There one year and gone the next

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.

20 comments for “There one year and gone the next

  1. Name
    February 3, 2013 at 12:13 pm

    Sad thing is that the Mets could have made a deeper run last year if Sandy had been willing to do a little fixing on the bullpen, and it wouldn’t have cost them much in the long run either.
    Usually people are said to be too myopic, but i think Sandy is too farsighted he can’t see what he has right in front of him.

    • steevy
      February 3, 2013 at 1:12 pm

      An excellent analysis Name.

    • February 3, 2013 at 1:29 pm

      I’m not sure how far of a run the Mets would have made last year even with some tweaks. That being said, your point is well taken. I think he’s actually coming around, though. In fact, he also stated in that Q&A: “We understand what the market dictates and we have to be prepared to exist in that market.”

      That’s encouraging, as he seems to recognize that even if he doesn’t like how the market is working (the prices of FAs) he’ll have to operate in it if he wants the team to be successful. I think the Wright contract and the fact that he is willing to sign Bourn (admittedly only on more reasonable terms) are also encouraging.

      • Name
        February 3, 2013 at 3:17 pm

        Just to clarify, what i meant by “a deeper run” was more months of competitive baseball and not really going deep into the playoffs.
        Last season they were competitive up until maybe 5-6 games after the 2nd half started. That’s around 3.5 months of competitive baseball. If we had a better bullpen, we probably could have been relevent for longer, possibly nearly the whole season. So i would gladly have exchanged a couple so-so minor leaguers for 2 months of extra good relevent baseball, even if it means we don’t make the playoffs.

        Unlike most fans, i would rather watch 6 months of hard fought tooth and nail grinding competitive baseball and not making the playoffs than 2 months of where the team is great and can cruise the next 4 months into the posteason. That is boring.

        • February 4, 2013 at 9:42 am

          Only problem with that is you get your hopes up about making the playoffs then.
          Otherwise, I agree.

          • Name
            February 4, 2013 at 11:59 am

            I have no problem with unfullfilled hopes.
            I value the journey more than the destination.

    • Joe Vasile
      February 3, 2013 at 4:09 pm

      I’m not so sure about that. Going into the season last year, the Mets were not expected to win more than 70-75 games. A lot of their early season success was on the heels of small sample size success and some lucky breaks. Eventually, the team regressed back to the mean, where they started playing very poorly, and whatever irrational hopes we fans had of October baseball were crushed. It’s not necessarily that he’s too far-sighted, it’s that he doesn’t want to mortgage the future for a little unsustainable short-term success.

      • Name
        February 3, 2013 at 5:32 pm

        And the Tigers were expected to win the division with flying colors, the Angels and Phillies were to make the postseason, and The Orioles and A’s were going to be bottom dwellers like the Mets.
        It would be foolish to think that one can predict with any accuracy what will happen with any team.
        Fact is, the team had a weakness(the bullpen). They could have given up none of their future(low end fringe prospects) to get some help back which could have led to a more satisfying season.

        I don’t believe the cause of their demise was due to regressing back to the mean. It was the fact that they lost 3/5 of their Starting rotation by around the all star break that killed them. You’d be hard pressed to find a team who lost 3 starters and make it to the postseason.

        • Joe Vasile
          February 4, 2013 at 12:43 am

          You also left out the part where David Wright stopped hitting at a .370 clip, the outfield was the second worst in baseball, and Josh Thole-Mike Nickeas-Kelly Shoppach made a terrible catching combo offensively speaking. They didn’t have enough minor league depth (guys who can step up from AAA in the event of an injury or poor performance) to stay competitive.

          “You’d be hard pressed to find a team who lost three starters and made the Post-Season.”

          How quickly you’ve forgotten about the 2006 Mets. Pedro Martinez, Brian Bannister, and Victor Zambrano all got hurt. They used 13 different starting pitchers. They also had enough talent elsewhere to win 97 games. I’m sure there are other examples, but that is just one that I could think of off the top of my head.

      • February 4, 2013 at 8:45 am

        The Mets were within one game of their Pythagorean Record at the All-Star break. That’s not a small sample — that was 86 games.

        Everyone wants to say how they played in the first half was good fortune or lucky sequencing. How come no one wants to say that their .283 BABIP after the break or .644 OPS in August was bad fortune?

  2. Charles
    February 3, 2013 at 2:19 pm

    Word is, if they get that pick protected, Bourn is coming to Queens. That doesn’t make the team a playoff contender, but it does mean they won’t be as easy to beat up daily. I’m still on the fence as far as Bourn is concerned. He’s a good ball player but I’m not sure he’s worth a huge deal regardless if the pick.

  3. Brian
    February 3, 2013 at 2:50 pm

    It is not just about spending the money, it is about spending it correctley. With Alderson’s stategic patience we are filling more holes internally with quality, young, cost controlled players. The Mets will be less reliant on the free agent market and more able to pick and choose the proper free agents to compliment the core players.

    • February 3, 2013 at 11:55 pm

      More importantly, they will be able to supplement the team and fill in holes with free agents, rather than trying to build their team on them.

      • February 3, 2013 at 11:56 pm

        Which is to say, exactly what you said. Ha.

  4. Jon
    February 3, 2013 at 8:18 pm

    What has Sandy Alderson actually done except quit on the current team and cash in chips he lready had. Did I miss something ? Did Minaya inherit this Rolls Royce major league team and farm system????? If Aldrson farted in your mouth would you think it was a breath mint? Sto wasting our time with this self serving crap

  5. February 3, 2013 at 8:40 pm

    Did you really expect for Sandy to say we have a limited budget due to circumstances not of my making? The Mets were competitive. You cannot say Omar Minaya did a bad job. Can you? One game away from a world series, 3 million plus fans. So to say that isn’t the way to build a sustainable championship team is ridiculous. The Mets were up 7 games with 17 to play. Who put that team together? If you’re going to put blame then it should rest on the shoulders of the manager at that time. The team spent the money and was drawing fans and if Fred Wilpon still had his fortune the Mets would still be buyers not bargain basement renters.

    • February 3, 2013 at 11:54 pm

      Well, they didn’t win a single championship and the current team has been crippled with bad contracts. Not sure how you can say it IS the way to build a sustainable championship team. They were an excellent team in 2006 and flawed and incomplete teams in 2007 and 2008. The injuries decimated them after that and there was absolutely no depth to cover that up.

      • J
        February 4, 2013 at 6:13 pm

        Omar set the team up for a 3-year window, in which the Mets made one NLCS, but possibly could have made three. That’s a nice position for more than half the field of MLB teams.
        But it’s not the same as the Rays, Yankees, Theo-Red Sox, Twins, Braves and Oakland. After 2006 you could see the cracks in the plan. In ’06 Omar brought/had enough depth to combat player attrition. In 07 and 08, however, he did not bring enough insurance in and tried to keep pieces longer than needed (Luis Castillo rings a bell). The teams above work from strong farm systems continuously and then fill in with quality free agents (big name known commodities for Yankees/Braves, diamonds in the rough for Rays/Oakland). They also lock up their young stars to deep contracts. In the case of the Yankees and Twins of the last year or two, their farm system core and young player investments have simply gone bad. The Yanks have the payroll to gloss over that and stay competitive, but both teams are still strong enough to compete for most of the year.
        The difference between Omar’s build and Alderson’s build, while both successful, is that Omar’s build was very successful over a short period, while Alderson’s build should produce consistent competition, at the cost of short term bubbles of bad years.

  6. February 4, 2013 at 12:25 am

    As you say injuries play a key role in sustaining a winning ball club. All teams are flawed. Look at the Phillies. What I am trying to say is that you need a combination of the two and the luck of not having any serious injuries that can cripple the team for an extended period. Johan’s contract wouldn’t of been so prohibitive had the Mets defeated the Marlins on the final day of the season. He pitched on three days with an injury that would require surgery. Now the Mets have an opportunity to regain some relevance. But we both know the handicap Sandy is working with.

    • February 4, 2013 at 9:51 am

      Pete, this highlights why off season conditioning is so vital to the long season. Yet, even with excellent conditioning and on season rest and nutrition, injuries can decimate even the best of teams.

      It also highlights the need for depth.

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