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Monday, January 28, 2013

Megdal: The Mets’ off-season goes from too soon to too late


Ten days later, despite having added only Shaun Marcum, a starting pitcher more like Chris Young than R.A. Dickey, and both the outfield and bullpen unaddressed, Alderson made it sound like his winter shopping was essentially complete. The patience he stressed all winter turns out to have been a rationale for doing almost nothing.

“We keep looking. But, at the same time, in terms of significant upgrades on the free-agent market, not a lot available, ” Alderson said Sunday. “We continue to talk to clubs about possible trades, but at this stage most teams, as you know, are beginning to prep for the beginning of spring training and the trade activity is probably going to begin to diminish.”

There’s a scene in Duck Soup of a cabinet meeting conducted by Rufus T. Firefly, played by Groucho Marx, that goes like this:

  RUFUS: And now, members of the cabinet, we’ll take up old business.

  CABINET MEMBER: I wish to discuss the tariff.

  RUFUS: Sit down, that’s new business. No old business? Very well, then we’ll take up new business.

  CABINET MEMBER: Now about that tariff-

  RUFUS: Too late! That’s old business already.

Repoz Posted: January 28, 2013 at 04:03 PM | 20 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: mets

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   1. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: January 28, 2013 at 04:46 PM (#4356851)
What is there to do? Ownership is not all that interested in putting forth a winning team, and the Mets don't have a ton of tradeable assets.
   2. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 28, 2013 at 05:07 PM (#4356880)
What is there to do? Ownership is not all that interested in putting forth a winning team, and the Mets don't have a ton of tradeable assets.

   3. HowardMegdal Posted: January 28, 2013 at 05:18 PM (#4356893)
1. What I don't get about the situation is why Alderson is out there talking about the moves he's planning on making. Either he's terrible at knowing what he can do, which I don't believe, or he is setting up fans to be disappointed when these things don't happen. If the latter, better to not talk at all. No reason he has to give interviews all the time.
I don't get upset that he does this. I am just desperately curious why anybody thinks this is a good idea.
   4. Bhaakon Posted: January 28, 2013 at 05:26 PM (#4356902)
False advertising to sell tickets?
   5. HowardMegdal Posted: January 28, 2013 at 05:35 PM (#4356908)
4. But that's the thing- who is buying tickets when he says he might get an outfielder? Isn't it undermined by his negative message about the team makeup now?
I'm not saying you're wrong. But I'm legitimately puzzled by it.
   6. billyshears Posted: January 28, 2013 at 06:56 PM (#4356962)
I think Alderson knows that he's just biding time unless something crazy comes up. Also, there wasn't much else for Alderson to do. The Dickey trade was outstanding, and I really liked the Marcum signing. I would have liked the Mets to have been more aggressive/creative on at least one of the Upton brothers, but I imagine Alderson had limited flexibility on those fronts. There really wasn't another transaction out there that i thought the Mets should have been in on. The rotation is set and Wheeler is waiting in the wings. The starting infield is set, and Valdespin should be a reserve. I very much hope the Mets plan to have Mejia and Familia in the bullpen, and if that happens, there aren't even significant openings there. The outfield is a gaping chasm of suck, but I don't don't see much worthwhile talent available to fix that. For better or worse, this year is going to be about hoping a bunch of guys are really as good as their 75th percentile projections. Given the talent on hand and the options, I don't have a problem with that.
   7. HowardMegdal Posted: January 28, 2013 at 08:12 PM (#4357011)
6. I don't disagree. So if Alderson didn't either, why not a pitch around the guys coming back? Why a winter of pretending otherwise?
   8. GregD Posted: January 28, 2013 at 08:19 PM (#4357016)
I think it's just letting air out of the balloon. If you say on December 1, "we ain't doing nothing" you give lots of time for the train to get a-rolling and create a sense of crisis. If you let the hopes die bit by bit, you defer the rage. The rage may come, but there's no reason to push it to a crisis.

One thing he's done is bought time so that the Mets situation becomes clear in a moment when the Yankees look weak. That's a hugely positive event for him (whether he could have planned it or not) as the Yanks struggles will likely dominate the spring training and early season reports.

I just don't see any possible upside in forcing a crisis early on. There may not be much upside in the strategy he's taken, though. The situation stinks no matter how you slice it.
   9. Adam Starblind Posted: January 28, 2013 at 08:28 PM (#4357020)
He inherited a situation of almost guaranteed long term despair. I don't think it's reasonable to suggest he could be fielding a competitive team right now that was not just as destined to collapse as the 2008-09 version (bad contracts on old players). What is debatable is whether he positioned the team as well as possible going forward from here. I'm not overwhelmed by what's in the minors, though there are some good pieces. Wheeler and D'Arnaud will likely be major league regulars and perhaps more. Beyond that, there's a couple of potential bullpen arms, a Wilmer Flores who has no position, and a Nimmo who's still 19 and much to far away to project. I don't think I'm leaving out anything significant.

I wasn't impressed by last year's draft - I don't think anyone projects Cecchini as a star. Not trading Reyes was regrettable, but given the timing of his July 2011 injury, I'm not sure there was a deal to be had there.

Bottom line for me is that there's not enough rising talent here to make me confident that it will be worth spending money, say, next offseason, on available free agents, so it may be a year or two more before we're really on the verge of a successful cycle. I don't feel that way now, and I'm not excited for pitchers and catchers. Hope I'm wrong.

None of this explains why Alderson talks so much.
   10. HowardMegdal Posted: January 28, 2013 at 08:34 PM (#4357025)
9. Generally agree, though take a look at Reyes' game logs. Was back by 7/19, multi-hit games aplenty pre-deadline. Do not buy idea that guy, the SS with .900 OPS, wasn't getting a bunch in return.
   11. Elvis Posted: January 28, 2013 at 09:33 PM (#4357050)
Arbitol - I think you're forgetting Syndergaard and Fulmer, who I think both have good shots to make it. Montero, too. There's a lot of pitching and some will make it beyond just bullpen arms.

Howard - any chance Alderson is playing games with Boras, letting him know he's prepared to go to Spring Training with what he has?
   12. billyshears Posted: January 28, 2013 at 09:50 PM (#4357064)
Yeah - Alderson's most significant failure was not trading Reyes. I think we would feel a fair bit better about the future if we had Desmond Jennings in CF, for instance. Jennings isn't amazing (and who knows if the Rays would have dealt him, but they were interested in Reyes), but he's a piece with a future at a position where we have nothing.
   13. Adam Starblind Posted: January 28, 2013 at 09:54 PM (#4357067)
I did forget Syndergaard. A ways off, but the numbers and the scouting reviews are there. Fulmer has shown a bit less. Montero I have not previously focused on, though his K/BB numbers are pretty.

Again though, all of these guys are at least 2 years away, maybe more. Not real additional cause for optimism, given TINSTAAPP.
   14. Jack Carter, calling Beleaguered Castle Posted: January 29, 2013 at 04:16 AM (#4357163)
The patience he stressed all winter turns out to have been a rationale for doing almost nothing.

Are we talking about the same team?

The Mets had no money going into the offseason, and none seemed at all likely to turn up, given what we knew of the Wilpons' finances. Alderson wasn't stressing patience in any meaningful or honest sense. There's no evidence he was doing anything other than blowing smoke. He hasn't made any moves because there were no moves to make. Other than dealing Dickey, which in retrospect seems inevitable--the Wilpons had decided not to spend the money to re-sign him--and re-signing Wright, everything else was just getting the roster's ducks in a row. In other words, it wasn't a rationale; it was just the pr meant to cover inevitable inaction. I guess they figured it was better to pretend some things might be possible than to say up front, we'll have 2m to spend on FAs this offseason (which sort of makes sense, if you don't want teams knowing you've made up your mind to trade Dickey). One of the things you don't want in a negotiation is your opponents knowing with certainty your financial position.

Everything is limited by the budget, and that hasn't changed between September and today. That's neither good nor bad, it just is. It will be the defining feature of the Mets until either the Wilpons' finances significantly recover (probably at least five years by my guess) or until the Wilpons sell the team.

In the mean time, we're in the not unusual position of being fans of a mid- to low-mid payroll club that's unlikely to do anything, but has enough interesting young players that towards the end of the five year window, from 2013 through 2017, that a wild card win isn't completely out of the question.

That's not a big deal unless fans are wanting these to be the mid-2000aughts Mets, a club with true stars and one of the highest payrolls in baseball. That'd be nice, but those days are gone, possibly for as long as the Wilpons own the team.

In the mean time, D'Arnaud could be a lot of fun to watch. It's exciting watching a good, smart, young defensive catcher grow up. He has a chance to be the third best catcher in Mets history, and if he never makes an All-Star team, I'll be disappointed.

Can Ike Davis return to form? That's worth rooting for. Ike seems like a good guy, and like with D'Arnaud, I'd be disappointed if Davis never made an All-Star team (though I'm mystified by his bWAR of -1.1 on defense in 2012. Does that make sense to anyone?).

I don't know if Murphy's an interesting story any longer. He seems to have settled in in the field, but he's not worth much out there. I don't see a big season possible for him, but I'll be interested to see if he'll be able to figure out how to last in one capacity or another into his late 30s, or whether injuries and ineffectiveness will push him out of the game in a few years.

Tejada's another interesting guy--can he move up, figure out how to hit well enough so that when his quickness starts to go his bat's enough to keep him around, or is he another player who'll drift out of the game as soon as he loses a step, or gets expensive.

Is Wright going to have a few more years like 2012, and get back on a HOF track? Is there any chance at all Santana can string together a half dozen 25 start seasons and get back into the HOF discussion? All of which is to say, the Mets are one of those teams more likely to be interesting than they are to be good. And that's fine. At some point over the last several years I stopped being pissed off that the Wilpons were as bad, as stupid and as venal as any owners in baseball, and just started to enjoy the show for its strangeness; for the drama that's outdone any soap opera I'm aware of, and for the team more as a collection of stories and individual performances rather than as a group, a team, likely to succeed.

   15. Benji Posted: January 29, 2013 at 07:16 AM (#4357178)
Davis' bad defensive number makes sense to me. "Just past a diving Jeter" gave up the Most Said crown to "past Davis and down the line". I don't know if he was taking his bad ABs out to the field with him, or if he couldn't figure what the hell Murphy was gonna pull next, but he really wasn't an asset in the field.
   16. Stormy JE Posted: January 29, 2013 at 07:44 AM (#4357188)
Yeah - Alderson's most significant failure was not trading Reyes.

I would bet the house that the decision not to trade Jose was Jeffrey's.
   17. thetailor (Brian) Posted: January 29, 2013 at 02:49 PM (#4357601)
I would bet the house that the decision not to trade Jose was Jeffrey's.

Definitely. There is a 99.9% chance that the Wilpons valued game of day ticket sales in July-September 2011 more than the future of the franchise. Every move they have ever made has indicated as such.
   18. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: January 29, 2013 at 03:24 PM (#4357643)
Is Wright going to have a few more years like 2012, and get back on a HOF track?

Let's use the HOM line of 60 War, he's at 39.1 before age 30
last 3 years:
27: 2.5
28: 1.9
29: 6.7

using BJames favorite toy, Wright has an established value of 4.4 WAR and 6.6 years left, which gives him a 50% chance of reaching 68 WAR and an 89% chance of reaching 60 (I think James has a rule that if a goal is 3 or more years away your odds cannot exceed 70%)

His 10 BBREF comps averaged 23 WAR after age 30 (the retried ones averaged 26), that gets him over 60 as well.

I'd say he's on target to be a borderline HOF candidate, and by that I mean a 50/50 shot - in the "gray area" so to speak

He's currently 28th in JAWS among 3Bs...

   19. Jack Carter, calling Beleaguered Castle Posted: January 29, 2013 at 05:53 PM (#4357805)
@18--yeah, that's certainly more promising than where he was at the end of last season, and suggestive of a real shot.

For no good reason that I can substantiate, I do think that fluky looking seasons like 2012 don't bode well for a player putting together a long string of solid seasons in the future. Between that and the underrepresentation of 3bmen in the Hall, if the FT gives Wright a 50-50 shot, I'd lean towards those odds as more on the order of 2 to 1 against. Still, given where he was after 2011, 2 to 1 against is pretty good.

edit: anyone else getting randomized typography in this part of the comments section?
   20. billyshears Posted: January 29, 2013 at 07:53 PM (#4357846)
I also think Wright will be hurt by the fact that his value is derived from a broad base of skills (not so much fielding though) rather than one signature skill. My impression is that those guys tend to be undervalued by the public. I think Wright needs to put up a couple more seasons like 2007 for people to start thinking of him like a Hall of Famer again.

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