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:
- Sign Dickey to the best contract possible.
- Trade Dickey this winter.
- 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.
Jeff Wilpon: Keystone Cop . . . or Dirty Harry?