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.
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.