Archive: June 11th, 2014

Mr. Alderson, Your Baby Is Ugly

I spent nearly a quarter century in the Directory Publishing business. Along the way, I worked for several interesting people. Among my favorites was a woman named Brenda. She headed up our New Products Division during one of those rare times when any idea could at least make it to the table for consideration. She was savvy enough to realize that her tastes may not reflect those of the general marketplace. “I need you to tell me if you think my baby is ugly,” she would state during intra-department meetings when she championed a concept or product that she liked. In a corporation where butt-kissing was considered a vital career preservation tactic, her approach was like a breath of fresh air. My association with her helped me to extend my career there for another decade, much to my personal, professional and financial benefit.

More recently, one of my left-leaning friends told me that the Mets’ biggest problem is a lack of diversity. Coming from him and coming near the end of the Omar Minaya era, I mentally rolled my eyes. I see now that he was correct in that there were (and still are) no non-Wilpon yes-men voices in the Mets upper management. Much like the chatter from MSNBC or Fox, all of the discussion inside Citi Field is taking place in an echo chamber of like-minded idiots. Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, the Mets think they have a beautiful baby and by all indications, have doubled down on their flawed (to put it mildly) approach.

I used to give Sandy Alderson a pass over the financial constraints placed on him by the Wilpons. But with each passing move, it is becoming more and more obvious that the game has passed him by. His 90-win pronouncement at the beginning of the season was a clear warning of how out of touch he really is. There was a brief glimmer of hope for this team after the Philadelphia series. Since then, they have gone 1-6 with a host of other “ugly baby” developments tossed in.

With the #10 pick in this year’s draft, they essentially drafted another Lucas Duda, passing on much better multi-dimensional players who could help the team shortly. Then, we all got reacquainted with Angel Pagan, whom Alderson’s lieutenants talked him into trading for trash after the 2011 season. How good would Pagan’s 323/373/433 slash line look in the Met lineup right about now? I hope Angel flashed his World Series ring at Terry Collins a few times while rounding the bases. Finally Travis d’Araund, the supposed key piece in the R.A. Dickey trade to Toronto two years ago, was shipped to Los Vegas after a 63-game stretch where he hit twenty points below the Mendoza line. Perhaps more disturbingly, Travis looked and played poorly defensively. According to published reports, both he and some members of the pitching staff expressed dismay over his demotion. Apparently this echo chamber extends into the Met clubhouse.

Speaking of the infamous Mr. Mendoza, Alderson has become his GM equivalent when it comes to personnel decisions. For every Scott Hairston, LaTroy Hawkins or Marlon Byrd that he grabbed off the scrap heap , there is a Brad Emaus, a DJ Carrasco, a Danny Herrera, an Omar Quintanilla, a Jon Rauch, an Andres Torres, a Frank Francisco, a Collin Cowgill, a Shaun Marcum, a Chris Young (or two), a Scott Atchison, an Anthony Recker or a John Lannan on the other side of the ledger. That’s a sub-.200 average. Yes, I know that all teams try on different players throughout the season. The Mets are unique in that not only do they rely on these players to fill key roles, they insist on shoving them down our throats game after game, long after even a casual observer notices their ineptitude . Whatever eye for talent Alderson used to have is gone and much like Joe McIlvaine, a failed Mets GM from an earlier era, he seems unprepared with any backup plans in case Plan A goes bust. Notice that d’Araund’s replacement is Taylor (206/366/390) Teagarden? Sure, he hit a hanger over the fence for a Grand Salami on Tuesday, but it will probably take him another two weeks to drive in his next four runs. At least this time Alderson replaced a poor-performing player with one only slightly less bad. His two big attempts to improve one of the league’s lowest-ranking offenses this past winter were Young and Curtis Granderson, both of whom actually underperformed the average Mets 2013 hitter the year prior. Talk about an ugly baby.

And while we are on the topic, anyone here still think that Zach Wheeler is a future ace? I’ll bet you can’t wait to see what “prospect” we get from Pittsburgh as the PTBNL in the Ike Davis deal. Meanwhile the Miami Marlins, Jose Reyes’ other former team, also operating on a shoestring with an owner everyone despises and a sidelined ace, appear to be light years ahead of the Mets both in the standings and in player development.

I am not really a fan of his, but I agreed with Paul LoDuca’s comments from last week. The team needs to be burned to the ground and rebuilt. This isn’t about fringy moves with players not under contract past 2014. Other than David Wright and Granderson (immovable contracts) and Matt Harvey (injury) everyone should be on the block. Everyone. This includes serviceable vets like Daniel Murphy and Jon Niese, along with promising youngsters like Jennry Mejia and Juan Lagares. The Mets need at least 20 new players and will need to make deals that bring back multiple players back that fit into a well-thought-out rebuilding plan. But who will drive? Would you trust it to Alderson? I wouldn’t. Neither would I want Paul DePodesta nor JP Riccardi, Sandy’s failed Moneyball henchmen, to try their hands at it. Besides, do you think any of these guys would have the guts to admit to making such a huge blunder and tear it all down?

Maybe Jeff Wilpon decides to run the team himself, through a patsy like John Ricco. That might not be a bad thing if Jeffy is willing to channel George Steinbrenner and spend fistfuls of money, attempting to put an All-Star at every position. This is Jeff we are talking about however, so while a puppet GM is a good possibility, any smart baseball moves or big cash outlays are unlikely. Ideally he could pull a Leon Hess circa 1997 and put a Bill Parcells-type strongman at the top of the organization, while taking a step back.

That move made a new fortune for the already wealthy Mr. Hess. In the end, that might be the only face-saving “out” available to Jeff (and Fred). They might only need to look as far as the WOR radio booth where a certain former Mets architect is slowly rebuilding his image…