Sandy AldersonIf we knew at the conclusion of the World Series that ownership was going to allow Sandy Alderson $140 million or so to spend on payroll for 2016, the views of his offseason moves would have been a little different. Is it really that big of a deal if he spent $18.5/$25 million for Asdrubal Cabrera to duplicate the production they could have got from Wilmer Flores for a fraction of the cost? Not when money wasn’t the big issue it had been in previous years.

Sure, we might wish for a more established bullpen or a better righty bench bat or more reliable defensive reserves. But it’s not like the bullpen doesn’t have solid arms and legitimate upside. And if your main problems are with subsections of your bench, life isn’t too bad.

While it’s still fair to either ask questions or criticize the individual moves of Alderson this offseason, he’s assembled a team on paper that seems ready to challenge for a return trip to the playoffs. And with the power arms in the rotation, they are seemingly well set to make a deep run should they make the postseason. All of us are looking forward to making the playoffs in back-to-back years for just the second time in franchise history.

While the immediate future looks bright, the good news is that we can see how the team is set up for continued success. Previously, it was all pitching coming up ready to help from the minors. Now we can see the hitters on the horizon, with low-cost replacements on the way for 1B, 2B, SS and potentially RF. Just like the cheap pitching now allows for free agent imports for offense, we can envision a scenario down the road where cheap offense allows the team to extend some of the current pitchers.

One area where Alderson has definitely improved on from his predecessor is, to borrow a phrase from basketball, spacing. While sometimes Alderson’s insistence on nothing but short deals can be maddening, there’s no doubt the value in regularly having money coming off the books, especially if you’re willing to eventually let young guys play and do some shopping in places other than the discount racks.

Do you recall Alderson’s first offseason? Opening Day payroll in 2010 was roughly $126.5 million and it went up to roughly $142.8 million the first year under Alderson. But the reason it went up was because of backloaded deals, not any spending sprees for the new GM. After consecutive sub .500 seasons, the team needed to be able to bring new blood aboard. But along with the Madoff mess, the Mets had to deal with salary increases to Jason Bay, Jose Reyes, Johan Santana and David Wright, along with typical arbitration raises.

And to make matters worse, there wasn’t any significant salary coming off the books. There were only two players making a seven-digit salary on the club at the end of 2010 who were cleared from payroll in 2011. They were Kelvim Escobar ($1.25 million) and Hisanori Takahashi ($1 million) and if finances weren’t tight, they probably would have retained Takahashi.

Compare that to what Alderson has created. At the start of 2015 the money from Bartolo Colon, Daniel Murphy and Jerry Blevins were scheduled to come off the books at the end of the campaign. Combine that with the mid-season acquisitions with expiring deals and the unexpected retirement of Michael Cuddyer and there was a fair amount of money for Alderson to re-invest, even if the payroll stayed at last year’s Opening Day mark of $101.3 million.

Looking ahead to 2016, we see the salaries of Neil Walker, Colon, Alejandro De Aza and Blevins will come off the books. Potentially Yoenis Cespedes, too. After 2017, the money from Curtis Granderson, Cabrera, Antonio Bastardo and Lucas Duda becomes available. This isn’t a happy coincidence. This is planning from the GM’s office to make sure a repeat of the 2010-11 offseason doesn’t happen again.

Players acquired by both Omar Minaya and Sandy Alderson led to the team’s World Series appearance in 2015. Players from both GMs will also play a role in the fortune of the 2016 club, too. And that’s how it should be. Meanwhile, Alderson’s contract goes through the 2017 season and there’s a decent chance he retires at the conclusion of that deal, when he’ll be 70 years old.

No one can say how the farm system will be at the end of 2017. One thing to keep in mind is that no one was jumping for joy at the end of 2010 when Minaya departed about the state of affairs in the minor league system. And now we belatedly give Minaya credit.

But even with uncertainty surrounding the minor leagues, it seems likely that Alderson will leave the overall system in much better shape than what he inherited. The 2010 team finished under .500, the team had great name recognition but the stars all had injury concerns, payroll was maxed out and the farm seemingly had little to offer.

The next GM will not be without his problems. He’ll likely inherit the Wright contract but even that has a silver lining. Unlike the deals to Bay and Santana, the money owed to Wright actually goes down, going from $20 million in 2018 to $15 million the following year to $12 million in its final year of 2020. And of course he’ll have to deal with retaining the stud pitchers.

Yet with both the blueprint and the foundation for success already in place, John Ricco or J.P. Ricciardi or whoever replaces Alderson should be walking into a good situation. That is unless the Mets win the World Series in 2016 & 2017, setting up unreal expectations. But we’ll call that a good problem to have.

10 comments on “Sandy Alderson’s Mets primed for success even after he leaves

  • James Preller

    All true.

    I think one of the understated strengths of his regime has been that they are never stupid. I mean that, sure, we can and should debate the relative merits of different moves, but they never make dumb, uninformed decisions.

    He’s been a very good GM overall.

    • Brian Joura

      I agree that he’s been very good.

      I might not go so far as to say the Cuddyer signing was dumb and uninformed but if it wasn’t, it was mighty close. But Cuddyer partially bailed him out of that one and it gave us Conforto earlier than we would have otherwise, so it wasn’t the complete stinker it could have been.

  • Chris F

    As it stands, we all can complain about little aspect, but all things totaled, the Mets are in ok shape right now.

    Alderson has balanced an awful financial mess with an agitated fan base, and got us to the WS. Its all we can hope for from this GMs seat.

  • Name

    Is it bad that i feel so strongly that Alderson has done a poor job that i’m actually kind of rooting for the Mets to not do so well… just to prove a point? These lovey dovey posts for TC and Alderson are making me sick. At best he’s done an average job.

    I also don’t get the point that he “rescued” the Mets from financial distress. A GM has a budget set by the owner and It’s not like he can override and sign a player without the owner’s approval, so why do people give him credit for cutting the excess contracts? Anyone can sit back and do nothing…

    • James

      “Is it bad that i feel so strongly that Alderson has done a poor job that i’m actually kind of rooting for the Mets to not do so well… just to prove a point?”

      Yes. Yes it is. I mean, if things don’t work because of some structural issue with Alderson et al.’s reign, then that’s one thing, but this sounds more like petty crap.

      “These lovey dovey posts for TC and Alderson are making me sick. At best he’s done an average job.”

      I’d like to hear the argument for Alderson doing an ‘average job’. What would you say makes him average?

      “so why do people give him credit for cutting the excess contracts?”

      I think people are giving him credit for not signing bad, long length contracts, not for just shedding the bad long term contracts of the Minaya era

      • Name

        “I think people are giving him credit for not signing bad, long length contracts,”

        How can you give him credit for this when he didn’t have the opportunity to sign bad contracts, unless you believe that he had the extra budget and money to spend… and that would mean you can’t play the “Wilpons are cheap” card.

    • Brian Joura

      Yes, yes it is bad.

      I have no desire to have these arguments again but getting rid of the salaries of Beltran and K-Rod and Dickey did require him to do something. It’s also likely he had to convince ownership to eat contracts like Bay and Castillo and Perez. Perhaps we would have liked to see him do more but the idea he did nothing isn’t true.

      • Name

        ” It’s also likely he had to convince ownership to eat contracts like Bay and Castillo and Perez.”

        Eating contracts doesn’t save any money. It says that you can’t trust your manager to play the right people and you have to remove the temptation to play them. Bay and Castillo could have functioned as the 25th guy , as unhappy as they would have been.
        After all, they did give 63 horrendous PA to Emaus/Hu in 2011, 496 horrendous PA to Valdespin/Mdd/Cowgill/Ankiel in 2013. No comp for Perez in 2011 but the Mets did give 32 vomit-inducing appearances to Scott Rice in 2014

  • Metsense

    Since June 24, 2015 the Wilpons have opened their wallets and has allowed Alderson to spend appropriate amounts of money to enhance the team properly. Your terming of the word “spacing” is very appropriate. He is also pushing forward a philosophy of no long term contracts. The opt out on Cespedes was prime example of not tieing up the payroll in years number 5 and 6 on what may result in an average player. Over paying on the short term contract allows him to offer a similar contract to a new free agent instead of having to wait for Cespedes contract to expire. I am admiring his work in this area along with his ability to trade established players for prospects that have now succeeded. The franchise is on solid ground and his successor should have plenty to work with.

  • Buddy3

    Sandy never makes emotional moves and that is what you need from a GM. He knows when he needs to fill the emotions of the fans and where he can wait. The Cespedes move was brilliant and I dare say that many GMs would have dropped a 7 year , $150 million contract on Yo to appease the fans.

    Give Sandy credit. Despite how fanatics want him to play Rotisserie baseball with his assets, he never gets into a space he doesn’t want to be in and never gets taken advantage of. The Beltran and Dickey trades were perfection and all based on his ability to gauge the market and then squeeze his adversary for more.

    As a long suffering Met fan I will always realize that Sandy built the team and farm system the right way – not the way the fans thought it should be built.

    His successor will have big shoes to fill. Thanks Sandy.

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