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?
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.
J.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.
“You 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.
“Hindsight 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.”
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.
Speaking 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.
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.
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?
(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.
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.”