NEWS & VIEWS: A Season Ends, An Off-Season Begins (Alderson, Choo, Collins, Montero, Tulowitzki, Baxter & Other Zombies)

Jimmy:

So, sigh. For Mets fans, the long zombified walk through winter begins. Every season contains a multitude of surprises, and yet at the same time, 2013 was no surprise at all. After all, the Mets GM admitted in the broadcast booth last week that winning has never been his first or even second priority. We knew that, but still: Sandy’s smugness was chilling.

Mike:

The only thing interesting about listening to Alderson is how transparent he is about how the fans, the customers, don’t mean crap to him. Otherwise, since his actions never match his words, it’s all just hot air.

Jimmy:

citi-field-empty1

On a related note, Adam Rubin reports that Mets attendance has declined for the 5th year in a row. Essentially, two million fans have disappeared — half of the paying customers. Here’s a list of year and MLB ranking for average attendance:

  • 2008: 2nd
  • 2009: 7th
  • 2010: 12th
  • 2011: 14th
  • 2012: 17th
  • 2013: 21st

Note that the annual figure for 2013 is the lowest since 1997. As a matter of fact, figures for 1992-97 were all below 2 million. Interesting that we discussed the impact of Piazza recently; this current club needs a similar game-changing move.

Mike:

It’s hard to fathom how a team in this market could ever come in 21st in attendance. When you factor into those numbers that we moved into a new stadium in 2009, and it is still somewhat of a novelty, it is a gigantic negative achievement. What is more incredible, that someone could preside over this disaster, or that they could actually be smug at the same time?

Jimmy:

Looks like Terry Collins passed the big test, meeting the rigorous standards set before the season — he’s “earned” a two-year extension for a job well done. For me, it’s disheartening. I keep hoping for a signal change and this feels like more of the same. It’s not Terry’s fault, but the non-move still reeks of contentment. With Alderson calling the shots, however, it doesn’t seem to matter who’s wearing the skipper hat.

Alan_Hale_Jr._Gilligans_Island_1966-1

Mike:

I don’t know, we do have to keep in mind that the team finished strong. They won the last game.

Jimmy:

Terry has already gone on record suggesting that it’s unlikely for Montero or Syndergaard to make the club out of Spring Training. Of course, this has nothing to do with Super 2. And, of course, nothing to do with trying to win.

Mike:

Well, winning is not a priority.

Jimmy:

Yes, winning is such a pedestrian concern, so working class. Actually, I can’t even type because this strategy makes me so frustrated. Montero has proven himself at every level. The Mets go into 2014 with three proven pitchers: Gee, Niese, and Wheeler (who ended the season with a stiff shoulder). It’s not like delaying Matt Harvey’s arrival has been proven to be the model of anything. Next year Montero’s due for about 180 innings. Why not shoot those bullets at the major league level?

Mike:

They are trying to kill us.

Jimmy:

We’re already zombies. They can’t kill the undead!

Zombie_walk_Pittsburgh_29_Oct_2006

Now that the club has “secured” the protected pick, it’s safe for the Mets to go through the phony exercise of evaluating and discussing the relative merits of Shin Soo Choo. I think we’re going to be a couple of years and at least $30M short of competitive. Damn. So pretend close!

Hunter Pence would have made an unexciting but solid addition to the Mets outfield, but reports have the Giants locking him up for 5 years at $90M. Wow, it’s becoming an expensive sport.

Mike:

That is called establishing the market. The question overall is, are we going to participate or not. If so we are going to have to pay someone.

Jimmy:

On that note, do you go after Arroyo? I think I do.

bronson-arroyo-mets-rumorsMike:

He is the type of guy we need. Wheeler will have a short innings leash, and even if the team reversed course and a guy like Montero made the team in April, the same issue would exist for him. With Harvey out we need another solid starter.

Jimmy:

We need to discuss Troy Tulowitzki in detail. Can we do that soon? I think he’s the guy and I don’t think it’s a crazy dream. Even Sandy Alderson knows he has to do something, doesn’t he?

Mike:

I will add it to the list.

Jimmy:

At least we got to enjoy the Mike Baxter Farewell Tour. He’s gone, right?

Mike:

I kept expecting Justin Turner and Omar Quintanilla to come jogging out to rightfield to take him out of the game yesterday, get him one last standing ovation. Another marketing opportunity missed.

Jimmy:

A lot has been made of the Mets dreadful home record and it’s inspired a fair share of cockamamie theories. I’ve got one! Get better players. The Mets need a minimum of two real, everyday upgrades in 2014. My Ouija board says: “Once the roster improves, the home record will get better.

Mike:

Yes it will. But when the players keep winning more on the road than at home, a GM might also want to look at what type of team succeeds in the park they play in. That attendance thing you mentioned above is not helped when the fans keep shelling out hard earned cash to see losses.

Jimmy:

Nonetheless, not the worst final game of the season. You were there. Any observations?

Mike:

Mike Piazza Day

I thought the Piazza ceremony was excellent, and it was so much fun to be in the park when it was loud. The game itself was more like at a prize fight, when after the main event they have a few tomato cans throw punches at each other while people drift out. By the time Frank Frank came in for his heartwarming save, I mean the guy has been through so much and worked so hard, all the original atmosphere was gone.

Jimmy:

On a related note, I have a brand new book out in my SCARY TALES series (grades 3-5, roughly). It’s called Good Night, Zombie. That’s the fourth book I published in 2013, thank you very much. And it was inspired by . . . well, I’ll let you guess.

Available where fine books are sold.

Available where fine books are sold.

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16 comments

  1. Michael Geus says:

    Not asking for a total spoiler, Jimmy, but is it as scary as Frank Francisco returning in 2014?

  2. Alan K. says:

    I don’t think that it’s necessarily a bad thing that a GM not be overly concerned with what fans want; after all they are supposed to know more than we do. But Alderson’s smugness is disconcerting to say the least. I’m wondering what David Wright is feeling after all of the assurances he was given about “the Plan” (I’m considering getting a patent on this phrase like Riley did with three-peat) For all of Omar’s flaws, it was obvious that he cared about winning and understood the need to energize the fan base (and the other players) Alderson couldn’t care less and my expectations this off-season are low, partially because Sandy has conditioned them to be low. As for Tulo, I don’t think it will happen as can’t see the Mets assuming that contract (as per Cot’s 2014:$16M, 2015-19:$20M annually, 2020:$14M, 2021:$15M club option ($4M buyout) and I think the cost in talent would be steep, especially if there’s an expectation of the Rockies eating some money.

    • The Tulowitzki contract is reasonable, IMO. That’s what guys cost. What’s Stanton going to want? Cargo? Cano laughed at the Yankees when they offered him the David Wright contract. He laughed at 6 years and $140 million. What’s the alternative? Don’t pay for top players? I know you know this: There’s no one in the stands. The current business model is a monumental bust. If the Mets put Syndergaard on the table, they have enough to work out a deal.

  3. Patrick Boegel says:

    My only concern (not including whether the Mets actually have the scratch to pay anyone) with Tulowitzski is he a guy who would thrive in New York or flop in New York. Would the atmosphere and the hype be too much. I don’t know.

    From a cost perspective, given Pence is looking at $18MM a year, by sheer comparison standards, Tulowitzski at $19.5MM per is a pretty good bargain.

  4. Michael Geus says:

    In case anyone has not heard, the Mets have officially announced that Tom Goodwin will be back in 2014.

  5. RAFF says:

    With so many spots to fill, I think that anything involving a trade of existing major league talent, or high level minor league talent for a high level guy (Tulo, Stanton) who is under contract may be counterproductive. When I look at what the Mets have to give, in terms of young ML talent or high level prospects, which would give their trading partner a few years of contractual control- – ie> A player not near Arb eligibility – You’re really talking about D’Arnaud and the young Pitchers. Probably a couple other guys, as well – all of whom you assume are going to have a key spot on the roster for the Mets, if they keep them. Tulo or Stanton are guys that some other teams with fewer holes are going to regard as The Missing Piece to a 2014 championship run. They’re going to be able to justify giving up lots of young talent, who they may not have room for in their lineups, in order to bag a big prize. If the Mets can find 3 – 5 productive Major league ball players who are Free agents- I think that gives them a real shot at competing. Otherwise, if they trade their young talent, they’re filling a void and possibly creating 2 voids.

    • I disagree. First, the Rockies have a young catcher and there’s no way we’re putting both d’Arnaud & Syndergaard in a deal for a $100+ million player. Might not even have to go Syndergaard, depending upon what the Rockies want. Second, a pitching prospect creates a hole that can be filled. Part of the reason the Rockies would even consider trading Tulo would be as salary relief. Does Flores even have a spot on this team? Tulo would be a major building block. A guy to play alongside David Wright. A guy to market. This club needs a star, big time. It needs a big move. But in terms of likelihood, I think the path you suggest could well be the way Sandy will go. A few contracts to some middling talent, total $25-30 million. Incremental improvement but, IMO, a radical misreading of the NY market & profit potential. That is: bad business. Hey, who knows!

    • Patrick Boegel says:

      Teams with fewer holes rarely are looking for a superstar to fill the hole. Teams looking to fill a hole or two are often looking for that bargain 2-3 year guy, not someone who has or is going to be on the verge of big contract.

      There are times when the puzzle fits just right, ie the Expos willing to move Gary Carter and the Mets needing a righthanded bat that just so happen to be a very good fit by improving their catching position immensely.

  6. RAFF says:

    In response to James and Patrick – Admittedly, I wasn’t “digging-deep” to find a match, per the Rockies needs> Rather, I was just stating a general example – To get a TOP talent like Tulo or Stanton, etc – They’ll need to give up top talent, and probably more than one, whois already slated for a spot in their lineup. Conversely: IF, for instance, The Red Sox (Sorry- I’m familiar with them) were targeting one of these “types” – They would have the ability to package a number of top end prospects who would remain under the recipient team’s control – Think Bogaerts or Middlebrooks, who could be dealt along with some young high-end Pitching or other position prospects in ther organization- Maybe 2, 3 or 4 of them- And they could do it Without producing a hole in their everyday lineup. They did it with Iglesias, when they dealt the young shortstop to Detroit (in a three team deal) for Peavy. You can disagree with their trade- but the example holds- They had three other guys in the wings at the position with whom in they could feel comfortable moving forward. For the Mets to do likewise would amount to losing a couple players who have spots in their 2014 lineup and rotation. With all the holes the Mets have- I think it makes more sense, For Example> Getting Choo and keeping D’Arnaud, Wheeler, Syndie, Monty, etc., rather than Getting a Tulo or Stanton and Losing two of those aforementioned young guys- I think that’s the real choice.

  7. Michael Geus says:

    Hey, to anyone reading, it just hit me that we all made it through our first season together.

    Thanks all, for being a part of things around here.

    Imagine what a blast we will all have when the “sustained winning” kicks in.

  8. Eric says:

    I’m looking forward to our continued conversation…you guys run a Good Shop!!!

    Give me Choo….Eithier and Cory Hart—- that fits the salary structure….minimizes the disruption to the existing talent pool… and puts you in a wild card chase.

    I’d love to talk some WINNING Baseball next year!

  9. Dave says:

    Alderson was on with Francesa this p.m. Said the Cleveland Indians 2013 model of success is closer to the Mets plan than the Red Sox, i.e., we have budget constraints and will try to do more with less. Mentioned the young pitchers, being flexible re: free agent options, etc. Not very encouraging.

  10. RAFF says:

    The Sox Added Free Agents; Napoli, Drew, Victorino, Gomes, as Free Agent signings. They also picked up Carp and Ross (catcher) as un-rostered free agents, I think. So, the majority of the impact was done without the cost of players– Am I wrong on this? They did make a couple moves (trades) for their bullpen which cost some players (Melancon for Hanrahan -closer: But those deals really turned badly for them. Point is> The Red Sox, primarily, picked up Major League Players who were Free Agents, and they didn’t either give away the farm or get a high-flyer- ie Hamilton. So, I’m really not sure how different their approach was, versus what the Indians did. Admittedly, they did MORE of it…

  11. Dave says:

    Yes, RAFF, but the point of the comparison is that the Indians have done it on the cheap, whereas the Sox (for the most part) have paid for everything they are getting. Francesa noted the Indians don’t have any stars on a team that won 92 games. The Red Sox have many. Indians have exactly 1 player (Swisher) who is making over $8 million this year. The Mets also have 1 (Wright). The Red Sox have 10. I agree with the sentiment that the Mets desparately need some star power in the everyday lineup. It’s great to have homegrown talent but stars bring people to the games, especially in New York.

  12. RAFF says:

    As stated, the sox signed MORE– but the approach was similar… The Indians signed Swisher- 4yrs $56Million and Bourne 4 yrs 48MM… Then they added a host of other guys… Kasmir, Giambi- a bunch of guys- some of whom cost them real money (4-7mm annually) etc… heres a recap: http://www.cleveland.com/tribe/index.ssf/2013/03/cleveland_indians_2013_a_look.html
    The Sox Signed Drew 1yr-$9mm, Victorino, 3-39, Dempster- 3-39… plus Napoli to a reduced incentive laden 1 yr 5MM an Gomes for 2 yrs-10MM… and they picked up Carp and a couple other guys… The approach was largely the same… NO WHALES— No “Stars”— Most importantly-No real giveaway of on-field or top-line Minor League Talent…

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