Roundtable: Sandy Alderson’s top offseason priority

It may be early October but this is the Halloween Roundtable edition. I reached out to friends in the Mets blogosphere recently to ask the following question:

What’s the top priority for Sandy Alderson this offseason?

These people all do great work and their names are hyperlinked to their blogs so please go ahead and click on them to check out their real stuff.

Howard Megdal – Waits with Linus for the Great Pumpkin to appear.

It’s got to be the outfield. I don’t see a single person on the roster for 2013 right now that is a starting-caliber major league outfielder. And most teams deploy three of them at a time.

John Coppinger – His favorite thing is to greet the trick or treaters with a chainsaw.

The top priority is improving the outfield … and it’s not close. At the all-star break the answer would have been the bullpen. But with young lefties like Edgin and Carson, an enigmatic yet talented pitcher such as Parnell, at least you have some pieces to either roll with or trade to get other pieces. There’s work to do there, perhaps re-signing Rauch to close or trading for a real closer such as Chris Perez (you could tell I’m extremely excited about the prospect of Frank Francisco closing in year two of his contract), but it’s not like the beginning of the season where dead weight such as D.J. Carrasco and Miguel Batista made their living.

The Mets need an entirely new starting outfield. Scott Hairston is a fourth outfielder and a pinch hitter on a good team, not a starter to be trusted, especially in center field. Lucas Duda is a defensive liability who I don’t think will ever hit like his size says he should. Kirk Nieuwenhuis is talented yet injury prone and has yet to prove he could adjust to a fastball on the outside corner. And Jason Bay merely exists. And there’s no options in the system that are close enough to consider for 2013. The answers have to come via trades, simply because the Mets won’t spend major money on Josh Hamilton, and the other options to spend major money on have disappointment written all over them anyway (Michael Bourn and Nick Swisher, for example.) Sandy has to get creative but it can be done.

Ed Leyro – Dresses up as a giant bear for Halloween (every day, really.)

Although the bullpen was the worst in the majors this year, I believe the top priority for Sandy Alderson this offseason should be to improve the outfield. No Met outfielder has reached 70 RBI in a season since the team moved to Citi Field (Duda leads all outfielders this year with 57 RBI). How sad is it that Angel Pagan‘s 69 RBI in 2010 represent the highest RBI total for a Met outfielder since Shea Stadium closed its doors for good?

Remember in 2000 when everyone said the Mets won the pennant despite having an offensively-challenged outfield? Well, the trio of Benny Agbayani, Jay Payton and Derek Bell all hit at least 15 HR and drove in a minimum of 60 runs that year. Believe it or not, that’s the last time the Mets had three outfielders reach those numbers in the same season.

Bullpens are unpredictable from year to year. As bad as the relievers were this year, they could be better than expected next year. But a revolving outfield of Jason Bay, Scott Hairston, Lucas Duda, Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Mike Baxter just can’t compete with the more powerful outfields in the league. Without a doubt, the Mets are going to need a significant change in the outfield if they want to improve in 2013.

Jon Springer – Has a part-time job where he yells “boo” at kids on the haunted trail.

It’s obvious that Sandy’s top priority is to fire Tim Teufel… uh, I mean, to get the 2013 Mets a couple of outfielders who can hit and catch. The challenge is to do so against the constraints of the budget, while also seeing to new deals for Wright (probably) and Dickey (maybe?), and hopefully, correctly figuring which of the young pitchers and/or position players are the right ones to sacrifice, since these fixes may come at a price. It’s a tough job but not something a little intellect, creativity, imagination and guts can begin to solve.

Greg Prince –Has a framed picture of Jack Skellington in his house.

The Mets are retaining the same manager who has presided over two consecutive second-half sags and the exact same coaching staff who assisted him in not successfully instructing nor inspiring his players in 2012. So I’d say Sandy Alderson’s mission is to get almost all new players. Supposedly you fire managers and coaches because you can’t off your roster. But somebody is mighty satisfied with this manager and these coaches for some reason.

In realistic terms, Alderson has to set Matt Harvey aside for safe keeping and seriously consider — while using the utmost discretion — the efficacy of every other player on the major league roster. No job shouldn’t be up for grabs to some extent. Nobody should be viewed as a sacred cow. Don’t worry about dealing “popular” players because August after August, no matter who populates it, this becomes, on merit, a very unpopular team. The essence here is ya gotta give up something to get something, so think about everything being on the table.

In conventional terms, left field, center field, right field, catcher and middle relief need the most help. But there is little to be satisfied about in general. That’s why I’m not in the mood to pat the semi-success stories of the past year on the head and install them as theoretical mainstays. We fall for that kind of thinking way too much way too often.


I guess I won’t talk about getting outfield help…

With payroll unlikely to go up, the 2013 Mets seem destined to end up in the same place as the 2012 squad – home watching the playoffs. If that’s the case, then Alderson should make every move with an eye on 2014, including a decision on who that year’s manager is going to be. Terry Collins may be coming back in 2013 but is there any reason to expect him ever to lead a team to a World Series championship? If no, then there’s no reason to bring him back in 2014.

So, Alderson should be thinking about the team’s 2014 manager. Is Wally Backman the right man for the job? If so, how are you going to keep him happy – and not have him interview for other managerial vacancies in 2013? Is Backman going to be content going back to Triple-A for another year in the bushes? Or do the Mets need to promote him to be the team’s next bench coach and give current bench coach Bob Geren some kind of honorary promotion?

If it’s not Backman, who is it going to be? None of us are clamoring to see Geren get the job. Teufel had a losing record as a minor league manager in his last seven seasons and he only managed eight. Is there anyone in the system who is on the managerial fast track? Who are the top outside candidates? Hopefully it’s someone with a proven track record in successfully running a bullpen.

Even saddled with very little talent on those late 70s, early 80s Mets, Joe Torre always had at least a decent bullpen and a couple of times it was very good. Contrast that with Collins’ work running a bullpen, which was bad in 2011 and horrible in 2012 – despite Alderson sinking most of his available budget to improve it.


Thanks to Howard, John, Ed, Jon and Greg for participating!

14 comments for “Roundtable: Sandy Alderson’s top offseason priority

  1. October 3, 2012 at 9:42 am

    The outfield is a sticky situation and obviously very important, but in my mind, Sandy Alderson’s top offseason priority is resolving the question of David Wright’s future. That $100M decision will not only impact the rest of the 2013 offseason, but also the whole direction of the franchise as a whole.

    • October 3, 2012 at 9:50 am

      But do they have to make a $100 million decision now? Can’t they make a $16 million decision and see how he’s going to hit in 2013 before committing to a multi-year deal? I want the David Wright of the first three months. I’m willing to let the Wright of the last three months walk.

      • October 3, 2012 at 10:40 am

        Yeah, I think they do need to decide this offseason. I want him either signed to a long term deal or traded before Opening Day. I think that if he goes into the 2013 season in a walk year, he’s gone, and the draft pick they’ll get will be significantly less than they’d have gotten this winter. I still fully expect that they’ll sign Wright to a big extension this winter, though. I just hope they will commit to supporting him on the roster (something they can’t really do effectively at $90-100M if he’s making $18-20M a season).

  2. Name
    October 3, 2012 at 11:12 am

    My top priority for Sandy is to fire TC and find a new manager. Yes, now that the season is over i’m in full campaign mode to fire TC. He has done a terrible job this year and i’m going to try to convince as many people that HE was the main problem. #FireTC

    On a side note i don’t really understand why people use RBI’s to judge people’s season. If you hit in the 4-hole the whole year, you will most likely have a lot of men on base and with more chances to drive in runs. If you are a 1-hitter, you will have less chances of course. So basically RBI is equivilent to a pitcher’s Win in that they can’t really control it. It also doesn’t show how “clutch” they are because if you finish with 120 RBI’s, one might seem impressed, but if i told you for every PA, that batter batted with the bases loaded(600 x 2 RISP = 1200 total RISP), that RBI% driven in of 10% is rather paltry.

    • October 3, 2012 at 11:35 am

      Why are you so unhappy with Collins?
      I wasn’t thrilled with him, especially in the last few months, but he did get this less-than-talented group to believe they were playoff-caliber until the All-Star break.

      • Name
        October 3, 2012 at 6:57 pm

        Have you watched his managing style at all? This guy is so matchup-driven it’s absurd. He burned and mishandled his bullpen. There are million more things i can name if you wish me to.

  3. David Groveman
    October 3, 2012 at 12:05 pm

    So… fix the outfield without any money

    Maybe kidnap Michael Bourn and force him to play for the Mets in exchange for us not releasing “Those Photos” (He knows which)

    Get rid of the Teufel Shuffle

    Keep Backman happy

    and Don’t let Matt Harvey be eaten by a bear

  4. Charles
    October 3, 2012 at 12:28 pm

    TC is responsible for absolutely nothing in terms of wins and loses when the 25 man roster is as flawed as this one.

    • October 3, 2012 at 12:50 pm

      I don’t agree with this. The roster is far from perfect but let’s not pretend that it’s devoid of talent. It’s easy to overestimate the impact a manager can have but there’s no way I’m willing to absolve Collins of blame for what happened in the second half of the season.

      • 7train
        October 3, 2012 at 2:31 pm

        I do agree with this.

        The most common starting eight on this team combined for 9.2 WAR, 6.9 of it by Wright.

        All eight OFer’s and four catchers teamed up for a negative WAR (-0.3)

        The only graduate of our farm system at either OF or catcher who posted a positive WAR was Josh Thole (0.1)

        Our two highest producing OFer’s (Hairston 1.3 and Torres 1.0) are probably gone.

        Davis and Thole had a bad year. How all that’s on Collins I do not know.

        How your going to replace the production of Hairston and Cedeno I also don’t know.

        Thole and Davis will probably rebound but to what extent? Wright may flatten out, Bay apparently will be back and and so will Frank. Murphy is the only LH hitter who hits LHP consistently enough to keep the lineup moving.

        Kirk and den Dekker will be 26 next year, Lucas 27. Lagares 24 in AAA, Vaughn 24 in AA, Ceciliani 23 in A+, Harris to me is the only legitimate shot to be a full time MLB quality OFer and he’ll be 23 in AA.

        I said it before that if Minaya’s closest OF prospects bust we are ****ed and while they still may be useful there are just too many deffencies in their game that need to be covered by another player on the roster and it is impossible to cover them all and in all situations.

        I can see what the plan is right now and that is to trade higher (but farther and riskier) talent away in order to get older, shorter more mediocre talent in here for the short term which will keep hope alive until the end of August instead of the beginning of July but will leave us talent barren when the imports whither away and it’ll be another decade down the tubes.

        The only way out of this trap is to extract top shelf talent from other teams farm systems between A- and AA for our current major leaguers who will be on the 15th hole of their careers when we have a full team WITH up and coming depth backing them up.

        That means a 3 way deal for Wright including a sign and trade and the same if possible for Dickey. Add in Davis if you have to and Niese if the return is out of this world. Mejia and Familia if you have made the call on them and it’s not positive and get some damn players in here to add to Harvey, Gee, Wheeler, Montero, Fulmer, Tapia, Mateo, Tejada, Flores, Tovar for 2016 because we’re not going anywhere by adding a few long in the tooth Willingham’s or Cuddyer’s and if we spend our usable assets on them we’re looking at 2020.


        Sometimes in life you cannot make up for the lack of work or poor thought process put in place five, ten, fifteen years beforehand. Sometimes you have to cut up the credit cards, learn to love beans and stop trying to keep up appearances.

        Anything feasable that can be done by trading for players suddenly made available is no guarantee of anything and can easily be undone by just one unfortunate injury and the margin of error that this Organization has is razor thin.

        They’ve been ****ing the fans by drafting the cheapest possible players for 15 years now and are unable to gloss over it with a Mo Vaughn or a Jason Bay and now it’s laid bare for everyone to see.

        Stop putting current attendance issues before the paying customers interests and get us some players who will be big time and long term producers or you just won’t have any left by 2020.

        To me it’s a question of winning or never winning. I choose winning and if I have to wait 3-4 years it’s no problem, hell I’ve been waiting 25.

    • Name
      October 3, 2012 at 7:00 pm

      TC can’t control the play on the field, but he can try to put his players in the best position to succeed. He has taken that philosphy too far by ONLY using matchups to decide whether a person plays or not. He also can’t manage a bullpen for his life(see Acosta 1st half and he basically ended Tim Brydak’s career).
      TC is a player develop guy. I don’t want him calling the shots during the game. #FireTC

  5. October 3, 2012 at 1:03 pm

    I would think they would go after outfielders without much experience in majors like Bourjous of Angels or Revere of Twins. Maybe Bonafacio of Miami is available and does not make much (2.2 mil). Any of the three could play CF and leadoff.

  6. Metsense
    October 3, 2012 at 8:47 pm

    Top priority: the outfield of course. More specific, a middle of the order corner outfielder.
    How to get it without spending money (because they don’t have any)? Trade
    Davis for Josh Reddick (Oakland) or Carlos Gonzalez (Colorado) or maybe
    Duda for Tyler Colvin (Colorado). The trading then will have to continue because there are so many deficiencies to fill.

  7. NormE
    October 3, 2012 at 11:42 pm

    I think TC’s act has worn thin. His BP match up philosophy has done too much damage, both in wear and tear and in development of talent.

    I think that David Wright has finished his last full season as a Met. Hopefully Alderson will be able to extract good young talent for DW in a trade. The Mets simply will not pay DW the kind of money and length of contract that he can receive in the market.

    To get a good OFer the Mets may have to look into trading some pitching talent. Assuming that Harvey is untouchable (and Santana untradeable) who is left? Dillon Gee probably won’t get much in a trade. Niese is a valued commodity and should only be traded for top young value. I don’t have much faith in Mejia ever being a big time pitcher, so he could be part of a trading package. Familia is still a work in progress, but could interest some team with a young catching or OF prospect. As I’ve said in earlier missives, RA (who I’d hate to trade) will probably never be worth more than he is now.

    My feeling is that Alderson will be conservative in his moves, unless his hand is forced by DW or RA.

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