We have been doing this blog for over a year now. Up until recently both of us considered 2014 a pivotal year for the team on the field. Lately, you have had a change of heart, and have expressed an opinion that it would be unfair for fans to expect any material change in the team’s won and loss record before 2015. There is nothing wrong with someone changing their mind, and you are not the type of guy to do so on a whim. So what were the factors that led you to this conclusion?
I don’t think “unfair” ever entered my vocabulary on the subject. I’d substitute the word “unrealistic.” But you are correct, my tune has changed somewhat. From the beginning, 2014 was supposed to be the year. That’s what they told us. Money coming off the books, three years of development, and so on. From that day forward, Sandy would be held accountable. It’s time to win!
Yet here we here, early March of 2014, and I think the team projected for Flushing is only okay. Nothing great. I don’t see 85 wins with this current group.
I guess part of it is simple, I accept reality. There was nothing magical to the year 2014 — it’s just a number — and the truth is that it takes more than three years to turn around a farm system to the point where the talent infuses the major league team. In that sense, 2014 was always a fantasy.
Sandy did not inherit an expansion team. Stars such as Beltan, Dickey, and Reyes were around. He inherited these players and three full years with a free pass on winning. To his credit he turned two of them into three major prospects. In my mind all three, including Syndergaard, can be of great help to the 2014 team. Sandy did not just have time, he had real assets.
As for accepting reality, what will happen will happen. Whether or not I think this year’s team, or next year’s team, is going to be any good does not dictate how long I think it should take for this team to improve on the field. Sandy was hired in 2010. I thought it would take until 2014 for this team to succeed. If this team was great last year that would have been the reality. At that point I would have recognized how fantastic it was that success was accomplished faster. If they are bad this year it’s only logical that I use the same standards and consider that a failure. It’s all nothing more than opinion, obviously I have no power over the team, but if I move the goalposts I need a reason. That’s me. And Harvey’s injury isn’t enough for me. I love Harvey, and acknowledge how great he was last year, but if a successful long-term plan revolves around one pitcher it is a very flawed plan. To be clear, Sandy Alderson never uses Harvey’s injury as an excuse. I applaud that and agree with him.
In terms of payroll, when it became clear that Fred was not going to spend, then it really limited the amount Sandy could upgrade the roster. Its possible that he was operating under a different set of assumptions. Reallocating $30 million isn’t what it used to be, especially when you are trying to fill the shoes of a productive right fielder and Matt Harvey just to break even.
So I’m left with a sense that 2014 is simply not realistic. I could get mad about that. I could demand things, throw chairs, say it’s not acceptable, or whatever. But I think the reality is this team is set up for 2015. And, in fact, I think they are extremely well positioned to make that run — a year from now.
And I don’t think any of that changes whether the Mets win 85 or 75 games this season. Because what are we talking about? Whether Dice-K bombs out of the box? Whether Farnsworth disappoints? Whether Chris Young has a comeback or not? I don’t give a crap about any of those guys, I don’t think they mean much in terms of the mission, except that maybe we get to trade one of them at the deadline.
I just don’t see the “or else” in this equation about 2014. If they don’t win 85 this year, it won’t change the basic picture in my eyes.
Sandy once compared this process to shopping for a house. I didn’t like that, and never loved his pace. But today I’ll compare it to building a house. Or maybe hiring a contractor to build a big extension. Have you ever experienced that? Three things: 1) It sucks; 2) It often takes longer than they estimated; and 3) The only thing that matters is the finished work.
I feel, today, that the finished work is going to be pretty impressive. I love a core of Harvey, Wheeler, Syndergaard and a powerful, homegrown bullpen. However, that won’t be in place until next year, realistically.
Now we can complain about the pace — drafting HS guys instead of college guys — bringing prospects along slowly instead of quickly — the Super 2 fixation, the loss of revenue, all sorts of things. It’s been a mixed bag with Sandy. Even the free agents he’s signed have ranged from highly questionable to disastrous.
But some things, such as the foundation work, can’t be rushed. A year from now, for example, I think we’ll be well-positioned to trade for a shortstop. Today, not so much. At best, I believe we’d be selling our stock short; the value of these prospects will generally rise. Not everyone, but overall, yes, that’s my take. I think it’s a mistake to trade too soon.
To use another favorite metaphor, I’ve written that the fruit on the farm hasn’t ripened yet. Now we can point to our calendars and say, “Look! It was supposed to be ready! It’s 2014 and I’m hungry!”
But, what can I say? Taste it. The fruit’s not ready. It just isn’t. But look at this tree, the branches laden with promise. Picking it now would be short-sighted. 2014 was an artificial deadline written in the sand of 2011. I accept that 2015 is the new date.
I will have to accept whatever happens. If it is failure I have to accept failure. That wouldn’t change the fact that it is failure to me.
You wrote all the same things about needing another year for the fruit to ripen a year ago. You said it would take a year then. If it’s still not ready it might be bad fruit. Or a farmer who refuses to pick ripe fruit. I look at players like Syndergaard, Montero, and Lagares and do not see players who need more time. I see players who need a forward thinking organization who will utilize them. And if they are held back to the detriment of the major league team I’m going to hold the people making those decisions responsible.
I am with you on that. With Lagares, I like him better than the organization does, so I want him in CF every day. Let’s find out, you know. Montero should be up. Regarding Syndergaard, I understand the Super 2 aspects here and there is also the innings count limits. I think he’s around 145-150 this year; and he’s yet to throw an inning at Triple-A. I’m curious to see how they manage him. There’s a line of thought that says to keep the work load light in Vegas, so that when the Mets bring him up they don’t have to immediately shut him down. The truth is, I wanted Harvey up, I wanted Wheeler up. Now with Mejia and Montero in line, I can wait on Syndergaard. I think Sandy and the Super Friends have worn me down a little. But mostly, it comes down to this: I don’t think it’s about 2014.
No one on the Mets management team works for me. What will happen will happen and I will not get a vote. I’ve already said that it is my opinion that Sandy Alderson deserves to be GM for the length of his contract no matter what takes place in 2014. I always take my Mulligan, Sandy deserves the same consideration. 2015 would then be that year. I can’t agree that he wouldn’t be using that Mulligan. And I surely would not extend him until and unless the New York Mets are winning on the field.
But I’m not ready to declare this team dead for 2014. I’m not as sure as you that is a fantasy. A topic for another day, perhaps?
Hey, I didn’t say they are dead. There is always a chance in baseball. Teams and players surprise us — and I’m very willing to be surprised. But the truth is, I’m not seeing an organization that is operating as if 2014 is the key year. I think Sandy is shooting for improvement, regardless of the spin in the papers.