In 2011 Mets fans were treated to a new concept: making trades in July. Unfortunately, they were sellers, but at least the trades of Francisco Rodriguez and Carlos Beltran appeared to make some sense on the surface — they seemed to be part of some big plan that the front office dream team had in place.
This year, however, the Mets are right back to their usual stance: not buyers, not sellers, not anything — just holding and hoping for the best.
Because spinmeister general Sandy Alderson is the figurehead and mouthpiece of the franchise these days, we Mets fans are supposed to sit back and applaud the inaction. That’s right — the best course of action was no action. The Mets didn’t buy because they’re no longer contenders. They didn’t sell because they need to remain competitive. Wait, what?
You’re forgiven if you’re confused by the doublespeak. Here is the rhetoric, straight from the horse’s mouth:
“If you go back and review the chronology of the last month, you realize things change pretty fast,” Alderson said. “So, in terms of being aggressively buying for 2012, certainly things changed in that period of time and swiftly. At the same time, we continued to look for opportunities to improve the team both this year and in 2013.”
Sure, Sandy, things did move fast. But you and everyone with a passing interest in the Mets knew exactly what flaws were most glaring, even in succcess, as early as late May. Yet no move was made to address those issues. Not one.
Instead of fortifying the team while it was peaking — in essence, rewarding the boys for fighting the good fight — the Mets front office waited for the club to take its inevitable turn toward failure. The way the team was constructed, it was only a matter of time before the swoon occurred. Maybe it happened a little later than expected, but it was certainly expected.
Alderson waited it out, and was rewarded for his patience — the Mets lost 14 of 18 and fell completely out of the playoff race. As a result, Alderson was justified in not making a move come July 31; after all, why deal for a short-term answer when the team is going nowhere?
Of course, the Mets could have made a trade any time before July 31, but Alderson was brilliant in focusing on that date as some kind of target; he made it seem as though trades before that day were impossible.
We know better, because we saw player moves far in advance of the deadline.
What’s most frustrating is that while the Mets admitted to being out of the race, they still weren’t sellers. Granted, there wasn’t much to sell; Frank Francisco and Johan Santana were on the DL, Jason Bay was worthless, Tim Byrdak was slumping, and there weren’t too many other pieces to deal. Except for, of course, Scott Hairston. Hairston was legitimately coveted, in the midst of a career year. The Mets had that rare opportunity to sell high — to get a legitimate top-10 or top-15 prospect for a bench player. How often does that happen?
Alderson passed on that golden opportunity, instead suggesting that the Mets might consider extending Hairston beyond 2012. Really? I thought this Ivy League front office was supposed to be intelligent. The Mets are going nowhere this year, and not going anywhere in 2013, either. Even if they were, why be so compelled to stick with a 32-year-old platoon player who is highly unlikely to repeat his current Ruthian output? Players who peak at this age don’t — as a rule — sustain their performance level (unless they’re on PEDs). See: Torres, Andres.
Instead of selling high on Hairston, the Mets will consider extending him when he’ll never have more value — in other words, they’ll be buying high.
I don’t get it; I was under the impression that the Alderson Administration was supposed to be better, smarter, and more focused than the previous four. But it’s the same old story, same old song and dance.
About the Author
Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers.