives).

Nonetheless, despite not breaking the bank, Alderson has the Mets in better position than when he was hired.

Collins does make some head-scratching comments, such as suggesting New York isn’t that far from Washington, which only makes sense if your measuring stick is miles and not player talent.

The Mets surpassed Philadelphia and Miami in the NL East and enter tonight’s game tied with Atlanta for second.

Be honest, you would’ve taken that in a heartbeat if that were offered coming out of spring training. The Mets still have a lot of issues after this season, but they aren’t the hopeless mess they used to be, even with their murky financial picture.

 

Sep 23

Mets To Extend Alderson; Collins To Follow

The news many Mets’ don’t want to hear – a reported three-year extension for general manager Sandy Alderson – is expected to come down later this afternoon.

Not long after will come the anticipated return of manager Terry Collins.

ALDERSON: To be extended.

ALDERSON: To be extended.

After floundering much of the season between ten games under and five games over .500, the prevailing winds had many Mets’ fans howling for a change at the upper management.

Barring a complete collapse I never thought it would happen, and I still don’t.

Both were given “Get out of jail free’’ cards after the news Matt Harvey would miss the season. Despite that, a weak offense and myriad of other issues, the Mets are 76-80 this season after 156 games compared to 71-85 at the same time in 2013, an improvement of five games.

Just how could the Mets not bring them back, especially considering their mantra has been to make improvement?

Sure, there are grumblings about Alderson not spending – that’s ownership’s edict – and Collins’ in-game managing, but you can only do so much with limited resources.

For the most part, Alderson has the Mets in a better state than when he took over with potentially a strong core of starting pitching. Also for the most part, the Mets play hard for Collins.

I’m not always crazy about Alderson’s lack of aggressiveness in the free-agent market, and some of his decisions – particularly Chris Young and Frank Francisco in recent winters. However, I applaud him not being seduced by overpaying for the big fish.

Collins does make some head-scratching comments, such as suggesting New York isn’t that far from Washington, which only makes sense if your measuring stick is miles and not player talent.

The Mets have surpassed Philadelphia and Miami in the NL East and enter tonight’s game tied with Atlanta for second. Be honest, you would’ve taken that in a heartbeat if it was offered coming out of spring training.

The Mets still have a lot of issues after this season, but they aren’t the hopeless mess they used to be, even with their murky financial picture.

 

Sep 22

Mets Enter Final Week Looking For Strong Finishing Kick

It’s all about creating a good last impression for the New York Mets.

With six games remaining in what turned out to be an unusual season, there’s not enough time for a player to change the impressions of manager Terry Collins and GM Sandy Alderson.

COLLINS: Still looking.

COLLINS: Still looking.

However, that doesn’t mean there’s something they can’t learn – and it begins with attitude. Anybody can play hard when the team is winning, but there’s something to be said for playing hard through the grind.

It sounds like a cliché, but I believe it. Vince Lombardi said: “Winning isn’t a sometime thing, it’s an all the time thing. You don’t do things right once in a while, you do them right all the time.’’

Collins buys into that thinking, and wants to see it from his players.

“Well, we’ve got some young guys,’’ Collins told reporters during the Atlanta series. “If they pack it in, you won’t see them again. That’s why it’s nice this time of year to bring those young guys up, because they add a lot of energy to the team.

“And our veteran guys, they’re great guys. There’s never been a question of how hard they’re going to play. We’ll finish it up. We’ll finish it up strong.’’

Wilmer Flores, Ruben Tejada, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Matt den Dekker and Travis d’Arnaud are among that group of young players figuring into the Mets’ plans. For the most part, the Mets run out ground balls and pop-ups.

To see them dog it this week would be a disappointment, especially since there are jobs to be won next season, namely shortstop – although it is believed it is Flores’ to lose – left field and in the bullpen.

Personal, statistical goals could be reached this week, such as Daniel Murphy hitting .300, Lucas Duda getting 30 homers, Jenrry Mejia reaching 30 saves and Bartolo Colon pitching 200 innings.

Collectively, they are four games under .500 and a half-game behind Atlanta for second. The last time they did either was in 2008. Both are possible, but to finish at .500 they must run the table, which includes sweeping the Nationals in a three-game series at Washington.

Stranger things have happened.

There’s playing out the string and going through the motions, and there is a strong finishing kick. It is always better to go into winter on a positive note than to limp home.

Sep 21

DeGrom Shines Again In Sweep Of Braves

There isn’t any doubt in my mind Jacob deGrom should be the National League’s Rookie of the Year. What he did in today’s 10-2 rout of the Braves to complete a rare sweep in Atlanta – one earned run with ten strikeouts in six innings – should seal it.

What today also might have sealed – although Terry Collins isn’t saying – is deGrom’s ledger for the season. The Mets figured 180 innings for deGrom this year and he’s at 178.2.

Collins will make a decision early this week.

“We’ll regroup here in a couple of days and decide what we’re going to do with him as far as his next start goes,’’ Collins told reporters after the game. “He’s real close to where we wanted him to get anyway on the season. We were talking from 180 to 185 was going to be max anyway. We’ll just see if he starts the next game.’’

DeGrom: Impressive again. (AP)

DeGrom: Impressive again. (AP)

Collins said he’s impressed with deGrom’s stuff, both on the mound and from within.

“I know one thing: He walked in here and he said he wanted to pitch,’’ Collins said. “He’s not sitting back saying, ‘OK, I’ll just shut her down.’ He wants to go back out there.

“That was impressive to hear. This time of year, in our situation, it would have been very easy for a lot of guys to say, ‘I’m done. I’m washed up.’ He’s not like that.’’

Collins has been impressed with the Mets’ unwillingness to pack in the season, and that’s a good reflection on him and why he’ll be back.

I have no problem with the Mets shutting down deGrom now, although it would be nice for him to take a bow at Citi Field in the season’s final weekend. The Mets are being ultra cautious, which is what to expect from them evidenced by their treatment of Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler.

If today was deGrom’s final start, he finished at 9-6 with a 2.63 ERA, 43 walks and 144 strikeouts. Those are definitely Rookie of the Year credentials.

Assuming deGrom is shut down, Rafael Montero would start next Saturday against Houston