What Would You Ask Sandy Alderson?
Last night, I had the opportunity to ask Mets GM Sandy Alderson any question in the world via a blogger conference call. Hmm … the answer to world peace? cure for cancer? what it’ll take to sign Jose Reyes? Nah, I gave him a softball … and it was slightly incoherent, which I’ll blame on asking it while simultaneously fighting rush hour traffic on the Long Island Expressway (a.k.a., “my daily deathtrap”):
Joe Janish (Mets Today): Earlier you touched on the CBA and how the restriction on player development, signing amateur players, the draft, etc. is going to affect your business going forward. How is it going to affect what you already had in place before the CBA came about? In other words, were you surprised by these restrictions, and most people are focusing on the Latin American side of the foreign signings, I’m curious to know if these restrictions are going to prevent you and other teams from looking outside of Latin America and into places like Europe and Asia?
Alderson: Very good question. First of all, I wasn’t surprised by the limitations imposed on both domestic and international scouting and the signing of players because the commissioner had made it a top-line priority for him, and when that happens, when it becomes an important negotiating point, it tends to happen, even if you have to give up something in another area to get it. So I wasn’t surprised. I wasn’t privy to the detail of the mechanism for limiting bonuses in Latin America, for example, and in the United States, but I wasn’t surprised by them.
Interestingly, I think that the changes to the domestic draft are going to cause clubs to rethink their whole approach to the draft. There are a lot of different strategies to follow. Of course you can blow right through the tax if you’d like, but it does create the risk of losing draft picks, which ultimately is more important to teams than the money.
As far as the international draft is concerned, i think the cap on spending over the next several years is going to make it even more important for clubs, not only to scout and evaluate talent, but also to be able to recruit that talent. In a way, it’ll become like college athletics because everybody will have a limited amount of cash and the range of offers is probably going to be narrower than it would have been before, and so a number of things are going to have a greater impact. A number of non-financial things. For example, in Latin America, how good is your academy? How good are your coaches? What kind of educational opportunities are you going to provide the player? What’s the home city like? So I think there are going to be a lot of non-financial issues that come into play. We may be well-positioned to take advantage of that. We’ve got a great complex down there, very well-respected player development staff. Our educational programs have been top-rate; people coming from Latin America, there can’t be too many cities that are more attractive to a Latin American player than New York. So I think that may bode well for us.
Now the last question you had is how does this relate to players in Europe and other places, and I think that’s a very good question and I think this: If you have a limited amount of money to spend, you’re going to spend it in places where you think you have the opportunity for the highest return, and so players from the Dominican Republic or Venezuela are probably going to be more highly valued than players from, well, to use an extreme example, from China or India or Germany, because the likely return on the investment of players in those areas is probably not going to be as high as perhaps in Latin America. So one of the things that I had wanted to see is an exemption, if you will, in certain parts of the world where we’re trying to promote baseball, so that clubs would not have a disincentive to scout and sign those players because it was in the best interest of baseball overall to develop the game in those countries. Frankly, I’m not sure how this works in that regard, but I’m hopeful that eventually there will be some exemptions from these limitations so there can be some incentive for players from these other regions, these non-traditional baseball areas, to play the game and be signed and not simply be an afterthought because there’s not enough money to go around.
Many, many thanks to Amazin’ Avenue for transcribing the entire call — which you can read in its entirety at the Amazin’ Avenue website.
By the way, you might want to also read the transcript of the conference call Alderson held with the professional beat writers earlier in the day. In comparison, we basement dwellers did OK, eh? But then, we have a much more demanding and sophisticated audience to entertain.
Now, if you had the chance, what would YOU ask Sandy Alderson? Post your question the comments.