Dec 14

Mets’ Alderson: Expectations Higher Than Realized

Sandy Alderson said there’s not much in the FA market, but the truth is the Mets vastly underestimated the value of that market.

Ryan Ludwick, who would look good in the Citi Field outfield void of any substantial talent, signed a two-year, $15-million extension with Cincinnati, the going rate for an outfielder with a limited resume.

ALDERSON: No more twiddling thumbs.

The Mets thought two years at half was too much.

Now, there’s the case of the mediocre Manny Acosta, who logged innings out of the Mets’ bullpen last year, but not productive ones. He’ll make $1.65 million next year in Japan with the potential of another $500,000 in bonuses.

I’m not bemoaning the loss of Acosta, but if he can get that, imagine what a decent reliever will bring. Undoubtedly, a lot more.

Fact is, Alderson’s expertise is buying cheap and building from the ground up. He was brought here to get things under financial control and for the most part has done his job.

Alderson previously won, but never in a city with the expectations and payroll in New York. Alderson was hired by Oakland in 1981 as the team’s general counsel and named GM in 1983, a position he held until 1997.

Those Athletics teams, under a difference economic system, produced three consecutive Rookies of the Year in Jose Canseco (1986), Mark McGwire (1987) and Walt Weiss (1988). Alderson’s tenure also included Dave Stewart, Hall of Fame reliever Dennis Eckersley and manager Tony La Russa, he of the juggling bullpen.

Under his helm, Oakland won four division titles, three AL titles and the 1989 World Series.

Clearly, Alderson’s Oakland teams had talent, a sound scouting system and different economic system. Things were also different than in New York when Alderson’s Padres won division titles in 2005 and 2006.

However, Alderson never encountered the financial distress and expectations he inherited in New York. Those expectations included wrestling the Yankees for the city’s back pages.

By all accounts, Alderson is a sharp guy, so I don’t buy he was naïve to the pressures and expectations of New York. I even believe, working in the commissioner’s office, he had a handle on the Mets’ financial problems, but perhaps not to the degree after the Madoff scandal.

I expected a gradual turnaround under Alderson, but he’s had two years so now I’m expecting more aggressiveness in putting a competitive team on the field. Then again, it must be realized Alderson doesn’t have complete control as he must answer to the Wilpons.

He grossly underestimated things at the trade deadline last year. The Mets were over eight games at one point prior to the break, but he gambled and lost they’d continue to play well.

After Johan Santana and Dillon Gee went down, there was further stress on the bullpen. By the time Ike Davis started to hit, David Wright stopped. And, of course, Jason Bay – not acquired on Alderson’s watch – never started.

I’m expecting more of Alderson in his third year. I’m expecting comes the realization losing is not an option in New York. If traditional low-spending revenue teams such as Washington and Cincinnati can be more aggressive, and a team with little offense in San Francisco can win two World Series in three years, then more is expected from the Mets.

Maybe we don’t know how bad things are behind the scenes, but we do know how bad things are on the field.

And, it has to stop.

Dec 12

Infuriating Alderson Dumps On Mets Fans

The words seared into my consciousness.

I previously defended Sandy Alderson, thinking as a hired gun his job was to pare payroll and ease the Mets’ financial strain, which he did.

ALDERSON: Playing Scrooge.

However, there is no defending what he said yesterday at the Mets’ Annual Christmas party, one where they asked R.A. Dickey to dress as an elf.

I usually applaud honesty, but this time it would have been better had Alderson kept his mouth shut. If you’re surrendering the season before Christmas, don’t come out and say it, not with good will in the air.

“I would expect the roster would look similar to what it did at the end of last season – with some exceptions,” Alderson said.

Ouch … that hurt, but deep down we expected that to be the case all along.

Yeah, and those exceptions will put the Mets over the top. Yeah, and I still believe Santa Claus and the M & M talking candies do exist.

Alderson doesn’t think much of the FA market and the Mets have precious little to trade. If he thinks that cupboard is bare, what does he think he has on his roster?

Even less.

Gone from last year’s train wreck will be Tim Byrdak, who is recovering from shoulder surgery, along with Jon Rauch, Mike Pelfrey, Ramon Ramirez, Kelly Shoppach, Andres Torres and Manny Acosta. Some could be missed, but all their roles still need to be filled.

Continue reading

Dec 05

The Curious Case Of Trying To Trade R.A. Dickey

TRYING TO TRADE R.A. DICKEY (AP)

If GM Sandy Alderson spent as much energy trying to sign R. A. Dickey as he has trying to trade him, the contract would be done by now.

Alderson told reporters in Nashville he’s seeking a “difference maker,” for Dickey, which means a power-hitting outfielder, preferably from the right side. A difference maker, by definition, would mean a proven commodity, as Alderson said he’s seeking immediate help, not somebody the team will “hope” be a player in two or three years.

Alderson is apparently hitting a wall when it comes to asking for other team’s prospects, and he’s viewing this as an exchange of $5-million contracts.Trouble is, where is Alderson going to find such a presence for only $5 million?

Reportedly, the Mets have talked with Boston, Kansas City, Toronto and Arizona, but their asking price is too high in terms of prospects.

Timing is everything, and unfortunately for Dickey his is muddled and mixed. On one hand, he’s coming off a Cy Young Award season. However, the other hand is 38 years old and grips what many in the game still regard as a gimmick pitch.

Continue reading

Dec 04

Despite R.A. Dickey And Jon Niese, Mets Still Have Pitching Concerns

Undoubtedly, the outfield is a huge void GM Sandy Alderson will try to fill with scraps. So too, is the bullpen. But, don’t forget the rotation despite the presence of Jon Niese and R.A. Dickey, assuming, of course, there will be a Dickey.

I keep hearing how the Mets’ young pitching is a position of strength, but in reality it is a position of potential, and there is a difference. And, I would be hesitant to say vast potential.

There were many mistakes in the Omar Minaya regime, but one of the biggest – and most understated – was the decision to overestimate the team following the 2006 season. “We just missed the World Series by a strike,’’ was the thinking.

How wrong they were. Even had Carlos Beltran done something with that pitch, there were concerns with the Mets’ pitching and bullpen which came to fruition during the collapses of 2007 and 2008.

Despite the flashes and strong showing in 2012, that’s the story today when you big-picture their staff. If all breaks well, then there is a lot to like about the Mets’ pitching. But, if it doesn’t – and we know it all won’t be good – then we are back again faced looking at a team with huge holes.

JOHAN SANTANA: He is once again coming off an injury, which he has done almost annually since signing with the Mets. Santana had a good start in 2012, but hit a wall and was eventually injured. Nobody can say with authority what the Mets can expect from him other than he’ll cost $25 million. Santana will be gone after this year, so even if he has a good season that’s a hole that must be filled in 2014. That hole would be even bigger if Dickey is traded or leaves as a free agent.

R.A. DICKEY: How can the Mets reasonably anticipate anything from Dickey when they are listening to trade offers? Even should the Mets re-sign Dickey to an extension, there’s still the question if 2012 was a one-shot deal. I like Dickey, but it is undeniable he has a short track record.

JON NIESE: If Dickey leaves, then Niese becomes the de facto ace of the staff. Niese has an upside, but how big we do not know. Last year was his best at 13-9, and it was his only winning season. How can you place all your chips on him when the most he’s ever won was 13 games?

DILLON GEE: Gee is coming off an injury, and like Niese has a small track record. Gee hasn’t been projected higher than a No. 4 or No. 5 starter in the first place, so to consider him a stalwart would be a misnomer. Gee is still missing from his resume a full season. Give him that and we’ll have a guess at his ceiling.

MATT HARVEY:  While good things are projected of Harvey, not a career do ten games make. The projections for Harvey are higher than they ever were with Mike Pelfrey and Niese. Harvey made an undeniably strong first impression last year. Now he must build on it. There are a lot of teams that haven’t seen Harvey yet, and those that had will have a book on him.

THE BULLPEN:  As the saying goes, a chain is as strong as its weakest link, then a pitching staff is as strong as its bullpen and we know the Mets’ pen is weak. It was a hole Alderson couldn’t patch together with nickel pieces last winter. Wonder if he’ll do better with dime pieces.

 

Dec 03

Evaluating The Reasons To Trade R.A. Dickey

DICKEY: Evaluating the trade option. (AP)

I don’t believe the Mets will trade R.A. Dickey at the Winter Meetings, but I won’t be surprised if that is the end result this winter.

Rarely do general managers talk about trading players by name, let alone a key player such as Dickey, but after hearing Sandy Alderson’s comments last night that’s where I am leaning despite his obvious qualifier.

“Well, we expect to talk to a lot of teams about a lot of different things,’’ Alderson told reporters last night in Nashville. “That’s why we’re here – to explore various combinations. I would suspect, yes, we will have conversations about R.A. That doesn’t mean we would prefer to go in that direction or reconcile to go in that direction.’’

Ideally, Alderson would like a quick resolution, but realizes that might be difficult depending on the scenarios presented him this week.

“It could go on for a while. I just can’t predict. … R.A’s situation needs to be resolved, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be resolved here in Nashville before Thursday,” Alderson said. “I think we’ll have a lot more information by the end of Thursday both in terms of his negotiation as well as other options. But I don’t think we have to have resolution by Thursday.’’

Continue reading