News & Views: Deep Thoughts with J.P. Ricciardi, Choo Gets Paid, and Todays Ike Report

SaladMike:

Sometimes, when I go out to dinner, I forget to tell the waiter to not bring a salad. There is no way I am going to eat it. After some time the waiter comes back, takes back the untouched salad, and asks,

“Are you done with that?”

Done with what?

I was reminded of that scene this week as I read articles indicating that Sandy Alderson might be done addressing the 2014 bullpen.

Done with what?

Jimmy:

The approach appears to be, “Let’s throw it against the wall and see what sticks.”

At first blush, that’s the Braves system — giving the kids a chance! — except their prospects tend to look more promising than the guys Sandy currently has lined up. Walters and Mazzoni and Familia and Edgin and Black, to name just five, might all work out. But it’s very possible that these guys don’t cut it. Rolling out the pitching equivalent of Kirkkkkk Nieuwenhuis in the 7th inning of a close game can flush a season in a heartbreaking way.

I really hoped that he’d add one, solid veteran arm to the mix. I know that’s a difficult thing to do, given the unpredictability of relievers in general, but I don’t accept the notion that you shouldn’t try. A quality reliever can do so much for a bullpen, especially a young, unproven group.

Mike:

J.P. RicciardiJ.P. Ricciardi had the following to say about building a team through the draft.

“One of the things that is happening in baseball right now, that I scratch my head with it, young players are so overvalued right now, and I think falls in with the draft picks, too. Listen, I get it. No one builds through the draft. You add through the draft.

“€œYou can’€™t build a team through the draft because they just don’€™t all work out. But you can supplement your system, and I get all that. But if you’€™re telling me I have a chance to get Curtis Granderson over a second round pick I think I’€™m going to take my chances with a proven major league player as opposed to maybe a high school or college kid that may or may not become Curtis Granderson.

“€œHindsight is 20-20 and we can all go back and look at guys where they were drafted and what happened to them, but in the end, the major league players, the proven major league player, has a lot more value to me than the Double A kid, the Triple A kid or even the kid who is drafted. I wouldn’€™t hesitate to give up a draft pick. If I’€™m the Houston Astros or a club like that who is still building, I might not be as engaged to do it. But if I’€™m a club that is looking to get closer to being good, I might be more inclined to do it.”

Jimmy:

Amen!

In that: Yes, I agree with this.

Based on his days in Toronto, J.P. is more “Omar” than “Sandy.” He looks to me like the heir apparent.

Look, it all circles back to payroll. Alderson with the Mets has been forced to adopt a very rigid, limited strategy for team-building. It’s not a matter of moral fiber and intellectual prowess. He hasn’t had any money. I think if the payroll was different, he’d find a way to spend it, so it’s difficult (and wrong-headed) to pin down Alderson to any one methodology.

What Ricciardi said is similar to what we’ve been saying all along. It’s best when a team can improve by using all the avenues available — including going out and buying a guy to fill a hole or two, even if it costs money and picks. This says nothing against draft and development. But the buck shouldn’t stop there, figuratively or literally.

Mike:

ChooSpeaking of money, Shin Shoo Choo pocketed some. Seven years, $130 million. It seemed clear for a long time that Choo would get something like this, and I’m happy it was not from the Mets. Whether I like it or not, we do not currently have owners who are willing to support a payroll structure to finance this type of move.

That is not to say the Rangers were dumb. They are working with a very different payroll, with different owners. There is a lot of revenue to be made, and the Texas owners are chasing it.

Jimmy:

That’s why I’ve never loved the guys who crunch numbers and come up with Dollars-per-Wins formulas, determining the value of each player according to some mythological universal ideal. Every team has its own dynamic. What’s good for the goose is not always good for the gander. As for Choo in Texas, he landed in the right place, because he’ll be able to hit HRs in that environment (like Cincinnati), and I don’t think his power translates to the bigger parks.

Mike:

Every rumor I see about Davis, we are trying to trade him for young pitching. That is allegedly an organizational strength. Our offense still projects to be very bad, and Sandy admitted there isn’t a decent hitting prospect anywhere in sight to assist with the problem. Why not target hitting prospects?

Jimmy:

Rats AssOh, who really gives a rat’s ass?

(Wait, did I just type that out loud?)

Sandy is trying to trade a guy with little value. On one level, I suppose it is fascinating to observe the duel, the parry and thrust, the feint and lunge, just to watch how Sandy tries to work this thing into a reasonable deal. The reports we read are that a couple of teams have expressed tepid interest, and Sandy has responded by asking for a live arm, at which point somebody replies, “See ya!”

Sandy has gone on record saying that we are not in the business of giving players away.  That’s admirable. But let’s estimate Ike Davis at $3.8 million this year, just to pick a number. That’s a bill headed directly into the Mets’ mailbox; it’s not revenue. Essentially, we’re looking for another team to pay that salary — while allowing the organization to save face by giving us a fringe “anything” who might work out at some modest level.

If Sandy Alderson can do much better than that before February 15, I’ll be surprised.

UPDATE:

In the above comment, I failed to realize the financial option of cutting Ike before the season. According to Matt Cerrone at Metsblog:

“In the meantime, the Mets wait and keep talking with the Orioles. There is no rush. They can always bring Ike to camp, see what’s what and either keep him, deal him before the start of the season or cut him at the tune of $600,000, according to ESPN’s Buster Olney.”

 

 

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19 comments

  1. tom says:

    Ike is VERY EXPENSIVE. How so? Besides his salary, he destroyed any possibilities for the Mets in 2012 and 2013 with horrendous 2 1/2 to 3 month starts to his season…in both years, if he hit like an average 1B, they win seven or eight more games by June 30, staying within hailing distance of first place and keeping fans’ hopes alive…instead, they stayed away in droves. My guess is if he had started both seasons with an average 1B’s production, they draw at least 500,000 more the past 2 seasons…how much lost revenue is that? I’d not let him have his chance to wreck attendance for a 3rd straight year.

    • Michael Geus says:

      I won’t go so far as to guess the number, but agree wholeheartedly that Davis’s historically bad first half performances impacted the revenue line. Thanks for bringing that up.

      I would have non-tendered him, and moved on, and said that up front. In the end, we will see what they get. When it comes to Davis I have miscalculated many times, maybe I’m missing something again.

    • wkkortas says:

      I’d like to see the calculations involved in determining that Ike cost the Mets half a million fannies in the seats over the last two years.

  2. RAFF says:

    Moving Ike for any warm body would be addition by subtraction if the Mets then turned the anticipated $3.8 million savings into the acquisition of another proven productive player. A bag of donuts or a small sack of Uncle Sal’s sliced ham would do the trick. The whole situation is just another stack of evidence that management’s financial planning is a constantly moving target. To me, it seems like they originally thought that they would bite the bullet on his arbitration award, hold onto him, and give one more run at a reclamation project with him. Otherwise, they would have just non-tendered him and moved on. The only way I see the Mets making a deal would be to eat a big piece of his $3.8 million as a subsidy to another team willing to take a shot at him in exchange for a usable prospect or player. Otherwise- I think if they cut him, they have to fork over $600K to get out of the deal (Per Brian Joura, I think). It’s a stinky mess. Nobody is paying Ike $3.8 Mil and giving up a prospect.

  3. Patrick Boegel says:

    I can assure everyone, that Ike Davis production and or lack thereof has nothing to do with the number of individuals in the seats at CitiField.

    At least not in any singular fashion.

  4. IB says:

    I think what Tom is getting at (correct me if I’m wrong) is that if Ike has even a remotely decent April/May the Mets win more ballgames and, therefore, attract more fans. Who can say how many. The gist makes some sense whether one considers it a direct or indirect reflection of how bad Ike has been.

  5. James Preller says:

    I agree that a productive Ike would have led to more wins and a different narrative — and more fan interest. But what really killed April and May was that the Mets started the season without real hope. Hardcore fans thought they were punting, regular fans just didn’t feel much excitement. The outfield, remember, was a joke told by the team’s own GM.

    But mostly I want to say, Mike should really start eating his salad.

    • In the above post, I failed to realize the financial option of cutting Ike before the season. According to Matt Cerrone at Metsblog:

      “In the meantime, the Mets wait and keep talking with the Orioles. There is no rush. They can always bring Ike to camp, see what’s what and either keep him, deal him before the start of the season or cut him at the tune of $600,000, according to ESPN’s Buster Olney.”

      If this is true, then that supports my belief that non-tendering was never an attractive option. Why get nothing for the guy? I know the answer is for mental & financial clarity, but I’m not a big believer in it. My working theory has been that Alderson has had that clarity for a long time, and has always known that he could flip Ike for “something.” He likely hoped for something better than a low-level prospect — I think he’d love another “Vic Black” — but if there’s an interest arm who just completed high-A ball, so be it. Beats nothing, right? I know Mike has argued for non-tendering, but I just don’t see it.

      Does anyone know when the arbitration salary is determined? I wonder if that’s a sticking point. Maybe teams want clarity on that issue before settling on a trade “price.”

      • Michael Geus says:

        I saw this from Matt at the time, and smiled.

        The MLBPA is very sensitive about arbitration, so if a player who was awarded a contract through the salary arbitration process is released during Spring Training, the MLBPA will almost always file a grievance on behalf of the player, claiming the player was released for economic reasons only (which is not permitted) and asking that the released player receive 100% of his salary as termination pay.

        In that situation, a club would have to show (by submitting official spring training stats) that the released player was out-performed in Spring Training games by another player (or players) competing for that roster spot.

        So let’s see, the team that is terrified of looking bad with Davis is going to:

        A: Cut him later and flush at least $600,000
        B. Do it with the possibility of losing to the Players Association and being stuck with the entire contract to not play for us.

        • James Preller says:

          Ah, thanks for the clarification. In defense of Matt, he was passing along info from Buster Olney.

          • Michael Geus says:

            Agreed.

            With Davis, it comes down to the point you have made over and over. Talent evaluation.

            If they truly believe he will prosper elsewhere they should actually keep the guy. And if they believe he will prosper elsewhere they should look at why and address that issue so he can prosper here.

            It’s not like we couldn’t use a power hitting first baseman.

  6. RAFF says:

    As for the question of why the Mets are targeting pitching prospects in exchange for Ike- the whole thing just leads me down the path of imagining ever more ridiculous potential conversations with other clubs. “We’re offering up ike- and you could use him. He’s a good bat. And although we are lacking good bats of our own, AND WE HAVE NO ANSWER FOR OUR OWN 1st BASE NEEDS blah blah blah……” All this Ike talk- Sandy play acting the role of Scott Boras. In the end- I fear Mets are going to eat this mistake.

  7. Raff says:

    Arbitration figures are exchanged on Jan 14, and hearings are held between Feb 1-21 : According to this site- http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/schedule/important_dates.jsp

  8. Brian Joura says:

    If JP is right and young players are so overvalued — why are the Mets trying to get a young player for Ike Davis?

  9. Raff says:

    When I heard JP rattling on about Drew and younger players and all the rest of that gibberish on the Boston Sports station – My first thought was– Do the Met’s really want this guy out there spinning yarns and shooting his mouth off just to give his old friends a good 20 minute radio interview? He’s always bee way too happy to give the hometown folks a little airing of his thoughts.

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