During last night’s 4-2 loss to the Brewers, Mets general manager Sandy Alderson joined Gary, Keith,and Ron in the SNY booth to discuss the team’s 2013 season and what the plan might be going into the offseason.
I’m going to break this down into some more manageable posts and hone in on some of the things Sandy tried to covey, despite the overall vagueness of his end-of-year message to the fans.
Lets get right to it and a big thanks to Amazin Avenue who provides most of the quotes I’ll be referring to…
Not happy, but we’ve got something to build on. I’ve always felt that from when I arrived here through about this point, with the expiration of some contracts, that we needed to acquire and develop talent, we had to, unfortunately, manage our payroll, and try to win some games—and I think in that order. I think going into next season, that order changes. And I’m really happy that Mets fans have been relatively patient with us on that basis.
If we were to take Sandy at his word, he says he’s unhappy – which is nothing new as this has become his typical diatribe every October. This time however, he wants us to believe that we are going to be rewarded for our patience, but how so?
He asserts that there have been four main tenets to the way he’s gone about his job of turning this team around. They are:
- Waiting for some contracts to come off the books.
- Acquiring and developing talent.
- Managing payroll.
- Winning “some” games.
We can eliminate the first thing he listed as all the bad contracts he inherited are off the books. The only players with remaining multi-year commitments are David Wright who has $127 million and seven years remaining on his deal, and lefthander Jon Niese who has three years and $21 million left on his deal, not including his two option years.
Winning “some” games is a throw-away because in the same interview he admits that projecting wins is an unknown quantity and he himself thought this team he constructed would be a winning team (really?) – it wasn’t. Also, if winning “some” games is his goal I object to how low he has set the bar. How about contending for a wild card, winning the division or winning some championships instead?
We are left with “acquiring and developing talent” and “managing payroll.” This might have been the most lucid and revealing message Alderson gave us all night.
He even reiterated that the order would be different this time, and in saying that he gave us the hint that managing payroll would be Job Number One.
Now that his top priority of slashing payroll and gutting most of the major league roster is complete, managing payroll is still paramount to him as we enter this next offseason - the offseason that he allegedly would be able to spend. But as I’ve asked so many times this year, how much? How much is he willing to spend?
Validating what I’ve been saying almost all year long, a team insider told Adam Rubin of ESPN that the New York Mets are not expected to vigorously pursue any free agents with draft-pick compensation attached — whether the pick is protected or not.
This nullifies any concern over the protected pick as the Mets will hold a second round pick in the same regard as a first round pick. It also wipes out virtually all of the top names in free agency, which I never believed they would pursue anyway.
You have some daydreamers out there who are expecting our new core that includes Matt Harvey, David Wright, Zack Wheeler, Travis d’Arnaud and one or two others to now be supplemented with major league talent to fill in the gaps so that we may usher in this glorious dynasty of sustainable championship baseball in 2014.
Sorry to break it to you, but this team is still years away from reaching that point.
This team, as currently constructed, has no offense and desperately needs at least two big if not huge bats. For those of you think things have improved on the offensive front, think again.
Lets look at some National League 15-team rankings:
.238 Batting Average:14th
.675 On-Base plus Slugging: 14th
1,371 Strikeouts: 1st
Those are the worst offensive numbers as whole since the 1992 season when Jeff Torborg presided over a 72-90 last place finish. And for all this talk of “The Approach” leading the league in strikeouts is quite the stigma on hitting coach Dave Hudgens in my opinion.
For those of you who think the bullpen has been vastly improved, it hasn’t been. The Mets rank 13th in bullpen ERA up from 15th in the NL in 2011 and 2012. That’s not the kind of improvement you exactly rave about.
This team has more gaps and holes to fill than ever before. Alderson addressed those concerns last night saying that he will be looking to upgrade at first base, shortstop, and backup catcher. Nary a word about the outfield which for now looks like Eric Young Jr., Juan Lagares and Matt den Dekker.
His payroll now stands at around $50-55 million including arbitration settlements and raises. That leaves roughly $45 million in spending if he wants to maintain a $100 million payroll. But I say that’s a pipe dream.
The red flags are already rampant in the leaks that are coming out. They duck questions about what the payroll budget will be for 2014 whenever a beat writer asks them. They never respond assertively when asked if the money from the Bay and Santana contracts will be reinvested in the team. They’ve already showed their cards and admitted they will have no interest in any free agent that would cost a pick.
So how will this current team transform into the championship caliber team we were all expecting in 2014 – year four of the Alderson Era?
Honestly, given my belief that Alderson will spend around half of that $45 million, or lets just say he’ll spend $25 million, Mets payroll will be around $80 million – $85 million tops. It will come with usual January caveat that he wants to save money in case he needs it to make mid-season additions – another famous Alderson tradition.
But please, don’t hang all of this on Sandy… Mets ownership still calls all the shots…