Conquering fears and managing regrets with the 2013 Mets

I finally got around to reading R.A. Dickey’s book and one part stood out to me. Dickey talked about conquering fears and managing regrets. I don’t know if this is something he came up with himself or if it is merely therapist-speak – both seem equally likely – but I thought it was a nice phrase and I think it can be applied to fans of the 2013 Mets, too.

Conquering Fear

It seems to me that you could come up with a bunch of things to put in this category but they essentially boil down to two things:
1. Do the Mets have enough money to compete for titles?
2. Is Sandy Alderson the right guy to be in charge?

As for the first item, it certainly isn’t as much fun to be competing with a $95 million payroll when the memories of a $149 million payroll are so fresh in our minds. I will not argue that a big-market team should not have a big-market payroll. But if you want to conquer this fear, take a look at the last 10 World Series winners. Eight of the 10 winners had a payroll no greater than $127 million compared to two clubs that clearly were in the high-roller district. Here they are by year, ranked by Opening Day numbers, all rounded to nearest million:

2011 – Cardinals – 109
2010 – Giants – 96
2009 – Yankees – 201
2008 – Phillies – 98
2007 – Red Sox – 143
2006 – Cardinals – 89
2005 – White Sox – 75
2004 – Red Sox – 127
2003 – Marlins – 45
2002 – Angels – 62

Even if you do not agree with considering $127 million on a par with what the 2013 Mets are likely to have, six of the last 10 World Series winners had an Opening Day payroll under $100 million. The payroll number alone does not doom the club to also-ran status.

As for the second item, a whole lot more people are fearful about this now than they were at either the start of the 2011 or 2012 seasons. Alderson came in to much fanfare and then seemingly hit home runs with both the 2011 Draft and picking up the highly-regarded Zack Wheeler for a two-month rental, to say nothing of avoiding Francisco Rodriguez’ 2012 option while also getting two interesting arms in return.

But after letting Jose Reyes leave for draft picks, failing miserably by putting all of his 2012 budget into the bullpen, sitting on his hands at the All-Star break, and the uninspiring 2012 Draft, Alderson has many more critics than he did just a season ago. With big decisions looming on both Dickey and David Wright, how confident are you that Alderson will make the right keep/trade call? Even if he makes the alleged correct decision to trade either or both of the team’s stars – how convinced are you that he will make a good deal?

To me, this fear will not be so equally conquered. Just remember that according to Dr. Michael Herkov, even brief therapy can range up to 25 sessions.

Managing Regrets

This list will probably have different lengths and different items for each person reading this. Just know that we’re planning an intervention for 7train/7rain to help him manage his farm system regrets. I hope Ruben Tejada’s fine season helped many get over their regrets about Reyes leaving. I know that some of you are still mad about Carlos Beltran not swinging at that pitch in the 2006 NLCS and I hope you can manage that, too.

I guess my biggest regret is that Nelson Doubleday made a careless error that cleared the way for Fred Wilpon to take over the team. Maybe it was inevitable, that Doubleday would have sold out to Wilpon at some point (pre-Madoff revelation, at least) but in my alternate Mets universe, Doubleday is still the owner or maybe he sold last year to David Einhorn.

The way I manage that regret, I guess, is that deep down I know that Fred Wilpon cares. He may not go about showing it in the best way possible, but his fault lies in execution, which seems better than having no passion for the club at all. As bad as he is, I’d rather have Wilpon than some individual or corporation that was all bottom line. Yes, the current version is certainly about the bottom line, but that’s out of necessity and not pure greed.

Awhile ago, most Mets fans were lamenting that Wilpon stayed while MLB forced Frank McCourt to sell the Dodgers. Now the Dodgers have well-capitalized ownership, who immediately began to throw around some financial muscle, as their blockbuster trade added somewhere around $275 million to their payroll.

And how did that work out for them this year? They were home during the playoffs, just like the Mets. If Carl Crawford doesn’t bounce back, this could be an epic fail for the Dodgers’ franchise.

Whether you classify it as conquering fear or managing regret, the bottom line is that the Mets of this decade would never execute a trade like the Dodgers did this past August. LA rolled the dice and from all indications they crapped out. So, do you want to be a fan of a team that approaches things recklessly, that makes high-risk, high-reward moves? Or would you rather be prudent and spend the time on a more sustainable model of success?

Now if only Dickey will be around to help us along with this fear/regret thing…

16 comments for “Conquering fears and managing regrets with the 2013 Mets

  1. Frank Rodino
    October 22, 2012 at 1:08 pm

    The latest news from the Mets worries me. 1. They will have additional uniforms next year. 2. JP Ricciardi has been signed for another year. Are these the top priorities for the team? Uniforms don’t make a championship team and JP Ricciardi can’t hit. Some things are better left unsaid (or held back for a while). In light of all that the Mets need, these are 2 announcements best left unsaid.

    • October 22, 2012 at 1:11 pm

      Hey Frank – thanks for reading and commenting!

      I’m not too worried about those moves. MLB generally frowns on making big moves before the end of the World Series and I just don’t see the Wilpon Mets doing anything to upset Bud Selig. I expect bigger moves will be made in due time.

      • Frank RodinoFrank Rodino
        October 23, 2012 at 10:28 am

        Brian, thanks. I understand all of that, but it still reflects a degree of “tone deafness” on the part of management. New uniforms are just an additional source of revenue for the Wilpons. Announcing JP Ricciardi’s extension is just a reminder that we have 3 GMs (Alderson, Ricciardi, and DePodesta) and we still have a 4th place team with a losing record. Perhaps I’m being overly cynical, but if Mets’ management doesn’t have anything to say about moving the franchise forward, then maybe they shouldn’t say anything at all.

  2. MetsFan CT
    October 22, 2012 at 1:12 pm

    It sounds so tempting to tie “throwing around money” with winning. But history shows us (especially us) that this is not a strategy that works. Just ask the Dodgers, Angels, Yanks… The problem is that sitting around waiting doesn’t inspire much confidence. Let’s just hope that we get a least one major-league caliber outfielder for next year, somehow, some way!

    • 7rain
      October 22, 2012 at 4:28 pm

      LOL Brian.

      It depends on how much capitol the Dodgers have and to what lengths they’ll go under the new punitive salary cap imposed on teams starting in 2014. They do have some very good players in Kemp, Kershaw, Either, Billingsley ect but will they have minimum salaried players getting them 3-4 WAR while playing everyday and AA/AAA depth when they need it as well as intelligent key fill ins?

      Not every ingredient is a perfect fit when you wait to the last second. Personally I think they have no chance and Colleti is just following the whim’s of ownership just like he did under McCourt or Cashman did when resigning A-Rod and signing Soriano.

      Owners point the GM in the direction they want to go and the GM and everyone else fall in line.

      Rarely is the work done by an Organization in prior years not a huge factor in winning. The 2003 Marlins are really just the exception that proves the rule.

      Getting above average and outstanding play from your own homegrown players has been central to every consistently winning team over the last two decades with the exception of the one shot Marlins. Secondly having a strong farm allows you to pick up guys before you have to make long term commitments to them and the cream gets skimmed off the top by resignings or trades to other teams.

      If your plan A every year is to just see “whose available” then that’s a pretty strong indication that you have no plan B for depth, competition, anything to trade or for the bench and what that really means is you have no business forfeiting first and second round draft choices because the foundation hasn’t cured.

      No matter how painful the next couple of years maybe without Wright, Dickey and the illusion of competability it will pale in comparison to yet another lost decade.

      Trade ’em, get us four highly talented, well regarded prospects anywhere from A+ – AA, take the 22M saved and buy a couple of decent bookmarks and then trade them in a year and a half for more well regarded prospects all the while filling the minors with the best available amateur talent and build us a team, not a collection of carpet baggers.

    • JOB2012
      October 22, 2012 at 5:25 pm

      Throwing around big money doesn’t always result in a championship, but I took your advice and did look at the Angels and the Yanks and saw that they both won the WS in the last 10 years. (But having point that out, I agree that you have to throw your money at the right people, but figuring out who they are is the trick. lol)

  3. David Groveman
    October 22, 2012 at 1:48 pm

    What is frustrating for many fans is the unknown. We don’t know what will happen with David Wright and R.A. Dickey. Will they be exteneded long-term or will they be traded or will management botch it and leave the Mets with draft-pick compensation?

    So much of what happens is tied into that one thing that it’s hard for most fans not to fear. Also, because we watched the very worst scenario play out with Jose Reyes, it’s hard to think that Alderson will be the man to make things right.

    I have thought a long time about the 2013 season and I’ve come to the conclusion that the “Right” thing for the Mets to do is one of two things.

    Play for 2014: Re-Sign Wright (Dickey is less crucial) and sign Victorino or Bourn to give the outfield some credibility.


    Play for 2016: Trade Wright and Dickey and anyone else who is not going to be on the team in three seasons and lock all hopes on our prospects and ability to work in the post Bay/Santana financial world.

    • October 22, 2012 at 2:51 pm

      If we’re going to be playing for the short-term, I don’t think Dickey is less crucial than Wright. We’re talking about a 20-game winner and a top-five Cy Young candidate, if not the outright winner. If Wright had kept up his first two months numbers I would agree. But he didn’t and he’s a big question mark to me right now.

    • TJ
      October 22, 2012 at 5:13 pm

      I am not comfortable with attaching DW and RA signings. Again, we have to make certain assumptions, but assuming DW agrees to a Zimmerman-range contract, the Mets should sign him. 3Bs like him don’t grow on trees, and I see no reason why he would not be part of the solution in 2014-2016, as he will be playing at ages 31-33 through that time period. While his performance has been inconsistent since his dominating years, so have the bats around him. If the Mets are a serious team in 2014-16, there will be better and more bats around him. He should be just fine. Dickey is another story. While I love him, if it were my $$$ I would not be giving him 3 years beyond 2013. My offer would be more like an additional 2 yrs at $10 per, and I think he and his group may not be inclined to take that. That would leave the Mets 2 options – market him and see what his value is, or keep him at the bargain rate of $5 mil in 2013 and deal with the problem at July or the end of the season. Since the CBA is differnet now, unlike with Reyes they could guarantee a high pick with a qualifying offer if he didn’t sign and they didn’t like his trade value based on actual offers.

    • 7rain
      October 22, 2012 at 7:41 pm

      To be fair even dealing with a floor of no draft pick compensation Alderson did great getting Wheeler so all things being equal he should have done even better with Reyes, except things are never equal.

      When Beltran was up for grabs Texas, Philly, Atlanta and SF all had serious needs for offense. All four teams could have fit Beltran into their OF or DH in the case of Texas. Chipper, McCann Utley and Posey had gotten hurt, Brown was under performing in Philly and things fell into place.

      In the case of Reyes he was hurt 4 weeks before the deadline and out for 3 of them. That alone brought trade talks to a dead halt until just a week before the deadline but even more than that was the PR reaction of dealing Reyes. That was the biggest hurdle to climb in any trade of Reyes.

      Should the Mets have made every effort to re sign him? Pretend to make every reasonable effort? Or just let it play out and see what happens. Regardless what Alderson could do was hampered by external factors just like in the Beltran deal only this time things didn’t fall into place.

      A sign and trade for Dickey or a deadline deal should be a piece of cake compared to Reyes and Wright with a pretty good return almost guaranteed but Wright is a different situation. One position specific, one decent prospect returned and two given up if the returning team doesn’t sign him and the whole PR nightmare.

      It’s not all in Alderson’s hands where this thing heads especially with this years attendance always the Wilpon’s primary concern.

      Draft pick comp may not be Alderson’s first choice but it may very well be forced upon him by ownership hungry for cash.

  4. JOB2012
    October 22, 2012 at 5:36 pm

    Trading David Wright & Dickey not only offers the possibility of filling areas that can’t be filled from the farm (at least not soon), but it also offers openings for our top prospects. Flores needs to play 3B. Trading David opens the door for him no later than 2014. In the meantime, Murphy can move to third, where he belongs (as much as he belongs anywhere on a NL team), at least until Flores is ready to take over 3B. If we could get a top SS prospect, we could move Tejada to 2B where he belongs. The other possibility is to acquire outfielders and a catcher, and hope one of our other kids can hold down 2B, like Valdespin or even, dare I say it, Reese Havens in 2014… (OK, OK, that might have been a little bit delusional, but minor league baseball is all about hope, is it not? – lol).

  5. Name
    October 22, 2012 at 7:35 pm

    At what point in the Hot Stove will Terry Collins start getting some heat. I know that towards the end of the season, many fans were starting to get annoyed with him, but the end of season has caused us to forget TC and focus more on Sandy and Co.

    I’m still of the group that believes that TC caused the Mets to underachieve with his managing style.

    I stated that my top offseason priority was to convince ya’ll to turn on TC, and regretably, i have not been fulfilling that goal.

    • Chris F
      October 22, 2012 at 10:13 pm

      Name, Im partly there, but realize TC is going nowhere. Were stuck with him. I do think his (mis)management directly lost them 5 or so games. To what end is pursuing TC really worth it?

      • 7train
        October 23, 2012 at 10:28 am

        The Mets got 17 WAR out of all 18 position players. Leading the way was Wright (6.7) then a big step down to Tejada (1.9) Hairston (1.5) Murphy (1.2) Torres (1.2) Davis (0.7) Cedeno (0.3) Quintanilla (0.3 Baxter (0.3) Turner (0.2) Shoppach (0.1) Kirk (0.0) Rottino (0.0) Thole (-0.1) Johnson (-0.2) Spin (-0.3) Nickeas (-0.7) Bay (-1.1 Duda (-1.4

        Personally speaking I don’t know how the Mets wound up scoring four runs a game with this putrid offense and defensively? Worst, or next to it in the Majors. Wonder what it would have looked like with the fences back where they were.

        Collins may have lost a handful of games here and there but with what he was given I’m surprised we won 65 games. This is one of the worst offenses of all time and close to one of the worst defenses of all time as well. Sure you can quibble with moves not made or things that didn’t work out but how many PH HR’s did Spin and Hairston hit for example? Quite a few. See, no one ever remembers the moves that did work, they only remember the one’s that don’t.

        Being saddled with so many part time players and trying to come up with a reasonable chance every night isn’t easy either. Getting snookered by opposing managers because of the wild platoon splits of almost everyone on the team after making the moves necessary to get back in the game was a function of the roster. Nothing he could do about. If the players had played well they wouldn’t have had WAR’s in the ones and negative numbers. They didn’t play well because their not good and no one can do anything about that.

        The average team’s position players put up 35 WAR, some teams put up 50 WAR, we put up 17. Your not going far with that regardless of who the manager is.

        • Name
          October 23, 2012 at 1:58 pm

          The Mets were 3rd in the NL in runs scored in the 1st half. Many people seem to forget this. Yes, that was with David hitting way over his head, but it was also with Davis doing absoluetly nothing in the 4-hole.

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