The Best And Worst Of Sandy Alderson

An article by posted on December 22, 2012

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Ha, Ha, Gotcha! Yesterday, our own John Delcos sparked a solid debate with his post highlighting some of the good things that has happened under Sandman’s watch. This morning, XtreemIcon emailed me a comments from that post from out reader DrDooby. It was a well thought out comment that wasn’t lacking in objectivity si I decided to promote it to a Fan Shot.

# 1 Beltran for Wheeler

Even if Wheeler tears his labrum tomorrow or decides to retire and go on a mission for two years, that was a tremendous haul for two months of Carlos Beltran who was not going to be re-signed due to the financial restrictions in terms of receiving market value in return.

# 2 Signing Niese and Dickey to very team friendly extensions

Niese will be under contract longterm at a very affordable rate, especially looking at his 2012 breakout. Dickey signed a very team friendly extension which included the bargain $5 million option which may have helped significantly in terms of upping his trade value.

# 3 Dickey, Thole and Nickeas for D´Arnaud, Syndergaard, Buck and Becerra

Yes, parting with the reigning CY winner is tough. However, nobody expected a major haul like this. D’Arnaud is a consensus top 15 overall prospect in Baseball. Sure, he´s a catcher. And like Buster Posey or Joe Mauer for example (among elite catchers), he has missed some time with freak injuries, breaking a wrist here or injuring his knee there. However, he is the top catching prospect in Baseball right now which certainly has a ton of value. A Dickey for D´Arnaud straight up deal would already have been applauded by most experts. Getting Syndergaard, and thus another consensus Top 50 overall prospect in this package was a major coup. Now, obviously, Syndergaard is further away and is a lot tougher to project than D´Arnaud. He probably won´t help the Mets before 2015 even if all goes well for him. However, again, looking at the return, this was a trade that EVERY major league GM would have loved to make. Alderson got blasted by a lot of people for asking for the moon for Dickey, supposedly. Well, he ended up with the moon and more for RA. Becerra is a nice lottery ticket add-on. And the Buck for Thole swap even addresses the short-term lineup balance, even if both probably are below average C at this point in different ways.

# 4 Offering arbitration to Pedro Feliciano

…And then drafting Michael Fulmer with the compensation pick for him. Fulmer doesn’t have the ceiling of Syndergaard or Wheeler but looks like a really good young pitcher too. Basically the upside is a Chad Billingsley type # 2/3 starter if all goes well. And that in return for an overused “LOOGY”.

# 5 Keeping the Mets competitive while rebuilding

Unfortunately, the major league roster Alderson inherited was extremely shallow in terms of depth – but at the same time featured a totally bloated payroll. With ownership struggling to avoid a bankruptcy, the off-season budgets in 2011 and 2012 were minuscule. Instead of rushing the few good upper level prospects into action (like the previous administration did towards the end of their tenure), Alderson kept the big picture in mind and instead signed several very useful players such as Chris Capuano, Scott Hairston (twice), Chris Young (twice), Ronny Cedeno, Jason Isringhausen, Tim Byrdak (twice) or Jon Rauch for less money overall than one season of Francisco Rodriguez to fill out the roster short-term.

# 6 Getting out of the K-Rod contract

While this move mainly helped the Wilpons´ keep a grip on their franchise and thus may not have been positive in a bigger picture from a fan perspective, but this was a tremendous move. He found the loophole in the contract and struck, before Scott Boras found it. He got two fringe prospects in return who may never have an impact. But the move saved 17.5 million $ in 2012 – and may well have saved his owners the franchise. As unfortunate as it may be. But from a financial restructuring aspect, it was a sound move.

# 7 Slowing down the pace of development

Besides procuring quality young talent via trades and in the draft, the current FO has implemented a player development program that pretty much gets everyone on the same page. Prospects aren’t moved as aggressively as they used to be (look at how that worked for Mike Pelfrey, Lastings Milledge, Carlos Gomez, Fernando Martinez, Jenrry Mejia, etc. in the past). Instead, they move up more gradually and get to build confidence while playing at a level appropriate for their stage of development. It makes them readier to succeed at higher levels than being rushed due to supposed needs at the major league level or to “challenge them” and “prepare them” for the pressure in New York as Bernazard & Co. liked to do. Matt Harvey probably would have been in NY by late 2011 under the old administration. By spending an extra two thirds of a season at AAA, he was a lot better prepared than, say, Mike Pelfrey 5 years before him.

# 8 Implementing an organizational approach in player development

Besides, slowing down the pace, the Mets now have an organization wide philosophy regarding prospects. Whether it´s the way pitchers are handled, i.e. how many changeups a SP has to throw per game, how the strikezone is attacked, how many days of rest between appearances, how many pitches per game or max per IP. Question: How many serious injuries did Mets minor league SP endure in 2012 ? Pretty much zero, so something must be done right here. It´s also part of the reason why the depth in young pitching is so improved. If you keep your arms healthier and more successful, the attrition rate will be a lot lower. Similar things are done offensively, where even very raw talents have gradually improved their batting eye and stopped swinging at everything.

# 9 Extending David Wright

Look at the upcoming free agent markets. There aren’t any impact hitters available, especially not right-handed ones any time soon. Wright not only is the best bet for an .850+ OPS on the 2013 Mets – but also on the 2015 or 2016 Mets in all likelihood. Usually, third basemen age a lot better than up the middle players. Take a look at Adrian Beltre and Aramis Ramirez who were right with Wright atop the 2012 leaderboards at ages 33 and 34 respectively. Michael Young and Scott Rolen started fading at age 35/36. Chipper Jones even remained productive until he was 40. Rarely do you see a third baseman fall off a cliff in his early 30s. So, if you want to give a “2nd generation longterm contract”, it´s safer for a third baseman (or first baseman for that matter where the same thing applies). That Wright is a fan favorite (at least among the casual fans who don´t blame him for a lack of world peace or a lack of carrying the team on his shoulders for entire seasons), certainly doesn’t hurt. Wright will be the first homegrown star in franchise history who will begin and end his career with the Mets. Unlike Tom Seaver, Dwight Gooden, Darryl Strawberry or Jose Reyes.

# 10 Knowing when it´s your time

Which it certainly wasn’t in 2011 or 2012. Instead of craving to public pressure to try to add to an ill-fated run like in 2004 (with the Kris Benson & Victor Zambrano trades), Alderson realized that his team played over its head in the first halves of 2011 and 2012 and didn’t waste young talent on short-term upgrades in trades in July. In 2011, Jose Reyes had an MVP 1st half while Carlos Beltran and Daniel Murphy also played surprisingly well. However, the 2011 Mets – like the 2010 and 2009 Mets before them – had very little depth due to a minor league talent pipeline having run dry. So, once injuries struck (most of all to Reyes, Wright, Ike Davis and later on Murphy), it was clear that this team wasn’t going to win 90 games and reach the playoffs. Even while keeping Beltran and K-Rod and trading Matt Harvey and Jeurys Familia for a top pitcher. Instead he dumped K-Rod and traded Beltran – for the longterm well-being of the franchise. Likewise in 2012, RA Dickey, David Wright and Johan Santana essentially carried the Mets on their backs for almost three months. When Santana began to fade, Gee getting hurt around the same time, with Pelfrey already out and Miguel Batista and Jeremy Hefner suddenly joining Chris Young in the rotation, it became obvious that this wasn’t going to last either. Again, instead of throwing away prospects, Alderson stood pat. Rightfully so.

And to be complete, here are the 5 worst moves:

# 1 Letting Jose Reyes go for little

Now, maybe there are things we don´t know – like when did the 2012 budget change, what effects did the Picard case have, etc. in the 2nd half of 2011. Still, letting Jose Reyes leave as a free agent wasn’t only bad from a PR standpoint but also not using resources in a good way. Sure, Kevin Plawecki and Matt Reynolds may end up as solid players. Still, looking at the Beltran haul, trading Reyes would have been the right move, assuming Alderson knew he wasn’t going to make him a market value offer.

# 2 The Pagan for Torres & Ramirez trade

It made sense when it happened – considering Pagan was even discussed as a non-tender and was coming off a lackluster season, getting two players for the price of one. However, Torres looked like a 34-year-old and Ramirez´ mediocre peripherals finally caught up to him. Pagan would have left anyway after the 2012 season as a free agent, so the longterm impact is minuscule. Still, this is a bad trade looking back.

# 3 Wasting money on mediocre relievers

D.J. Carrasco, Frank Francisco and to a lesser degree Jon Rauch were signed to at least meaningful contracts, considering the Mets shoestring budgets. Now, Carrasco´s & FF´s collapses weren’t foreseeable, but that money could have been spent better elsewhere. Now, of course, the best bullpens are usually built from within – and the Mets didn’t have many choices there in 2011 and 2012. This will fortunately change soon with a plethora of young pitching climbing up the ladder and several of these arms likely to be bullpen bound. Still, these signings didn’t get anyone excited when they happened – and rightfully so.

# 4 Insulting Mets fans´ intelligence

It´s pretty obvious that the Mets have been ”rebuilding” for the last couple of years, maybe even since 2010, Minaya´s final season. While I´m happy with trying to compete while rebuilding and don´t believe in total tear-downs, just stating the obvious instead of talking around it and claiming that “our focus is totally on 2012″ in late August of 2012 with the Mets totally out of contention is bogus and an insult to the intelligence of Mets fans. Maybe a lot more fans would be on board with this rebuilding if the plan was stated a bit more openly.

# 5 A lack of creativity on the waiver wire

Sure, Hefner and Baxter have been helpful and I also like Greg Burke´s profile as a submariner who dominated in the upper-minors in 2012. However, the front office has been rather passive in terms of working the waver wire and making small trades. The Marte for Cowgill trade is a nice step into that direction, trading from superfluous depth ( a fringe 1B/3B prospect blocked by Wright and Ike at the major league level and not as promising as his age peers Flores and Rodriguez in the minors) to get a scrappy right-handed platoon outfielder who should get 200+ PA in 2013. However, I would have expected a bit more action & creativity instead of just assessing your own talent. Heck, in over 24 months on the job, the Mets have made a total of merely 7 trades if I am not mistaken – two of them over the last week. And that´s even including Chin-Lung Hu for Mike Antonini.

FAN SHOT 214

Nice job here, DrDooby… If it’s one things I’ve always prided myself on about MMO, it’s some of the amazing comments left by those in the MMO Community. Now, with anywhere around 500 or more comments daily on any given day, our threads make for some great reading in addition to our unique and original posts. I want to thank everyone from the writers to the readers for giving MMO a dynamic so rich in diversity and one that fairly represents the Mets fanbase as a whole. It’s pretty difficult to match that anywhere else. Happy Holidays to all! – Joe D.

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