Feb 01

What would success be to the 2012 Mets?

On this, the 50th anniversary of the Mets, I am sure they’ll have a better record than their founding fathers, but not have much better odds of success.

The ultimate success is defined by winning the World Series, followed by reaching the playoffs, winning your division, then finishing over .500. Realistically, a lot of things have to break right for the Mets to have a winning season.

But, with all that seemingly out of their reach, what would define a successful season?

I’m narrowing it down to a handful of things:

1) Some resolution, either way, to the Mets’ financial struggles. There’s such a negative feeling permeating this franchise because of the unknown ramifications of the Ponzi scandal. Even a court decision will go through the appeals process, so it won’t happen this summer. But, a little movement one way or another could tell us what direction the franchise is heading. Even if the news is bad, that’s better than not knowing and speculating.

2) A healthy and productive David Wright is important because he’s the face of the franchise and has been a shell of his All-Star self. If the Mets are to rebuild, they’ll need plenty of young pieces and Wright is the only player capable of bringing in that kind of talent.

3) A strain on the Mets are the contracts of Johan Santana and Jason Bay. If they can be healthy and perform even remotely to their potential, perhaps Sandy Alderson can find a taker. He did so with Carlos Beltran and Francisco Rodriguez and their impossible contracts. Maybe he can do it again. Yes, I know we’re talking a long shot here.

4) The Mets have some young talent that offers hope of better days. Jon Niese, Ike Davis, Lucas Duda, Josh Thole and Daniel Murphy aren’t without ability. You can throw Bobby Parnell in with that group, too. Maybe these guys can show us a glimpse of something promising in the future.

5) The Mets desperately need a fast start against the brutal schedule in April and early May to avoid a double-digit deficit before the weather gets warm. If the Mets can play alert, aggressive baseball out of the gate they might draw some people to Citi Field and perhaps curb some of the flood of red ink.

If all of these things happen it won’t guarantee a winning season, much less the playoffs. But, should they happen it might ease the negativity swarming around this franchise and that would be a start.

 

 

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 07

Reyes addresses New York media.

Jose Reyes spoke with members of the Mets’ media this afternoon at the Winter Meetings in Dallas. Here’s a transcript of what he said:

On whether he was surprised that Mets were not more aggressive:

“During the season, you guys know, I always say I want to go back to play there. But they don’t do anything to want me there. So, after that, there’s nothing really I can do. Now, I’m with the Miami Marlins. The Mets don’t do anything to have me. It is what it is, man. This is a business and I have to move on. It’s over. I can’t be crying about that, because they don’t show me anything. They don’t push anything to have me there. Why should I be worried about it if they didn’t want me?”

Do you think they just didn’t want you? Or was it probably their financial situation and not being to afford you?

“You know, I can’t tell you that, because they never talked to me. I don’t know if it was because of the money or they don’t want me there — they want to move on with some other pieces. I don’t know, because they never said anything. Sandy maybe talked with Peter, but they don’t offer anything. They don’t do like real offer. They don’t do anything, really.”

Would you have wanted them to call you more this offseason, show you more love?

“No doubt. They don’t do that. When we almost get close to making a deal with the Marlins, that’s when they called. But they call for nothing because they don’t offer anything. It’s kind of weird. I was confused a little bit. During the season a lot of times Sandy (Alderson) said, ‘We want Jose’ and stuff like that. I expect they’d at least call and say, ‘We’re still working on some things so we’re going to get to you guys.’ That never happened.”

Do you feel badly leaving David Wright behind in what may be a difficult situation to win?

“I don’t want to say I feel bad. They still have some good talent there on the team. I wish all the best to David. I think if he’s healthy this year he’s going to do what he did in the past. I don’t worry about David because he’s a guy who is working hard a lot. I know I’m going to miss him, because I play all my career with him beside me. But it was time for me to move on.”

The hair was to be cut?

“That’s the rule that they have.”

What about making only one postseason appearance with the Mets?

“It is disappointing because you play this game to win. A couple of times we had very good teams over the years and we weren’t able to do anything. I feel sorry from that part because we weren’t able to bring a championship to Queens.”

If the money was similar, would you have picked Mets?

“That’s too late to think about that.”

Are you still going to hear those “Jose, Jose” chants at Citi Field?

“I don’t know, to be honest with you. I don’t know. But, like I say, I show a lot of love to the fans. They show a lot of love to me too and they support me. They know that I’m going to play for another team. So I don’t know how their reaction is going to be. But I’m going to still love them. Whatever it is it is. But I’m going to play for another team now.”

Was it hard to walk away from only team you ever knew?

“I don’t want to say easy, but I’m on another team now. I’m past that place. … It’s never easy, because like I said, I spent all my life playing in New York. So it’s not an easy decision. But what can I do? They didn’t show anything. And Miami, they were there from the beginning for me. With the good plan that they have, I have to make my decision there.”

Several observations on what Reyes had to say:

1) Reyes made it clear he didn’t want to negotiate during the season, but he’s making it sound as if the Mets did nothing. They simply respected his request.

2) He’s right. There’s no reason he should worry about things if the Mets didn’t make a formal offer. Reyes, however, did understand the parameters the Mets were operating from. To say he was oblivious to what the Mets would offer is not accurate.

3) It was uneasy to hear him say, “I show a lot of love to the fans.” Isn’t this is the same guy who pulled himself from the game in the season finale to sit on his batting average? Not much love there.

4) “I’m past that place.” Kind of says it all, doesn’t it?

5) “This is a business and I have to move on.” Truer words were never spoken.

By the way, great line by Sandy Alderson when asked if he should have shown more love to Reyes, said: “If you’re asking me if I should have sent him a box of chocolates, perhaps I should have done that.”

 

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 22

To think the Mets wanted Nathan.

It certainly was eye-opening to read about what the Texas Rangers gave closer Joe Nathan, who is coming off Tommy John surgery. At 37, Nathan will get a two-year deal worth $14.5 million.

Is he worth it?

Apparently he is to the Texas Rangers, who’ll be writing the checks, and that’s all that really matters. If Nathan stays healthy and returns close to form, and Netfali Feliz makes the transition to the rotation, it would be like making two deals.

Feliz is a hard thrower, and in theory moving him to the rotation is similar to what the Mets wanted to do with Bobby Parnell. But, Parnell had his issues, such as an inability to master his secondary pitches and stretches where he loses his command.

I believe it is easier to find a reliable closer than it is a dominant starter, so I would not be adverse to giving Parnell another shot at the rotation if he gets down his secondary pitches, but there’s been no indication he’s heading in that direction.

The most shocking thing about the Nathan signing was the Mets were supposedly injured. There’s no way Sandy Alderson would have approached what the Rangers gave him, and if he believes he had a chance to sign Nathan then he’s underestimated the market.

The Phillies acquired Ty Wiggington for a player to be named later. Surely, the Mets could have matched that price. The Phillies also signed Jonathan Papelbon, who fled the sinking Red Sox. Wiggington won’t off-set the loss of Ryan Howard, but at least the Phillies are doing something.

So are the Nationals, who are talking with Mark Buehrle, and expect to be active this winter. Buehrle could be an effective innings eater, but is completely out of the Mets’ price range.

Reportedly, the Nationals are also interested in Jose Reyes, although there’s been no offter there. Whatever additions the Nationals make, it won’t be enough to catch Philadelphia and Atlanta, but I don’t think that’s the point with them.

Do you remember when Fred Wilpon once said he wanted the Mets to play meaningful games in September?  That’s the point, especially in a front-runner oriented city such as Washington. If the Nationals play interesting ball deep into the summer and are competitive, people will come out to the park and that’s the issue.

Sure, winning would be nice, but winning is also expensive. Just being competitive – good but not too good – is the way to go for most teams because it keeps the interest up.

Detroit and Milwaukee, reportedly, also are interested in Reyes, but there’s nothing hot with either of those teams now. The strongest interest is coming from Miami, but things will get more active at the winter meetings as the new collective bargaining agreement brought no significant changes that would deter free-agent signings and teams making their budgets.