Mets 2014: The Beatings Will Continue Until Morale Improves

“We’ll spend more…if the fans come to the games.”
Sandy Alderson, as quoted by Metsblog

Imagine any other product or service provider saying this to or about their customers! I am stunned that this comment hasn’t been more widely picked up on and discussed. Where is the outrage? Maybe most of the fan base has drifted into apathetic indifference. Granted, Metsblog is not the most reliable of sources. But, still…

Speaking of Metsblog, I had to chuckle at Maggie’s reaction to the PECOTA projection of 74 wins for the Mets this season. Mags worked real hard to put together an “if everything breaks right” scenario and ended up at 78 wins! That certainly made me feel better.

At the risk of sounding out of date, this offseason is an Epic Fail for the Mets front office. I don’t care how many phenom arms they think they have. If you can’t score runs, you won’t win ballgames. Project any starting eight for the Mets based on the current roster. No matter how you slice it, you get several players with .sub 225 batting averages strung together in the lineup. That makes for play that is both bad and boring.

If you can take it, check out last year’s offensive production. Met non-pitchers hit for a slash line of 244/314/379. That’s good for 14th, 12th and 14th respectively in the 15-team National League. That OPB was driven in part by 500 walks to non-pitchers, good for fourth in the league. But unless the plan this year is to string multiple walks together each inning, the Mets’ lack of speed and power, coupled with a propensity to strike out, (Met non-pitchers struck out 1,245 times, tops in the National League) offsets any benefit from the bases on balls. If an amateur GM like me can see this, then Sandy the Genius should be all over it, right? So who did he go out and get to boost the offense? Try Curtis Granderson, who slashed his way to 229/317/407 in 2013 and Chris B. Young, who finished 200/280/379. In other words, their only two offensive imports performed worse than the average Mets batter did in 2013. Yeah, I get it that Grandy was hurt in 2013, but his track record is littered with similar results. Young hasn’t been good since 2010. Oh, and they both strike out a lot.

So when the smoke clears, the Mets are very likely to have added between three and five new players into the mix of guys they used in 2013’s stellar 74-88 campaign. Three of them are locks: Granderson, Young and Bartolo Colon. John Lannan has a 50/50 chance to stick and I’ll give the 25th spot to NRI Anthony Seratelli because he’s the type of player Alderson and Manager Terry Collins seem to love. The rest of the team is that same crew that went 33-38 after the All Star break (not .500 as Sandy has been quoted saying) and 9-19 down the stretch against teams vying for a playoff spot.

To paraphrase Denny Green, players like Bobby Parnell, Jon Niese, Dillon Gee, Daniel Murphy, Ike Davis, Lucas Duda, Ruben Tejada, Eric Young Jr. , Anthony Recker and Omar Quintanilla are who we think they are, which is either slightly above or slightly below replacement level players. With the possible exception the 23-year old Tejada, we have seen their best and their worst. Is Niese going to suddenly rip off a series of 17-plus win seasons? Will Parnell become a shutdown reliever in the Trevor Hoffman mode? Can Murphy ever hit .320 again or Ike blast 30 homers? At 27, will Duda ever “put it all together?” I’ll answer my own questions: no, no, no, no and no. Performances aside, none of them are the marquee names that fill the family mini-vans across the Tri-State area and get them pointed in the direction of Citi Field. And by the way, Parnell is still hurt.

I don’t get the adulation for Alderson. This is the silver anniversary of the only world title he ever won as a GM, (which was aided by both steroids and an earthquake). If you dare, Google the GM careers of his assistants Paul DePodesta and JP Ricciardi. Keith Law’s recent ranking of the Mets’ farm system at #6 sent a jolt through the blogosphere, but history cautions against too much euphoria over prospect rankings. Very few of them ever live up to expectations, due to injuries, major league scouting and their having to now compete against the very best.

My sense is that Jhonny Peralta was the big target for Alderson and Co. and by the time they recovered from sticker shock, it was too late. Wouldn’t it have been better if they signed him at his price, perhaps offsetting some of that money by non-tendering Ike, Duda, and Tejada? They could have easily picked up someone in the Lyle Overbay mold on a minor league deal to cover first. While the Brewers and the Orioles rejected an Ike-for-pitching-prospects deal, perhaps if the Mets substituted Murphy for Ike they could have pulled one of those deals off, leaving EYJ and Wilmer Flores to split time at second. They then could have waited out the market for Nelson Cruz instead of signing Granderson. This would be the equivalent of dropping a bomb on the 2013 team, which is what they promised to do at the end of last season. By my calculations, they could have done this for about the same (if not less) money. And I thought Alderson invented Moneyball.

PS: Pundits everywhere have written some fine Ralph Kiner eulogies since his passing, most of them focusing on his storytelling, his sense of humor, the fact that he dated movie starlets and his “what if?” baseball career. Not to be lost in the tapestry of these tales is/was his deep understanding of the game itself. His broadcasts with Tim McCarver in the mid 1980’s represent the zenith of baseball announcing, a banner that fortunately for us, has been picked up by the Mets current SNY broadcast crew.

Ralph’s eye for the game didn’t decrease with age. On July 26, 2012 Matt Harvey made his major league debut against the Diamondbacks in Arizona and Ralph was in the booth for that game. During Harvey’s 6-inning, 11-strikeout performance, Kiner stated that the Mets had found their next Tom Seaver. I remember chortling to myself over that remark and wondered if Jeffy hadn’t slipped Ralph a box of Cubans to say that.

My apologies for doubting your integrity, Ralph. Thanks for all the great memories, including this one.

A Mets fan since 1971, Dan spent many summer nights of his childhood watching the Mets on WOR Channel Nine, which his Allentown, PA cable company carried. Dan was present at Game 7 of the 1986 World Series and the Todd Pratt Walkoff Game in 1999. He is also the proud owner of two Shea Stadium seats. Professionally, Dan is a Marketing Communications Coordinator. He is married, lives in Bethlehem PA and has a 10-year-old son who unfortunately roots for the Phillies.
  1. Matt February 12, 2014 at 1:17 am
    You know nothing about baseball if you think Overbay, Peralta, and Cruz would have been better than what Sandy did this offseason. Why do you have a blog? You’re a joke.
    • Dan Capwell February 12, 2014 at 6:44 am
      Cerrone?
      • TexasGusCC February 12, 2014 at 6:57 am
        I’ve seen Cerrone post here before, and he uses his whole name with his picture. BTW, he shows much less optimism here than on MetsBlog.
    • Joe Janish February 13, 2014 at 10:45 pm
      Peralta and no one else would have been an improvement over what Alderson “accomplished” this winter. You know nothing about baseball if you think getting two .230-hitting outfielders and a 40+ starter who can’t perform without PEDs is an accomplishment. Why do you comment? You’re a joke.
      • bigmacattack February 15, 2014 at 11:57 am
        Agree with Joe-especially his assessment of what Sandy accomplished this winter. Not much reason for optimism if you’re a realist. I like Sandy but thought the team would be more competitive starting this year-don’t see it. It’s pretty much the same. Any selling by the Mets organization that “we’re better!” is pretty much a sales job that Met fans should punish by non-attendance of home games.
  2. TexasGusCC February 12, 2014 at 6:44 am
    Dan, last year at this time I was a wee bit too optimistic; or rather, a bit too unrealistic. This year, I will be more cautious. While I am not in love with the Chris Young signing, the Granderson signing isn’t a terrible one, and I would much rather have him than the statue of Nelson Cruz in the outfield and his warning track power in Citifield. What do you like about that guy?

    Peralta, Granderson, and Colon would have been quite a haul, but you’re right, they were thinking 2 years at $6-$7 per year for Peralta and they were blown out. I disagree with even mentioning Lyle Overbay in this article, as there are too many first basemen types on the roster they can use before another roster clogging signing if the next Mike Baxter.

    Yes, there are too many fringe players, but of those you mentioned, it’s hard to believe that Niese, Gee, Murphy, Davis, Duda, and Tejada are not replaced by Syndergaard, Montero, Flores, another first baseman, and a better shortstop in the near future. Also, EY, Recker, and Quitanilla are names that can be replaced in short order, whether taking a Bonifacio off waivers, or just absorbing his position, EY can be gone, and Recker and Quintanilla will soon be trivia answers.

    Yes, this team is flawed, but no one is looking at it as the final product but rather a slow, very slow transition from the flawed team to a contender.

    • Izzy February 12, 2014 at 2:31 pm
      A long slow process indeed! Do you think it will surpass the O’s 12 year plan, or the Pirates 20 year plan? Asking people to come and buy a lemon so that maybe we’ll fix it is enough gall and arrogance to deserve firing. But hey, this is the Mets where the customer comes last. Don’t agree with the Overbay words tho. Would much rather take a chance with the mediocres we have today than a guy almost 40.
    • Joe Janish February 13, 2014 at 10:39 pm
      No one is looking at this team as the final product, perhaps, but everyone is expecting a step forward — including Jeff Wilpon, who claims to expect to see the Mets contend for a Wild Card. I don’t see how that’s possible without incredible, massive additions between now and July.

      Mr. Capwell is exactly on point: I cannot imagine any product or service on the planet offering a subpar product, and telling their customers that something better will be provided if/when they buy more of the current inadequate product.

      • bigmacattack February 15, 2014 at 11:59 am
        Keep tellin’ like it is Joe!
  3. DaveSchneck February 12, 2014 at 9:05 am
    Dan,
    At this point in time, I agree with your main conclusion regarding Alderson and this offseason. Despite the improved rating on the farm, I grade him a “D” so far, although he still has time to improve. It is not so much based on his acquisitions – Grandy, Colon, C Young – who did more or less fill holes. It is because at this point, the job is not complete, which leaves the fans essentially in the same position as the prior “non-competitive” years…a 70-something win team. I can live with not giving away Ike, but he absolutely needs an upgrade at SS and another legit arm in the pen. I know he hasn’t liked the prices or cost in prospects, but he is accountable and so far has failed. So, he still has no legit leadoff hitter, a questionable cleanup hitter (although Grandy is a good addition), nothing reliable behind Parnell, and nothing reliable behind or to compete with Tejada. On the plus side, he has preserved all the prospects. Agreed that it is likely most don’t pan out, but a percived “deep” system is an advantage in the trade market (so long as you actually execute a trade).
  4. Joe February 12, 2014 at 3:00 pm
    I agree with another comment that some of the people Alderson supposedly should have aimed for leave a lot to be desired. There’s this:

    “To paraphrase Denny Green, players like Bobby Parnell, Jon Niese, Dillon Gee, Daniel Murphy, Ike Davis, Lucas Duda, Ruben Tejada, Eric Young Jr. , Anthony Recker and Omar Quintanilla.”

    Daniel Murphy is not “replacement level” material and along with a few other names should not be in that list. His numbers were impressive league-wise last year.

    Omar Q. is a back-up player that was only called up when injuries demanded it. Recker is in effect a third catcher — he played last year because Travis was hurt. EJ Young is a back-up player who served as a placeholder as the team got better. He is a perfectly useful bench player to have.

    Niese/Gee are perfectly fine mid or back-end rotation guys. What is wrong with them if you rotation is headed by Harvey/Wheeler? Davis is a major disappointment but along with Tejeda (most definitely), yes there needs to be an upgrade at those positions.

    As to the 74 wins, 2014 gave you that many. The team didn’t have a few parts in April and some got hurt or left by September. So, e.g., this year you will start with Wheeler and Meija/Lannan as #5, while last time the likes of Laffey or Marcum had one or two slots. Byrd was gone by September. You have Granderson the whole year . Harvey gave you nine wins. Colon can’t do that?

    The team basically will have to have a perfect storm of bad — same things occurring with the newbies or returns not adding anything with nothing added of note late (e.g., Syndergard is coming) to help and 1B/SS not even being a bit better to have the team get the same amount of wins. Then again, people on this blog insisted in February 2013 that those losers will get 68 or so wins (with a year of Harvey), so you know …

    The team is going in the right direction, but they should get another bat or two plus a reliever to back-up Parnell. The team did not lose games last year because of bad closing. If Parnell remains healthy, yes, he seems to have a future. Maybe he won’t. Who knows.

    • Dan Capwell February 12, 2014 at 6:00 pm
      But Joe, do you really see the Mets winning the NL East with this collection of players? I don’t. At some point the whole is the sum of the parts. These guys or at least this mix, won’t get it done. Too many square pegs in round holes. Ask yourself this: why didn’t the rest of the GMs fall over each other with offers for any of this group?
    • Izzy February 13, 2014 at 8:28 pm
      I really love the way the Alderson muppets talk about Harvey’s win total, ignoring the innings, the ability to keep the game winnable, the leadership. All they talk about is wins when in fact every one knows in the modern era wins is not very significant. But hey they have to defend signing the 40 something out of shape cheater that is Alderson’s kind of guy don’t they, especially when they tell us for years that everyone over 30 is going downhill fast. Keep up the bad work .
    • Joe Janish February 13, 2014 at 10:53 pm
      What indications, exactly, suggest that this team is “going in the right direction”? The win total has gone down and stayed at 74. The tiny bit of money available is being spent on highly risky free agents. The team’s future is based firmly on the shoulders of one pitcher who is out for 2014, and another who is certain to follow him to the operating table within a year.

      It’s going to take a perfect storm of good to prevent this team from losing 88-90 games again. You bring up players getting hurt / not around in April and September — are you assuming that everyone will avoid the DL and/or not leave the team in 2014? Depth always has a major impact on the W-L record, and once again, the Mets enter a season with no depth, no room for error.

      • DaveSchneck February 13, 2014 at 11:10 pm
        Joe,
        Agree with your comment above that Dan nailed the main point, and I think Alderson has had a bad winter if this is it, but in fairness, the team’s future is one more shoulders than just Wheeler and Harvey. They have managed to create prospect depth, and elite prospect depth, someting they haven’t had in perhaps decades. It doesn’t count for much of anything until a guy shows he can do it in the bigs, but a bigger critical mass increases the odds of producing quality big leaguers. However, even if they find some core pieces, they will still need to spend more than a bottom ten payroll. Even the moneyball model Rays and As have only one WS appearance and zero championships.