Here is a guy who actually had a great year. Twenty home runs in less than full time work. Punished left-handed pitchers, and with all our left-handed hitters that was very valuable. And a cool guy to watch hit too. Scott takes a full cut, he is not getting cheated! We were able to plug him into all three outfield spots to help us when needed and although he was certainly not Mays out there it was never embarrassing to watch. In 2012 that made him one of our best defensive players.
In fact Hairston had such a great year that Sandy Alderson couldn’t bear to part with him at the trading deadline. Apparently Alderson had the over (I guess we should appreciate the optimism) and knew we needed all hands on deck to get there. But with Hairston a free agent, what now?
Hairston earned $1.1 million in 2012, he’s a free agent, and he’s put himself in position for a significant raise and a multiple-year contract. A raise, but nothing crazy. He was great last season and destroyed LH pitching. When Sandy didn’t trade him at the deadline, Howard Megdal appropriately questioned the non-move, and quoted the post-deadline press conference when our GM explained, “Right now he’s a very important part of our team. We feel it’s important to keep 2012 as competitive as possible.” (I know!) Are the 2013 Mets at a point where we can’t afford to retain a quality reserve like Scott Hairston? If we sign Wright and Dickey, what money is left? And if we don’t sign Hairston, will this be yet another case of Sandy making a short-term decision at the expense of long-range planning?
Let’s be clear. Alderson completely choked at the deadline. Hairston had to have some level of value before the deadline. Ditto Chris Young. The Cubs traded Paul Maholm and Reed Johnson for Arodys Vizcaino — a top 40 prospect in all of baseball — and Jaye Chapman, a lesser prospect to be sure but a legitimate one. Was a package of Young and Hairston equal to the Cubs duo? I would say not but it isn’t worlds away either. And we got nothing, zero, zilch as for the second deadline in a row Sandy fiddled while the Mets burned.
So that ship, sadly, has sailed, as trading Hairston would not have had any bearing on whether he becomes a 2013 Met unless the Collective Bargaining Agreement has been changed and I missed the press release.
Now to the question of whether we can afford Hairston, I will go another way. I rather not pay someone for what they already did, I rather pay them for what they are going to do. I expect him to get a decent raise and regress. That combination equals pass to me. I love you Scott, you have been fun, but times are tough, Uncle Bernie still haunts us and you have to go.
I totally agree on Sandy’s do-nothing management style. (We’ll have to discuss Reyes someday, surely an asset squandered.) And the comparison to Theo Epstein is telling. Now that was a rebuild. Sandy’s primary focus has been to show “the good face,” consolidate finances for the Wilpons, protect Jeffy’s inheritance, and help the Mets operate as a mid-level team. They cut more than $50 million from payroll alone and Fred is still in power, so mission accomplished. It’s never been about, oh, winning. Hopefully he’s run out of free passes. Alderson can’t bring back the same team in 2013. And since he can’t afford free agents, and there’s little in the minor-league system, cautious Sandy is going to have to swing some deals. I hope he’s gotten smarter. A repeat of December 5, 2011 would not be helpful. All that said: if we can’t afford to retain Scott Freaking Hairston . . . well, that’s just sad.