Sandy Reluctant to Discard or Promote, Leaves Mets Shorthanded & Stuck in Neutral

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Jimmy:

In poker, if you are dealt a bad hand, you are given the opportunity to discard and pick up new cards in an effort to improve your odds of winning.

Basic stuff. Every dog knows this.

Yet the NY Mets GM, Sandy Alderson, does not appear to know how to do this.

He keeps starting at that Four of Clubs hoping it will magically turn into some other card.

Guess what: That shit don’t work.

This not only extends to the ML level with guys like Omar Quintanilla taking up space. This is Kirk Nieuwenhuis taking up room on the AAA roster, pushing more promising prospects down to AA. Because, you know, Kirkkkkk might turn into a Jack of Hearts!

Mike:

This will sound harsh to people who live in Vegas or Binghamton, but every minor league game is an exhibition game. The only thing that matters is developing players. Players cannot improve or be properly evaluated if they are not promoted and challenged.

Jimmy:

Admittedly, what happened on Opening Day, with two late scratches, was bad luck. But, you know, like the bumper sticker says, “Bad luck happens!”

Already we are hearing our manager openly wishing that he could put Lucas Duda in LF. Have these guys learned nothing? Apparently not: They signed Bobby Abreu. Remember him? He used to walk a lot and was allergic to fences. Also, tick-tick-tick: He’s 40 years old.

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Of course, with Murphy and Chris Young out on Opening Day, Mr. Collins had to consider the very strong possibility of beginning the season with a keystone combo of Ruben Tejada and Omar Quintanilla up the middle. Because, you know, Wilmer Flores needs to play SS in Las Vegas.

With EY at 2B — not a bad move, IMO — the Mets were stuck with starting Andrew Brown in LF. The merits of Mr. Brown are debatable, but even his defenders (of which I am one) will concede that his best value is as a guy who can hit LHP on a team that is far too vulnerable to southpaws. Yesterday Andrew got the start against Stephen Strasburg, a notable northpaw. It worked out beautifully for Mr. Brown, but at the same time it is very clear that he wouldn’t even be on the roster if not for Niese being temporarily on the DL.

Mike:

This all revolves around the fact that the team refuses to make a decision on Davis or Duda.

Jimmy:

But there’s still a competition going on!

Mike:

Bobby Valentine was direct about this right at the top of the SNY pre-game on Monday. He said this is not a competition, that Duda and Davis do not line up against each other and run a 60-yard dash. It is an evaluation, and Valentine’s opinion was that it is a failed evaluation. He said the fans and players were let down by management. I agree.

Jimmy:

Smart guy, Bobby V. Another point of frustration for me was that Juan Lagares was not slated to be in the Opening Day lineup. Terry’s hand had to be forced by circumstances. It’s maddening.

Right now, Lucas Duda has no usefulness on the 25-man roster. Platooning three first-baseman is wasteful and hurts the team’s ability to compete. Sadly, Lucas needs to go, because he’s never going to get the job with the Mets as long as Ike Davis is around, it’s just not going to happen. One way of looking at this is: Sandy signed five free agents this winter: Granderson, Colon, Young, Murphy, and Davis. They made the decision on Ike this winter when they offered him $3.5 million to play first base for the New York Mets. On Opening Day, Ike was suffering from flu-like symptoms, yet Terry still gave him the nod over Lucas.

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Mike:

They didn’t have the guts to trust themselves and non-tender Ike. Fine, then he is the guy. Move on already.

Jimmy:

When Sandy first arrived, I felt that at minimum we’d finally see the end of these kind of organizational inefficiencies. The bumbling and fumbling. Instead, he spends his time preaching to the players about how to hit, because he’s read all the data.

Anyway, sigh, at least we got to see Quintanilla do his thing yesterday. He flailed and whiffed to the surprise of no one.

The New York Mets opened the season short-handed because of the decisions made by the front office. Or I should say, the decisions not made by the front office. The failure to evaluate and act. To discard and pick up. With three first basemen, the Mets are handicapped every game. By creating an infield backup situation that consisted of a “competition” — that word, again — between Quintanilla and Seratelli, the club ignored the one player who might actually help: Wilmer Flores.

  • Seratelli in 48 ABs: .208/.224/.271
  • Quintanilla in 38 ABs: .158/.238/.184

When no one wins a job, guess who loses?

Let’s talk about Wilmer Flores for a moment. Here is a guy who signed with the Mets in August of 2007. He’s been in the organization for seven years as a highly-touted prospect. And yet there’s no plan for the guy. They act as if he was suddenly beamed down from a different planet. In the past year we’ve gone from wondering whether Wilmer can play 2B, to hearing that he had “heavy feet” and was unable to play the outfield, to now where he’s the starting SS for the Triple-A team — three years after the Mets moved him off that position. The club has no concept of how to turn this player into an asset.

Mike:

Again, can anyone evaluate talent? He can either play short, or not. This isn’t like determining whether Flores can handle a major league curveball, we are talking defense. They play on the same diamond in Port St. Lucie and Binghamton. They should know this stuff already.

Jimmy:

I know you don’t take much issue with Sandy’s 90-game remarks, but I do, because it’s all 90 wins_thumbempty blather. He had all winter and did nothing for SS, 1B, the Bench, and the Bullpen. Last week I offered a hopeful, optimistic take on the 2014 season, focusing on a number of areas that could go right. But even while wearing rose-colored glasses, I felt obligated to write:

THE BULLPEN overall represents yet another failure for Sandy Alderson, who did not do enough to address it. There will be some bright spots, future building blocks, but also some heartbreaking loses during the season, preventing the team to ever get on a really good roll. Reminder: Hope isn’t a plan!

So, yes, it’s insulting for him to talk about 90 wins in the context of the job he’s done to date. Then he goes on television and says that even if they don’t achieve that goal, they’ll at least have achieved the goal of “changing the conversation.” Well, I don’t think that Sandy and I are hanging with the same people.

Mike:

A lot of people, not just you, seem upset with the 90-game remark. They look at his actions and just assume he is lying, that there is a secret plan, and that Sandy isn’t really trying. That he is going to turn around in 2015, or 2016, or 2017, or whenever, and flip the switch to winning. And I get it, because Sandy is known to lie, and how can this be the plan.

But I believe Sandy this time. I think this is the plan. It’s consistent with what he said all along. Do nothing, wait until expired contracts roll off the books, and spend what he can. Done, done, and done.

And so I’m on board, I am aligned with Alderson, it’s time to win. This team is Sandy’s vision. This is his idea of a good team. This is not the team I would have built. But he is the GM and we are witnessing his grand plan now on a daily basis. I can’t fault the man for believing in himself.

Jimmy:

By the way, I suppose you heard about Bobby Parnell? He sure didn’t look right on Opening Day. Should the Mets have suspected something? Or at least planned on the possibility of a less-than-complete recovery? What was the plan there? Let Hawkins walk. Take out flyers on Valverde, Farnsworth, and Lannan?

Mike:

Hawkins was a flyer last year too. There is not much money, and hard choices do have to be made. I can see why no free agent dollars went toward the bullpen.

Jimmy:

I disagree. And Sandy’s strange flirtation with Balfour suggested that he had concerns, too. Though in the end he did next to nothing to strengthen the bullpen. I guess we’re still evaluating Edgin and Leathersich and Walters and German, etc. At a certain point, you should have a handle on who you’ve got . . . and what you need. Instead we have Sandy staring and staring at the Four of Clubs.

Mike:

Yes, let me clarify. There was enough money when the offseason started to sign a reliever, and it was a high priority. I would have been very happy to see a solid reliever signed instead of Young or Colon. But money is also not the only avenue that exists to improve a team.

Why, overall, be it shortstop, first base, or the pen, is there an organizational-wide ban on trading? Is it too much work? Fear of “losing” a deal?

Jimmy:

Come May, we’ll probably see Montero in the pen — not that he’s been prepped for that possibility. Meanwhile, I’m looking forward to Bartolo’s debut tonight. I’m actually feeling hopeful about him. I think there’s something lighthearted and joyful about his approach to the game.

Mike:

Jolly is the word that comes to my mind.

Jimmy:

Right now, I’ll gladly accept a little mirth. Hopefully he gets to run the bases.

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10 comments

  1. Eric says:

    Nice discussion, guys. I think Colon will do great this year. He brings a certain amount of levity to the team, but more importantly he knows how to pitch with diminished stuff. I realize it’s one start but who would you rather have Colon or Sabathia in 2014?

  2. Eraff says:

    Most of the measurement and accountability seems to be Financial…. the Baseball accountability looks to be focused on building roster value for possible future moves. “90 Wins” is a a Lesser concern.

    I believe you trade big prospects for Whales and Pennant Chases—nothing else…and that focus would be even stronger when considering trading top end pitching prospects.

    As for “their” Trade calculations????… I’m worried about some time when they are contending…. will they make a TEAM FINISHER move? Will they trade solid prospects for a need that helps them compete and complete the team? Would they trade two serviceable players who project at a combined 15-20 lifetime WAR for a guy who gives them 3 plus wins and The Playoffs over the final 80 games?

    I won’t root for failure, but these guys will wait out losses until they are ready or pressed to do more…promote talent, etc. Struggling and Firing the Manager would move the focus UP to Sandy. Strangely, I believe they’re better than that right now…. a big reason that I’m so frustrated.

    I believe they can contend. That is not their focus.

    • Just to be clear, we are talking about any trades, not necessarily “big prospect” trades. In fact, forget the big prospect angle, that’s thinking in the wrong direction. The model is the kind of deals the Tigers just executed to address their SS situation, or all the deals the A’s executed over the winter to replenish the bullpen. Trades don’t have to be big to upgrade the pool of talent. McHugh for Eric Young was a great trade, moving surprise to address a weakness. The Mets went into Spring Training with a competition between Omar and Anthony for backup infielder. They both failed miserably and predictably. What would it have taken to put a real baseball player on the 25-man roster?

      Anyway, a team doesn’t have to wait for it to be in a pennant chase before making a trade. Because sometimes when you fail to upgrade a roster, you never get to the pennant chase in the first place. You sit and make a decision between Ike and Lucas, Omar and Anthony, Farnsworth and Reid, incompetence and inefficiency.

  3. wkkortas says:

    Valverde as closer, eh? You have to hope that C.J. Nitkowski doesn’t have Sandy’s cell phone number.

  4. How old is Jesse Orosco? Maybe they can fly him in for any emergency tryout. He’s already pitched more games than any human being alive today. What’s a few more?

  5. Raff says:

    I think the conundrum of having BOTH Duda and Davis on the opening day roster is based upon the fact that Duda has one remaining option to be sent to the minors. With Ike Davis in a walking-boot only 2 weeks ago- It made “MET-SENCE” to preserve Duda’s option by keeping him on the Major League Roster. Had they sent Duda down to the minors and Ike suffered a relapse, their recall of Duda would mean that once Ike got healthy, Duda would have to clear waivers in order for the Mets to retain him, if the Mets wanted to send him down. If there were no takers- I still believe they would be obligated to pay Duda. I’m sure many in 2-Guys-Dom understands this better… If so, please chime in. Of course, all of this nonsense was set in motion, IN MY OPINION, when the GM was vetoed by “higher-ups” when he told them of his plan to either trade or cut Ike, prior to the arbitration deadline. Ike has no options left. So, Sandy is stuck with trying to trade one of them, and to do so, he needs to preserve his “rights” to them. His best shot is to get one or both at-bats in the Majors. This whole mess was set in motion when he Mets granted Davis arbitration. This decision, in My Opinion, was made when the owners BOTH; 1)Signed off on Sandy’s plan to trade him, but 2) refused to sign off on Sandy’s plan to cut him, prior to arbitration. All-In-All::: A Fine METS-MESS

  6. Eraff says:

    “He didn’t know what to do, and so he did….Nothing…”

    THE most memorable post game quote Ever…any Sport!!!!!

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