Mets Offseason 2014: Marlon Byrd and LaTroy Hawkins Are Gone. Is This A Sign?

If you can get away with something cheaper [than $1,000,000.00] as the Mets did for the innings they squeezed out of [LaTroy] Hawkins and the hits they derived from Marlon Byrd ($700K), fan-freaking-tastic. There are budgets and strategies and dozens of contracts to take into consideration. Don’t throw money away if you don’t have to.

But geez, I hope the Mets weren’t overcome with the shakes that an experienced pitcher coming off a fine year was compensated well. I hope this doesn’t touch off another round of recriminations about how “scary” it is to pay for quality.

Greg Prince, Faith And Fear In Flushing, 11/19/13

Sandy AldersonThere’s always this possibility when we start to talk about the Mets and players who go unsigned. Byrd signed with the Phillies the other day for what some would call an “overpay” – two years at $8 million per for a 36-year-old outfielder who had a surprisingly productive 2013 would certainly qualify – and Hawkins more than doubled his money, soaring over to Colorado for a one-year, $2.25 million deal. No Met fan would argue with your intrepid columnist when he says that we all wish these guys well in their new digs, but there is the gnawing fear that this would indicate a reluctance to part with any of the much-talked-about “money coming off the books.”

On the other hand, though…

Being unwilling to overpay for overaged players is a relatively new concept in the Iron Triangle. As my friend Brian Joura so aptly pointed out earlier today, generously compensating the superannuated was a hallmark of the Omar Minaya regime. If Sandy Alderson doesn’t want to go down that road, I say “bravo!” Perhaps this is Alderson’s vaunted eye for “value” finally coming to the fore, and if so, watch out for some highly satisfying deals heading our way. The whole Jay-Z/Robinson Cano comedy aside – clearly another Metsian PR canard with Wilpon The Younger’s grubby fingerprints all over it – it would appear that Alderson is allowing roster space to clear out so some new talent can be added. And while it has been most emphatically and publicly stated that top-shelf talent in the form of $100 million-plus contacts won’t be coming our way, perhaps Alderson is at this moment rooting through the mud, aiming to emerge with some valuable truffles. Let’s face it: for all the complaining this fan base does about inactivity and “process-vs.-results,” Sandy Alderson does have a superb track record for these kinds of things.

Here’s wishing him luck in his digging.

Follow me on Twitter @CharlieHangley

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36 comments for “Mets Offseason 2014: Marlon Byrd and LaTroy Hawkins Are Gone. Is This A Sign?

  1. November 19, 2013 at 2:17 pm

    Process over results…I’m thinking Sandy Alderson aced his algebra regents. Don’t know if he’ll get extra credit for Brandon Allen, but his predecessor did OK with Robert Allen.

    • November 19, 2013 at 2:19 pm

      Hey Greg! Nice job by you (et al) on that “We Were There” video.

    • NormE
      November 19, 2013 at 2:38 pm

      Hey Greg,
      I love the picture of you impersonating George T. Seaver. Good taste.
      As for the Mets and Sandy’s off-season it appears that frustration does make opinionators of us all.
      It’s only Nov. 19th. Let’s wait until the spring rolls around before praising or condemning the man. We all
      know that the Mets are far from being season-long contenders, so let’s calm down. For those who are calling
      for the heads of TC or li’l jeffy or Fred, I concur. Otherwise take two breaths and call me in April.

  2. Jerry Grote
    November 19, 2013 at 2:32 pm

    There’s a massive difference between giving a 35 year old catcher a *three year deal* valued at nearly $9MM each, and basically tossing out $2.75MM for a one year deal on a middle reliever, in tremendous shape, that has put up 100+ ERA+ seasons/positive WAR seasons as far back as the eye can see.

    I’d say there is considerably less risk in paying one, very consistent, reliable 40 year old … than playing for three or four Aaron Laffeys.

    • Chris F
      November 19, 2013 at 2:40 pm

      I totally agree JG. The deal for Hawk was chump change, and he’s still clearly a premier elite athlete. Furthermore, he was clearly making an impact on the young staff.

      • November 19, 2013 at 2:46 pm

        Depending on the “medicals,” I think they’ll sign Roy Halladay to a relatively cheap deal to mentor the young pitchers & keep Matt Harvey’s seat warm. I don’t think I’d have given LaTroy $2.25 mil. By the same token, I wouldn’t have given Frank Francisco all that money, either…

  3. Jerry Grote
    November 19, 2013 at 2:46 pm

    and I’m not particularly good at filtering out the OFers that played at age 34, and then their age 35 season. But it looks to me like most of them provided roughly 3 WAR or better in their age 35 season …

    so, doing the math, it means that the Phillies will be getting all the value they need out of that Byrd contract … *this year*.

    • November 19, 2013 at 2:54 pm

      You’re making the Minaya mistake of assuming Byrd will repeat what he did in 2013. I happen to think it’s an outlier.

      • Jerry Grote
        November 19, 2013 at 3:09 pm

        No, Charlie, I’m not … and you must have misread what I stated.

        In looking at the 35 year old OFers, it seemed as if their average production was above 2.9 WAR.

        So at roughly $5MM per Win, that’s roughly the entire contract value of Marlon Byrd. And, for what its worth, that 3 WAR would reflect a healthy 25% reduction in his abilities … well within norms for his career.

        The Byrd contract was NOT an overpay. He produced 4.1 WAR last year, and there is every reason to believe he will produce roughly 3 this year.

        • Name
          November 19, 2013 at 8:07 pm

          Looks like you’ll need to redo your research. Byrd will be playing as a 36 year old next year.

          • Jerry Grote
            November 20, 2013 at 9:09 am

            http://www.fangraphs.com/leaders.aspx?pos=of&stats=bat&lg=all&qual=y&type=8&season=2013&month=0&season1=2011&ind=0&team=0&rost=0&age=36,58&filter=&players=0

            I’ve got three OFers, that played between 2011-2013 above the age of 36, with combined WAR of over 3.6 and only one that didn’t. Two of them have already produced close to 7 WAR EACH.

            Based on a contract of $16MM, with a presumed 75% chance of getting your value back, I’d say that contract was NOT an overpay.

            • November 20, 2013 at 9:35 am

              The problem with that is you are limiting your search to qualified players over a three-year period — meaning that you’re only going to get guys with 1,000+ PA. You’ve got a selection bias because when a guy is that old and stinks – he’s much less likely to rack up PA.

              Byrd is one year removed from putting up a negative fWAR so there’s a much greater chance he’s going to crater than Torii Hunter, who has had 13 straight years with a fWAR of 2.3 and above.

        • November 19, 2013 at 11:17 pm

          Most projection systems use some type of weighted average of the previous three years. Marcels do a 5-4-3 rating of the previous three years, so Byrd’s (-1.0) in 2012 and 1.8 in 2011 would factor into his projection. (5*4.1) + (4*-1) + (3*1.8) = 21.9/12 = 1.8 — and that’s before applying any age-based regression.

          So, there’s a pretty strong reason to believe he won’t produce 3 fWAR this year. In fact the first projection is up on FanGraphs and Steamer has Byrd for a 0.6 fWAR in 2014
          http://www.fangraphs.com/statss.aspx?playerid=950&position=OF

  4. November 19, 2013 at 2:47 pm

    A superb track record? Can you provide some basis for that bold claim within the past 20 years? Feel free to include the work of DePodesta and Ricciardi.

    • November 19, 2013 at 2:56 pm

      Hmmmm…Scott Hatteberg…um…um…Brad Pitt! Johnah Hill! Um…um… ;)

      • Jerry Grote
        November 19, 2013 at 3:10 pm

        :)

    • November 19, 2013 at 3:48 pm

      Alderson is out of touch with the realities of the marketplace. TV revenue is soaring. Prices are going up.

      • November 20, 2013 at 12:42 am

        James Sandy has no control over the budget. That responsibility goes to the Wilpons. All he can do is manage the best he can with the limited funds he has at his disposal. You’re pointing the arrow at the wring person.

  5. Jerry Grote
    November 19, 2013 at 3:54 pm

    Mr. Alderson, the phone is for you. It’s Darren Oliver.

  6. November 20, 2013 at 12:38 am

    Do you think the Wilpons will extend SA’s contract now before he becomes a lame duck GM? How is he going to sign anyone of value when the team doesn’t stand behind their own general manager by giving him an extension now? Then again maybe he’s hoping they don’t and he can add his name to the list of potential candidates for commissioner of baseball.

    • NormE
      November 20, 2013 at 7:17 am

      That’s why Sandy is being a good soldier.

  7. November 20, 2013 at 7:23 am

    As much as I may not like what players SA signs, I do respect his integrity and guts to take the hits that the Wilpons should be taking.

  8. Metsense
    November 20, 2013 at 8:10 am

    In order to remain status quo, the Mets need to replace Byrd’s 2013 production. I don’t see the 2014 Byrd doing that. If the Mets make the Joyce/Davis trade it is likely that Joyce matches Byrd’s 2014 production. Time will tell. The point is the 2014 Byrd is replaceable but unfortunately the 2013 will be too expensive. My expectation is a Joyce type.
    Hawkins is another matter, especially with the injury to Parnell. Hawkins could have bridged the closer role to Black if Parnell is not ready. If Parnell was ready then Hawkins is an insurance policy. Hawkins can be replaced as a relief pitcher but can he be replaced as an emergency closer for $2.5M ? I think not. Atchison failed in that role. The Parnell situation warranted the Mets signing Hawkins.

    • November 20, 2013 at 8:38 am

      2010 – Hisanori Takahashi
      2011 – Jason Isringhausen
      2012 – Jon Rauch
      2013 – LaTroy Hawkins

      The fact that the Mets have been able to get veteran guys to pitch the late innings of games the past four years makes me convinced they’ll be able to do so for 2014, too.

      When the Mets signed Hawkins – who imagined he would cause such angst by signing elsewhere a year later?

      Anyway, a quick look at the free agents listed by Cot’s shows the following veterans potentially available to the Mets as a low-cost, late-inning guy and all have been closers at some point in their career:

      David Aardsma, Octavio Dotel, Kyle Farnsworth, JP Howell, Ryan Madson, Carlos Marmol, Juan Oviedo, Chris Perez, Chad Qualls, Fernando Rodney, Francisco Rodriguez, Jose Valverde and Jose Veras.

      That’s a baker’s dozen right there. And that doesn’t even include guys like Rauch or Thornton – who have saves under their belts, too.

      • Jerry Grote
        November 20, 2013 at 9:19 am

        I’ll take 2012 as a quick example.

        The Mets sifted through the veteran slop of DJ Carrisco, Batista and Acosta – using up close to $3MM in salary – in order to get to Jon Rauch. Not to mention, of course, the Francisco contract and Rauch’s contract.

        Hawkins was as a good a bet to get a consistent 50 IP out the pen as you are ever going to find. He’d done it for 14 years in a row, knew our division, our ballpark and our team. Not spending $2.5MM simply because the guy was 41 was stupid – especially for a guy that clearly is a health fanatic.

        • November 20, 2013 at 10:13 am

          I think you have a good point about Hawkins’ track record.

          However, it’s simply erroneous that the Mets sifted through those other guys to get to Rauch. Right from the start, Rauch was pitching the 8th inning, meaning he was first in line to replace Frank-Frank. Meanwhile Carrasco wasn’t even on the team, Batista was all over the place — making a start and coming in during the 2nd inning and Acosta came in the 7th inning or earlier in 7 of his 9 April appearances and was sent to the minors in May.

          If there was anyone the Mets sifted through to get to — it’s Hawkins. He appeared in the seventh inning or earlier in 8 of his 12 April appearances

      • November 20, 2013 at 10:01 am

        Hey Brian. Out of your entire group, only Perez seems like a possible signing. Just one problem. Don’t let him use UPS or Fed-Ex for his dog treats.

        • November 20, 2013 at 10:14 am

          Why isn’t Aardsma a possibility?

          • Jerry Grote
            November 20, 2013 at 10:51 am

            agreed; mid-summer, I was completely ga-ga over Aardsma.

            To level set here, I think the Mets have enough talent in the bullpen and can sift through wire sheets to supplement that they didn’t have to spend the money on Hawk.

            What gets my goat is hearing SA say its because of his age, or to hear it said that the contract was an overpay.

            Come to me and tell me you’d rather keep that $2.5MM in case you need it to get Harang, or sign Drew, or trade for an expensive OFer. Don’t tell me that a guy with a dozen consecutive seasons of pitching well is “too old” and absolutely NO indication of aging that he’s too old to spend $2.5MM.

            That’s horseshit.

            • November 20, 2013 at 10:57 am

              Do you get the feeling that SA is always right in his mind? He probably put a market value of 1.5 for Hawkins and that he wasn’t going to get a penny more than that from him. Wish nothing but the best for LH who did what he had to do.

  9. November 20, 2013 at 8:23 am

    Isn’t that “Billy ball”? Put a dollar value on a player and if he asks for more than what you think he’d worth then move on. I guess Black better exceed expectations or the Mets will be dumpster shopping for a closer if Parnell is not ready next season. Was 2.5 million that much of an investment for one season?

    • Jerry Grote
      November 20, 2013 at 8:30 am

      The problem Pete, and you are almost hearing them say this out loud, real time, is that our FO is beginning to realize the pricing models they have in place no longer apply.

      $2.5, to them, is way too much. $8MM, for Josh Johnson, is way to much. Peralta’s $16MM per, is way too much.

  10. Chris F
    November 20, 2013 at 9:49 am

    Q: How do you know Sandy Alderson is lying?
    A: His mouth is open.

    A common refrain from the last two years. Let’s envision the Mets took the meeting with Cano and Jay Z for real, and made this up as a cover story. Would adding Cano make the world different in Flushing? Id imagine. Is it gonna coat alot? Yes.

    On the other hand, Cano is the principal baseball representation for Jay Z. His position to have a fail would be disastrous. I dont believe it would happen. Listening to Stern/Bowden yesterday, a couple things came up that made me think. Signing on Cano is signing on Jay Z. He makes being a Mets fan instantly cool (you know, to those that are lifers). First on the docket, Jay Z records a new version of Meet the Mets. Second, he builds a recording studio IN CitiField, with observation windows. Every act he has comes right to Citi. The stands are packed. Alicia Keys and Jay Z are doing “Empire State of Mind” on the field. Summer concerts include his acts and say Beyonce, not just REO Speedwagon. The Yankees have been spit in the eye. The Mets are the new cool kids on the street. Meanwhile the Yankees have a pitching staff of a AAA club, Cano gone, Grandy gone…THe Mets are ramping up Harvey and crew on the hill, we are destination for FAs and trades.

    It was a meeting about “nothing”. Really?

  11. November 20, 2013 at 9:54 am

    So does that mean we’ll see Tejada again at shortstop? Afterall HE fits the FO $ profile. Then Duda should be at first since HE fits the FO $ profile. Baxter and Kirk can platoon in right (since they’re cost effective). And last but not least Hart is PERFECT since he’ll command less than 2-3 million dollars the Mets are willing to spend on any competent free agent. I see the beginning of the end with THE PLAN. Go cheap and if the player is a bust then you’ve lost nothing (except a couple of hundred thousand fans). If he’s good then trade him to restock the farm system. Eventually this plan fails because there will be no one left to watch the team.

  12. November 20, 2013 at 10:19 am

    Just a feeling that SA is not going to bring back anyone for the pen that he has already had a sampling of.

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