This is not a Sandy bashing article, though it seems like some fans take any criticism at all of the general manager as sacrilege.
Sandy Alderson has done some great things as the GM of the Mets—holding onto Noah Syndergaard while some screamed for the minor leaguer to be traded for Ian Desmond, bringing in and keeping Yoenis Cespedes to reasonable contracts, and turning some veterans into young talented players. But Sandy Alderson has got to adjust his mindset when it comes to relief pitchers.
The Mets as configured are a team reliant on starting pitching. Twenty five teams produced more runs than the Mets last year and we go into 2017 with the same offensive weapons as 2016. Our defense? We didn’t have a single player even be a finalist for a gold glove and are below average at the catching position, centerfield (when Juan Lagares is not playing) and first base, with no position where we are substantially above average other than left field.
The starting pitchers need help, and that has to come from the bullpen. Yet, Sandy Alderson announces at a time when relief pitchers are the hottest commodity on the market that he won’t go as long as two years for a relief pitcher.
Somehow Sandy stood by this statement even as Brett Cecil, a left handed specialist who was 1-7 with a 3.93 ERA in 2016, signed a 4 year $30 million deal with the Cardinals. Even as Daniel Hudson, coming off a season he appeared in 70 games and produced a 5.22 ERA with the Diamondbacks, signed a 2 year – $11 million deal with the Pirates.
I am not suggesting that these were contracts that we should have tried to match—far from it. These contracts should be an indicator to the current market for a quality relief pitcher.
Brad Ziegler would have been a fantastic addition to the Mets bullpen. He has a career 2.44 ERA and has been even better of late, throwing to a 1.85 ERA in 2015 and a 2.25 ERA in 2016. Several articles linked the Mets to him, but we watched him sign a two year deal with the Marlins because of how Sandy feels about two year deals for relief pitchers.
How about bringing back Jerry Blevins? We need a lefty specialist and he pitched effectively with the Mets in 2016, to a 2.79 ERA. Surely Sandy won’t leave the role of our left handed specialist to the unproven bunch behind him in 2016 (Josh Smoker, Josh Edgin, and, gulp, Sean Gilmartin)? Well, Jerry Blevins is said to be seeking a three year deal, so unless Sandy makes an exception to his philosophy or changes it all together, that is not happening.
The playoffs put on display the importance of the bullpen. The Mets currently have two solid and reliable arms in the pen—and one could be suspended for the first 30 games of 2017. The time when relief pitchers are failed starters is long over. First the Royals dominated the American League—and beat the Mets—on the strength of their bullpen. Last year the Cubs and Indians showed what a strong bullpen can do in a World Series for the ages.
It is time for Sandy to reassess his position on signing relief pitchers to long term deals, and bring in some arms we need—Even it if means for two or three years.