Sandy Alderson: GM or Caretaker?
So, are the Mets expecting to contend for a playoff spot this year? I can’t fathom why they’d hold on to pieces like Tim Byrdak, Scott Hairston and Chris Young if they thought otherwise. We heard from one source that Sandy Alderson “monitored” the list of available players, while another source claimed he “had his finger on the pulse” of the trade market.
So what is he, a civil war ironclad? Or a physician’s assistant? He certainly isn’t acting like a GM. In actuality, he and his three brainy helpers (DePodesta, Ricco and Ricciardi) seem to be little more than caretakers for the increasingly moribund Wilpon Estate. Managing the day-to-day operations with a petty cash fund appears to be all that they can do (or are entrusted with).
I was not expecting Alderson to spin Byrdak, Hairston or Young into a top prospect, the way he did with the Carlos Beltran for Zack Wheeler deal last year. Nor did I want a swap for AAAA filler that would only clog up 40-man roster spots. I accept the fact that no one wants Jason Bay and I am opposed to moving Daniel Murphy or Ike Davis for middle-inning relief help.
What I was hoping for was a little creativity: a bundle of say Hairston and Young for one or two B/B+ prospects. In this way, something is built from nothing. Hairston, Young and Byrdak all signed as Free Agents and didn’t cost the Mets anything in terms of players or draft picks. By dealing them, Alderson could have added a little fuel to his bargaining power; building depth for the deals he will inevitably have to make to improve the 25-man roster. This may be derided in some circles as “small market philosophy,” because the Kansas City Royals do it, but it has also been effective in building winning teams in places like Minnesota, Oakland, San Francisco and Washington. You may recall circa 1998-2000 and Steve Phillips being unable to acquire either Pedro Martinez or Curt Schilling, mainly because he had already drained the cupboard bare in acquiring Al Leiter and Mike Piazza and didn’t have the equivalent of an a Carl Pavano or an Omar Daal left in prospects that Boston and Arizona respectively, had to offer.
Then there is the entertainment factor. Player moves are an important part of baseball’s appeal. Fans eat up trades and rumors of trades. Trade talk sells papers and builds traffic on websites. To stand pat during the trade deadline while your team is floundering only serves to further diminish the allure of your product. This comes after a winter of inactivity and the very likely prospect of another uneventful off-season ahead. Teams can get a lot of mileage out of deals and not just in terms of player production. Trades generate some free publicity and (sometimes) improved ticket sales. A move or two would have served as a gesture of goodwill to a discouraged and frustrated fan base that the front office feels the same way and is finally willing to do more than just talk about it. For a team having a poor season like the Mets are, the July trade deadline deals can offer a topic-changer and possibly keeps them from dropping entirely off the radar screen after football camps open.
Instead, the club is clinging stubbornly to the status quo: the final third of the 2012 Mets’ season will be done playing out the string with a mixture of semi-prospects trying to establish themselves as Major Leaguers, a few star players looking for an exit and some marginal veterans as roster filler. Meanwhile they will continue to talk out of both sides of their mouths. Yes we are building for the future and no; we aren’t giving up on this season. So please buy tickets and merchandise. In reality they aren’t doing much of either. (But they do want you to spend your money). If they planned on contending, why didn’t they add a piece or two? If they are playing for 2013 and beyond, why not move some vets for chips?
This has become distressingly familiar ground for us. I had hoped that the arrival of Alderson and his associates meant the dawn of a new age for the Mets. Instead, it’s Meet the New Boss, Same as the Old Boss…
In Alderson’s defense, I suspect that nobody wanted what the Mets have to offer (Young, Byrdak, Bay), or offered too little (Hairston, Murphy).
However, the bottom line is that they did nothing to improve the team either this year or for 2013.
I was relieved that the Mets didn’t consider themselves buyers at the trading deadline. I was not concerned that Sandy would jettison Kazmir/Isringhausen type talent for a short term benefit, but it was nice to know the issue was foreclosed by the teams lackluster performance over the past 3 weeks.
However, I agree that he could have bundled someone such as Chris Young with, say, Familia &/or Mejia for a team with pitching needs that has a legitimate catching or outfield prospect . Just as an example, and I have not checked on the stats of these prospects, but I would have like to have seen us make a move on the Blue Jays Nick Marisnick or Giants Gary Brown. It would’ve been kind of amusing had we moved Hairston to the Giants for Brown when the former’s trade value had just peaked.
On the other hand, it is difficult to know precisely the variables that affected Sandy at the trade deadline, not the least of which is the Wilpon agenda.
In all, I’m glad Sandy didn’t do something stupid, but it would’ve been great had he done something smart.
Alderson has had his questionable actions and statements as Mets GM, but in this instance I must agree with his actions and statements 100%. The team went into freefall, mostly driven by a collapse of Santana, Dickey coming back to earth, the offense declining, and some blown saves. In reality, he could only have addressed the blown saves, and the price vs. return was too high. I agree with him that, even though this is NY, it is very important for the Mets to finish strong and exceed .500, even if it is merely to secure 3rd place in the NL East. This is possible, and a “mini-run” is still possible if FF and Santana return and contribute. They do not need another A ball longshot prospect, they have these guys already. Hairston quite possibly could be a bench piece next year. Wins, performance, and finishing for the remaining games matter greatly to the franchise and the plans for 2013.
It was as if Alderson was waiting for the team to fail, so he would be justified in not making a move.
With the Fish and Phils waving the white flag, the Mets are guaranteed a 3rd-place finish. They’d have to field 8 players every game to screw that up.
Agreed and early July acquisition of a quality bullpen arm could have reduced the slide.
Agreed that I am skeptical about the Mets’ and Alderson’s continuation of double speak – see Reyes offer, Harvey being ready, deadline buyers, etc.
Agreed it is another disappointing year and disappointing trade dealing.
What I am saying is that this comes down to knowing what was actually offered to Alderson, and since we don;t, trusting his statements about the market. I don’t think it was worth trading Hairston for a 10 thru 15 prospect because IMHO I think it is important for this franchise to have a winning record this year as a way to display some improvement and upward trajectory to its fans, potential FAs, and DW, if they intend on keeping him, and that has more value that a #16 prospect on the Met depth charts. Could be wrong, but either way this is peripheral to the real deal, how much $$$ they will spend on the 2013 team, as there are way too many holes to fill from within or with a $90 mil payroll.
I agree with doing something while they were doing well but at what cost? The only pieces i would have dealt would have been a Hairsten, Young, and even a Murphy. Not any of their top farm talent. No way. Plus was there anything out there? I don’t think so at a reasonble price. These other clown GM’s just wanted to take advantage of the Mets. There were no good deals to be had.
The one thing I don’t get is why Alderson did NOTHING as far as relief goes, even something symbolic would have helped the morale and probably saved a game or two from the collapse, leaving the team in better position to finish close to the Wild Card.
I am NOT buying this buyer vs. seller claptrap though. It’s not that simple. Doing nothing is also an option if you think your team might be ready next season to really be in it.
In 2005 they finished above .500 and it set up a successful 2006. I don’t see why you would think building a habit success is a bad thing.
Something similar happened in Florida — in both Tampa and Miami.
The important thing is building for next year and beyond, so I agree that Hairston should have been traded as a rent-a-player. Dan’s correct, and the same about Young and Byrdak.
Heck, you could include Cedeno, Torres, Rauch and just about every other suspect over thirty, though you might not get too many takers.
The other point I want to make is that this year is more akin to 1972/1984/1998/2005 Mets teams than other years where the team does not make the playoffs. These teams were all on the verge of something. At the very least, this team should strive to be that. As in 1884, they did not make it all the way the following year, but the team was clearly on to something. I think if the Mets finish in 3rd and are at .500 +/- 1 win we should be very optimistic and consider the year a success. If they made the mistake of 2004 and trade a useful piece in the wrong year, then none of this is worth it.
Simply stated: Sandy did not get the right deal, and he’s smart enough to recognize that. Trades for the sake of trades is asinine and irresponsible.
On the field, the Mets have David Wright, Ike Davis, and Ruben Tejada, and 5 question marks. On the mound, they have maybe 3 or 4 arms that can be counted on to fill a role in 2013. That leaves a LOT of fixing / wishing / hoping.
I have a question. I am a physician associate/assistant (PA).
What did you mean by the comment. Don’t be defensive, I’d like the truth. I know our profession has a PR problem and I’d honestly like to know what you meant. The national PA association says all is OK and many of us do not agree, so what was the reference to?
Sorry no offense meant. My wife had brain anyeurysm surgery (successful) this winter and I have gained a new appreciation for the entire medical profession. Keep up the good work.
I felt that the comment about Sandy having his finger on the pulse of the trade market was ridiculous and sounded very dated. That’s why the PA and the civil war ironclad (google the word “monitor”) comments.