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.

Nov 30

Mets seeking closer.

If the Mets believed Jonathan Broxton’s $4-million contract was too pricey, what makes them think they’ll find anybody proven for much less?

Free agents, like NFL draft choices, get slotted salaries. That Broxton, who was injured, got that much, what will Brad Lidge and Matt Capps want? Frank Francisco and Octavio Dotel remain on the board, but the Mets aren’t exactly stepping up.

I didn’t expect the Mets to be active this winter, but I am wondering more that in waiting for Jose Reyes they are letting the opportunity to fill other holes slip away.

 

Joe Nathan, who had expressed a willingness to play for the Mets, signed last week with Texas. Many options remain, including Brad Lidge, Matt Capps, Frank Francisco and, as MLB.com reported, ex-Met Octavio Dotel, among others.

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.

 

 

Oct 24

Real baseball fans are watching … just not enough of them.

The ratings for this World Series, which has been compelling, are down but should pick up by Game 6, which is a certainty. I’m betting on a Game 7, the game’s ultimate gem.

But, that’s not enough for Maj0r League Baseball because the East Coast giants aren’t involved. With MLB’s penchant for panic and knee jerk reaction, I am beginning to wonder what the response will be.

Tinkering has already done damage to the credibility of the regular season. With interleague play and the unbalanced schedule, not every team runs the same race to October, which had been a constant for nearly a century. I guess 100 years of a good thing is not enough.

Major League Baseball is seriously considering expanding the playoffs to create interest in more cities and to add extra gates. Another round in the postseason turns baseball into the NFL, the NBA and NHL, which rewards mediocrity.

What had been unique to baseball – and valuable to the sport’s identity – was the difficulty in getting to the postseason. Every team facing the same obstacles gave value and integrity to the regular season. That has  been diluted.

It’s now a crapshoot where just about anybody can get in, and this year we have two teams that play the sport correctly, but don’t attract a national audience. What MLB wants is for the playoffs to be expanded, but in the end have the Yankees, Red Sox, Phillies and Dodgers somehow involved.

It doesn’t work that way.

Ratings are down for a variety of reasons, beginning with conflicts from the NFL and college football, and so many other viewer options on cable and satellite. At one time, even when the Series started being played at night, baseball was the popular choice.

It’s not that way anymore.

For years, MLB operated in a fashion to discourage growth from a young fan base by scheduling the playoffs later in primetime and its regular season pricing for tickets. It is more inconvenient for a young fan base – and also for the older fans who long supported the sport – to follow baseball. Those in their 70s and 80s who watched games in Ebbets Field and in dozens of parks that no longer exist, can’t afford tickets and don’t stay up as late. They have been shut out, just like the youth who are choosing other convenient options.

MLB needs to re-evaluate its marketing strategy to get back the fans who long supported the sport and attract its future fan base. Its not enough to get cities to build new stadiums and ride that enthusiasm, because eventually the thrill fades.

As those of us who are watching can see, it is still a remarkable, attractive sport that when played well is a joy to watch. We should savor what we are seeing and not regret those teams that aren’t here.

MLB could start by starting the games an hour earlier as to not shut out the East Coast in the late innings. Start the telecast at 7:00 p.m., with first pitch a half hour later. I’d rather have a small West Coast following in the first two innings than lose the East at the end of the game where memories are made.

In doing so, MLB would sacrifice money in its TV deals now, but it will pay off in the future, and that’s what’s best for the game.