Sandy the Tortoise and His Harebrained Analyses

Sandy AldersonLast week I concluded a post with a joke about how little Sandy Alderson does. This was during a discussion about Stephen Drew and the joke related to Alderson’s, umm, deliberate pace in putting together an annual roster. This pace leads me to laugh every time an eager blogger begins discussing moves in the following manner:

“If we can trade Ike for a pitching prospect, we can then turn around and flip that prospect for a hitter.”

That would take two trades, and in one of them Sandy Alderson would have to trade a prospect. Two trades is six-to-nine months work for the current regime, the idea of Sandy Alderson making two quick consecutive trades is fantasy. Oh, and the last time Sandy Alderson traded a prospect since he became GM of the Mets was never.

I started thinking about that today, and I am being unfair. Sure, Frank Cashen traded for Keith Hernandez, Gary Carter, Ray Knight, David Cone, Ron Darling, Howard Johnson, Bob Ojeda, and Sid Fernandez in the time it takes Sandy Alderson to order a meal. But Alderson has to spend a lot of hours devising up new ways to sell the unsellable. Sandy has to acquire players and also be in charge of explaining our payroll, the one that makes no sense and has no relation to our market. Cashen was never stuck with that job.

To his credit Sandy seems to love this part of the job, leading me to figure that this is what he harebrained-schemesspends most of his waking hours doing. He jokes, and better yet, he comes up with harebrained analyses that fly right by New York sportswriters. Hopefully those guys don’t manage their own investments. The latest doozy from Sandy is payroll concentration.

Certainly by now you have heard. While other GMs were working on mundane tasks such as acquiring talent, Alderson and his gang were running the numbers.

“If you want to look at the data and the way we look at data and associate winning teams with payroll concentration,” Alderson said at last month’s general managers’ meetings, “you realize that there are limits to how effective an overall team can be with their payroll concentrated in a small number of players.”

That quote was used as justification by Alderson not to pursue many high-priced players this offseason. It happens to make a lot of sense, as long as all teams have the same payroll. But those are not the rules of baseball. So, yes, David Wright makes over 20% of the Mets current payroll, and Sandy is implying this is a problem. Well, if the Mets payroll were at the $140 million mark it once was, Wright wouldn’t be close to that percentage of the total. When Alderson brings up the issue, he is leaving out half of the equation. That is useless math.

As a Mets fan I want Sandy and his entourage to succeed. When he can focus on baseball, he has managed to find time to make a few savvy moves. I wish he spent more time on baseball and less on spinning yarns.

Ike Davis isn’t going to trade himself, you know.

Ike-Davis-Strikes-OutDAVIS MLB: Pittsburgh Pirates at New York Mets


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  1. IB says:

    I like what Sandy’s done this offseason, but it’s agonizingly incomplete. It seems senseless to me to go out and spend $80 million and then head into spring training with two major question marks (holes, really) in your starting lineup. I can’t fathom that at all. Part of Alderson’s job is having 20 microphones shoved in his face several times a week and having to say something – obsfucate, dither and deflect. I can’t say I like his approach, but bullsh-t is bullsh-t no matter how it’s presented. I don’t envy him that task.

    A slightly different subject. I’ve been thinking – if Davis and Duda are more or less equally incompetent, would I take the big, silent ape or the guy with some heart, humor and clubhouse personality. Lord, Lord, Lord.

  2. I think the hardest aspect of this offseason (so far, I remind myself to keep adding: so far) has been that it was clear the Mets badly needed an upgrade at SS and had to resolve the 1B situation. To think that here we are, in year #4, and the club is in exactly the same place, it’s depressing. So far.

    Tick, tick, tick.

  3. Alan K. says:

    I had to be overly cynical, but the object seems to be to run in place until the prospects they’re relying on are ready to contribute. The Mets don’t want to fall backwards to the point that attendance goes down further, but they’re also unwilling to increase the payroll to improve the team. In other words, maintaining mediocrity. SS will not be upgraded because they misread the market on Peralta, Drew is still beyond their price range and they don’t have the chips to trade for a quality SS. Therefore, they’re now playing up how Tejada will be transformed into a productive SS because he’s learning not to eat junk food. First base is unresolved because they’ve clearly overrated Ike’s present day value and seem committed to Duda for reasons I still can’t fathom. Sandy’s main value at this point is to spin the organizations’ decisions (or non-decision) and to keep Fred, Jeff and Saul out of the line of fire.

    • Patrick Boegel says:

      I’d say Fred and Saul are well secure out of the picture. Saul was frankly never in. In fact, I’d venture nary a Mets fan knew the name Saul Katz until Sterling Equities was embroiled in the Madoff scandal.

      Fred’s last stand was when he went on the derangement with his New Yorker article which seemed to try to paint him as a man past his time possible with senility rearing its head.

      Jeff on the other hand, he can’t seem to help himself from wearing hats (quite literally) and making bizarre statements that may in fact might not even have been on purpose but just born of total ignorance if not stupidity.

      I was never really big on most of these shortstops, and there is some merit to the current front office not being thrilled either, a whole crop of better ones become available as early as next season.

      To me, where the Mets whiffed was Abreu at 1B. That was the RH power bat with upside reasonably priced as well.

      • Alan K. says:

        According to Jeff, the Mets passed on Abreu because we have a “glut” of first basemen. That statement in itself speaks volumes as to Jeff’s cluelessness.

    • Michael Geus says:

      That is pretty close to where I am at. On the plus side, I do think they invested just enough this year so that the prospects for 2014 are not as bleak as 2013. I think there is a punchers chance this time.

      On the negative side I don’t see anything about our farm system to believe that 2015 and on will be an improvement. And it seems pretty clear that more money is nowhere on the horizon.

      I agree 100% that the primary goal has been to put out an annual mediocre team, with the misguided hope that it could be sold better than an actual rebuilding project. This was a major miscalculation, this is not Oakland or San Diego, Sandy’s previous stops. New Yorkers are way too savvy to buy the act. The result is attendance and revenue cratered anyway, and by not committing to a real rebuild we have stood basically in place as an organization top-to-bottom.

      One of these years, even 2014, things could break great and we could make the playoffs. I sure hope so, because nothing real has been built, and the idea of any sustained success is the biggest joke of all.

  4. Eraff says:

    Does anyone have a workup on Team by Team Salary?—2013 versus 2014.

    Here’s the 2013 Team Salaries:

    The Mets $87,000,000 INTENT matches their 2013 expenditure. If the Mets added the entire $25,000,000 they would land at $112,000,000…. that would place them just outside the Top Ten for 2013—- it’s a MIDDLING total.

    I believe that decent ownership would push at least half of that extra revenue to Payroll, if not most/all of it….. I believe it would and should yield a conten ding team NOW and going forward.

  5. I’m done dreaming of more payroll. They have to try to make $90 million work, or at least establish a strategy within the restrictions of payroll. And I think Sandy Alderson’s performance has to be judged on that scale.

    • Michael Geus says:

      This is a good point. I am the first guy to agree that it is harder to win with a reduced payroll. But don’t sign up for the job if you can’t do it, and Alderson is paid very well. Forget championships, how about a .500 club?

      It’s not like the guy can’t quit if it’s too much for him, jeez, he qualifies for Medicare, he doesn’t even have to worry about health insurance.

  6. Raff says:

    I’m done thinking that some cryptology can be performed on Sandy’s musings and “poetry” and to provide additional insight at what his intentions are. I am satisfied to accept those few straight-forward statements he has made as fact, without regard as to whether I like them or agree with them or not. Once there, I’m left with: 1) They’re going to spend around $85-90 million. 2) He wants to trade Ike for a prospect and handle 1st base with the players he’s got. In the context of a team with multiple holes, this means he’s had choices to make. For instance, In isolation> Are the Mets better served by spending $15 Mil, adding a power bat and plus defender in RF to fill THAT hole, or would they have been better off getting a decent 12-14 Mil player to fill the shortstop position? I believe that if he couldn’t do both, the Mets are better with Tejada at short and Grandy in Right, rather Than Drew or Perraulta at Short Stop and the continued hole in RF He has told us in so many words that he can’t do both. As the entirety of what he does–: The Free-Agent acquisitions this offseason, any additional moves he can make in signings and trades, the development and advancement of the young talent he’s drafted, and the impact of the players he has traded for-> We can evaluated and judge his effectiveness against what he has said and what he has done as the season plays out.

  7. […] Mike wrote a good piece last week, basically calling bullshit on Sandy Alderson’s “payroll concentration” comments, […]

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