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.

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. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. NormE August 1, 2012 at 7:58 am
    I don’t like to condemn the man without knowing all the facts.
    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?

    • Izzy August 1, 2012 at 8:37 am
      Norm you will never know what was offered. But you do know one thing that is a fact. Relief pitchers that were better than the crap we have were traded for very little. Just look to the Bronx for an example…. Qualls for McGeehe. Another fact, right handed back up catcehrs a supposed big priority for this pathetic GM were traded for virtually nothing. See Giovanny Soto. Fact; The man didn’t buy nor sell anything. Even if he would have gotten virtually nothing for his old outfielders it would have forced Collins to give the future playing time. But no, we stand pat and Bay hairston and Torres block the future from developing. Alderson has not done anything well excpet cutting payroll. He gets an F as GM.
      • Joe Janish August 1, 2012 at 10:46 pm
        I’m with Izzy on this one. At least one facet of Sandy Alderson’s job is to acquire players from outside the organization. If he’s unable to execute that part of his job, then perhaps he needs to step aside and let someone else with better relationships and negotiation skills make the deals.

        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.”

    • 7train August 1, 2012 at 10:48 pm
      Before 2011 this team sold for reasonable prospects only two players that I can recall. Bonilla for Ochoa and Buford and Alomar for Royce Ring (which is a bit of a stretch)

      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?

      • Joe Janish August 2, 2012 at 12:16 am
        Clearly you weren’t visiting MetsToday when the Mets were selling off draft choices (including Rule 5s). Don’t lump this site in with the rest of the Kool-Aid drinking blogosphere.
  2. meticated August 1, 2012 at 9:04 am
    if only Led Zeppelin were playing this songlist live today and not some twenty years ago…ahhhh…six or seven encores…primal and raw… me a rush to even recall the day….Mets, …”not so much”
  3. murph August 1, 2012 at 9:59 am
    The teams at the top are bulking up for the playoffs.
    The teams at the bottom are trading for the future.
    And the mediocre Mets remain in the middle.
  4. MikeT August 1, 2012 at 10:37 am
    Unbelievable. Guys, we have Zack Wheeler spinning 11 Ks in his last AA start and Matt Harvey K-ing 11 in an MLB game and we’re upset our GM did not trade Scott Hairston for Chad Qualls? What could we really have hoped for? Another Chris Carter? The Animal was fun for half a season, but we already have Val Pascucci in AAA. My point is you would not get anything useful for Hairston, and then you’d have to replace his bat with someone not nearly as good. He’s not a star but he is useful and helping this team now, you don’t trade that unless you get a bullpen arm that can help you this year and next, right now, and that was never going to happen.
    • Joe Janish August 1, 2012 at 10:31 pm
      I would take a chance on another Chris Carter in a heartbeat over keeping Hairston for the last two months of the season.

      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.

      • 7train August 1, 2012 at 11:40 pm
        Chris Carter a LH DH who was a couple months away from being removed from Boston’s 40 man roster traded for two first round draft choices.

        Yeah, we need more deals like that one.

        • Joe Janish August 2, 2012 at 12:19 am
          It’s easy being the Monday morning quarterback.

          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.

  5. eric August 1, 2012 at 11:44 am
    I agree. We should have made a trade to fortify the bullpen in late may but once that didnt happen what was the point. They were not being offered top ten or 15 talent for hairston. No way. This team has chemistru and i believe one more run in them. I dont expect to make the playoffs this year but i expect we ll have harvey and wheeler in the rotation next season and the rest of the team pretty in tact. Another year together will benefit everyone. Plus they pretty much got what they were looking for internally. Theu just slumped at the wrong time…
    • HobieLandrith August 1, 2012 at 9:56 pm
      Hey can I borrow your rose-colored glasses this weekend?
  6. Alex August 1, 2012 at 11:46 am
    Please, please stop bashing Sandy Alderson. He has done nothing but amazing for the Mets. They were expected to fail? Really!? You say this now because the Mets have actually failed but at the time (right before the all star break) they were playing extremely well. Is is Alderson’s fault that #5 starter Dillon Gee went down with a blood clot in the shoulder? Was it Alderson’s fault that Kirk, after having a great 2 months, hit a pretty bad slump? Is it Alderson’s fault that Duda, one of the Mets power hitters, stopped producing so much because of his slump? Is it his fault Johan Santana tripped over first base and hurt his ankle?

    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.

    • bca August 1, 2012 at 5:47 pm
      what Alex says makes sense. This Anti-Met artical is pure non-sense. You can only write good stuff when the team wins. unforseen injuries seem to happen a lot these days. No way to see that in advance. Too many negitive met fans. If you think this management doesn’t want to win you’re nuts.
    • Joe Janish August 1, 2012 at 10:38 pm
      “noting but amazing” ?????? Really? Based on what? Any success the Mets enjoyed in the first half was mainly due to all of the players drafted / developed / acquired by the Omar Minaya administration. What “amazing” things has Alderson done? He brought in Hairston, Chris Young, Ramon Ramirez, Ronny Cedeno, Frank Francisco, Miguel Batista, Jon Rauch, and Jeremy Hefner. Hairston has been a pleasant surprise, Francisco is being paid a lot of money to be an average closer, and that’s the nicest thing one can say about that group.

      Please outline the amazingness that has occurred as a result of Sandy Alderson to this point, I’m all ears.

      • 7train August 1, 2012 at 10:58 pm
        Seven years after Minaya was hired we have no OFer’s and no catchers he developed in any level of the minors that figure not to need platoon or defensive help.

        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.

        • Joe Janish August 2, 2012 at 12:26 am
          I didn’t say Minaya did a great job. People commenting here are suggesting that this 2012 team is good and a foundation to build upon, so I’m pointing out that Alderson had nothing to do with those “homegrown” players that make people feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
        • bca August 2, 2012 at 5:20 pm
          Alderson and Company has not really been here all that long so how can you evaluate?? We’ll see how the last two years drafts selections pan out. I like some of the chances they’re taking. Will take another year or two to see what developes. I agree with the point he has not brought in any decent impact players as of yet. I also believe his hands are more tied on that end. I would also love the idea of the Wilpons selling this team. I however don’t see that happening soon enough. But with attendence way down again who knows, may be sooner than we all think.
  7. Dan B August 1, 2012 at 3:46 pm
    Let’s not forget Sandy let Izzy, Capuano, and Reyes leave last year via free agency when he could of traded them. Nobody thinks a Scott Hairston trade would of saved the franchise. We just want signs that there is a plan for the future. Baby steps to the future. Sacrifice short term players for building long term until we are contenders and stop this talk of planning for 80 win seasons.
  8. ovanjye August 1, 2012 at 10:48 pm
    Been a Met fan 43 years, and I hear the same nonsense every year lately, unless you know something I don’t half of this team has no future with the Mets in the next 2 years. Half of the starters are a non entity on this team you have alight hitting catcher,shortstop, leftfielder and no real centerfielder, no relief pitching. So why are you keeping pat? You don’t need wholesale changes, but if you have no real plans for these guy’s rap them around and trade them. They have had enough time in the big leagues, while I’m at this lets get Young out the starting rotation since we have called it a season and give Wheeler a cup of coffe, seems its working for Harvey and put Famalia and Mejia out in the bullpen since we have decided not to challenge for the wildcard. Why are we wasting good experience on useless pithchers and we are glad we made no trades. The Wilpons are a sad case for ownership! Glad we made no trades man we sound just like loser!!!! That is the sad part.
  9. argonbunnies August 2, 2012 at 6:08 am
    Sadly, I’m with you, Joe. Either punt this year for a chance at future improvement, even if it’s Chris Carter slim, or add some short-term talent to supplement your Hairstons and Byrdaks and make 2012 more palatable.

    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.

    • Joe Janish August 2, 2012 at 10:02 pm
      Further to your points … The problem with Alderson’s rationale of putting up a good record is that it is counter-intuitive to rebuilding and actually supports the decades-long Mets cycle of attaching band-aids to teams that seem to be “only one or two pieces away” from contending. If the Mets finish 2012 with a .500 record or better it will give the false illusion and false hope that the team has potential. It doesn’t — there are multiple flaws that can’t be fixed without cleaning house and starting over. The Marlins get it – they rebuild every few years, and cleaning house right now toward finding the right mix. How many more World Championships than the Mets do they have in the past 15 years?
  10. Daniel August 9, 2012 at 10:12 am
    Wow!! All this talk of the Mets being complacent at the trade deadline..

    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..

    • Joe Janish August 9, 2012 at 10:32 am
      Well, unless you consider:

      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.