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.

Nov 19

Just thinking ….

Several things going on with the Mets, but nothing of imminence about to happen. Thought I’d throw out these thoughts to you:

* If Jose Reyes is that deep into talks with the Marlins, then it stands to reason Miami’s key player – Hanley Ramirez – is on board with it and the idea of moving to third base. The Marlins would be stupid to alienate their best player by going after somebody who plays the same position without running the idea past him. To think otherwise would be naive.

* Sandy Alderson came out of the GM meetings in Milwaukee saying Daniel Murphy was available. If the Mets are willing to listen to offers for David Wright, then it is logical to think so is everybody else. Murphy has shown in his limited window an ability to hit for average and get on base, but he’s also demonstrated a propensity for getting hurt and an inability to play a position. Murphy might go as part of a package, but seriously, do you see any team calling the Mets and saying, “we have to have Murphy,” so what will it take? Plus, coming off an injury, who will bite on that without knowing if he can play? Murphy will be with the Mets in spring training.

* Work has already begun on moving in the fences, which I think is a gimmick move that will eventually back fire. The Mets didn’t win at home last year, so the thinking has to be to come out and at least watch them hit more home runs. Trouble is, with the Mets’ suspect pitching, so will the opposition. So, what the Mets might add in terms of run production, they will give up as many, if not more. And, I don’t care about Wright’s ego. He shouldn’t be thinking about home runs anyway, but concentrating on striking out less and getting on base more.

* Did you see where Anna Benson will be on a show “Baseball Wives?” More classy programming. Unless she’s in a bikini, or less, it is Must Miss TV.

 

 

 

Nov 18

Could Pelfrey make it out of the bullpen?

General manager Sandy Alderson earmarked getting a closer and improving the bullpen as his top priorities. Given that, why not consider erratic starter Mike Pelfrey in the closer role?

PELFREY: Could a change of roles erase that perplexed look from his face?

A switch in roles proved to be career boosts for Dave Righetti and Dennis Eckersley, and it could be worth exploring for Pelfrey, who has not developed into the consistent starter the Mets hoped.

The main thing that has derailed Pelfrey as a starter – losing focus – could be sharpened coming out of the pen because of the shortness of the appearance. Having the game on the line and only one inning to work with could be the vehicle that hones his concentration.

Pelfrey can cruise for four innings, then unravel in the fifth. As a closer, theoretically he would face only three hitters with the game in the balance. It is worth finding out if such pressure could jumpstart him.

Will it work? I don’t know, but it is something to consider because his starting career has been spotty with little signs of him developing into a consistent winner. Seriously, after watching Pelfrey so far in his career, who is convinced he’ll be a late bloomer? At 50-54 lifetime, it is time to ask what’s not working for the guy.

Reportedly, the Mets already talked to teams about him, an indication of their frustration and unhappiness. If you’re contemplating that, why not give this a shot first?

Yes, it would create a void in the rotation, but don’t you think they could easily pick up another starter with Pelfrey’s numbers, if not better? What do they have to lose?

 

Nov 05

Will there ever be a new culture?

We heard a lot about the Mets’ culture changing when Sandy Alderson was hired as GM and Terry Collins as manager. The atmosphere changed t0 a degree, but the Mets’ talent level remained roughly the same with once again, the pitching faltered and took the team down with it.

Looking back on the season there were three significant story lines outside of the newness of the front office and manager. The first half when the Mets found themselves over .500, the swirling question was whether, or when, they would deal Carlos Beltran and Francisco Rodriguez.

When the pitching went south it was about the thinness of the rotation and weak bullpen, highlighted by not having a closer, who was in Milwaukee because the team feared Rodriguez’s option.

The season was played against the backdrop of the Mets not being able to re-sign Jose Reyes because they wouldn’t want to – or don’t have – the resources to retain the All-Star shortstop.

All three were about money and the Wilpon’s legal and financial troubles because of the Madoff Ponzi scandal. The Wilpons received positive news in the courts that would reduce the damages, but those damages would still be significant. And, it doesn’t help that the team has a $25 million debt to Major League Baseball.

You can change the manager, general manager and upper management and that could change the culture somewhat, but real change begins with ownership and that hasn’t changed. With the budget always an overriding issue, we can never expect things to really change and Mets being an elite franchise.