Being Critical Is Easy To Do, When It’s All You Want To Do.

An article by posted on December 29, 2010

I think there has to come a time when the critics of our new front office executives need to relax. I’m trying to think back at a time when I can remember such hostility towards newly hired executives who are hired to clean up a mess over the long-term. 

Are there really Mets fans out there that thought whoever was hired to be the new GM of this franchise was going to instantly snap their fingers and turn the team around into an NL East contender? If you really thought that, then I’m sorry you’re either not paying attention or you live in quite the optimistic world. 

Critical To Be Critical 

I read a comment posted by one of our frequent readers Mr. North Jersey and it made me shake my head. It was a link to a column written by Jon Heyman in which he said, and I quote, “The Dodgers made a good trade, acquiring starting pitcher Michael Antonini for all-field, no-hit shortstop Chin-Lung Hu. For the Mets, whose No 4 starter until Johan Santana returns is Dillon Gee and No. 5 starter is unknown for now, it was the latest in a series of curious moves.” 

Now, this to me sums up a portion of Mets fans and some media that will not stop until Alderson, DePodesta and Ricciardi are run out of town. It’s amazing how threatened some people feel when somebody new is brought in who MAY be smarter than them.

Heyman has earned the right to give his opinion on such a trade, but why does he have this particular opinion? What in the world does he know about Michael Antonini? He clearly knows nothing about the future of the Mets because he takes a jab at Dillon Gee, but also, did he really expect Antonini who NOBODY claimed in the Rule 5 draft would be the Mets answers to their rotation woes? 

What is the purpose of making such a comment? The only purpose is to be critical for the sake of being critical. 

This perfectly details how a portion of the Mets fan base has reacted to every single decision made by the NY Mets since the day Alderson was hired. 

Moneyball

I’m going to do my best here to squash all of this Moneyball talk.

Moneyball is a book. It’s a book about a writer’s view on how the Oakland Athletics operated with a budget of less than $45 million over an 8 year period.

It’s a book about a front office’s method of drafting players, but also signing free agents due to their budget constraints. 

It has nothing to do with the New York Mets, and anybody who has read the book understands it for what it is. They also understand to win an average of 93 games while spending less than $45m on the team’s payroll in an 8 year window is not only impressive, but it’s unheard of in today’s game and marketplace. To mock it, is honestly just proving a lack of baseball intellect. 

That’s what the book is about. When the Mets cut their payroll by $100m and say they are only willing to spend $50m max on the team, then we’ll talk about the Moneyball Mets. The Red Sox use sabermetrics, they don’t use Moneyball. Why? Because they have money.

So when you as a critical fan mention Moneyball in the same breath as your critiques of the NY Mets, you look foolish. Not wanting to spend $150m on your team is not Moneyball, and if it ever is, then the Yankees would be spending 10x that amount. There is a difference between Not Spending, and Spending Wisely. We should all want the Mets to spend wisely, and that’s part of their goal for the future. 

If your critical of the book, and have never read it, then how can your view be taken seriously? Do yourself a favor. Go to your local library, get a card, and check out Moneyball. I guarantee you it’s not what you think, and I guarantee you, you’ll learn something. 

Minor League Development 

How long have the Mets had such a poor farm system? I mean, sure we have a few diamonds in the rough. Guys like Ike Davis who nobody talked about and comes onto the scene and makes a serious case for Rookie of the Year if Posey and Heyward were not eligible.

Hasn’t it seemed like year in and year out we have 1, maybe 2 guys to look forward to and the rest are just long shots? The Mets don’t have a farm system; they have a farm player or two worth noticing.

I realize some people here love to pick on Paul DePodesta. The truth is, I’m noticing more and more that you have no idea what his job title is. His job title is Vice President, Player Development & Amateur Scouting.

Can somebody who has been critical of DePodesta within the Mets organization please comment as to what he’s done so far to warrant such opinions? He’s not the General Manager, so he has nothing to do with free agents or trades, his record as a Dodgers GM has almost nothing to do with anything related to the Mets. 

So what’s the problem? DePodesta’s role is to manage the department who’s job it is to scout the players eligible for the June draft. He also has a hand in scouting other teams Minor League systems. So I’m curious, what has he done that has made you, the critic even mention him?

The answer is nothing. You’re critical just to be critical. 

What you are refusing to see and praise is that for the first time in a very long time, the NY Mets have devoted a strong focus on the MLB Draft and Minor League Development. There is absolutely no way DePodesta will be 100% right. However, the best way for this franchise to turn the corner is to start from the bottom up.

Signing old free agents for the sake of pleasing a fan base for a 1-2 year window isn’t going to turn this franchise around. The 2006-2009 seasons are all the evidence you need. The Mets need to focus on developing players, and drafting the right players out of college or high school.

If you want to look at a model franchise, it’s going to be the Red Sox. They draft very well. They scout very well. They make mistakes as do all teams. But they develop talent, and then they spend money when necessary to put them over the top. Not to help them tread water to sell tickets. Winning games for a long stretch of time sells tickets.

J.P. Ricciardi 

I don’t really get the hostility here either. At maximum I think his largest budget was $215million to be spent in a 3 year window with Toronto. That’s roughly $70m max he could spend. He averaged 80 wins a season, and had the luxury of playing in the same division as the two most elite franchises in that time period.

What’s the problem? What has Ricciardi done to earn such hostility? You realize he was in charge of a Major League team for 8 years, and now he’s merely an Assistant to the Mets GM right? He’s not running the show, so his time spent as running the Blue Jays is solely a resume bullet, and nothing else. He spent an average of $30m less than the Mets while he was the GM of Toronto, and the Mets averaged 79 wins during that time. 

So he did just as well as the Mets have, without a New York budget. Wouldn’t that excite you just a little bit?

Or is the fact he looks at numbers occasionally so threatening? You realize that Ricciardi was a Minor league baseball player within the Mets organization right? It’s not as though Ricciardi had just heard of this game of baseball one day and decided to see if he can run a team. He’s been a player in the minor leagues, a coach, a scout, an instructor and an executive.

Did you or do you have a better option for the Assistant to Sandy Alderson? Was there an executive that didn’t get the job that you feel Ricciardi is less qualified than? If so, who? If not, then why are we even talking about him?

Being critical, for the sake of being critical. 

Summary 

It’s not going to be a quick turnaround, and I have to be honest with you. I’m not going anywhere. I’ll gladly let them figure things out if they feel that is best for this franchise. What better choice is out there?

We’ve tried to give a GM full power, and sign every free agent he could get his hands on. It didn’t work. Now we have a bunch of older players that nobody wants. 

I’m tired of having a window of opportunity to win. Aren’t you?

I’m tired of seeing a team like Boston play with the same budget as us and have a tougher division yet constantly succeed and give their fans a reason to watch every game, every year for the last 9 years.

I don’t want 2 good seasons out of 9. I want 9 out of 9. You don’t have to win the World Series every year, or even make the playoffs every year.

You just need to maintain a level of competitiveness so that when a legitimate free agent like a Carl Crawford comes along, you don’t have to convince him that everything changes if he signs with you. You convince him he’s just another piece to your already successful puzzle.

That’s what attracts free agents nowadays. Not “come be a part of our mess.” 

The method of thinking by several of the Mets critics (who also happen to be fans) is a method of instant gratification. When, that method is exactly what got the franchise in the shape it’s in today.

I hope that the fans and some in the media do not run Alderson & Company out of town before they get their chance to make an impact. They need time, and it’s not their fault they inherited a weak farm system and an aging big league roster.

About the Author ()

Michael Branda grew up a Mets fan watching the mid 1980's teams and his favorite Met of all-time is (and was) Wally Backman. When it comes to sabermetrics versus old school thinking, he's in the middle and believes adopting new ways to get answers is helpful, especially when the old way has not produced results.

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