Jan 25

Alderson Takes Jab At Flores

Sandy Alderson thinks he’s funny, but he’s not. He once joked about driving to spring training to save money for the financially distressed Mets.

He joked about not putting together an outfield, and now took a poke at the shortstop situation and Wilmer Flores.

On Saturday night at the annual Baseball Writers Association dinner in New York, when presenting an award to Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr., Alderson reportedly said: “Mets fans have been waiting all winter for me to introduce a shortstop.’’

Yes, there’s a touch of humor there, but why take a jab at one of your players for a cheap laugh? How do you think Flores feels? It’s bad enough he has to go through every shortstop rumor, but now is the butt of joke by his boss.

When Alderson says things like this, he’s not only poking fun at Flores, but the Mets’ organization – his employers – and himself. Indirectly, he’s also poking fun at Mets fans, dismissing their feelings and opinions.

 

Jan 09

Pedro Martinez Compares Mets Fans to Yankees Fans

It wasn’t a shot at the Mets as much as it was an assessment as to how things really are between the Mets and Yankees in New York.

Pedro Martinez pitching for the Mets was a big deal, but him starting against the Yankees while with the Red Sox was an event.

“Coming over to the Mets really got me to understand the New York fans and fan base,’’ Martinez said. “I would say Queens is a little bit different than the Yankees fans. In Queens, they’re wild, they’re happy. They settle for what they have. The Yankees fans do not. It’s `Win or nothing. Win or nothing.’ ’’

He’s right. There’s a sense of entitlement from Yankees fans. Mets fans take was ownership gives them.

Martinez won 15 games his first season with the Mets in 2005, but injuries sapped his following years with New York. In 2009 he pitched against the Yankees in the World Series while with Philadelphia.

“I learned a lot while coming over to New York as a visitor with the Red Sox and also coming later on and dressing in the uniform of the Mets,’’ said Martinez. “Yankees fans were really good at trying to intimate you as a Red Sock when you came over.

“As the opposition, they wanted to intimidate you. But deep in their heart, they appreciate baseball. They appreciate everything that you do. They recognize greatness.

“And they’re gonna boo you and they’re gonna call you, ‘Who’s your daddy?’ They’re going to chant until you just go away.’’

The operative word in all that is “settle,’’ and he’s right. For the longest time Mets fans were forced to settle, to accept what ownership and management gave them.

And, it hasn’t always been good.

Jan 04

Citi Field Expensive; Mets Must Groom Future Fans

Eventually, the shine comes off newest houses, which is something the Mets are learning about Citi Field, which has never been the home the franchise had hoped.

Citi Field hasn’t given the Mets a home-field advantage both on the field and in the stands, with attendance gradually declining since it opened in 2009 at 38,941 per game.

Last season, the Mets drew 26,528, as they learned what the Blue Jays, White Sox and Orioles – teams that made up the first wave of the new stadium construction – found out. They’ll come if you build it, but they won’t come again if you don’t win.

They also learned that in Texas, Houston and Cleveland.

Fans are willing to pay for the novelty of a new stadium, but the real attraction is the product on the field, and in that regard the Mets have been a disappointment.

I started thinking of this after reading a report from sports marketing publisher Team Marketing Report, which noted the Fan Cost Index increased 2.3 percent last year to $212.46, with Citi Field the seventh most expensive at $229.68.

The index measures the cost of this odd shopping list: four average-priced tickets, two small draft beers, four small soft drinks, four (regular-sized) hot dogs, parking for one car, two programs and the two least expensive hats.

Baseball used to call itself “a bargain in comparison to other professional sports,’’ and it used to be true. Nothing is inexpensive anymore, including going to the movies.

Of course, a stadium in New York figures to be expensive (the Yankees are second at $337.20 and Fenway Park is an astronomical $350.78), and you can knock that price down by going on bargain nights, skipping the programs and hats.

However, the Mets don’t make it easy for the fan. For example, it would be nice if the Mets allowed you to bring your own food into the ballpark, but I don’t know of any team that allows it.

I understand the economics of it – the same principles explain player contracts – but the costs of the going to a baseball game is something the keepers of the sport should be more aware of in developing its future fan base.

Attendance has been up in recent years, but much of this can be attributed to new stadium construction, built for the large part with taxpayer funding.

However, the gravy train can’t last forever and the Mets must be aware of grooming the next generation of fans – and ticket buyers.

Nov 18

Alderson Defends Moving In Fences

We knew the New York Mets were moving in the fences. This afternoon we learned by how much. Common sense dictates moving in the fences benefits the hitters more than the pitchers, but speaking like any politician you’ve ever heard, GM Sandy Alderson says that’s not the case.

“These modifications are a refinement of previous changes made to the Citi Field fences and continue to be fair to both pitchers and hitters,’’ Alderson said. “A lot of analysis went into this decision. We believe these modifications will increase the number of home runs without adversely affecting our pitchers.’’

Of course, that’s impossible.

In its first three seasons, Citi Field measured 415 feet at its deepest point in right-center. In the last three years the wall was 390 feet. It will now be 380 feet.

Had the Mets played with these dimensions last season, they would have hit an additional 17 home runs while the opposition would have hit 10 more.

It is impossible to project those numbers because it doesn’t into account: 1) wind conditions, and 2) the game situation, which would dictate how hitters are pitched.

Making such a declaration means every fly ball hit last year at Citi Field would have to be analyzed, and quite frankly I don’t believe that was done.

Alderson said the goals in moving in the fences were two-fold: 1) making the more Mets more competitive at home, and 2) increasing offense, which he says increases the entertainment value of the Citi Field experience.

Then again, if the altered fences make the Mets more competitive, it stands to reason the opponents would also benefit. And, it’s not guaranteed the Mets will score most of those additional runs.

The Mets were out-homered by the opposition 71-59 last year at Citi Field. That’s 12 more. Now, if the Mets would have hit 17 more, that’s only a net of five more home runs. That’s less than one a month.

The bottom line is there’s no guarantee the both teams would benefit equally to the fences being moved in. However, one can only surmise if the opposition was 12 homers better than the Mets last season, they enter this year 12 homers better.

Also not being taken into consideration is that the Mets are building their team on young pitching. Why make things harder for them?

Nov 16

Murphy Staying; Could Be Last Season With Mets

One of the more interesting nuggets coming out of the GM meetings last week was Sandy Alderson’s statement the New York Mets aren’t interested in working on a contract extension with second baseman Daniel Murphy.

Alderson also said the Mets would be reluctant to trade Murphy. While both points are contradictory, they also make sense.

It is estimated Murphy will make $8.1 million this season in his walk year, a relatively high sum for a contact hitter with little power and only an average defender. Just how much is that worth?

Also, the Mets finished below .500 for the sixth straight season with Murphy. They can surely finish below .500 without him.

Alderson’s reasoning in avoiding the extension is unknowns Dilson Herrera and Wilmer Flores.  If either shows capable of playing second, especially Flores if a shortstop can be obtained, then Murphy would be an expensive third wheel and they’ll let him walk after next season.

As far as putting Murphy on the block, the Mets are pointing toward this season as one in which they’ll be competitive so they’ll to keep him, especially if Flores and/or Herrera don’t pan out or there is an injury.

It translates to at least one more season in Flushing for Murphy.