Dec 30

Top Ten Mets’ Stories of 2011

Good afternoon all. Just got back from Ohio and visiting with my family over Christmas. There was time to reflect on the year, which, of course, includes the Mets’ third straight losing season.

The year was the first under the Sandy Alderson-Terry Collins regime, which was supposed to represent a change in the franchise’s culture and downward spiral.

It did not.

There were seemingly countless storylines that swirled around the Mets this summer, most underscored their dire frustration. The following are the top ten:

REYES: Mets' mess uglier than Marlins' uniforms.

1) THE MADOFF PONZI SCANDAL: Most everything the Mets did this season, and will likely do in the next few years has roots in the Wilpon’s financial mess caused by the Ponzi Scandal. The Mets have a mounting debt approaching $1 billion due in the next three years and which does not include what the courts might put them on the hook for in a Ponzi ruling. Standard & Poor’s downgraded the Mets’ financial status and there are no immediate signs of improvement.

2) JOSE REYES SIGNS WITH MIAMI: Reyes’ departure to the division rival Marlins personifies the Mets’ current financial plight. It was a no-brainer to let him go considering his salary demands and injury history, but not making an offer revealed how the Mets aren’t in position to compete. Most believed 2011 would be his last season with the Mets, and he departed in style with two trips to the disabled list and pulling himself out of the last game of the season to preserve his batting title.

3) METS RELEASE PEREZ AND CASTILLO: Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo represented the Omar Minaya Era in giving obscene contracts for little production. Their presence cast a pall over the 2010 Mets and the new regime finally cast them away. Sad getting rid of two malcontent underachievers represented one of the highlights of the season.

4) BELTRAN, RODRIGUEZ TRADED: The Mets overachieved much of the first half, but any hope of a competitive season ended when Carlos Beltran and Francisco Rodriguez were dealt to San Francisco and Milwaukee, respectively, in the official surrender of 2011. Few thought Alderson could unload their contracts, but doing so lightened the Mets’ financial burden – a little. Beltran and Rodriguez were to be the missing pieces to a championship, but instead personified the window slamming shut.

DAVIS: Another freak injury hits Mets.

5) IKE DAVIS INJURED: What looked to be a harmless ankle injury ended up a season-ender for Ike Davis and renewed criticism of the Mets’ medical staff. Reportedly, Davis will be ready for spring training, but we’ve heard that song before. Davis’ injury opened the door for Lucas Duda’s promotion to the major leagues, one of the season’s few bright spots.

6) DAVID WRIGHT’S FALL CONTINUES: Wright missed over two months with a back injury and his power numbers dropped to 14 homers and 61 RBI. Wright’s recent injury history and declining production, coupled with the Mets in a rebuilding mode, increases speculation he could be traded. But, those factors also mean what the Mets get in return isn’t what it would have been two years ago.

7) THE DAVID EINHORN MESS: The Mets financial problems appeared to ease at the tune of $200 million when David Einhorn was brought in as a minority owner, but that fell through. The Wilpons’ fallback plan is to sell $20-milion shares. So far, no takers.

8) JOHAN SANTANA A MEMORY: Despite the Mets’ projections he might be ready at any number of occasions, it never happened and his rehab included several setbacks. The Mets will go to spring training knowing only one thing about Santana – they’ll pay him $24 million next year.

9) BAY SIGNING A BUST: It has been two years and Bay has hit a combined 18 homers with 104 RBI. He did better than that in 2009 with Boston. There were dozens of reasons why the Mets shouldn’t have signed Bay two years and one day ago. I’m thinking there are close to 66 million now.

10) PELFREY REGRESSES: After winning 15 games in 2010, Mike Pelfrey won seven games last year and there are thoughts he might never become the pitcher expected of him. With Santana injured, Pelfrey went into the season the de facto ace but posted numbers not worthy of a No. 5 starter.

Dec 14

Alderson Appears On FOX Business News

Sandy Alderson appeared today on Fox Business to discuss a myriad of Mets financial and offseason issues.

CLAMAN: Well, you say you’re in charge of looking at everything that’s on the field. David Wright’s on the field. Will you fight to keep him, at least?

ALDERSON: Yes, I think David’s going to be with us for a while, so I wouldn’t worry about losing David and Jose in the same year.

CLAMAN: OK.  And I know it’s inside baseball, so to speak, when you talk about the players.  But this all leads to big questions that come out in that movie, “Moneyball,” for example, that you can build a winning team with less expensive players.  I don’t want to say cheaper, but less expensive players. Is that going to be what the Mets have to do?

ALDERSON: Well, I think, first of all, that “Moneyball” was about finding value.  And whether that was finding value at lower prices, or finding value in players that command higher salaries, the same point is made.  You know, we need to make good decisions with respect to players that don’t make a lot of money, but we need to make good decisions with respect to players who do.

And if we invest lots of money in high-salary players, we need to be right most of the time, just as we need to be right when we spend fewer dollars.

CLAMAN: Well, all of this money that’s thrown around tends to sometimes destabilize a team, because they don’t have enough money to actually run the operations, and people look at these loans that the Mets have taken out.  And I think that there’s a fair question being thrown around, and that is are the Mets in peril of not meeting payroll?

ALDERSON: Oh, no.  That’s not an issue.

CLAMAN: That is not an issue?

ALDERSON: No, absolutely…

CLAMAN: 100 percent?

ALDERSON: No.

CLAMAN: Is this the World Series team in 2012?  Or is this a rebuilding year, as (inaudible)?

ALDERSON: Well, 2012, we won’t be favored in the National League East.  The National League East is pretty stacked, and probably the toughest division in baseball at this point.

But we’re going to be fun to watch, and you know, the nice thing about baseball is that anything can happen.  It’s not necessarily the highest payroll that wins.  It’s very often somebody who’s put together a team, based on not just resources but also quality decisions.  Teams like Tampa Bay are a good example of that, and certainly it can happen here, too.

Click here for the entire video segment or go to MLB.com for the full transcript.

Dec 05

Alderson frank about future.

General manager Sandy Alderson, on WFAN today, equated the Jose Reyes departure to that “of losing somebody after a long illness … you can prepare for it, but when it happens it is a hard thing to accept.’’

ALDERSON: Tough times ahead.

With Alderson forecasting a $100-million payroll for 2012, Reyes would have been an injury risk they couldn’t afford, no matter how popular he was with the dwindling fan base.

It is team sport sure, but it can’t be forgotten the Mets only reached the playoffs one time in Reyes’ nine seasons with the team.

“I’ve been saying from the first day that the payroll was too high to sustain at the current levels of revenue,’’ Alderson said.

Signing Reyes for the $17.7 million he’ll get from the Marlins, plus the $24 million due Johan Santana, plus the $16 million for Jason Bay and $15 million for David Wright would have added up to $72.7 tied up for four players. As it is, the Mets will pay $55 million for three players, one of which – Santana – they don’t know what they’ll get.

With the Mets losing $70 million last season – that’s what they say, but they haven’t opened their books – and their debt on Citi Field and from loans taken against the team and SNY which total over $1.4 billion, it was clear keeping Reyes would have been a pipedream.

Continue reading

Dec 05

A cold winter is upon us as Reyes bolts for Marlins.

The Winter Meeting hadn’t yet begun when they ended for the Mets in the late hours last night at the Dallas Hilton Anatole when Jose Reyes accepted the Miami Marlins’ six-year, $106-million offer.

REYES: He's gone.

Hell, they might as well pack up and leave town now because without the Mets having made an offer, it is clear they don’t have the money to compete. They can leave an intern behind for the Rule 5 draft.

Truthfully, there’s no point in feigning anger or disappointment over losing Reyes, because anybody with a clue knew it was going to end this way. What we didn’t know were the numbers or final destination, although it rapidly became evident it would be Miami as no other players emerged.

Detroit, San Francisco, Milwaukee were rumored to have interest, but they recognized Reyes’ demands were excessive for an injury-prone player and never entered the bidding. The Mets can hardly take solace in that others thought the same, because there’s the uneasy truth at what a non-bid means.

Continue reading

Dec 02

Sandy Alderson On If Jose Reyes Is A Franchise Player

Last night, Sandy Alderson hosted a conference call with a few Mets bloggers that was by far the best one I ever participated in. We had some great questions from everyone and Sandy, who was very cordial, took his time and answered all of our questions concisely and proficiently. The tone of the call was kind of upbeat and it was interesting to hear how passionate everyone was about their concerns. Amazin Avenue was good enough to transcribe the entire call which you can read here.

My question to Sandy was regarding Jose Reyes (of course), but it started out kind of funny when when he responded to Shannon of the Mets about Shannon of Mets Police just as I was introduced.

Shannon Forde, Mets Media Relations: Shannon [Shark] really wants to know if you watch the Walking Dead.

Alderson: The Walking Dead, by the way, was a Marine battalion in Vietnam, I don’t know what it’s referring to now, probably Vampires or something..

Joe DeCaro: Actually the Walking Dead is about zombies.

Sandy Alderson: Oh is that what it is? Zombies? Thanks. (laughing)

Joe DeCaro: When the season ended, you met with reporters at Citi Field, and at that time you said there would no preemptive offer to Jose Reyes and that you were going to let other teams set the market.

A few weeks later it was reported that you had an understanding with Jose that he would meet with you after he was done shopping and that you would have substantive negotiations with him at that time.

There’s been so much information and mis-information circulating about Jose Reyes that it’s become such a huge blur for Mets fans right now. I don’t know if you’ve kept up with the latest gossip, but apparently there’s a report generating some buzz about a potential Mets offer worth five years and $80 million for Jose Reyes.

Forget whether or not it’s fact or fiction — I’m leaning towards the latter — hypothetically speaking, if Jose Reyes came back to you with a five-year, $80 million offer from another team, could you and would you beat that offer if that’s what it took to re-sign him?

Also, does your front office consider Jose Reyes a franchise player?

Alderson: Let me start with your last question first: Do I consider him a franchise player? Yes. But a franchise player is only valuable as such if he is contributing to a winning franchise as opposed to simply acting as eye wash for a team that is not very good. So for me, franchise players are critically important — this goes back to the bonding that takes place with a handful of players on each team — you need those kinds of players to win. But ultimately, even a franchise player has to make a contribution to a winning team.

Now with respect to what we would do or not do with Jose, that’s hypothetical and it would be speculative for me to respond to that, and also very public, and I would prefer not to do that {laughing}. It’s fair to say that, in light of his status, at least in my mind, as a franchise player, that there’s a number that we would find acceptable. We’re very interested in retaining Jose.

As far as his coming back, it has never been my understanding that we would not negotiate until he had made all his rounds, until he got a good offer from somebody else, and then we got a chance to match it or get a discount from it. That’s never been my understanding. I do believe that if Jose really wants to be in New York after everything is said and done, he’ll talk to us. But I don’t know that we can rely on that. So our inactivity at this point, or the fact that we haven’t given him an offer, is not based on our confidence that when everything is said and done, he’s going to come back to us. I think it’s a combination of a lot of other things.

Right now, it’s not clear where his market will be. We’ve never wanted to be a stalking horse for somebody else. We’re sincere in our desire to have him back. But we’re just going to have to see what develops for him. Now the fact that nothing has materialized to date, doesn’t mean that something won’t tomorrow or the next day, I’m realistic enough to know that. But I also have a sense of what we can do and what would be beyond our ability to do.

And when I say beyond our ability, this doesn’t have anything to do with Bernie Madoff. This really has to do with our vision of where the team can be and what we need to be able to do over the next two-to-four years to create a sustainable, winning roster. I have said on many occasions, that what we need is some roster flexibility eventually that allows us the freedom from a roster standpoint to make some of these decisions that are going to be costly, but to be able to do them in a way that enables us to rationalize the overall roster and the overall payroll.

There’s so much that came out of my question I don’t know where to begin, but lets start with this and I’ll disect the rest of his reply to me throughout the day:

“A franchise player is only valuable as such if he is contributing to a winning franchise as opposed to simply acting as eye wash for a team that is not very good. “

Obviously I asked him whether Reyes was a franchise player based on the comment he made the day before while speaking to season ticket holders: “We want to have franchise players.”

Well first off, there was no hesitation when he said yes, that Reyes was a franchise player, but he didn’t stop there and threw in the eyewash line, which kind of reminds me of the old standby of “we didn’t win with him, so we can just as soon lose without him”.

What did you take out of his comment?

I’ve never been a proponent of that sort of argument because it hangs the blame for losing on one player – the best player – when losing and winning is actually a team effort. You can’t blame the star for being a star if all you surround him with is below average players and nobody to compliment him. Am I right or wrong here?

Don’t most championship caliber team build around their core players – by complimenting them with role players to fill in the missing pieces of the puzzle?

Anyway, I’ll have more to say later on.

Other sites that participated and blogged about the call were On the Black, Mets Police, and MetsBlog. There were a few other blogs as well, but as of this writing they hadn’t yet posted on it. I’ll try to update this as they do.

Visit Joe D. at Mets Merized Online