Shifting Expectations: Met Fans Need To Get Used To The World According To Sandy Alderson

I’ve been as guilty of it as the next guy. I’ve had my patience wear thin with the seeming sloth-pace of a couple of off-seasons. I’ve been clamoring for the Mets to DO. SOMETHING. I’ve actually been missing the nonstop headline-mongering of Omar Minaya’s early days. And then I realize where it’s gotten me, as a fan: one playoff appearance, two epic collapses and five seasons of mediocre-at-best baseball. Maybe it is time for a different approach.

Yes, we fans were clamoring for some fresh air when Sandy Alderson arrived after the 2010 season. Yes, the more enlightened among us realized that Rome wouldn’t be built in a day. Yes, we knew in our heads that there would be at least a couple seasons of clear-cutting deadwood from the roster. Yes, we knew in our heads that building up the farm was the right way to go, and that is what’s been happening so far.

Our hearts are another matter.

In case you don’t read the papers, this is New York: patience is (perceived) weakness and you’re only as relevant as tomorrow’s headline or call-in show. If you’re looking to satisfy the maw of the 24-hour news cycle, the Minaya approach was the best one out there. The team was on everyone’s lips in the dead of winter, without the aid of a fan caravan or promo tour. Ticket sales were a function of offseason wheel-spinning. The big names would do the heavy lifting for you: Pedro Martinez, Carlos Beltran, Paul Lo Duca, Carlos Delgado, Billy Wagner, Johan Santana, Francisco Rodriguez, Jason Bay. Letting the names play out across the headlines in the News, Post, Times and Newsday would generate enough buzz to carry fans right up to Opening Day. But again, this is New York. Fans here ain’t stooopid and once this approach goes bankrupt – if you’ll pardon the expression – people tend to sniff it out quickly. Toward the end, Omar could have resurrected Babe Ruth, Ted Williams and Dizzy Dean and Citi Field would have remained unoccupied until results started to appear on the actual greensward.

If you’re a man like Alderson, you could give less than a hang about the maw. You know the right approach – from years of experience as the smartest guy in the room, yes, and from going to school on teams like the Yankees and Atlanta. These teams infuriate Met fans because they’ve been both wildly successful and in our face. But to a smart baseball exec, they are exactly the blueprint to follow: grow your stars, hang onto them at almost all cost and supplement them with the appropriate free agent here and there. Everyone screams about the Yankees buying pennants, but rare is the time that a total “all-in” approach on the free agent front been successful. The Yankees’ true success stems from the development of/ability to retain the services of the “Core Four:” Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte. When they can supplement them with a savvy trade or plug a hole with a free agent signing, they become that much stronger. Same with the Braves and Chipper Jones, Jason Heyward, et al.

The plan is there and it will take a shifting of expectations and a look beyond the trees to the beauty of the forest to have this fan base quell itself and see it.

21 comments for “Shifting Expectations: Met Fans Need To Get Used To The World According To Sandy Alderson

  1. tlagee
    January 17, 2013 at 4:38 pm

    Charlie – how are you?
    You wrote: “But to a smart baseball exec, they are exactly the blueprint to follow: grow your stars, hang onto them at almost all cost and supplement them with the appropriate free agent here and there.”

    Well, then I guess Sandy has some explaining to do about Jose Reyes and not offering him a contract BEFORE the 2011 season when he was much more affordable. Reyes is precisely the type of player you build around. He wanted to stay with the Mets. Sandy didn’t even offer him a contract at all. There are many holes to your argument – Reyes being just one of them.

    • Name
      January 17, 2013 at 4:49 pm

      “He wanted to stay with the Mets”

      Wrong. He wanted to go where the money was the greatest, like any other ballplayer. And no one here is really lamenting the loss of Reyes.

      And we all know Sandy’s negotiation strategy now.
      Try to wait out the player’s market. Offer him half (but not enough to insult them) what we are willing to pay and make the public “seem” like we are interested.

      • Chris F
        January 17, 2013 at 6:06 pm

        True enough, but I disagree with the “not enough to insult”: his negotiation tactics are exactly insulting. Its his charming little way: the quaint slight of hand, the obfuscating double talk, the hall of mirrors…all masquerading as the medicine we need to swallow to make things better.

        Nevertheless, its ’15 we all need to turn to as has been noted here many times.

      • tlagee
        January 17, 2013 at 6:19 pm

        Mate – He made it clear before the 2011 season that he wanted to stay with the Mets. Sandy’s advice to Jose was – prove what you can do and we’ll talk. Reyes went out and won the batting title. Sandy never made an offer. After he signed with the Marlins he made the statement that he would go anywhere that would pay him $1 more. I reckon he was a bit hurt by the whole process. We could have and should have kept him. A home grown all star that you keep if you’re rebuilding. But don’t keep if you’re gutting the team.

        • Name
          January 17, 2013 at 6:40 pm

          You actually believe what anyone says? People don’t speak from the hearts, they speak from their wallats and what helps their reputation their best. You think Jose would say thing other than “I want to stay in New York”? Every player who is nearing free agnecy always says they want to stay with their club. It means nil when they say it.

          There was a good reason why Sandy never made an offer. What’s the point of offering someone less than an offer they already have? The Marlins did their typical Marlin thing; backloading a contract so once he gets expensive they could unload him. And since they were willing to do that, they could offer him more dollars and years.

          • Jerry Grote
            January 17, 2013 at 7:07 pm

            example #1: Prince Albert.

          • BrooklynGirl
            January 18, 2013 at 7:42 pm

            I disagree – some players do speak from their heart until that heart is ripped out of them – and there is nothing left to do but go for the money.

      • January 17, 2013 at 8:25 pm

        To Name. If a team offers you a hundred million dollars and your own team doesn’t make you an offer what would you do? How was Reyes going to give a hometown discount when he wasn’t even offered a contract? If Sandy had oh excuse me, the Wilpons had the money they would of at least made an offer. Sandy is operating with one hand tied behind his back. I can’t blame him for the fiscal mismanagement of the Mets. Given the budget restraints he’s under, he has no choice but to look towards the future and rebuild the team from within. Sandy’s strategy is surely having an affect on the Mets. He’ll squeeze Scott Hairston and we’ll all be happier for it. Wow! Makes you want to come to New York and play for the Mats.

        • Name
          January 18, 2013 at 9:28 pm

          So you’re mad at Sandy because he didn’t make an offer? If he made a token offer of 3/$36, would that would have been any better?
          It wasn’t a lack of money either. I think the vast majority of people would agree that the contract he signed was an overpay.
          Very very very few actually do hometown discount. It’s just a negotiating ploy on the player/agent’s part to get the GM/ownership to sign. The only player who i can think off the top of my head in the last 5 years who has signed a big contract and given their team a hometown discount is Longoria. And i don’t believe that he would have given one anyways.

          How is he squeezing Scott hairston? Hairston is a free agent. He doesn’t have to come back to the Mets. It’s not Sandy’s fault there isn’t any market for Hairston.

  2. Chris F
    January 17, 2013 at 7:07 pm

    From Metsblog. What more has to be said.

    In regards to having an eye on 2014, Sandy said that’s true, but he is focused on improving the roster for 2013.

    “My dominant eye is on ’13,” Sandy explained. “You’re looking at both, no question about that. But the stronger focus is on ’13. I know that doesn’t really corroborate with what we’ve done this off-season. But, let’s see – when everything is said and done – where we are. I can assure you that where we are right now is not where we want to be opening Spring Training. It’s conceivable we could be in the same position, but it’s not where we want to be.”

    Sandy said he hopes the fans realize their main focus right now is on 2013, and they are not dismissing the season whatsoever.

  3. January 17, 2013 at 8:02 pm

    Nice post Charlie. I do think Sandy has brought some needed stability. This seasons offseason though has been a rough pace. I’m hanging in there until camp starts but if we don’t have one legitimate outfielder by then I cannot give him a passing grade. I’m not looking for miracles but as the roster turns over we need to have incremental improvement.

  4. January 17, 2013 at 8:45 pm

    Yes I can see that at least there’s a plan in place. Pitchers are being groomed for 2014-15. But unless the Mets solve their defensive liabilities(outfield) and bullpen, instead of losing by 4 to 5 rubs per game, you’ll be seeing 2 to 1 games with the Mets on the short end. The San Francisco Giants don’t have a monster line up. Instead they built their team with just enough offense built around their catcher. Defense in the long run wins games. Other than Tejada at shortstop the Mets are really defensively inadequate up the middle.

  5. Metsense
    January 17, 2013 at 10:31 pm

    Is it too much of an expectation for a fan to expect at least a competitive team in the largest baseball market in the world? No outfield, a suspect closer, and a suspect back end of the rotation seems to be the world according to Sandy. I really don’t see a total plan ( I do see and understand the plan to build the farm). Sandy is great at keeping payroll in line, he is not too good at improving the current team so that they are pallatble. He appears unable to bridge the team to 2015 and keep the fan base. Three straight years of fourth place with no improvement in record and the upcoming team looking like it will regress from last year. How many GM’s get 5 years before they show improvement? Having been a New Yorker, it sounds like Sandy is trying to sell me the Brooklyn Bridge when it comes to the 2013 team.

    • Jerry Grote
      January 18, 2013 at 6:26 pm

      you are asking for too much. Really, that’s all there is to it.

      Look … you have three tasks at hand, and you can pick two to deal with:

      *improve the farm system (aka … put some emphasis on the future)
      *be a watch guard over the payroll
      *place a really good product on the field today.

      Given that Alderson wasn’t starting with a blank slate – having to deal with contracts for players like Luis Castillo, Ollie Perez, Santana, Beltran, Reyes (in the latter two cases, deciding whether or not to retain ) – and the added pressure of Madoff … the middle priority was pre-selected for him.

      He misspent some last winter, but they weren’t the horrid missteps of a $40MM contract on an aging CFer that happened to have his 60 day surge at the most opportune time last year (Pagan). Or spending $39MM on someone like Victorino.

      He’s focused on rebuilding the minor leagues and slowly ridding the team of big/multi-year contracts to players that are old (Dickey) or never been fulltime (Hairston) or haven’t been healthy.

      But at the end of the day, the answer to your question is YES. Your expectations are out of line with the reality of being a Mets fan in 2013. Take a couple of sleeping pills and rejoin us in 2014.

    • Metsense
      January 19, 2013 at 7:50 am

      A slight retraction. Sandy has only 2 seasons (3 winters) behind him. I am being unfair by not giving him a full 3 years to turn it around from October 2010. I’m still not convinced on his methods but I should give him more lattitude.

  6. January 17, 2013 at 10:59 pm

    It doesn’t matter who the GM is if he doesn’t have an adequate payroll that is more in line with the market the team plays in. So while he is doing the best he can with such limited financing the team will continue to be rebuilt with an eye on 2014. As of today the payroll is at 58 million before arbitration hearings. You can expect it to go around 80-85 million once they add Murphy, Davis, Parnell and 10-15 roster spots at minimum salary.

  7. January 18, 2013 at 2:32 pm

    I see I should have added something about having the financial wherewithal to make the plan work. As far as we know, the Yankees & Braves haven’t been one step ahead of the repo man as the Mets have been.

  8. January 18, 2013 at 8:25 pm

    Sometimes you can go to a dollar store and find something of real value. But most of the time you’re just looking for something cheap so that when it breaks it’s easily replaceable. It’s not the repo man but the sanitation guy going through our garbage.

  9. January 18, 2013 at 9:52 pm

    I’m not mad at Sandy for not offering Jose Reyes a contract. The Wilpons probably told him that there wasn’t going to be enough income from their investments to keep him. So I can’t be angry. But if the organization makes a decision like that prior to the trade deadline(guessing here) why not look to trade him and get something of value? The Mets are rebuilding. I understand that it takes time. You just have to wonder just how much money the team is going to spend when home attendance keeps declining. As of today their payroll sits at 60 million( 6 for Jason Bay). Why not make an attempt to sign Bourn?

    • Name
      January 18, 2013 at 10:39 pm
    • Jerry Grote
      January 19, 2013 at 8:12 am

      “Why not make an attempt to sign Bourn?”

      The Mets are not alone in this area. I know we’ve reached the Information Age in baseball, where presumably everything worth knowing can be found in things like RerC (WTF?). But at times you need to step back and simply observe.

      A great many professional baseball minds, with all the information you have available and presumably more, have passed on Mr. Bourn. Maybe fans know better, but for now I’ll give Sandy the benefit of the doubt.

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