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

Nov 14

Alderson talks with Reyes’ agents; team likely to tender Pelfrey, but not Capuano.

At the GM meetings in Milwaukee, Mets’ GM Sandy Alderson acknowledged speaking with the Jose Reyes camp, but figures weren’t given. Alderson described the talks as “early” and “amicable,” which won’t get your blood boiling.It is hardly inspiring, is it?

Alderson said it isn’t guaranteed the Mets will get an opportunity to match another team’s offer. The Mets won’t necessarily get the last chance to talk with Reyes, which has been customary in numerous instances between teams and their free agents. For example, the Yankees often tell agents to come back to them to get a chance to beat it, which they often do.

Reyes might have had a good meeting with the Marlins, but again, it is still early in the process. There can’t be a bidding war with only one team.

There’s no way anybody can be optimistic about the Mets’ re-signing Reyes, or for that matter, doing anything significant this winter. A team in need of pitching, the Mets aren’t interested in bringing back Chris Capuano, despite him giving them a productive season.

All indications are the Mets will tender Mike Pelfrey, who could make as much as $6 million for going 7-13 with a 4.74 ERA, a significant regression from 2010 when he appeared to have a breakout season.

The Mets’ rotation currently has plenty of questions attached to every pitcher:

* How healthy is Johan Santana and what does he have left?

* Can Mike Pelfrey live up to expectations and rebound to his 2010 form?

* Was Dillon Gee a fluke?

* How healthy is Jon Niese?

* What can they expect from knuckleballer R.A. Dickey?

Bring back Capuano would have provided more depth and competition, but not doing so means the Mets are extremely cost conscious which reminds us as to Alderson’s objective, which is to stabilize the team’s financial structure.

Alderson was hand picked by Commissioner Bud Selig to save the Mets and prevent Major League Baseball from taking over the franchise as they did the Dodgers.

There’s been speculation since Alderson was hired he’d eventually be Selig’s successor as commissioner, and the Mets are considered to be a test for him. Alderson’s job description is to streamline the Mets’ finances and bring some solvency to the organization.

MLB doesn’t want to commandeer the Mets and force a sale as they did the Dodgers, but that doesn’t mean they won’t if things don’t improve.

 

 

 

Nov 09

Three years away … at least.

Sandy Alderson was brought in here as a fixer, to clean up the mess created by the Wilpon’s financial mess and years of mismanagement on the GM level.

Since the Mets’ last World Series appearance in 2000, they have been about quick fixes. They never had a chance at Alex Rodriguez, which is just as well, but Roberto Alomar and Mo Vaughn were quick fix and gimmick signings. Ditto Tom Glavine and Pedro Martinez. The thinking was that signing big names past their prime might create interest among a listless fan base and perhaps entice other players to come to New York.

Carlos Beltran said Martinez caught his attention, and for a brief window known as 2006, it appeared to work.

However, the Mets let their bullpen unravel after that season and in 2007 came the collapse. Things have been in a downward spiral since. Good money was thrown away after bad and the expensive acquisitions of of Johan Santana, Jason Bay and Francisco Rodriguez came at the expense of building a young, talented core.

All were thought, to some degree, as being the missing piece, but in hindsight, there were just too many of those missing pieces. They did create, however, some excitement and anticipation. They created an illusion of progress.

The Mets’ payroll continued to spiral out of control without procuring the necessary talented. The team did not draft or trade well, and coupled with injuries and poor performance, they are staring at rock bottom.

Alderson was brought in at the urging of Commissioner Bud Selig to fix the mess – which explains why MLB is in no hurry to get back its $25 million loan – and it starts with the shedding of payroll.

A team often gets rid of its expensive pieces before it prepares itself for sale, and it is not out of the question that this is a possibility despite the Mets’ public cries to the contrary. We will never know if the Wilpons decide to sell until after the Ponzi mess created by Bernie Madoff passes. (I wonder who will play Fred and Jeff Wilpon in the movie).

One of those expensive pieces is Jose Reyes and another is David Wright. I see no hope of retaining Reyes, but I also see why Alderson is sticking to the pretext of being competitive and eventually make an offer.

There’s no way Alderson will publicly kiss Reyes good-bye while the team is trying to sell season tickets for next year. To give up on 2012 before Thanksgiving is bad business.

Realistically, without Reyes – assuming a healthy version – and the probability of not having Santana, along with their horrid pitching staff, there’s no realistic expectations of the Mets competing for at least another three years.

Hopefully, in three years the Mets’ finances will be resolved, and they will be without the burdensome contracts of Bay and Santana. In that time span perhaps Reyes will have broken down and the Mets could gleam some vindication with that prospect. Wright could also be gone. Maybe some of those young pitchers in the minors will pan out.

All that is a lot to hope for.

Can anybody really say what the Mets might look like by then? The Mets will still be here by then, but how many of you will have the same passion for them?

To think they will be anything representative before then is being naive.

 

 

Nov 08

2011 Player Review: Mike Pelfrey

John Delcos of Newyorkmetsreport.com and Joe DeCaro of Metsmerizedonline.com will be doing more and more projects together with the goal of merging two successful blogs in the hope of giving our readers everything they’ll need in covering the Mets.

Today we begin a series on the Mets where we will take a look at each player from the 2011 season beginning with arbitration eligible players and Mets free agent players. Each day we will focus on a new player in a point/counterpoint debate on who the organization should keep or cut loose. Today we start with Mike Pelfrey.

MIKE PELFREY

THE SKINNY: Will it ever happen for Mike Pelfrey? Big things were expected from Pelfrey when the Mets made him their first-round pick out of Wichita State University in 2005. However, Pelfrey is 50-54 with a 4.40 ERA lifetime, including 7-13 with a 4.74 ERA last season.

REASONS TO KEEP HIM: He’s still relatively young, inexpensive and has an upside. The Mets have precious little depth in their rotation and their prospects are years away.

REASONS TO LET HIM GO: After parts of six seasons, Pelfrey has a losing record and appears to have regressed from 2010, when he won 15 games.

JOHN’S TAKE: Pelfrey has become frustratingly inconsistent during his Mets’ career, almost to the point where Oliver Perez comparisons are being made. Pelfrey appeared to have a breakout year in 2010 when he won 15 games, but last year took a giant step back into his previous world of losing focus and command. At this point of this career, Pelfrey is a No. 3 starter at best, but the reason to keep him is that he’s a No. 1 to the Mets.

With Johan Santana coming off surgery, and every other pitcher in the Mets’ rotation having significant issues in terms of health and production, little help on the minor league horizon, and the team not expecting to make a free-agent splash, the Mets don’t have many options other than to bring him back. Pelfrey earned just over $3 million last year, so it isn’t as if he’ll break the bank.

Pelfrey is still young and healthy enough for the Mets to hang on to him, especially since they aren’t expected to make a significant run at contending for the playoffs. At this stage of his career, Pelfrey’s value to the Mets is in the hope he’ll touch his potential. It’s not too late.

JOE’S TAKE: No one player on the current roster infuriates me more than Mike Pelfrey. As a gangster in a gangster movie once said, “the saddest thing in life is wasted talent”. That’s how I see Pelfrey – just a big hunk of wasted talent.

In 2010, I had some hope that maybe Pelfrey finally figured things out, but as the season wore on his amazing first half looked more and more like a fluke… Too bad. Pelfrey has had more excuses than wins in the last two seasons. His problems range from the mechanical to the physical to the psychological to the bizarre. Pitching coach Dan Warthen said something about fixing him during Spring Training, but instead he regressed terribly.

When given the Opening Day assignment be Terry Collins, Pelfrey spoke about what it felt like to replace Johan Santana and he said he was up for the challenge and looking forward to it. On Opening Day he folded like a cheap chair. On April 1st he only lasted 4.1 innings against the Marlins allowing five runs, and it got worse from there. Truth be told, if he is still on the team next spring he should not be assured of a rotations spot and he should earn it along with the rest pitchers vying for a spot.

As far as tendering/non-tendering goes, the better question is why didn’t Alderson try and move him last season. Teams take chances on pitchers with potential all the time and if you’re waiting for Pelfrey to boost his value that may never happen while he’s a Met. I could think of a dozen other productive things the Mets could do with $5 million dollars than give it to Pelfrey.

Nov 01

Back in the saddle; Mets aren’t.

Greetings folks.

I just got my power back this morning, but don’t have heat. Some kind of surge during the outage blew out the furnace and they aren’t coming until tomorrow. Shivering here, and not getting any warmer learning about the Mets’ offseason plans.

The difference between the Yankees and Mets surfaced again yesterday with the news the Yankees re-signed GM Brian Cashman and reached an agreement on an extension with pitcher C.C. Sabathia. That’s the agressive, proactive approach.

Meanwhile, Mets’ GM Sandy Alderson announced the fences would be moved in, but their exclusive negotiating rights with Jose Reyes would pass without the franchise making an offer. Alderson said this would be a “slow process.”

As I recently suggested, the Mets will let others define the market for Reyes with the hope the shortstop will find the options limited and he’ll opt to stay home. Cherry picking, they call it, and it worked in the trade for Johan Santana.

With big spenders in the Yankees and Red Sox seemingly out, the Cubs not needing a shortstop and their aim on Albert Pujols or Prince Fielder, and the Dodgers being a mess, the market is thinner than Reyes’ agent, Peter Greenberg, would like.

The Phillies – if they don’t re-sign Jimmy Rollins – San Francisco, the Angels and Washington are also reported as teams that might have an interest in Reyes. That’s a decidedly reactive approach, and further defines the comparison to the Yankees.

The likelihood of the Mets re-signing Reyes seems remote, so this might be their best chance to keep him because they won’t be the highest bidder.

The decision to move in the fences will probably cut down on the triples and increase home runs, and some will read this as an admission, or concession, they will lose their All-Star shortstop.

The decision has more to do with salvaging the contract of Jason Bay and reviving  David Wright’s career, which has shown a significant power decline the past three seasons.

Citi Field was designed for a team built on pitching, defense and speed, but the Mets have not added those kinds of players. At least, not enough of them.

I still believe that’s the most fundamental way to construct a team, but the Mets are a team in financial distress and are hoping an increase in home runs will make the cash registers ring.