The Song Remains the Same
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.
What was the marketplace for Hairston? I would have been happy with some minor league talent that might help us with one of our holes (outfield, catcher, bp etc.). But, what was he offered?
The other question that I have and no one seems able to answer is: What role are the Wilpons and their budget playing in this mess?
If a chef can’t find anything at the docks for the fish of the day, then he moves on to the butcher — he can’t just go back to the restaurant and serve yesterday’s cheese. There’s always something available, somewhere, and when your team / restaurant / business needs something, it’s someone’s job to go out and get it.
Absolutely amazing that Omar Minaya was crucified this time every year for standing pat, but this year, because it’s Sandy Alderson, it’s suddenly “the smart move.”
Every other deal ever made was all about cashing out on another losing season to recoup some of the money spent at ticket selling time. Last year their was an uproar about the K-Rod, Beltran sell off and this year an uproar about not selling Hairston.
Even selling draft choices didn’t elicit so much as a raised eyebrow but the missed opportunity to add the 5th best player on the Tigers Sally League team is worth all this angst?
The teams at the bottom are trading for the future.
And the mediocre Mets remain in the middle.
Carter didn’t work out but every once in a while a late bloomer does work out — i.e., Travis Hafner, Carlos Pena, Nelson Cruz. Hairston is never going to repeat what he’s doing this year, and again, even if he did, it’s not going to do anything toward helping the Mets win in 2013. The Mets need to stockpile as much youthful talent as possible right now if they hope to compete at some point in the next 2-3 years.
Yeah, we need more deals like that one.
That specific deal was awful, and we discussed that in detail here when and after it happened. But the point is, YES, I’d much rather take a flyer on a AAAA player still in his 20s and hope he might “find it,” rather than watch Hairston hit solo homers in August and September before moving on to someone else’s bench over the winter.
Please, the ONLY hole the Mets have is the bullpen. Matt Harvey has pitched 2 games so far, and has been nothing but brilliant: a solid #4 starter for the rest of the year. Dan Wheeler is knocking on the door, and will be on the Mets in 2013. Well, now the starting rotation is out of the question for Alderson to have addressed. The starting lineup: Thole, Davis, Tejada, Wright, Bay (unfortunately), Duda (after he comes out of his slump), and Torres/Kirk will be here next year. Expect similar results. As for Murphy, while I love the man, I understand that the Mets need a better defensive 2b but I’d love to keep the man.
Now, after all this, please tell me where (other than the bullpen) do the Mets need help? They have terrific prospects in Wheeler, Meijia, Flores, and Nimmo (2-3 years away) that will continuosly provide the major league club with talent for years.
Please outline the amazingness that has occurred as a result of Sandy Alderson to this point, I’m all ears.
Santana was a big money deal, Dickey AAA fodder. Tejada, Niese and Gee are decent young players, where are the rest of them? All he got us was LH DH’s, Castillo, Perez and Bay.
Alderson’s rationale for keeping Hairston — that the team would be more competitive and leave a better impression with fans going into 2013 — is 100% at odds with not spending cash on some reliever in June or early July.
You leave a good impression by avoiding a 13-game losing streak that drops you from contention, and you do this by acquiring virtually any competent reliever to stave off the utter debacle of that stretch. Our ‘pen turned 6 of those 13 games from wins into losses; save even half of those, and the team never falls below .500 nor loses sight of the 2nd wild card.
Yeah, we’re probably not making the playoffs regardless, but a season where you fall out of contention in late August leaves a better impression than one where you tank in mid July. I do still expect some stretches of success from this team in 2012, but not enough to rekindle playoff hopes.
Lets’ face facts…
Sandy has a plan in mind. He understands how to build a team. It is not his fault, that
1) the bullpen bombed,
2) injuries to Santana, Pelfrey, and Gee, Francisco
3) Duda, Kirk have been in slumps and cant lay off certain pitches,
4) Ike Davis swinging at curveballs down in the dirt,
5) They can’t field on the road
Sandy doesnt play the game. His players are struggling right now. The bullpen has lost 21 games. Take 11 off that and wham we are in the pennant race. But, lets not forget, the season isn’t over. Anything can happen..
1) Sandy built the bullpen
2) Injuries happen to every team, and Sandy didn’t plan for them with enough depth. Also, the Mets were close to releasing Pelfrey, and they went into 2012 not expecting much from Johan. Considering those two factors, the Mets’ starting pitching depth was woefully thin.
3) The struggles of Duda and Kirk are insignificant compared to other glaring holes and flaws on the roster.
4) The Mets played fairly well when Ike was struggling. He’s now doing what’s expected, and it’s not helping.
5) They can’t field, period.It was Sandy’s decision to put below-average defenders such as Murphy, Thole, Duda, and others on the field.