The 5 Best Things That Sandy Alderson Has Accomplished for the Mets So Far

sandyaldersonaddressfans-475x312Jimmy:

Okay, Mike. Maybe this is too broad a category, but let’s look at the “5 Best Things That Sandy  Alderson Has Done for the Mets So Far.”

I don’t think there’s been a total of 5 transactions, so broader concepts such as “Improve the Farm System” or “Patience” or “Provide Stability” should apply.

Hell, I think “Have a Plan” should be in the discussion. In the sense that, like it or not, the Mets are establishing an identity, not only on the field but also in the management group.

A year and a half ago, we ranked the “10 Best Trades in Mets History.” In doing so, we intentionally left out the Wheeler, Syndergaard/d’Arnaud, and Herrera/Black transactions as too soon, the results still unknown. I think for this conversation, those trades are strong candidates.

Let’s just talk about some things, then carve up a list down at the bottom.

Your turn.

Mike:

One thing he proved is he is a willing and able tap dancer. In fact, Sandy has been remarkably light on his feet for a man of his age. When Alderson took over, all hell had already broken loose financially for the teams owners. They had massive debt, a high payroll, and had lost a ton of capital to Bernie Madoff. Given the situation, winning baseball games was not the priority of Sandy’s employers, it was financial survival. Here is a quote from Rick Hahn, alluding to it all when he was bypassed for the job in October of 2010:

“All things considered — including several factors unique to the Mets current situation — I certainly understand the decision to go in another direction.”

Yet Sandy gamely portrayed the ongoing situation as nothing more than a normal baseball rebuild and for a long time many people believed this to be true. As aggravating as the verbal sleight of hand might be to some of us, it allowed Fred, Saul, and Jeff valuable time to rebuild some of their balance sheet. Better yet, due to his association to the Billy Beane mythology, many fans believed the 2010 – 2012 Mets might compete for the playoffs against all odds, with faith that our new front office could overcome any budgetary obstacles that might be in the way. Because of all this, attendance and ratings did not crater quickly, as it was not yet understood that star players such as Jose Reyes had no chance of remaining Mets. Sandy works for the Wilpons, and he delivered on this big time for them.

Jimmy:

noah-syndergaard1Shrug. Okay, you are correct about that, but I think he’s accomplished more substantive things than that. Unlike many others, I’ve never been one to give him credit for fiscal responsibility, since he never had a choice in the matter. You can’t spend what you don’t have. I look at the Mets today, late in 2014, as being on the cusp as a legitimate playoff contender. Alderson has added, through trade, Zack Wheeler and Noah Syndergaard. It’s not hard to imagine those boys winning playoffs games. Folks are raving about the farm system. If there is a way to win at under $90 million a year, I think this is the way. He deserves credit for that.

Mike:

The team is developing successful pitchers at a rate that we have not seen since the days of Seaver, Koosman, Gentry, and Ryan. I have reminded people from time-to-time that Sandy didn’t draft or sign any of these players, but acquiring young pitchers is only one step. Harvey, Wheeler, Familia, Mejia, and now deGrom have all been brought along during Sandy’s tenure. The cupboard does not appear bare yet, either, with Syndergaard, Montero, and Matz all pitching very well in the high minors.

Jimmy:

Yes, many of those names originated from Omar’s time. Even acquiring d’Arnaud and Syndergaard was a direct result from Omar’s prescient signing R. A. Dickey, just as the big money contract on Beltran helped bring Zack Wheeler to the Mets. But we are also beginning to see signs of actual strength with position players, and these are guys that Sandy has directly acquired: Smith at 1B, Herrera at 2B, Rosario at SS, Plawecki at C, Nimmo and Conforto in the OF. We know full well that prospects falter and fail at a stunning rate, but every one of those names looks like a potential full-time ML regular.

And I have to say, damn, if he did not turn Marlon Byrd and John Buck into Dilson Herrera and Vic Black. Yes, the jury is still out on those guys, but Herrera is a very young player at AA and he’s killing it. Black might not last, and at the same time, he could become an important piece of the Mets bullpen for the next 3-4 years. Almost every move, it seems, has been at the expense of today in favor of a future tomorrow. Well, don’t look now, but it seems like the sun is beginning to rise on the horizon.

What about the biggest financial deal Sandy made since he’s been here? That’s correct, signing David Wright. Where does that fit into his list of accomplishments?

Mike:

I think that is a major one. Reyes and Wright were sold to the fanbase as the absolute cornerstones of this franchise, yet due to Madoff, Reyes was not retained. As this rebuild is going on the team still needs to operate and sell tickets and jerseys, and give people a reason to watch SNY.  Keeping David was as close to mandatory as any signing ever was. Despite this, Sandy negotiated a very good deal. When you look at what players signed for this offseason when Wright would have hit the market, Alderson did well.

Jimmy:

Okay, here’s a list of potential choices for our Top Five.

  • Trading for Syndergaard/d’Arnaud/Buccera.
  • Trading for Herrera/Black.
  • Signing David Wright
  • Tap Dancing
  • Trading for Zack Wheeler
  • Patience
  • Implementing and Sticking with “The Plan”
  • Building the Farm System
  • Thinking Long Range
  • Stabilizing the Franchise
  • Properly Building a Bullpen
  • Implementing a System-Wide Approach to Hitting
  • Giving the Mets an Identity

There are probably others. So, what do you think? Do you have a Top Five?

Mike:

I would pick the two I mentioned above for sure, the Tap Dancing, and Wright. I know you tap dancingshrugged at the first one, and I get that. Nothing about that is appealing to us as fans. But he did make his bosses money those first two years as it took a lot of people that long to figure out what the hell was going on. It wasn’t just that he didn’t spend, yes, that was easy. It was how good a job he did of convincing people he would, that spending was right around the corner. The guy could be a politician. It’s a skill, and not many people possess it. I don’t think Omar could have pulled it off.

I’m also pleased with how he has built the bullpen around young, hard-throwing pitchers. That’s three. I would combine his dump trades into one category, and call it “Effective Divestitures.” It has been a consistent strength. A big strength, by the way, if I’m ordering this list it goes to the top.

My fifth would be a play on “Sticking with the  Plan.” My name would be “Unwavering Courage of Convictions.” Sandy is the Honey Badger of GMs. He just doesn’t give a shit.

Sandy does what he wants. He doesn’t care what the media thinks, he certainly doesn’t care what the fans think. He believes he has the answers. There is good in that. It’s obvious everyone connected with the team knows who is in charge.

Jimmy:

The military background feels like a key to understanding Alderson’s methods. He’s tough-minded, willful, regimented. That whole idea of “acceptable losses.” He always understood that it would suck for a while, and no matter how awful it got, no matter how empty the stadium, he never vacillated. For a period there, I wondered if he might be engineering a Pyrrhic victory. You know, where the high cost of winning is tantamount to defeat. The Mets may finally make the playoffs, but only after so much blood and loss. Like that existential tree in the forest. If a team clinches the playoffs, but there’s no one in the stands to see it . . . But actually, at this point, I don’t think that’s a concern. The Mets need to become a little more exciting on the offensive end, and the fans will forgive, forget, and come again.

Mike:

They probably will, as long as things go well. It’s an enormous market. But as to whether citi-field-empty1-300x225the totality of his methods are proved a success, well, the longer you drag out the process the greater the payoff needs to be. I gave credit earlier for Sandy conning fans and the media for a while, which kept some money flowing in for Saul, Fred, and Jeff. Likewise then, I have to hold him responsible for the pace of this rebuild. The ballpark is a graveyard, and those empty seats hurt his bosses bottom line. That is real serious money being left on the table. But for today, the topic is positives, and sure it could all work out. The overall payoff will be the key.

If someone looks back twenty years from now and the Mets only have a couple of wildcard appearances to look back on for all this losing, it is not the same as if it leads to five or six 90-plus win years. Or, of course, one magic World Championship. The cost/benefit on this era will reveal itself over time. The early results are brutal, but the game is not over. And I’m rooting hard for Sandy.

Not that he cares!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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23 comments

  1. That honey badger clip is pretty brilliant, glad I clicked on it.

  2. Eraff says:

    I believe a GM should be able to improve a farm system and the MLB on field team in a 4-5 year period. These are not incompatible goals!

    There’s no surprise that trading Beltran and Dickie would have brought good prospects at that time. The Byrd/Buck Deal was OUTSTANDING!—and we don’t actually know the outcome yet….but it’s exactly the right deal/timing as of that time. I wish there was more!

    The public position was that they were pushed up against it at 140 million….shedding bad contracts would allow them to add new money. almost 60 million dollars later….. 82 million-25 million from the new tv deal—— 57 million dollars of Wilpon Money in 2014 versus 140 in 2009!!!! OK—I concede!…the MLB TV money IS Wilpon Money…..

    Frankly, This year was Wasted by Sandy— do you have reason to believe it will be any different next year?

    • Michael Geus says:

      The post today was not designed as a grading exercise by me and Jimmy on Sandy’s tenure. We specifically highlighted the positives. We have certainly written posts highlighting negative moves too.

      I agree with your first sentence, it’s all about winning in the majors, and unless that is an outcome everyone associated with the team has failed. I also agree time frames matter, I was pretty clear about that in the conclusion.

      Do I think next year will be better? I’m far from sure about it, about the best I can say is I hope so.

      • I definitely expect it to be better. The addition of Harvey is huge, the return of Parnell, and the continued maturation of the young pitchers in general. I expect the team will make a move in the winter to upgrade the offense in LF and, well, we’ll see about SS.

  3. Brian Joura says:

    For the purposes of this story, let’s not get hung up on the fact that it was 2 1/2 years too late but rather that in the Davis/Duda question, he picked the guy who looks like a middle of the order bat rather than the guy who looks like he’ll be an NRI next year.

    • Brian, in microcosm, that’s my general take on Sandy these days. He almost always reaches the right conclusion . . . eventually. The issue is one of timing, pace. You can look at any number of personal moves. Abreu, for example. Okay, fine, roll the dice. But it took a few beats too long to make a move, especially with Kirk and den Dekker readily available. Moving on from Farnsworth and Valverde. He wasted time there, too. And so it goes.

      As for TC, he doesn’t know what he’s doing until Sandy calls a meeting; I don’t trust him to make the right call, ever.

    • Michael Geus says:

      I’m happy Davis is gone but can’t list it as much of a positive. From the day Davis got sent down last year I implored the team to move on and use Duda at first. When it comes to this, I am hung up on the fact that it took so long, I see the handling of the issue as a negative not a positive.

      The process took way too long, and the decision was easy for quite some time. Ike had to go.

  4. Mettle from Blue and Orange Nation says:

    I didn’t see the development of Jacob deGrom on this list. I think that since he wasn’t a “big prospect”, almost any other GM would’ve delayed his development.

  5. It may not be perfect, but as a Mets fan I find today’s lineup to be pretty darn interesting: Granderson, Murphy, Wright, Duda, d’Arnaud, den Dekker, Lagares, Flores, Montero.

    • Michael Geus says:

      Too bad it’s almost a guaranteed rain out (per the local weather reports.)

      • Michael Geus says:

        It turns out rain would have been a good thing.

        • You know, I posted favorably about that lineup. Not because I thought it was a great lineup — it’s filled with question marks at key positions — but because I found it interesting, entertaining. So much better than the brain-battering boredom of CHRIS YOUNG and RUBEN TEJADA.

          Anyway, one thing Sandy has not done is remake the team. He basically took what he inherited and rode it out, without moving a muscle. He never really tried to upgrade anything. Just kind of said, “Well, maybe this will work.”

          You look at that lineup — and the pitching staff — and we still see Omar’s guys up and down the roster. Edgin, Familia, Montero, Harvey, Mejia, Duda, Murphy, Wright, Nieuwenhuis, Lagares, den Dekker, Flores . . .

          This was the “mess” than Sandy inherited. Then you look at Granderson and, well, that’s a classic Omar signing! WWOD! The real crime has been, I think, how little Sandy has done for the Here & Now.

  6. wkkortas says:

    I think the citing of having a plan is a good thing, and, for any franchise, it’s an underrated thing, even if the plan itself isn’t a great thing. You look at a franchise like the Rockies or the Padres or, perhaps the ultimate example, the Phillies–do they seem to have a framework they’re working within, or do they (and I suspect Ruben Amaro does this every morning) wake up and say “Well, it;s a new day–what now?” Maybe you don’t like The Plan, and I wouldn’t necessarily blame you, but I’m a Pirate fan, and I lived through the Dave Littlefield reign of terror where there was absolutely no plan at all, save the odd veteran signing designed to keep him employed a few more months, and having a plan of some sort beats a franchise just drifting along with no particular purpose in mind by a hundredfold.

    • Yes, I agree, and that’s why consistency — continuity — has a value all its own. There are many ways to skin a cat, but you can’t keep changing your mind throughout the process.

  7. Eraff says:

    “We Have a Plan” is NOT a plan. The communication has being Evasive, Parsing, and confusing at best…. wow—I guess I’d call it LYING. The pablum about clearing Bad Contracts would have credence if they had RE-Filled with GOOD CONTRACTS.

    I find myself repeating the same theme—I’m so sorry, but I cannot accept the reality that so many people accept this as a BASEBALL Plan for a team.

    All of that said, I believe they have a core of pitching to compete…contend… I will not consider the playoffs as a great surprise next year—- can we agree on that?…Can we collectively EXPECT them to compete—that will carry with it the expectation that they make meaningful, dramatic, even RISKY Baseball Moves— I NOW expect them to address the HERE AND NOW—-and I expect it NOW.

    • Michael Geus says:

      Not a big fan of the Tap Dancing, I see. It has lost a lot of popularity since Sandy was a younger man, one of the reasons vaudeville is dead.

    • I think the plan — like it or not — was to remake the Mets into a small market team, operating on a low budget, and making decisions accordingly. So screaming for Drew and Choo all year is just besides the point; never was an option; no money. As for “risky,” I don’t think that was ever their plan. In general, big market teams can absorb mistakes easier than small market teams, and therefore are better able to take risks. Of course, it’s hard to say that any of us would agree on what “risk” means or what moves you are actually advocating.

  8. Raff says:

    # 1 accomplishment on my list: He’s put the Mets in position to contend in 2015 and beyond, if he gets any reasonable degree of additional funding for the roster.

  9. Michael Geus says:

    Numerous reports today that Terry Collins is all but certain to return in 2015.

  10. Eraff says:

    Jimmy, you’ve cited a “real crime” by Sandy, NOT ADDRESSING THE HERE AND NOW. I agree with you and YOU criticize me? No Fair!!!!!

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