MMO Exclusive: Blaming Sandy Alderson

An article by posted on November 25, 2013

We are pleased to welcome the talents of Robert Walsh to our staff at Metsmerized Online.

It is now known that sometime this month, under a cloak of secrecy demanded by such bold initiative, Sandy Alderson visited Chris Young somewhere out west, ostensibly we can conclude to pitch him on the merits of signing a free agent contract with the Mets. Nary a tweet on Twitter revealed the details of the delicate operation, nor the results the monumental meeting pawned. The burglars of Watergate would be envious.

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To clear up any immediate confusion — Alderson did not go see Chris Young, the gutty but sore-armed pitcher, who the Mets have already signed twice. Rather he went to see Chris Young, the center fielder, who it has since been announced the Mets have signed to a free agent contract — to hit, not pitch. Apparently to not play center field, either. In light of all that appears troublesome with this signing, where the Mets most recently signed Chris Young plays in the field might be disingenuous nitpicking.

For the past three years, like the proverbial carrot, this was heralded as the winter of recalibration for the Mets, when 2 large contracts became extinct, and the Mets would return to acting as a large market team. Most Mets fans grudgingly accepted their collective fates and continued to be what they – we – are, fans.

Although we visited Citi Field less and less, we, the truest of fans, held up our side of the bargain. The Mets side of the ledger, they promised, would be to increase payroll this winter, bring in better players through trades and free agent signings, and return to a playoff caliber team. Not the AAAA teams we have endured.

To kick off this grand plan, the Mets will spend $7.25 million for a player who hit .200 last season, and gets on base less than than the kids who on special fan days get to run around the bases before games. Hell, Chris Young, the pitcher, who happens to be quite a hitter, would be embarrassed by the 2013 production of Chris Young, the hitter. Not the Mets. Not Sandy Alderson, who sure knows how to pinch $7.25 million worth of pennies.

In a kind of bargain with all that is illogical, it is agreed, in Alderson’s bell curving defense, that this signing can’t be any worse than wasting wads of cash on a hall of shame of degenerates, malingerers and malcontents that has been Alderson’s inexplicable bent to this point in time — see, Marcum, Rauch, and the gem of all, Francisco. That’s $23 million of post Madoff money down the drain. Wasted on three horrible baseball players. Put another way, it could have paid Jose Reyes’s salary for a couple of years more.

Even now, the question of why the disgruntled, lazy, contagious Francisco was ever paid to pitch for the Mets pains the intellect. Was the likable Tejada, once an eager young man with promise now sadly derailed, infected by the sour Fransisco while both supposedly rehabbed in Florida? Marcum and Rauch similarly strain logic and patience. Ask Harvey, as pure a professional athlete as they come, what he thinks of the overgrown bully, Rauch. It’s as if Alderson went looking for the most despicable players on the free agent market, and then overpaid for them.

Alderson and his brain trust (excuse the inelegant satire) remain focused on repairing this team through the draft. A good enough plan, it might seem, if it didn’t devolve into becoming ignorantly fixated on drafting every day position players regardless of who was available at their draft slot.

To wit: Alderson’s crack team passed on Jose Fernandez. And they passed on Michael Wacha. And Sonny Gray. Why? To draft 2 position players – Brandon Nimmo, who we know famously didn’t play high school baseball, and Gavin Cecchini, a shortstop who, at best, belongs in a long past era and not in one where power hitting shortstops are becoming an offensive necessity. You’d be hard pressed to find a single scout in baseball who thinks either of these two players can be anything more than an average major league players, under ideal circumstances.

Think of which position players Fernandez, Wacha, and Gray could have returned on the trade market this winter had we drafted them. Keep in mind – we’d still have Harvey, Wheeler, Niese, Gee, Montero, Syndergaard, Mejia and the rest. In other words, we’d potentially have one of the greatest staffs in the history of the game, young and under full team control for years, with a few extra top of the rotation prospects to trade off for an established super star or two.

While Nimmo and Cecchini struggle in the low minors, Fernandez was named Rookie of the Year, and finished third in Cy Young voting. Greatness beckons. Gray and Wacha had much postseason success, and should have brilliant careers. It is less idle daydreaming and more a systemic repudiation of Alderson’s drafting philosophy that if they had drafted Fernandez, they could have, in a case of brutal irony, traded him for his current teammate, Giancarlo Stanton, who actually has a chance to be a franchise player. Ergo, and this is not rocket science, the Mets would have had that dominating franchise player they hoped to draft in Nimmo in Stanton, the result of drafting Fernandez.

Now, had they not told the world that they had deliberately passed on Fernandez, who they discounted solely because he was a pitcher, then its a different story. A choice between two viable players, and they picked, wrongly, who they thought was the best prospect. Happens all the time. But since they NEVER considered Fernandez, the pitcher, because they had stubbornly made their minds up not to draft any pitcher with the first pick, the result becomes something much closer to howling organizational absurdity – the kind petty self-absorbed dictators who refuse to listen to anyone else make.

All this makes one wonder exactly how the brain trust of the Mets makes decisions, and what degree of contempt and arrogance towards the fan base factors into the equation. Here’s the obscene part of this sham they have perpetrated. In the 3 years going on 4 years that Alderson has been GM, just about everything good that has happened to the Mets in that time period, and it hasn’t been much, has a direct link to the hated, exiled in disgrace, former GM, Omar Minaya.

Emotions aside, let’s objectively consider the facts, which is something far different than having Alderson’s pedantic rhetoric about rebuilding what Minaya destroyed shoved down our throats. Or its alternate disingenuous delusion: blaming it all on Madoff, another self-serving red herring. In truth, the Mets owners received twice the money they invested with Madoff – even in their world of constant lies, that’s quite a profit. Real estate, the Wilpon’s prime means of money making, is also on a strong rebound.

Facts, of course, have an annoying habit of being true. Here’s a few for consideration.

Harvey? Minaya draft pick. Its almost blasphemous to write this, but one sees a young Seaver here. Yet Harvey already seems more than up to the task.

Wheeler? Traded for Beltran, a great player for the Mets for 5 years, signed by Minaya, when no one of consequence would sign here.

Travis d’Arnaud? Not happening if Minaya didn’t sign RA Dickey, the kind of low risk, high reward player Alderson can’t seem to find, despite his ridiculous fawning over Sabermetrics. Also add in that Mets fans have rarely had the pleasure of having a player with Dickey’s heartwarming humanity to root for – indeed, Dickey makes some of Alderson’s acquisitions seem even more monstrous in comparison.

Noah Syndergraard? Perhaps the jewel of a very pitching rich minor league system, see above.

Jenrry Mejia (whose stuff last year was electric), Jacob deGrom, Steven Matz … I think you see where this is going. All drafted or signed by Minaya.

In balance, Alderson did make the two trades mentioned above. He has also managed to accomplish another milestone of some note in 3 years.

At this precise moment in his grand scheme to return the Mets to relevance, the team has one of the lowest committed payrolls in major league baseball — prior to the Young signing, less than $30 million, and almost all of that to one player, David Wright. Small market teams smirk at such a pathetically low number.

This, after a recent Bloomberg audit had the Mets franchise valued at over two billion dollars. Alderson must see the Mets fans as rubes, when he repeatedly promises ‘significant’ acquisitions’ this winter, and a payroll of $100 million by spring training – and then begins this massive revamping with the signing of the likes of Chris Young, a very insignificant player, to a very significant contract.

To be clear. As a periphery player to add depth – and take a shot at his production returning – the signing of Chris Young for a few million dollars for a single season would seem about right. Heralding the ‘new’ era in spending, on star players, after so much suffering as fans, not so much. We’ve drunk this cool-aid from Alderson before, and except for Byrd, who the Mets should have resigned instead of Young, bottom feeding misses far more often than it works.

Beyond all the posturing, proselytizing and prevarications by Sandy and his brain trust about Madoff and Minaya, the $2.05 billion Mets continue to have the lowest payroll of the large market teams. A 2014 budget of $87 million is now being bandied about, but even that comes with stipulations.

Unless something changes real fast, we have only the transformative genius of Sandy Alderson, who made his career proudly pinching pennies in small markets, to blame.

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About the Author ()

A Mets fan since 1965, my first favorite Mets player was Ron Hunt, then Dennis Ribant, and then, and forever, Tom Seaver. I had the good fortune to be 13 when the Mets won the 1969 World Series, and have been a lifelong fan since. I was a copywriter and creative director in the NYC Metropolitan area for 25 years, and today I run a design firm.