2 GUYS TALKING: A Plan Needs a Target Date, Otherwise It Is Just a Dream

Mike:

Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh are in the playoffs playing exciting October baseball. Both teams have some real star power and do not have huge payrolls. When we look at this from a Mets Marlon Byrd Piratesperspective it shows that a team can achieve success with a small market payroll. But here is something to remember about both of those teams: They were only able to acquire some of their brightest stars by having miserable baseball seasons. Tampa Bay picked David Price with the number one overall pick in 2007 and Evan Longoria with the 3rd pick of the 2006 draft. Gerrit Cole of the Pirates was the number one pick in the entire draft in 2011. Pedro Alvarez was picked with the number two pick of the 2008 draft. Where would these teams be without these players?

Jimmy:

Or look at the Nationals with Strasburg and Harper at #1 overall. Ryan Zimmerman #4. Detweiler and Rendon both at #6. To their credit, the Nationals at a certain point spent money on supporting pieces — the much-maligned Jason Werth contract, 7 years, $126 million, as one example. And of course they spent big money to retain Zimmerman.

Mike:

If the Mets wanted to follow this path, they had to do a full deconstruction, beginning when Sandy Alderson was named General Manager. That was not done. Management slowly unwound the talent base, making sure to tread water with bad teams, but not bad enough to acquire difference-makers in the draft. It sure appeared to me “the Plan” was to wait out contracts and once payroll was cleared buy new talent. If it was to build through the draft, like a small market operation, shouldn’t we have dismantled more aggressively? It seems a little late in the rebuilding process now to start shooting for top five picks. Unless, of course, this is a 20-year plan.

Jimmy:

Not to beat a dead horse, but Alderson sat on his hands with Jose Reyes when clearly he should have traded him immediately. That was criminal neglect. Look at the Marlins, even: they signed him and flipped him, another option that was available to the Mets brain trust. Of course, it would have taken real courage to step in and trade Jose Reyes.

I remember the first time you suggested to me that this could be a lost decade. That was about two-and-a-half years ago, and at the time it struck a discordant note amidst a symphony of optimism, the “sure thing” of 2014. But I soon realized that the unthinkable was possible. Fans are already talking about 2015 with fingers crossed. The date keeps slipping back. Good things come to those who wait — sometimes. Draft and development sounds awesome, but it isn’t much different from what every other team does. The Braves, the Cards, the Twins, the Royals, the Rangers on down the list. That’s not a guarantee of success.

J.J. Cooper of Baseball America recently chatted about Mets prospects Brandon Nimmo, Gabriel Ynoa, and Kevin Plawecki. These are all Sandy’s babies. Anyway, Cooper was skeptical about

Steven Matz

Steven Matz

Ynoa (lack of “stuff”), saw Nimmo somewhere in the 21st-35th best in the low Class A league, and reported serious concerns about Plawecki’s weak throwing arm. Steven Matz was the one Met who cracked the SAL Top 20 Prospect List. He’s 22. Wanting something does not necessarily make it happen. And at the same time, maybe Nimmo steps up next year; maybe the weak arm doesn’t hamper Plawecki too badly; maybe the scouts were spending too much time with their radar guns when it came to Ynoa. We don’t know yet. When it comes to the Mets minor league players, it’s a good thing Omar left Sandy with a few guys to trade because Syndergaard, Wheeler, and d’Arnaud were not drafted by the Mets.

Mike:

I assume that the ultimate plan comes from the owners, and that all Sandy is in charge of is MLB: Seattle Mariners at Oakland Athleticsimplementation. The team spent the last three years passively rebuilding, while also sitting out much of the international market. We kept our first round picks but used them on very young players who need a tremendous amount of seasoning before they will be able to assist at the major league level. All of this was done while waiting out contracts to expire and commenting on how important that would be by the year 2014. I did not read any of those actions as a plan to become relevant any time soon through drafting and development. I read that as becoming relevant Puigagain by reinvesting when contracts expired, and staying competitive with a new focus on producing a slow steady stream of talent down the road.

If we don’t start seriously spending now you have to question the entire process. I’m not against drafting raw high school players or developing them slowly, as long as there is a reasonable plan in place to also stock the big league roster with major league caliber players while you wait.

Otherwise you get the lost decade, and I am not interested in that.

Jimmy:

Sandy has become the new Terry: you can’t blame anything directly on him, while still having sonny-graythe uncomfortable sense that we have not witnessed a particularly strong performance from the GM. The blame keeps shifting around, like those “Whack-a-Gopher” games at the amusement park. The organization did go young in the first round of the last three drafts. The kid in Oakland, Sonny Gray, who just shutout the Tigers, came out of Vanderbilt in the 2012 Draft, 18th overall. That’s the point I keep coming back to, the lack of urgency. We keep looking at fastballs down the plate, thinking we’ll win the race by walking there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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17 comments

  1. Eraff says:

    The Mets have been on a pretty specific Draft and Wait diet for a few years, with a few spectacular exceptions…..and some noteworthy, head scratchers such as the entire Reyes ordeal (as you mentioned).

    It’s tough to get beyond ownership in placing blame— why haven’t they participated in Major League Player acquisition over the past two years via trade of FA—and why do they seem unable to make DECISIONS on players?—specifically CUT BAIT decisions.

    Here’s the reality—they Have “good baseball guys”, but NONE of them are lead dogs. ,,,, they’re not capable of making DECISIONS and taking risk, They’re Norv Turner—NOT Jimmie Johnson. They’re Romeo Crennel–NOT Bill Bellichick. OH and…….. their Owners? They’re Jim Dolan—NOT Jerry Buss.

  2. I saw Brandon Nimmo play a couple of times down here in Greenville this past summer. His approach at the plate is so predictable (take first pitch, take second pitch, maybe swing at pitch three, take pitch four, defensive approach swing five) that I was able to call 3 of his 4 at bats correctly in one game. If I can do that up in the cheap seats, I’m pretty sure scouts on opposing teams will have no trouble figuring him out. I wouldn’t hesitate to use him as a trade chip, should the opportunity come along.

  3. Alan K. says:

    Although he deserves credit for the Beltran and Dickey trades, and the signing (and trading) of Marlon Byrd, I’ve been generally disappointed with Alderson. I thought that there’d be more trades and lower level FA signings, and I was surprised that a team desperate for a talent infusion would use draft choices on high school players who won’t be here for years, especially a raw talent like Nimmo and a limited ceiling player like Cecchini. Even more surprising when one considers that the draft was run by DePodesta, who avoided high school players like the plague in the 2002 draft when he was with the A’s.

    • Patrick Boegel says:

      DePodesta may have executed the draft but Beane set the marching orders. They were in an entirely different mode, in order to compete, they had to get near ready talent always, and it worked well for them for years.

      The Mets guys they needed to bide their time, if college picks went bust, it would have been devastating to them, they can fall back on the HS projectables.

      At the moment I am still scratching my skull on Cecchini, only the most blue and orange prospect hunters can continue to support that pick, it was a horrendous waste.

      Nimmo I think is going to prove to be an okay pick, Dom Smith, the Mets brass may have lucked out big time, he seems light years beyond his years maturity wise. He is a kid who it would not be shocking to see playing in the big leagues by the end of his age 20 season. He is that kind of talented. All depends on his ability to remain focused as a pro.

      • Agree on Cecchini, he’ll be ready for Turner’s job in 2017.

        On Nimmo, yeah, he’s shown flashes. A lot depends on how the power plays out. Wildest dreams: Shawn Green (who, let’s not forget, was a stud for a while there). We pick on the approach here, because it feels so over-emphasized, but it’s not a bad thing that Nimmo seems to have (cough, cough) plate discipline. If he took some PEDS . . .

        Everything about Smith seems great so far.

        You know, three years in a row and no pitchers in the 1st round. It’s interesting. Have the over-valued the vaunted pitching in the system that we keep hearing about? I don’t believe they’ve drafted a pitching stud over those three years, though Michael Fulmer might turn out to be something if he can stay healthy.

        • Patrick Boegel says:

          True, all the high end pitching promise was here from Omar ( Harvey) or dealt for (Wheeler and Syndergaard).

          Then there is a lot of maybe middle to back end guys.

          It is funny to think though, and sure other teams passed them up too, but what a position the Mets would be in at this moment had they drafted Gray and Wacha.

          They could probably trade for two bats and still have pitching depth to spare.

          • We both know how difficult the draft is, so it’s not really fair to kill them on it (and we’re not). But clearly the “plan” was to ignore college guys — more immediate help — in favor of the big gamble (or maybe the signable, “good kid”). Were some opportunities missed? Yes, they were.

  4. Again, this past week has seen two recent mid-round Draft Picks that went later than Nimmo & Cecchini throw spectular games — Mike Wacha, drafted #19, out of Texas A & M in 2012, and Sonny Gray, drafted #18, in 2011. It’s amazing to understand now, by virtue of distance, but Nimmo might be remembered as the guy selected right before high school pitcher, Jose Fernandez.

    And I guess that’s part of the point here: the plan has been solely long-term. There’s been no short-term thinking whatsoever. No concern, seemingly, about disheartened fans and dwindling revenue.

    Defenders of the plan have it easy, in the sense that Sandy will go GONE before anyone can really see with all this draft & development — building depth — was effectively implemented or not.

    • Patrick Boegel says:

      I am less inclined today than perhaps four weeks ago to think Alderson will be on his way out.

      He was always assumed to be in the running for Bud’s replacement, but that seems far from likely with Manfred being named COO.

      This is the make or break off season for Alderson in New York though. I am willing to allow the rumor mill to process and watch the action mill more intently. For the time being when I hear dollar amounts I am simply going to assume posturing, because ultimately what good is it to publically state your budget. At the end of the day, yes the Dodgers are in the NLCS, but whilst everyone assumed that they would be the logical bidding monger for Robinson Cano, they have publicly distanced themselves. But to me that is posturing, I will believe they have no interest, when they don’t sign him.

      The opportunity exists for the Mets to put a very credible team on the field in 2014 within a budget of $100-110MM, it just takes the effort and creativity to make some trades and ultimately sign some talent.

      If not, they will be stuck with creating another #Homegrown t-shirt Tuesday to highlight an outfield of Den Dekker, Lagares, Puello sometime early next spring. That ain’t gonna cut it. Maybe for the doe-eyed fans who will wax poetic about them playing outfield for the Mets for the next 10 years espousing the benefits of controlled young players, never remarking the overall lack of talent.

      Give me baseball players or give me a summer off.

  5. Michael Geus says:

    Everything being done regarding amateur development is being done snail like. We are picking younger players, and also moving them through our system at a very slow pace.

    Time will tell if this methodical approach is a good one, but given how dishonest the entire team is, from the owners on down, it’s hard not to be suspicious.

    But even if we are really on to something, and if by 2020 teams will all model their development process from our new gold standard, there is a major league team dying a slow death.

    If there is no urgency in our development process to address that, you have to spend. You need talent to win, and it has to come from somewhere.

    • Patrick Boegel says:

      Today on Metsblog, the topic du jour, players who the Mets have access to but probably should not sign because well here is a wart we found.

      The primary borderline criminal offense today, Jose Abreu, the Mets have interest and their scouts were impressed with his power, but he is apparently a one dimensional player.

      I have no idea what that means since the Mets apparently full of zero dimensional players. I mean seriously if Abreu is one dimensional, what does that make Lucas Duda and Ike Davis? Rugs?

      • Michael Geus says:

        The last three years have taught us three things about never signing players.

        1. You can’t make a mistake
        2. You do not spend any money
        3. You do not improve

        I have a problem with the last one.

        • Sandy loves Door #1, Fred takes Door #2. And they both seem perfectly okay with Door #3.

          • When thing I dislike about Sandy Alderson is that he perpetuates the myth that “big contracts get the Mets into this mess.”

            Just not true.

            Jason Bay’s production killed us, for sure. Because he was supposed to be everything the team desperately needed, a legitimate RH power bat in the middle of the lineup. It did not work out in spectacular fashion.

            But it was only money, only part of a much bigger budget. You have to plan on encountering problems, injuries (which may, in the final analysis, be what happened to Bay: head meets wall). You can’t encounter adversity and fold up the tent. You surely can’t encounter it and then cut spending by $50 million.

            Fred was best buddies with Bernie Madoff. He lived high on that hog for many years and it was all a lie. Did he know? Of course, yes, I think he knew. Then the sweet deal went sour. Blaming the team’s misfortunes on big contracts does a disservice to the team and the fan base.

        • Patrick Boegel says:

          Somehow though, in the two players that Sandy has managed to give multi year deals to outside of the organization he has failed on all three counts.

          Made mistake. Spend money, even in paltry sums. Got worse.

          He has $25.5MM committed to Wright and Niese. I refuse to believe there is not a napkin somewhere that has not mapped out what to do with $70-$75MM in earnest fashion. Or I guess what I am saying is that there better be.

  6. Reese says:

    What galls me is that the Mets, more than any other team, seem hesitant to take a chance on young ballplayers. Any other franchise would say, “We have Montero, deGrom, Gorski and Mejia all vying for two starting spots with Torres in the background and probably invitations for Harang and Dice-K.

    We have two strong defensive catchers, one with power and one who hits for average, in Recker and Centeño. Let’s go to war with them.

    Let’s spend the money and trade chips where we really need it — on bats.

  7. I agree that the Montero thing is beyond weird. The policy should be that there’s a job open and he’s first in line, but has to perform this Spring. He has already earned the opportunity. Going “Super 2″ on him is just another example of a team in no hurry to improve. They devalued him in Vegas; they devalue him now.

    Meija needs to demonstrate, once again, his health. But he’s a possible answer this Spring, too.

    Maybe that’s when Sandy pulls off a deal?

    However, on the catchers, I would not characterize Recker as a strong defensive catcher. And I am not ready to call Centeno a guy “who hits for average.”

    I like d’Arnaud back there and still believe in his bat.

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