Glass Half Full: Giving Alderson the Benefit of the Doubt

I’ve had my problems with Sandy Alderson in the past, particularly with his inactivity at the 2012 July trade deadline. Overall, I don’t think he’s been proactive enough in addressing the team’s problems. But I understand that he came to the Mets at Bud Selig’s request to save the franchise for the Wilpons. Consolidate finances. Run the team from a different business model.

Fred is still afloat, unlike New York’s rats after Hurricane Sandy, so Alderson has achieved his primary mission.

And that’s the crux of the biscuit. Ownership is the problem, and Alderson works for the owners — not the fans. His first obligation is to them, not us.

You’d like to believe that fans and owners want the same thing. But that’s not always the case. Not in Miami. Not in Flushing either. Mets fans want to win; the Wilpons want to survive. On the field, things have not worked out well, to the point where it’s become clear that “things working out well” was never the intention. The Wilpons may be thrilled, but hopefully by now Alderson’s free pass with the fans has expired.

Yet even as we prepare the gallows, I want to extend to Mr. Alderson the benefit of the doubt. I believe he’s a very smart guy, supported by an experienced staff, capable of making wise decisions. The test for that comes this winter. It comes right now.

For the sake of brevity, let’s limit this evaluation to R.A. Dickey. There are three viable options:

  1. Sign Dickey to the best contract possible.
  2. Trade Dickey this winter.
  3. Go into the 2013 season without an extension in place.

Glass half full, intoxicated with optimism, we can read the current situation as Alderson playing a complex game masterfully. Like a skilled magician, Alderson is attempting to keep all those plates spinning at once. This three-pronged approach gives him the greatest leverage. For even if, let’s suppose, Alderson truly desires to retain Dickey for the next 3-4 seasons, he must squeeze hard for the best contract terms. So it makes sense to concurrently (and publicly) explore trade options — because my bet is that R.A. Dickey, a husband and father of four children, isn’t eager to go through the upheaval of a trade to anywhere. Does this fly ball pitcher really want to toil in The Ballpark in Arlington? Or move to Toronto? The specter of a trade gives Alderson added bargaining leverage. By proffering a contract, he offers Dickey stability and certainty and a wheelbarrow full of cash.

Meanwhile, to the consternation of many, loathsome Jeff Wilpon recently commented that if the Mets fail to sign Dickey to a long-term deal, he prefers to retain the free-agent pitcher through the entire 2013 season. Now there are all sorts of dark, cynical ways to interpret those comments — and that’s our specialty here at “2 Guys!” — but today, dear friends and neighbors, I’m walking on the sunny side of the street. Alderson needs leverage in trade negotiations, too. He has to be able to look at Blue Jays or Red Sox management and say, “Hey, I don’t have to make a trade. I can start the season with the 2012 Cy Young winner as my Opening Day starter.

Today, with the Winter Meetings a mere week away, there are a lot of plates spinning while Alderson tries to keep them all from crashing to the floor. And it’s not just Dickey — it’s Wright, it’s Niese — in Facebook terms, it’s complicated. For the best results, every option has to remain a viable alternative until the very end. Yes, as fans, we want to react to every new rumor. The faintest Tweet causes an uproar in the Mets blogosphere. Much ado about nothing. And I’m trying to avoid that. I want to stay cool. To watch, and wait, and see what happens. At this point, I’d like to see the Mets sign R.A. Dickey to a three-year deal, with option language, that could take us into 2016. However, a trade might work out even better, if in doing so the Mets can solve, for example, the catching position for years to come. We can’t begin to assess those scenarios until a real deal is done. The loathsome Jeff Wilpon option, i.e., entering the season with an unsigned Dickey, is, well, I’m hoping that was just a bluff. Good old Jeff playing the bad cop. Keeping that plate in the air.

We shall see soon enough.

ADDENDUM:

Jeff Wilpon: Keystone Cop . . . or Dirty Harry?

 

 

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10 comments

  1. Michael Geus says:

    I think of Jeff more as a Keystone Cop.

  2. That’s funny, Mike, but I’m not going there today. This is a new dawn, a new me. The glass is half full! And Jeff Wilpon is Dirty Harry.

  3. Sometime last season, thinking of Wright, I multiplied 7 by 18 and arrived at 126. Since then, that’s roughly what I figured it would take to close a deal. According to today’s reports, it sounds like Alderson has finally moved closer to those numbers. 6 @ $100 million wasn’t going to git ‘er dun. I won’t be sad if it happens. On the contrary! But I will be angry if ownership fails to follow through on this to provide Wright with a strong supporting cast. I want the Wright signing to be a building block — not a bone thrown to appease the fans.

  4. Don Patten says:

    I’ve had the pleasure of witnessing many business moves over the years. The difference between good businesses and bad ones is the presence of a successor plan. It is never the move being made now that you need to scrutinize. It’s the plan for what comes next. Bad businesses make one move and then scramble. Good businesses plan several moves in advance.

    Unfortunately, with the Mets, the glass is not half full, it’s empty — the Mets are a bad business, run by idiots.

    • IB says:

      Alderson’s no idiot and I’d be stunned if he didn’t have a baseball/business strategy mapped out several moves in advance.

      He took over a team in shambles with major legal issues.

      I’m willing to let the offseason play out – my bet is he’ll take care of business and get this team on the right track.

  5. Don, don’t you see me, trying to walk on the sunny side of the street? Can’t I have just one blessed day of dopey delusion?! You have to rain on my parade with cold logic and reason?

    That said, great comment.

    • Tom M says:

      you’d be better off believing a fat guy in a red suit is going to come down your chimney on the morning of December 25, than believing the Mets mgmt aren’t going to mess up the Dickey, Wright situation.

  6. Frank Dunne says:

    I wouldn’t want Sandy Alderson’s job. He is steering a ship that is running on empty. The Mets were 10th in revenue at $225 mil, but were #1 in MLB at losing money: $40.8 million dollars. When a team (business) has a loss like this, it is difficult for an owner to justify a spending spree.

    With that said, Wright and Dickey are the only real draw the Mets have. Without them, how many more empty seats can the Wilpons live with?

    • Personally, Frank, I go for the Authentic Sushi Bar that features a election of assorted sushi, sashimi, and specialty rolls. Why? Is there actually a baseball game going on?

      As for the Wilpons, come back tomorrow: It could be argued that thanks to the rapidly appreciating value of SNY, the Wilpons are actually doing just fine — even while operating the Mets side of the business at a “loss,” quote/unquote. (Though how do you separate business ledgers when the Mets are the primary asset of the SNY business?) The YES Network was just valued at 3.2 BILLION, with a “B.” You’re out there on the West Coast, Frank, the TV revenues look pretty healthy for the Dodgers. So I’m skeptical about tales of the Wilpons and the Poor House. Lastly, invest in the product, build a winner, feature some stars, and the fans will come.

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