Earlier this week Sandy Alderson, Paul DePodesta, J.P. Ricciardi, and John Ricco held a Q&A session with season-ticket holders at Citi Field. The fans didn’t hold back on their questions and the front office didn’t tip toe around the issues in their answers. It was an interesting and revealing exchange and gave insight into the Mets’ world according to Sandy Alderson.
For example, the question of whether or not Alderson has been handcuffed by ownership with regard to spending has been a hot-button issue during his tenure. In response to a question about why the Mets are still unwilling to spend money to improve the team, Alderson was blunt and honest.
“The reason we haven’t spent the money is not because of Fred Wilpon or Saul Katz. It’s because of me.”
Alderson has taken full responsibility for the Mets lack of spending the last few seasons and has (hopefully) put the issue to bed. He also acknowledged fans’ indignation toward the Mets recent small market posture and ensured them that it is only a temporary measure.
“Am I going to recommended that we sit here in New York City and function like the Oakland Athletics for the next 10 years? No I’m not. … I’m not asking you to believe me until you see some manifestation of that, which I hope is sooner rather than later.”
His response to a season-ticket holder who asked why it’s taking so long for him to make the Mets competitive again really got to the heart of what he and his regime are trying to accomplish. By not spending irresponsibly for short-term needs, he hopes to provide long-term stability.
“We don’t want to be there one year and gone the next.”
Those words should really be encouraging to Mets fans. Rebuilding isn’t an easy road for fans or those who attempt to orchestrate it. Though the Mets are not in what many would call a full rebuild, they are close enough. That’s not a bad thing.
The Mets of the last half of the last decade tried to buy their way to a championship. They spent tons of money on the shiniest free agents, all in an attempt to construct a National League champion for New York. This was done, of course, at the expense of the farm system. In fact, as a result of signing top-shelf free agents, the Mets had no first round draft picks in 2006 and 2009 and only supplemental picks in 2007. They also made it a habit to stick to the slot guidelines, a strategy most other teams did not share.
It almost worked. The star-studded NY Mets of 2006 were one game away from the World Series. Though they ultimately fell short, they were expected to make a run at it the next year. Except they didn’t. Nor did they the years following. There one year and gone the next.
Through efficient drafting, crafty trades, and smart international signings, Alderson and his team are working toward building a team that will hopefully sustain long-term success. It’s a process that takes time and patience. Of course, all of the decisions made and gambles taken will not work out. But the Mets farm now ranks in the top half of baseball and has high-end, exciting talent on the way. It is an exciting time to be a Met fan. The pay off will come soon, if not immediately.
Trading short-term mediocrity for long-term excellence seems to be an easy choice. Then, when we say “there’s always next year,” it will actually be true.