Sandy Alderson On the Defensive

From Adam Rubin on ESPN-NY:

Alderson expressed surprise the direction of the call turned to why the Mets did not sell instead of why they were not buyers. Asked by about there arguably being little value in increasing the 2012 win total of a non-playoff team, Alderson said:

“Well, maybe you’re not a Mets fan, Adam. Or you’re not a Mets employee. Or you’re not a Mets observer. You’re certainly a Mets reporter. It’s not clear to me you have the same mindset as all the other constituencies that relate to the Mets. It’s a good question, but if we’re just going to get marginal talent, and I’m talking about let’s say maybe not even top-30 prospect status in an organization, then we have a choice to make.”

He said he had dialogue with at least three AL teams about Scott Hairston, but it was more valuable to keep the 2012 team competitive than have only an incremental help to the farm system in acquiring a Class A prospect. Alderson added that while he has not had any contract extension talks with Hairston, that likely will be at least broached in August.

“Without getting significant help for 2013, we were not going to move players simply to move them,” Alderson said. “We were not looking for some small, incremental improvement to the overall player-development situation. If we were going to get a quality player, then we would strongly consider doing something as a ‘seller.’ But absent a strong effort by another club, we weren’t simply going to make a move just to make a move. We didn’t need to dump salary. And we were not interested in the types of prospects that were offered to us and would have had a very marginal impact on our system.

“Right now, he’s a very important part of our team,” Alderson continued, referring to Hairston. “And we do feel it’s important to field as strong a team as we reasonably can for the rest of the season. We haven’t given up on the season. We didn’t move players off the team for a reason. We think we still have lots of good baseball in front of us. And Scott can be part of that. If you look historically at what bench players, platoon players can bring to a team that moves that kind of player at the deadline, it’s not always a great return. …

“I think there’s a lot of value in, for example, making a run, even if it’s unrealistic. I think there’s a lot of value, for example, in finishing well over .500. I think there’s a lot of value in finishing over .500. I think those things create a perception. What happened or didn’t happen on the deadline may be largely forgotten if a team is able to create a positive impression the second half of the season.

“I thought we would talk on this call about the fact that we didn’t add anything. And now we’re talking about why we didn’t subtract, which is interesting to me. As I said, we’re about changing impressions, changing perceptions. And you do that with wins and losses, primarily. I understand our fans are disappointed with what’s happened the last three weeks or so, but it’s not the end of the season. And there are a lot of impressions to be made over the remaining two months. I happen to think those impressions can be more valuable than a low-A prospect, below the top 30, from some organization in the American League.”

Whoa. Defensive much? Condescending much?

I have to wonder, is Sandy Alderson frustrated because other teams wouldn’t work with him, or is there something deeper going on? This psychobabble sounds eerily similar to assertions that “the Mets will play meaningful games in September.”

Is it possible that Alderson has less power than we’d like to believe? Might Alderson be hamstrung by someone above him — an issue every Mets GM has experienced since Nelson Doubleday was forced out of ownership?

What’s your thought? Am I reading too much into this? Jumping to conclusions? Or is there enough tension here to suggest that not all is peachy on the upper floors of Citi Field’s offices?

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. Jed August 1, 2012 at 12:06 pm
    Sandy is probably frustrated by the lack of financial support from the meta ownership. It appears to me that these owners want to keep enough players on this team to sell enough tickets to get by. It’s only about money. If you traded Murphy and Harriston like you should have then the disgruntled fans would stop coming thus creating more financial strain for ownership. If I’m David I walk. These people don’t care about winning. Remember it’s a “family business”
  2. MikeT August 1, 2012 at 12:29 pm
    Actually I think he is frustrated (if he is frustrated at all, mind you, since we are just taking the word of Rubin and inferring our own intonations in Sandy’s responses) with the coverage and criticisms of the Mets lacks of moves. In his mind, the idea of being only a buyer and only a seller is too simplistic. He’s in the business of building a sustainable winner. Just trading Major League assets for minor league junk is not good practice for a winner. Team can be neither sellers nor buyers at the deadline, and still be making the right call. But that is boring, and the NY media refuses to accept boring. Smart, great, stupid, even better, but heaven forbid you are boring.
    • 7train August 1, 2012 at 10:02 pm
      I think there is value in walking away from deals that shows up the next time around and Alderson was wise to draw the line.

      Let’s face it the next 8 weeks could be pretty ugly if we subtracted out Hairston’s bat against LHP so the return would have had to be worth the moaning, whining and groaning that would have accompanied a 15-35 finish.

      For all we know Rubin may have been inserting his opinion that we should have sold (after not being privy to the discussions) into the question for a couple of reasons. He feels we should have or he wants a ready made story to write about and now only has “The Mets did nothing” after yakking about the deadline for 3 weeks.

      This Organization has put public perception in front of many things including intelligent baseball decisions for 20+ years and I’m glad Alderson stepped on Rubin’s toe. The days of being scared of the media in the Mets FO are over. There is only one priority and that is building a year in and year out threat to win the World Series.

      Reporters should gather and then report the facts and then provide opinion, not have one while gathering the details.

  3. boldib August 1, 2012 at 12:29 pm
    Huh? Do you really read that into Alderson’s words or is this social media stirring the pot to get a reaction?

    Clearly, Alderson is simply stating that the Mets were not sellers because the offers sucked. Had they not sucked
    he might well have made some moves.

    The Mets blogosphere seems to be getting itself caught up in subplots and imaged duplicity from Alderson. I, for one, see Alderson just doing what he was hired to do. Play it as straight as he can with the press and try to put together a decent baseball team.

    • Joe Janish August 1, 2012 at 10:05 pm
      I can’t wait to see this decent baseball team you describe. Is it coming in 2013?
    • Jim Flaherty August 1, 2012 at 11:53 pm
      Spot on. I loved Sandy’s reply to Rubin. It was perfect.

      You’re not going to totally trash this year & maybe finish last in the division instead of third for marginal minor league talent. Rubin’s question implied sort of a knee-jerk all-or-nothing mindset on his part.

      • Joe Janish August 2, 2012 at 12:02 am
        “You’re not going to totally trash this year & maybe finish last in the division instead of third for marginal minor league talent.”

        Why not? It makes sense for the Phillies and Marlins but not the Mets? Aren’t the Mets in their current perpetual cycle of mediocrity because they never fully commit to rebuilding?

  4. Jed August 1, 2012 at 12:36 pm
    I believe sandy had our best interests in mind and is a very smart and talented man who if left alonr would only make great sound choices. My feeling( and that’s all it is since I know nothing for sure) is that mets ownership does not have the fans best interest in mind.
    • boldib August 1, 2012 at 1:27 pm
      Whatever you feel about the Wilpons, I don’t buy it about ownership not having the fan’s best interest in mind. It’s a for profit organization and if they don’t put bodies in the stands or generate the TV revenue they lose fortunes. The fan is everything – has to be. There’s not much else.
      It’s a mess right now, but it’s getting better, slowly.
      • Joe Janish August 1, 2012 at 10:18 pm
        Jed, I’m glad you enjoy this year’s version of the Flushing Kool-Aid. Is the taste more like cherry or grape this year?

        Boldib – agreed, this is a business and the Wilpons have to put fannies in the seats. Part of that marketing push is “making changes for the sake of change,” which Alderson insisted he would NOT do. Why not, Sandy? Making a move — even a small one — helps create interest in the team, and helps prevent people from moving their attention to the Jets and Giants. If it’s really true that every trade offer “sucked,” then at the very least, they could have swallowed the rest of Jason Bay’s contract and released him outright. Doing absolutely nothing gives the appearance that you’re, well, doing absolutely nothing.

        • MikeT August 2, 2012 at 9:41 am
          That Jason Bay move you alluded to is coming, and fast. I feel like some of us “get” what is going on and others are still trying to figure it out. I can clearly see the plan and I’m all for it, while others struggle with motivations and try to read between the lines. Fact is, the Mets have more problems right now than what to do with Scott Hairston. The Bay situation needs to be resolved, and my feeling is that we have another Oliver Perez scenario approaching. Last year of his deal is next year, and the likely path is to try to move him while paying his salary. Since he is not likely to return anything, if the Mets can get a Gary Mathews type deal done in the off season that would be ideal. Have a team pay just what Bay would be worth on a one year deal and give the Mets some kind of relief on his contract. If that does not happen then outright release will happen before the end of spring training.
    • 7train August 1, 2012 at 10:36 pm
      There has been much more discussion about the implications of not trading Scott Hairston then there ever was about the Mets selling 1st round draft choices to avoid having to pay signing bonuses to draftees.

      2009 we sold two draft choices in the Wagner deal for Chris Carter and 2010 we sold the supplemental pick that Rod Barajas would have left behind to the Dodgers for cash.

      Those three picks combined would have been substantially more than anything the Tigers have in their top 30 but not a word about that.

      • Joe Janish August 2, 2012 at 12:05 am
        If you visited MetsToday over the past five years you would know there was plenty of discussion “about that.”

        We know now that those sales were made because of the Madoff situation and the Mets going broke. What is the excuse now?

        BTW where is this Tigers #30 prospect talk coming from? I haven’t seen it anywhere.

  5. Tony August 1, 2012 at 12:50 pm
    I honestly don’t know what to think. Everyone knew the major issue with this club was the bullpen. On top of that whatever illusions everyone had; did anyone think Santana was going to start 32 games with 180+ innings??? Adding to that the black hole in left created by Jason Bay. Play him, platoon him, sit him. Doesn’t matter, he’s done & there wasn’t anyone left to put anything close to the numbers he should’ve been putting up. They were competing despite some whacky stuff going on with this club. But it all came down to one thing. This bullpen flat out sucks. How many have they blown along with getting hammered making comebacks impossible. They needed to fix that at least 1.5 months ago. Santana getting shut down for a bit wasn’t surprising. I expected 20 – 25 starts from him. Personally I thought Dillon Gee would’ve made for interesting trade bait before he got hurt. I’m glad they didn’t trade Hairston especially if what Alderson said was true. But at this point I don’t trust anything he or those jokes (Wilpons) say. Oh & I would offer Wright the world for him to stay.
    • 7train August 1, 2012 at 10:13 pm
      The bull pen has been killed by the defense, just killed by it.

      Double plays not turned, fly balls that drop in, passed balls, missed cutoffs, fly balls that hit people in the legs and that’s not even counting the charged errors. It’s a complete joke.

      The bullpen adds a full run to their ERA just by signing or remaining here.

  6. Andy August 1, 2012 at 2:09 pm
    If all you can get for Hairston is a #30 prospect then I agree don’t trade him. But if you could have traded Hairston + Murphy for a prospect from somebody’s top 5 then I think you should do that . . .
  7. DaveSchneck August 1, 2012 at 2:37 pm
    This is a bit repetitive, but cutting through the Ivy League vocab I think Boldib said it best – they weren’t sellers (or buyers) because the offers sucked. That is tough to take as Met fans coming off years of Jeff Wilpon nonsense and another 2nd half swoon, but it is most likely accurate regarding the current trade deadline.
    • Joe Janish August 1, 2012 at 10:11 pm
      I find it hard to believe that the offers “sucked” based on all the movement over the past month. Nearly every other team in baseball made a move of some sort, except the Mets and maybe the Rays. (Oh, excuse me, the Mets did sell Omar Quintanilla to the Orioles.)

      The Mets have not yet moved to Kansas City or Des Moines. As long as they are in New York, they have to at least give the appearance of forward movement if they wish to keep the fan base interested. They’ve been selling this “plan for the future” PR campaign for nearly two years, and every once in a while it’s necessary to do SOMETHING to give fans a reason to keep the faith. Holding on to aging never-wases such as Bay, Torres, Hairston, Byrdak, etc. is not the way to communicate it.

      • 7train August 1, 2012 at 10:24 pm
        You would have to pay someone to get rid of Bay, Torres and Byrdek.

        Hairston might have brought a small piece.

        I’m sure he did whatever he could. Everything fell into place last year, didn’t this one. Move on.

        • Joe Janish August 2, 2012 at 12:09 am
          Yes, you would have had to pay someone to take those players. And you’re paying them anyway, so why not pay someone else to take them away?

          But I wasn’t necessarily insinuating that the Mets trade those players. For example, if they released Bay outright, it would have sent a message to Mets fans that the team is committed to making forward progress. An “addition by subtraction” is better than doing nothing at all.

        • 7train August 3, 2012 at 12:58 pm
          The whole sending a message thing is over rated, just PR fluff. No different than Fred and Jeff convening a press conference to say 2007 and 2008 were unacceptable.

          Decisions have to made around here for purely baseball reasons period.

          The only sending of messages that should be done is to the National League through whipping their ***es. Anything else is just more of the same.

  8. James August 1, 2012 at 4:51 pm
    i agree it’s all about the offers. Bullpen is not easy to fix these days. Still, why is Adam Rubin a lightning rod for frustrated GMs? I would have to say it’s because Adam advocates for the fan base and the GMs know they have not served the Met fan well. The only employee of the Mets corporate offices to have performed well in the last 10 years is Mr Met 🙂 And he is not reactive, he doesn’t pout, and he has the patience of Job which is what it takes to be a Met fan. The Mets will win another pennant, I promise, and the suffering along the way, crazy as it might seem, is part of being a Met fan. I predict playoffs in 2014. Can anything really be done to make it sooner?
  9. Izzy August 1, 2012 at 5:08 pm
    Alderson is an arrogant sob. funny how he thinks we all forgot he didn’t have a problem trading K ROD for garbage. Oh, that was for the payroll flexibility he didn’t use. Its funny how Alderson doesn’t think we remember he traded Beltran for an A Ball guy. Alderson is just a total fraud. Other teams have caught him and far surpassed his state of the art skills of the 80’s,, oh wait they weren’t skills they were aided by the state of the art drug user Canseco helping to mae this clown look good
    • bca August 1, 2012 at 5:38 pm
      you’re an idiot and not a mets fan.
    • Crozier August 1, 2012 at 7:00 pm
      “Its funny how Alderson doesn’t think we remember he traded Beltran for an A Ball guy.”

      Why yes, Izzy, that IS funny. I don’t remember that happening myself.

  10. jerseymet August 1, 2012 at 5:35 pm
    I kind of feel sorry for the veteran soon to be free agents. They could have gone to contenders.
  11. NormE August 1, 2012 at 5:51 pm
    If history is our guide Hairston and his agent will seek a contract that Alderson will not want/be able to meet. Thus, we will lose Hairston in the off-season with no compensation.
    Therefore, I think that Andy was correct in advocating for packaging Hairston with other players for some possibLe future values.
  12. Nick Waldrop August 1, 2012 at 6:23 pm
    The bottom line is that Alderson said that he would wait until the trading deadline to see where the team was. He knew the team would be out of it by then and he wouldn’t have to do anything. Because he never had any intention of doing anything because the organization doesn’t have the resources. That’s what everyone should be mad about-he should just come clean that this is a cash strapped-talent strapped team.
  13. Crozier August 1, 2012 at 6:55 pm
    I agree with Alderson. Make a move for who? With what? To make what difference this year or next? Let’s hope Alderson can spend some money in the off-season. More important, let’s hope he can convince impact players that they want to play here.
    • Joe Janish August 1, 2012 at 10:25 pm
      How about anyone under the age of 25? You can’t tell me that Alderson couldn’t have gotten someone’s top 10 through 15 prospect, which would have been more valuable than two more months of Hairston. If Alderson couldn’t get at least that — someone with a modicum of upside — then perhaps the Mets should find someone else who has better relationships to make their trades, and let Alderson focus on his role of public-facing PR spokesperson / figurehead.
      • MikeT August 2, 2012 at 9:53 am
        “You can’t tell me that Alderson couldn’t have gotten someone’s top 10 through 15 prospect, which would have been more valuable than two more months of Hairston.”

        Really? Well I’m going to anyway. Alderson could not have gotten anyone’s top 10 through 15 for Hairston. Also, even if he did, what exactly is a 10-15 prospect? For the Mets (as reference) we’re talking (according to fangraphs) Reese Havens, Phillip Evans, Jack Leathersich, Akeel Morris, and Darrel Ceciliani. So an often injured 25 year old stuck in AA (and been awful this year), an A- (Savanna) ball SS busted for steroids, a relief pitcher who walks 4 per 9 at A+ ball, a raw pitcher at Rookie level, and toolsy but underwhelming CFer in A+.

        Before you damn the Mets system and say they need more pieces there, while true, these are all just prospects and none of them, in any system, is likely to be an impact big leaguer any time soon. Guys who were ranking 10-15 in most systems that have been good, are likely reranked much higher by now. There’s nothing worth moving a productive big leaguer for, nothing.

        • Joe Janish August 2, 2012 at 10:25 am
          I just said you can’t tell me something and you go ahead and tell me. Why can’t you follow orders? 😉

          Hey, if you want to watch Hairston hit mistakes over the fence for a third-place club in August and September, that’s your prerogative. Me, I don’t need those cheap thrills and am looking toward the long-term plan, which is what I thought Alderson’s PR strategy was focused on. Hairston doesn’t fit into a long-term plan, and he’s at the highest value he’ll ever be right now, and that’s why it makes sense to trade him for anything, even if it’s a top 15 or top 20 prospect. Thole, Duda, Gee, and several other players who have been on the MLB roster the past two years were in that category — along with the Havens and Cecilianis.

          Hairston’s future can be fairly accurately predicted, while the kids cannot.

        • Crozier August 2, 2012 at 6:16 pm
          But that’s the thing, Joe — cheap or not, Hairston is providing the occasional thrill. More so, in his way, than anyone else who is in a limited role. I’m sorry the Mets are a third place team without any decent trade chips (realistic ones, anyway), but that’s how this year went. Trading Hairson for anyone under 25 would have, MAYBE, netted another Hairston down the line. At best. Why that has you so worked up just goes to show how we have to have an outlet for our passions, even in mediocre years with no decent options.

          And in any case, you certainly generated more comments on this subject than anything since Santana’s no hitter, so hats off.

  14. ovanjye August 1, 2012 at 10:39 pm
    oooo Alderson, lets see how smart you are this time next year you held on to Reyes, now Murphy, Harrison and if you ask me Cedeno, Torres, and countless others. Are you telling me once again you will start next season with the hopes that basically the same exact team will compete. OMG wake the hell up or do yourself a favor be honest and walk away from the Wilpons, because you are starting to sound and look like a fool! Read this article today you will not challange for a championship next year or the following 5 years, if you don’t do something next year. And that year three for your team. Minaya did more to make this team compete in three years! So don’t get mad at Rubin! Just go out thier and get even. Make a attempt to win something!!!! I’ve been a Met fan for 43 years!!!! Please this is NEW YORK! Put up or just shut up Sandy and take it like a man. I have for 43 years!
  15. NCMetFan August 3, 2012 at 1:06 am
    Winning now matters. Not going into a tailspin and reading or listening to stories about how bad the mets suck is valuable in creating a positive environment and sense about the team for players and fans. There are no players on this team that would bring in good talent that will impact the major league club that aren’t part of the 2013 plan. Alderson did the right thing here, if he traded away guys who are helping the team win now and brought up young guys not ready for the majors they would be over matched and the negative could outweigh any potential positive, meanwhile the team would not be fun to watch. I like watching this team and keeping fans interested is part of Alderson’s job. He’s doing a good job, he’s making sound long term decisions while keeping the parent club interesting enough to maintain a positive environment around the club. It’s easy to be negative and critical but given the alternatives the way the team is being run gives me hope for the future, projection of future success, and enjoyable baseball to watch now. Lets hope the team stays respectable and guys like Wright & Dickey want to remain Mets. It was good to see Davis sit and Murphy play 1B tonight. Davis=Strikeout against even marginally effective lefties and the Mets can’t keep putting automatic outs in the middle of their batting order. Well done Collins. It’s time Ike sits more and realizes there is a consequence to not making adjustments.
    • NormE August 3, 2012 at 2:54 am
      Good point about Ike and the need for adjustments.
  16. derek August 3, 2012 at 10:59 am
    i dont think hairston would have brought much back….and sandy is wking towards the 13 season.

    we have wright going into a contract yr which is always good for motivation and we will sign him to an ext….additoins of wheeler and harvey in rotation…young guys playing this yr will benefit nxt yr….im sure bay gets realeased and they wont go into the 13 season with him…

    considering the mess sandy took over….i will give him until end of next season..if there are no major improvements by next yr then somethign has to give…either the wilpons being cheap, or sandy isnt a good gm…and considering sandy at least has a track record of being a good gm hopefully it works…we all know wilpons track record blows

    do people forget when we got wheeler for beltran everyone couldnt believe we got that good a prospect? hairston doesnt = beltran…