MMO Crossfire: Sandy Alderson’s 2013 Plan

An article by posted on August 24, 2012

In this edition of MMO Crossfire, me and Jessep debate Sandy Alderson’s recent appearance on WFAN where he tries to convince Mike Francesa there’s a bright future ahead beginning as soon as 2013.

Jessep’s Take…

To me, this was the most honest and up front interview I have heard Sandy Alderson give as the GM of the Mets.

I think if you go into the interview thinking you refuse to believe anything he says, then you’ll never have a chance to hear what I heard.

First and foremost, he sounded like he was having a conversation with somebody he obviously respects. That to me has to be considered when you talk about his “tone.”

He sounded like a General Manager who has been through two tough years, and has seen enough and wants to make changes.

With regard to the budget, he went on to say what I’ve been saying for the past few days. You have no idea what the bottom line budget is yet, and so many things such as arbitration and trades can impact that.

I believe the Jason Bay part was the worst aspect of his interview. The problem there is, I don’t need him to talk about Jason Bay.

We all know what is going on with Bay don’t we? Do we expect Alderson to say “Bay won’t be here in 2013,”? His goal with Bay first is to try and convince somebody else that Bay has value – you don’t do that by admitting on air that he has none. It was a no win situation for him there.

The best part about the interview to me was an acceptance of blame for the bullpen woes, and the acknowledgment that this roster cannot be the roster we see in 2013. He took all blame off of Minaya and told you this is now his team. Everything is on him.

He’s giving you an inside look into how he runs an organization. He focused on changing the scouting department, and he told you that he wanted to take time and actually evaluate the team’s talent rather than rush to make judgments.

What is not to like about that if you’re a Mets fan?

One thing was clear to me – this off-season is put up or shut up for Alderson.

He told us that he recognized there needs to be immediate changes, and he made us believe he’d be active in the trade market and wants to turn things around.

If the 2013 roster looks like the 2012 roster then I may have to join Joe D in criticizing Alderson., but for now – I loved what I heard.

Joe D.’s Take…

What a difference two years has made. When we first met Sandy Alderson we saw a majestic figure riding in on his white horse – a charismatic leader brimming with confidence who was going to save a floundering franchise and lead it into the dawn of a new era.

But now, the Mets GM sounds more like a beleaguered man who has been defeated. He is fresh out of enthusiasm and ideas. There would be none of his usual attempts at humor like in his other interviews with Mike Francesa… there were no light-hearted moments like before, it had all the excitement and charm of a wake.

When the interview shifted into 2013 mode, Alderson made the assumption that payroll would be the same, but then follows that up by saying he doesn’t expect the same team on the field. He said he’s had basically the same team for two years and has gotten the same bad results. ”We need an infusion of players — productive players, players who are going to hit for power. There are only two or three ways to acquire those. I’d say the more likely avenue for us would be trades.”

Trades?

He then goes on to mention players who make $10-$12 million a year like Jason Kubel, Michael Cuddyer and Josh Willingham and hints that we shouldn’t rule out trades for productive hitters like them this offseason.

But how is that possible when for two years he’s made it clear that he wouldn’t trade prospects and give away the future for a quick fix. That’s been his philosophy all along right? He obviously knows that no team is going to trade quality productive players for any of the quasi/fringe major leaguers we want to get rid of…

What is he trading?

In fact Francesa interrupts him and says assuming your infield of Ike, Murphy, Tejada and Wright stays intact, you have no outfield, you have no bullpen and you need to add an enormous infusion of power.. that’s expensive stuff. How are you going to trade for players like that when you have nothing to trade? What are you trading to get players who are difference makers?

Alderson backpedals and proceeds to say that Jason Bay still has value to the Mets and he will be on the 2013 roster and that they are not going to eat his salary. He also follows that up by calling Lucas Duda valuable and a player they need to hang onto. Francesa again interrupts him and says, “So you’re telling the fans Bay and Duda will be in your outfield next season? Bay, who is a bust, and Duda, the guy who was hitting .111 for a month before you finally sent him down.”

“We still have faith in Lucas and we can hide him in left field where his defense won’t be as big of a problem”, Alderson quips.

So  about two-thirds into the interview all we’ve learned is that Bay and Duda will be our left field platoon in 2013. Plus, Alderson has yet to answer the main question which was. how are you going to add these power bats and quality relievers via trade with the same payroll and no obvious trade chips on the roster?

“Look, let’s be honest. If we’re going to get a right-handed power hitter or a left-handed power hitter, what’s it going to cost us? Maybe $10 million to $12 million a year. If you look at Cuddyer and Kubel and guys like that…they’re very productive players. Is that a possibility for next year? I wouldn’t rule it out at this point.”

Almost frustrated at this point, Francesa asks again, “But how are you getting those players?”

Alderson finally drops the veil… ”My job right now is to set up a series of possibilities — high, low, medium. …”

Possibilities… what an interesting word… Lining up possibilities is what you do the night before your fantasy baseball draft, not what you base your major league offseason strategy on.

Finally after more pressing by Mike, Sandy answers the question…

He does a complete 180 on what has been his philosophy from day one – building from within – and says we got plenty of pitchers from Triple-A on down that are trade chips. He cites the Brooklyn Cyclones rotation as being lights-out and very desirable.

Whoa… I didn’t see that coming. Goodbye Luis Mateo, Hansel Robles, Gabe Ynoa and Luis Cessa? Is Collin McHugh or Mike Fulmer available too?

And even if he could get a couple of difference-makers via a trade for top to mid level prospects, how will he fit them into the budget If payroll stays at $100 million? (That was his unofficial number, not mine.)

There’s no way Alderson can afford to take on a couple of $12 million dollars a year players. He’s blowing smoke up our behinds. The $15 million freed up by letting Hairston, Young, Torres, Rauch and Ramirez move on, will be used for raises to Wright, Dickey, Niese, Parnell, Murphy, Davis, etc. and he still needs to fill over a dozen other roster spots.

Look folks,  the bottom line is that 2013 will most likely be worse than those “dead from the neck up” teams of the late-seventies and early-eighties.

Whatever the Alderson strategy was when he first arrived has quickly evolved into a “we have to do anything we can to save our jobs” strategy. That means trading prospects for aging, high-priced veterans. We have had two murky seasons on Alderson’s watch and the reality is that 2013 could be even worse.

During this entire half-hour interview you never heard the words “competitive” and “contending”, let alone “championship caliber”. Those were words he used quite often in his first 18 months as GM. He also never mentioned the years 2014 or 2015 either, yet another departure from what he always pointed to as the years where it would all come together for this franchise and when we would see a “sustainable level of championship caliber baseball”.

Who are we trying to kid here?

About the Author ()

I'm a lifelong Mets fan who loves writing and talking about the Amazins' 24/7. From the Miracle in 1969 to the magic of 1986, and even the near misses in '73 and '00, I've experienced it all - the highs and the lows. I started Mets Merized Online in 2005 to feed my addiction and interact with other passionate Met fans like you. Follow me on Twitter @metsmerized.

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