Why Can’t Everybody Be a Met?

An article by posted on April 22, 2011

There’s a lot of negativity in the Mets fan base when it comes to the direction of where the 2011 team is headed. I don’t really have a problem with it, because at 6-13 we all should be frustrated. 

However, this idea that the 2011 season is all the fault of Sandy Alderson is just laughable. First, lets call a spade a spade. 

If the Mets were 14-6, and playing great baseball, the same people would be crediting Minaya for the success, just because they do not like Alderson. They don’t know why they dislike Alderson, they just think they should because they heard there’s a book out there. 

Somebody who looks at the Mets franchise objectively cannot possibly say that Alderson did a bad job. Did he do a great job? No, but how could he? He wasn’t exactly given an open checkbook this winter, and he didn’t exactly inherit a farm system that is highly thought of around the league. Everybody has a Lucas Duda in their farm system. Everybody has a Captain Kirk or a Reese Havens. 

They aren’t special prospects, or can’t miss guys. Do we wish them the best? Absolutely, but they aren’t guys who will net you a player like Zack Greinke or Matt Garza. You know the Mets had no shot at Cliff Lee also. 

It just wasn’t happening, so what was Alderson to do? He had to find 2 starting pitchers, deal with the fact he’s throwing money down the drain with Castillo/Perez, and he had to find 4-5 bullpen arms. 

I’m not sure if you realize this, but most teams don’t create a bullpen through free agency. They create a bullpen with their farm system and fill in 1 or 2 holes with free agency. When you have to go into the free agent market and sign 70% of your bullpen, you’re in a lot of trouble. That wasn’t because of Alderson, he inherited that mess. 

My biggest peeve when it comes to the critics of Alderson’s winter. They wanted healthy starting pitching, but they mention names like Aaron Harang. Or they mention Jon Garland. 

Look, here’s the fact about both of those pitchers. Aaron Harang is off to an amazing start, but he’s also coming off a season where he got hurt in late June, and when he returned in August he didn’t make it out of the 5th inning in any of his 5 starts off the DL. 

In fact, in 3 of his 5 appearances, he pitched 4 innings, 2.1 innings, and 2 innings. The other two appearances were in relief. Not exactly a sign of good things to come for Aaron Harang. 

So health was not on his side, and I’m not saying it was in Young or Capuano’s case either, but you can’t sit here and demand Alderson go get healthy starting pitching and follow it up with Aaron Harang. 

Most important regarding Harang, he wanted to pitch in San Diego, where he and his family live. He’s 32 years old, no longer a big money pitcher, and his career is coming to an end in a few years. 

When Harang was introduced by San Diego, he said “There were a few better offers out there, but I talked to my wife and we thought it would be cool to pitch for my hometown team. It really came down to being the best fit.”

“It’s a great fit and I wanted to do something now. We’ve got a four-year-old and my wife [Jennifer] is due with twins in a few weeks,” Harang said. “It’s going to be nice being at home.”

Now, if you discredit that and turn and say the Mets STILL should have gotten Aaron Harang, then I’m sorry but you’re not paying attention and you’re complaining for the sake of complaining. Aaron Harang signed a $4million deal with a mutual $5million option for next year.

The Mets signed TWO starting pitchers for less than that, and nobody was complaining about Chris Young until he got tendinitis in his arm. Aaron Harang could hurt his back tomorrow or injure his arm again, and then what? Nobody was complaining about Capuano last night either. 

The bottom line with Harang is that he was not coming to New York. In order to get Harang to come to New York they would’ve had to blow him away with a financial offer that frankly, he didn’t deserve. 

He’s a pitcher on the tail end of his career, having a great April and is always a risk for injury. If the Mets signed him for more $ than San Diego did, it would have been crazy. Harang told you the offer he signed wasn’t the best he got, so how high would the Mets have had to go? Too high.

The same can be said about Jon Garland. You don’t have to like it, but you need to accept that the New York Mets do not play in Southern California. Jon Garland had indicated that he’d like to stay out in California, where his family is. 

And oh there’s also this from the LA Times in December. 

“Garland this week on the 790-AM Mason and Ireland Show about why teams may have shied away, telling Steve Mason: 

“I had a few teams that were a little worried about my MRI on my physical. They were a little weary about committing that much money over a few years when there’s so much up in the air, especially with starting pitching.’’ 

So when it was clear he’d be accepting a shorter term deal, why in the world would he relocate his family to the east coast for a short term deal, when he could play where he grew up? 

So take Lee, Greinke, Garza, Harang and Garland off your list. You can complain about them all you want, but the fact is, not every player wants to be a Met because you root for them, and not every GM wants to trade with the Mets when there are better options available.

What other starting pitchers signed deals similar to Young or Capuano? Bruce Chen? Jeff Francis? Dustin Moseley? Vicente Padilla? Ryan Rowland-Smith? Brandon Webb? 

Or was a minor league deal the right way to go? Miguel Batista? Dave Bush? Bartolo Colon? Freddy Garcia? Rodrigo Lopez? Kevin Millwood? 

For every pitcher available, you could come up with a reason why it didn’t make sense for Alderson to sign them. If he did, the same people would turn it around and look at Chris Young or Chris Capuano and say “why didn’t Alderson get one of those guys.” It’s a carousel of complaints in 2011.

Bruce Chen – Stayed with Kansas City 

Jeff Francis – Not a bad complaint, but you don’t end up signing in Kansas City on a 1 year, $2m deal if you had other suitors. 

Dustin Moseley – If the Mets sign a guy who has never pitched more than 92 innings in a season and tells us “this is our #4 starter”, you’d run to Citi Field with a pitchfork. 

Vicente Padilla – The Rangers ran him out of Texas calling him a “disruptive presence” in 2009, and in November of 2009 he accidentally shot himself in the leg (haven’t we seen this before in New York?). Also, he’s had recurring injuries and in February had surgery on his forearm. 

Ryan Rowland-Smith – Couldn’t even make Houston’s big league team out of Spring Training. 

Brandon Webb – First threw to live hitters yesterday. I think he would have been an interesting project, but nobody can argue he’s worth more money than both Young and Capuano combined. Not yet, anyway. 

Miguel Batista – In the Cardinals bullpen, and 40 years old. 

Dave Bush – One could make an argument here that he was worth a minor league contract. I can’t tell you why he got a minor league deal and took it from Texas. I have to assume if he signed a minor league deal, that he had several minor league contracts offered and took the best opportunity to win. Why would you take a minor league deal from a bad team over a good one? 

Bartolo Colon – If anybody sits here and tells you that the Mets should have signed Bartolo Colon, and that they thought of this in November, they are either a liar or shouldn’t be allowed to drive a car. Colon has been a great find thus far for the Yankees, but he’s already far exceeded their expectations. This is a guy who has appeared in total, 48 games from 2006-2010. That’s 5 seasons, an average of less than 10 games per. 

Freddy Garcia – I know you didn’t want Freddy Garcia. You can try to tell me that you did, but you remember 2009 when he couldn’t even hack it in Buffalo or Spring Training when he had an ERA over 16.00 for the Mets.

Rodrigo Lopez – Currently pitching in the minor leagues.

Kevin Millwood – He’s so good that he didn’t get offered a minor league contract until March 25th. If that’s not a red flag, then take your blindfold off. 

Were Chris Young & Chris Capuano the best fit for the 2011 Mets? I have no idea really. The truth is, every available option had or has something wrong with it, so you get the best deal you can for the right price. 

The Mets are a franchise in limbo right now. The entire culture of the team is going to change, and it will not happen overnight. Did Brad Emaus bust? Yeah, but he was a Rule 5 pick and not one of the Mets 2B’s ran away with the starting job, so why not give the kid a chance? Ruben Tejada had a nice spring, but he is 21 years old and has more to learn with the bat. He’s wasted in the major leagues right now. 

The fact that Mike Pelfrey, Jon Niese, Angel Pagan have underperformed is not Sandy Alderson’s fault. The fact Jason Bay and Johan Santana are hurt, is not Alderson’s fault. The fact there are no players who can come up and contribute from the farm system, is not Alderson’s fault. 

I’ll criticize Alderson like all of you when and if the Mets have not righted this ship in two years. You have to give him a 3 year window to show you results, otherwise you’re not being reasonable. Let him build the farm, let him test the waters and find his way. After all, he didn’t inherit a good team.

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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