Your intrepid columnist likes to think he has a pretty good memory, especially about things that wouldn’t appear to particularly important to anybody else. I can forget work-related things with the best of ‘em. If I have to remember to mail something out, it’s a better than even chance I won’t remember to do it until it’s already too late. But trivia? Baseball stuff? Movies & TV? Old rock ‘n’ roll? I’m your man.

So I remember the joy that abounded when Sandy Alderson arrived in December, 2010 to deliver us from the Omar Minaya financial follies. I remember that he brought hope to the then-masses of Met fans, that the ridiculous contracts — given out to the likes of Moises Alou, Jason Bay, Francisco Rodriguez, Jose Valentin and a cast of thousands – were a thing of the past. The Mets were finally going to be run intelligently by the acclaimed “Godfather Of Sabermetrics.” Sandy Alderson, always the smartest man in the room, was here to save the franchise from the evil clutches of Bernie Madoff and save Jeff Wilpon from himself. Things would turn around. It wouldn’t be as quick as some of us fans would like, we were assured, but most of us could stomach that, seeing as things were going to be done the “right way” from now on. If that means building up the farm system? Great. If that means beefing up the scouting and development staff? Perfect. Absolutely the proper way to go. When asked when he could envision the Mets fielding a contender at the major league level, Sandy estimated that we would see the fruits of his efforts in 2013.

We could live with that, but as Alderson got further into the job, he was able to see what a Herculean task rebuilding the Mets actually was. After the trade of Carlos Beltran and the defection of Jose Reyes, when hey! there was going to be actual money coming off the books, the timetable was revised to 2014. OK. We could live with that, as well. We could see progress being made with the farm arms – Matt Harvey, especially – and at the MLB level with guys like Bobby Parnell, Daniel Murphy and Ike Davis. Add in the fact that by that year, the budget would no longer be chewed up by the contracts of Bay and Johan Santana. So we all began to hang our hats on likely Wild Card contention in good ol’ ’14.

Taking a look at this team and its system as presently constituted, anybody can see that that ain’t happenin’. Ken Rosenthal sat for an interview with blogger Andrew J. Kahn and said that due to the youth and quality of the Nationals and Braves, Mets fans shouldn’t be getting their hopes up until 2015AT THE EARLIEST. The carrot keeps dangling further and further out in front of us and it seems like it’ll never be caught. By this time next year, we should probably have our sights focused solidly on 2017…maybe 2018…err better make that 2019.

Is it any wonder Citi Field is empty? Is it any wonder what’s left of the fan base is fed up? More than a few fans feel as though they’ve been duped all along. To quote Casey Stengel, “We’re a fraud again!” More and more it becomes apparent that the purpose of the New York Mets is not to win games, not to fly pennants, not to fill stadiums: it is solely a vehicle to help its owners pay off their debts and maintain their current lifestyle.

Like the team itself, that stinks.

Follow me on Twitter @CharlieHangley

20 comments on “When Will The Mets Contend? The Date Is A Moving Target

  • Za

    Yeah…it’s going to be rough.

  • Brian Joura

    Alderson has navigated through a lot of the bad contracts he inherited.
    He’s made two great trades to add impact talent to the farm system
    He oversaw what I consider to be a very strong draft in 2011

    But…

    He’s continually lied and misled about the payroll
    He sat on his hands when he could have made a low-level trade to help in 2012
    He’s given his tacit approval to how Collins runs his bullpen and fills out his lineup
    Short-term Kevin Plawecki-mania aside – I thought the 2012 Draft was underwhelming

    To me the biggest disappointment was last year’s Draft just because it’s always been about building something that can last. I was a very vocal critic about doing nothing trade-wise at the All-Star break last year but if I could have a do-over — it would be on Draft Day.

    Finally, I don’t care when Ken Rosenthal thinks we’ll be competitive. It’s interesting – I suppose – but utterly meaningless. Unless he predicted that Matt Harvey would be this dominant and that Ike Davis would be this lousy and that the team would open with 2 SP on the DL. If he’s got that kind of crystal ball, I’ll change my mind.

  • Trey

    Hey, look at the bright side — Banner Day is back.

  • Spencer Manners

    I think that people are caught up in the idea that Alderson isn’t going to sign a free agent. However next year’s free agent class includes some very good outfield help in Shin Soo Choo and Hunter Pence, I think if he adds one of the two and makes an attempt to rebuild the bull pen, they have some potential.

    • Joe Vasile

      Jacoby Ellsbury and David Murphy too. There are 3 legitimate 4 WAR outfielders on the market next offseason. One of those guys, combined with d’Arnaud at catcher, Wheeler and, by July, Montero in the starting rotation, will improve the team by 7-10 wins (probably closer to 7). If the Mets win 70 games this season, they’re at 77. Sprinkle in some bullpen upgrades, further development from Duda, Tejada, Murphy and Davis, all of a sudden, the team is flirting with .500. If the breaks go their way they could win 80-85 games next year. A huge step towards contention, not quite there yet but still a major improvement. All of it just from a few prospects and ONE FA signing. Sign another FA or swing a trade for a 4-5 WAR player (not that that’s easy) and the Mets are flirting with the 2nd WC spot in 2014.

  • James Preller

    Great post, Charlie, as usual. You know, as bad as it has been, the wild card has never been easier to reach. A couple of bask moves — a trade, a signing or two — and the team could be competitive. Too bad Alderson couldn’t be bothered. He is fairly praised for the Wheeler trade, but that’s a guy we got directly as a result of a big, bold, expensive free agent signing.

  • Metsense

    When do we play .500 ball is a better question.
    Was signing Ankiel and bringing in Byrd part of the plan? What is the plan?
    2013 was a rebuilding year. It is being used to evaluate the present talent(?)to see who is part of the 2014 team. Or so I thought. Signing other teams veteran rejects only inhibits the furthur progress of the younger players.
    Let’s get to .500 before we consider contending.

    • Joe Vasile

      Next year. The combo of Wheeler, TDA, Montero, and a FA Outfielder (Murphy, Ellsbury, Pence, Choo are options) can bring this team from a 70 win team to an 80 win team.

  • kjs

    Alderson is Selig’s sock puppet to help the corrupt Wilpons hold onto New York’s sole NL MLB franchise.

    BOYCOTT!!!

  • Chris F

    I confess, I’m officially rattled now. I don’t know why either. Ive always proclaimed ’13 as a building year, one where we delight in whatever individual things happen, which will obviously be centered round Wright and Harvey. I sort of imagined plowing through the year much as the past couple, ultimately feeling ok with the knowledge that sometimes the medicine seems worse than the disease, until the medicine wins. Our horizon should be drawing nearer, yet the disease seems to be stronger than anything Dr. Alderson can throw at it for a cure. Perhaps throw conveys an energy level inconsistent with Alderson’s actions, now that I think about it.

    Im rattled because for the first time I really feel there is a cancer that is spreading in the team. Sure, it would be easy to point to the Valdespin incident, and put the blame on him for clubhouse discontent, but that is only an outward symptom. So is the priceless look of Ike after another K, or Gee’s comment about being “lost.” Every time TC talks its more painful than the last. David Wright, our “C,” seems to have no control. My big worry that our disease is delusion. Delusion that, sure, ’13 would be a battle, but with a weak Phillies team and the Nats scuffling a bit the wild card was just around the corner. The delusion that the “Plan,” our medicine, is now coursing though our collective orange-and-blue circulation system, and stronger days are nearly here…’14, ’15 at the latest! The delusion that the fervent fan base, like us here, will inherently see the good in our team, and magnify it.

    Two stories from the recent news and blogs strongly registered with me. Joel Sherman, in the NY Post examined the Cardinals, and despite a string of major problems such as season ending injuries and the loss of arguably the greatest hitter of the present time, the Cardinals succeed. This passage really hit me:

    “One explanation is continuity — in leadership, personnel and message. Like the Yankees with Joe Torre/Joe Girardi and Bob Watson/Brian Cashman, St. Louis has only had two managers and two general managers since 1996, and the handoffs in both cases were from a mentor to a protégé — La Russa to Mike Matheny in the dugout and Walt Jocketty to John Mozeliak in the front office.

    This brings stability. In philosophy. In understanding what kind of players fit the city, style and manager — and don’t. In expectations. In proven methods in handling and extinguishing controversies and navigating through tough issues such as injuries.

    “Their continuity is tremendous,” one admiring rival GM said. “Nothing rocky ever happens there.”

    La Russa, speaking by phone, credited a good deal of that to the kind of baton-pass guidance that gets transferred from veterans to youngsters in the clubhouse. There is a lore of the Cardinals Way that players such as Pujols, Carpenter and Yadier Molina learned from others and then passed to a next group that sustains a no-alibis, play-the-right-way ethos.

    As La Russa said, “young guys are acquired and if they don’t buy into the philosophy they are really leaned on and persuaded this is the right way or get out.”
    http://www.nypost.com/p/sports/mets/cardinal_rules_JEo4rdLZkb8WUDl3ad2NaI

    Another gem of a piece by Greg Prince at FAFIF echoed things Ive been troubled with for a while:
    “Even after spending eight delightful starts salivating at Harvey and being encouraged by the reports of Wheeler’s progress, I really don’t believe that anymore. I look around and wonder, to paraphrase the GM, “What foundation?” There is little splendid about these Mets individually. There is plenty that is ordinary at best. What always bothers me about puffing up the guys we see day after day is forgetting that other teams have shortstops and first basemen and lefthanded starters. They have prospects and crown jewels. We sucker ourselves into believing ours are the most sparkling, rarely pausing to consider that fans of those other teams probably believe something similar about their inventory, and we can’t all be absolutely correct in our assessments.”
    http://www.faithandfearinflushing.com/2013/05/14/the-sorrow-and-the-pity/

    We have a lot of hope and dreams. We had a Mets “way” instilled by Gil Hodges. We’ve had some of the best to play the game wear the orange and blue. I sadly feel that the new “Plan” is more of a “soup du jour” that ultimately is not a cure for the ailment, but rather more delusions offered to the struggling fan base that seems filled with better plans than those in charge.

    • Metsense

      Chris, I hear you. The disease is the Wilpon ownership with no money for a cure.
      Is the Met farm system rated # 1 ? No.
      Do we have enough prospects in the system to compensate for those that bust? No offensively, yes in the pitching.
      What is with the total regression of Niese , Gee and Edgin?
      Are Davis, Kirk, Cowgill, Brown, Legares,Lutz Carson and Satin all AAAA players?
      Are JV and Duda people you can use in 2014?
      Is Murphy, Duda, and Tejada going to get better or is this the most we can expect?
      This is our current crop of young players and quite frankly this team doesn’t look as good as last year’s model that was in
      first place in early June. Harvey replaced Dickey , Buck replaced Hairston and Parnell replaced Fransisco.Same group, lousy
      results. It is very concerning.

      The band aid is to replace the manager, hitting and pitching coach because the current “Mets way” isn’t working.
      The cure is for the Wilpon’s to sell. Aint going to happen.

      • Charlie Hangley

        Sadly, you are right, Metsense. We’re stuck with the WilpMORONS in perpetuity. I keep hoping for some dream coalition of Steve Cohen/David Einhorn/Bill Maher/Jon Stewart/Jerry Seinfeld/the 1-800-Flowers guy/Cowbell Man/Mr. Met to buy them out.

        As you said, ain’t gonna happen.

      • Joe Vasile

        No, but it’s middle of the pack and rising after years in the 20’s under Minaya/Duquette/Phillips.

        Agree here. Plenty of pitching, light on hitting, but most of the hitting talent is in Savannah and St. Lucie, outside of d’Arnaud, Flores, and Vaughn (if his hot start is sustained, which it certainly could be).

        Niese’s arm slot is much lower this year, he’s admitted as much and the data backs it up, Gee was never really that good; always profiled as a 5 starter plus coming back from an injury he is going to struggle, Edgin was overused

        Davis; No, 2010, 2011 and 2012 prove that. Kirk; Yes (always was, he was only projected to have a 4th OF ceiling). Cowgill; Maybe, don’t know enough about his prospect past, but could be a platoon option. Brown; Probably (see Cowgill, Colin). Legares right now, yes, but could develop into more. Lutz; buried behind Wright/constantly injured, but when healthy, could be productive. Carson; LOOGY at best. Satin; #Hail- should be given a shot over Turner IMO.

        JV: bench guy- yes, everyday guy- no. Duda: Yes- stick him in left and if he hits, he’ll offset the defensive liability. Alderson should look to improve over him and perhaps look to trade him to an AL team who needs a 1B/DH guy with power.

        Murphy and Duda: More or less what we can expect. Their defense may improve, but don’t hold your breath. Offensively, we’ve seen what we’re going to get. Tejada: Yes. He’s only 23 (despite being with the tam for 4 years now), and has plenty of room to develop further. He’ll never be a superstar, but he could post 2-3 WAR seasons in his prime. There are upgrades over him, that Alderson may need to turn to as the team becomes competitive.

        You say this is our current crop of young players, but they all have one thing in common: with the exception of Brown and Cowgill – who are 30 and 26, respectively – they are all Omar Minaya guys. Wheeler, TdA, Syndergaard, Montero, and Nimmo are Alderson guys, who we should be excited about. Their ETA’s are not all immediate, but Wheeler and TdA should be up by year’s end with Montero and Wilmer Flores coming up next year. These are the guys to be excited about. These guys are the future, not Valdespin, Duda, and Rob Carson. Nor is Dillon Gee or Josh Edgin.

        What is very concerning is people calling for Alderson’s head. Patience is needed in this rebuilding process; Rome wasn’t built in a day. Just because the team sucks this year doesn’t mean they won’t be competitive next year. The Mets were a directionless mess in 2010 when Alderson took office, and they have a direction now. Just remember; things are always darkest before the sun comes up. Also I’m sorry that I butchered that saying.

        The Wilpons have money. The accounts they had with Madoff that lost money actually outnumbered the accounts that made money, so they actually received a higher payout from the cases than the settlement that they reached. This is the offseason that Alderson has to spend it.

    • Joe Vasile

      Yeah, 2 top 10 prospects in all of baseball…what suckers we are.

  • Michael Geus

    Not 2014 that is for sure. Way too many holes to fill by then.

  • peter

    I know you don’t work for Met management but when you write things like the “defection” of Jose Reyes I wonder? The Mets never offered him a contract so how can you perceive what he did as a betrayal? As I said to Brian in another blog. This team will never be competitive so long as the Wilpons own the team. The payroll is at 81 million for this season. What happened to Sandy’s announcement that the 2013 would be slightly higher? My first act as new owner would be to fire Alderson and the entire Met coaching staff. The team lacks offense and has no adequate bullpen. You would think that the Mets by now would have at least one decent outfield prospect starting for them today. Take a look at the starting line up and tell me which outfielder would be a starter on a different team? They’re all 4th outfielders. None. Forget 2014! No quality free agents and not enough depth in the minors to make a trade.

    • Joe Vasile

      He said it could be slightly higher. There was nothing in the market he liked (other than Bourn, but not at the price of the 11th draft pick), so he didn’t needlessly spend money just to spend it to appease the fanbase in the way that Minaya did (K-Rod, Jason Bay, etc.).

      Firing Alderson would be a huge mistake.

      No quality free agents and not enough depth in the minors to make a trade? Where are you getting that from? First of all, Choo, Ellsbury, Pence, David Murphy, Granderson, Nelson Cruz all have 4 WAR seasons under their belts. Are all of them right for the team? No. But to say there is nobody is just plain not right. Also there is plenty of pitching depth in the minors to make a trade. The Mets have one of the deepest pitching farm systems in MLB. Savannah, St. Lucie, and Binghamton are completely stacked with quality arms. I don’t mean to be rude or anything, but why would you say that?

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