A Mets Penultimatum

METS FANS STRESSED SADPhew, the protected pick is safe! That’s some great managing by Terry Collins – now the Mets won’t lose a draft choice when they make the big run on free agents and true major league talent that has always been promised for the historic winter of 2013-14.

Scott Atchison, who I still maintain looks great for 57, helped assuage the fears of those fans who still have faith in what this front actually says. They know that this is go time for Sandy Alderson, the moment for him unveil the big missing pieces in “The Plan” and with the green light from ownership, finally work to lead the league in the most important advanced statistic of them all, WOL.

Wins over losses.

Also known in certain scouting circles as VAD – victories against defeats – this crucial statistic shows with incredible arithmetic certitude a baseball team’s improvement year over year and provides a precise and measurable metric of a management group’s performance. If we hone in on this season’s performance and run some advanced regression analysis in Metsmerized’s famed sabermetrics lab (based in Corona, I’ve heard – but that’s just a rumor – I’m new in these precincts and some secrets are understandably closely guarded) we get this incredible result:

Mets after 161 games in 2012: 73-88

Mets after 161 games in 2013: 73-88

The formula is complicated and you’ll have to trust our analysts (but I will tell you that it’s been confirmed by Greg Prince of Faith and Fear in Flushing, which says a lot), but those results yields a WOL/VAD result that looks like this after 161 games for each of the last two seasons:

2012 WOL/VAD: minus-15

2013 WOL/VAD: minus-15

Alderson and his lieutenants (otherwise known as the “dream team” just three years ago) will undoubtedly be parsing these critical numbers in the coming weeks, performing more of their famed “evaluation” of these remarkably consistent numbers – right after handing a two-year extension to their field general, Mr. Collins.

Only one more game for the three-year evaluation portion of the Alderson Era, of course. We’ve heard that this off-season, it all changes. A massive infusion of talent, spending on free agents, and a return to the pursuit of winning would key the cooler months, leading to a team transformed in Port St Lucie come late February. All the big contracts are off the books – and heck, one wasn’t even offered to the greatest shortstop in team history, a crucial spot not surprisingly that remains a gaping maw on the Mets two years after the infamous “box of chocolates” negotiation.

But letting bygones be bygones – hey did you see R.A. Dickey won his 14th game, two more than any Mets pitcher? – the front office is clearly set to make runs at multiple major upgrades through free agency and clever trades. You know the names: Shin-Soo Choo, Hunter Pence (oh, wait a minute), Carlos Gonzalez, Troy Tulowitzki, Bronson Arroyo, Carlos Beltran (only the greatest offensive tenure in Mets history), Stephen DrewJacoby Ellsbury, Curtis Granderson – heck maybe even a run at Robinson Cano, or Cuban defector Jose Abreu. Somewhere between two and four proven bats for the everyday lineup and a veteran arm to help bridge the gap till the youngsters are fully ready – or Matt Harvey returns from the eventual Tommy John surgery all the arm chair medicos seem to insist he’ll need, contra the ignorant and ill informed Dr. James Andrews.

Mix those proven players with keepers David Wright, Daniel Murphy, Juan Lagares and hopers like Travis d’Arnaud and Wilmer Flores – along with the young starters – and you might be able to turn that WOL/VAD from -15 (or more accurately, the -14 or -16 it will be after Piazza Day) to a +15 and post-season berth. As Joe D. pointed out, it’s all about “acquiring and developing talent” and “managing payroll.”

Today is the penultimate game in Sandy Alderson’s contractual penultimate year. There are big things on the way.

And if not, there are some other key metrics to study – like these.