Is Sandy Alderson ready for a changing of the guard?

Sandy Alderson is in his seventh season as the GM of the Mets, and he does have some impressive accomplishments in that time. During his watch the Mets had two postseason appearances, including one in the World Series, and of all the Mets GMs only Frank Cashen and Johnny Murphy can top that, with World Series wins during each of their tenures.

With respect to playing personnel Alderson, like most GMs, has had some hits and some misses. Clearly trading for and then signing Yoenis Cespedes and drafting Michael Conforto have been very successful moves. Failing to make a reasonable multi-year contract offer to Daniel Murphy was a bad move. This subject had been debated frequently in these pages but letting go a guy who would go on to finish second in the 2016 MVP voting and is again among the NL offensive leaders this year has to be considered a mistake.

Alderson does turn 70 this year, and his contract expires after the season. He had a recent battle with cancer, and he is at the helm of an organization that is now in a type of rebuilding mode. Might it be time for Alderson to step down at the end of the season?

That of course will be up to the Wilpons and Alderson himself, but the upcoming offseason does seem like a logical time for Alderson to call it a career. Mets manager Terry Collins also has a contract that expires after this season, and a new GM would have the flexibility to either retain Collins (should Collins wish to manage another season) or go with someone new.

If Alderson does retire after this season, where might the Mets look for a successor? They may choose to look at the front offices of successful franchises such as the Cubs, the Nationals, the Dodgers and Cardinals for some rising talent. One name that is intriguing is Jason McLeod, the Senior VP of Player Development for the Cubs. He is credited with having a big hand in the many recent successful Cub drafts, notably Kris Bryant.

If the Mets stay in-house, John Ricco would be a contender. He has been the assistant GM of the Mets since 2006, serving in the regimes of Jim Duquette, Omar Minaya and now Alderson, so he has had exposure to different styles of front office leadership. Ricco did fill in for Alderson at the winter meetings after the 2015 season while Alderson underwent medical treatment.

We’ll probably find out sometime after the end of the World Series if Alderson will settle down in his rocking chair or if he is game for another go at running the organization.

30 comments for “Is Sandy Alderson ready for a changing of the guard?

  1. Jimmy P
    August 2, 2017 at 10:43 am

    Two minutes after Sandy arrived people began comparing him to Frank Cashen.

    He has fallen far short of that standard, though he has brought stability and professionalism to the organization.

    I wish he’d go, but my sense is he doesn’t want to go out like this. Team still has window of opportunity for 2018 and 2019, certainly, so he likely wants to do that. My hope is that he dreams of a World Series — that he really wants excellence, that parade down Broadway — and that he’ll work tirelessly to make that happen.

    The “postseason” WC appearance, which I will always call Game 163, makes an unfair comp w/ previous GMs who did not have that easy option.

    How about seasons with 90 wins or more?

    • MattyMets
      August 2, 2017 at 11:40 am

      Frank Cashen would have four or five playoff appearances in the 80s if there was a wild card. The 85 team won 98 games without making the playoffs. That’s virtually impossible now.

      • IDRAFT
        August 2, 2017 at 2:42 pm

        Good point MattyMets. Looking at the years 1984 to 1990 through the expanded playoffs lens.

        1984 90-72 – 1st WC
        1985 98-64 – 1st WC
        1986 – World Champions
        1987 92-70 – 1st WC
        1988 – Division Champions
        1989 87-75 – 2nd WC
        1990 91-71 – 1st WC

        So seven straight years with enough wins to make the playoffs in the current watered down playoff system, and to JP’s point, six out of seven with 90 or more wins.

    • Chris F
      August 2, 2017 at 9:42 pm

      +1

  2. Eraff
    August 2, 2017 at 11:45 am

    The word “re-build” would assume a bail on the Pitching that is in place. It’s injured and undervalued…you have no choice but to “re-load” with the assumption that 3-5 guys can rise from the ashes of 2017 and make for a solid rotation.

    Otherwise, you trade off deGrom for a pile of young talent…and you pray for the recovery of the other starters.

    • John Fox
      August 2, 2017 at 12:43 pm

      Eraff,
      reload probably is a better word than rebuild. If you notice I did say “a type of rebuilding mode” to indicate it was not a standard teardown and rebuild.

    • Jimmy P
      August 2, 2017 at 2:36 pm

      Eraff, off-topic, but I saw a funny thing re: pitch framing. The article was about Lucroy getting traded, having a down year. It said how he was last in MLB in pitch framing this season, whereas in the past he’d been one of the better catchers in all of MLB.

      Which of course is stupid. The guy is 31 years old. Suddenly he doesn’t know how to catch a pitch properly? He lost that skill? I don’t believe a single word of it. Too much noise in the data. Bogus stat.

      • August 2, 2017 at 3:25 pm

        Funny thing that OPS. Jonathan Lucroy led all catchers in 2016 in OPS and this year he’s last. Did he forget how to hit? Which of couse is stupid. The guy is 31 years old – suddenly he doesn’t know how to hit? He lost that skill? I don’t believe a single word of it. Too much noise in that data. Bogus stat.

        • Eraff
          August 2, 2017 at 5:45 pm

          Offensive Stats are probably the purest stats, and the “mathematicallcy derived stats” that work off of that baseline data have become very useful in making that data reflect the best explanation of a player’s production.

          Does anyone really care much about .300…or leading the league in hitting?…. generally, OPS is now more highly regarded—it’s a great advance and has added enjoyment to the game.

          The Framing Stat attempts to capture a Catching subtlety that has always been honored. I think the defensive stats tend to have more multi factor/multi player engagement in the outcome of the stat. I don;t believe “Framing Statistics” carry the same weight as OPS…but the Catcher’s Hands and the Craft involved are considerations.

          • Jimmy P
            August 3, 2017 at 5:42 am

            OPS is a lazy stat, a quick & easy number that mashes together two long-known statistics: OBP and SLG.

            The biggest flaw in OPS is that it treats OBP and SLG as if they have the same value, which studies have shown is not true. In terms of scoring runs, they indicate that OBP is more important than SLG. But of course, baseball is played by teams and it’s best to have a variety of abilities, different tools in the box.

            Player A has a .375 OBP and a .400 SLG for a .775 OPS.
            Player B has a .275 OBA and a .500 SLG for a .775 OPS.

            The consensus opinion is that Player A is the better offensive weapon.

            Some folks, including Aaron Gleeman around 15 years ago, have posited a weighted number, but it’s too much math and has not caught on. OPS is wonderful as a down-and-dirty number. But it could be argued — I would argue — that it’s actually muddied the water more than clarified it.

            OPS is less an advance than a retreat; it reduces the complex to an easy number. It’s like giving a movie 3 1/2 stars.

            In general, the big cumulative stats that involve a lot of math bring us farther and farther away from the game. However, there’s huge money in fantasy baseball and proprietary statistics, so different businesses are highly motivated to invent their own cockamamie statistics.

            But, yes, absolutely: Some people love this stuff. It gives them the illusion that they have all the answers . . . because: numbers! Other folks, like myself, enjoy and understand the game from a different perspective. I find that the signal is often lost in the noise of overwhelming data where each data point is given equal weight.

            Anyway, I like stats actually. But I will not slavishly adopt every shiny new stat that comes down the pike.

            I used to think that umpires tended to “give” Tom Glavine that outside strike because of his consistency and ability to locate that pitch (and because they were awed by his reputation, etc.).

            Now I learn, thanks to bad data and the way pitch framing is calculated, it was Javy Lopez all along!

            • August 3, 2017 at 10:32 am

              The flaw you state with OPS is real. The bottom line is that OPS will get you very close to the right answer using something that’s easy to calculate and understand. If you want to be more precise, use wOBA.

              You have your choice of two metrics to use and yet somehow you’re spinning that as a bad thing. OPS isn’t precise enough and wOBA requires too much math. You’ve seemingly made the decision that if something isn’t perfect and amazingly easy to calculate that it’s worthless and “muddying the water.” And then you claim to like stats. With friends like you, stats don’t need enemies.

              • Eraff
                August 3, 2017 at 10:00 pm

                I’ve always though that Stolen Bases might be a statistical add-on to OPS–but it is “approach dependent”…. I’d be interested to add the stolen bases to the Total bases for guys like Henderson, Reyes, Raines….

                • Jimmy P
                  August 4, 2017 at 8:18 am

                  It does feel like good information, a speed component to slugging. But all this does is lead to the super all-in-one statistic. Thomas Boswell pushed for one back in the 80s as I recall, “Total Baseball,” and there are currently others.

                  Personally — as a fan, as a baseball lover — I don’t need and find them ultimately reductionistic. I don’t mind looking at various things to get a sense of a player; I don’t need to line everybody up by one grand number. It’s a math game, and maybe a fun puzzle to figure out, but worthless (to me) at the end of the day.

        • Jimmy P
          August 2, 2017 at 11:26 pm

          It is beyond silly to make OPS and pitch framing as equivalent statistics of equal merit and reliability.

          It’s just a goofy comparison.

          No, I don’t believe a players defensive ability varies wildly from
          Year to year, assuming health. In terms of catching a pitched ball, no, I don’t believe a veteran catcher goes from very good to worst in league. I think you are looking at a deeply flawed statistic and arbitrarily assigning “credit” to the catcher for something likely has more to do with the umpire and the pitcher and possibly even the batter. It’s stupid.

          • August 3, 2017 at 12:17 am

            No, what’s silly is you assuming that any statistic has to show perfect correlation year to year. You’re so eager to bash pitch framing that you’re grasping at straws to discredit it, making arguments that fail the common sense test.

            For anyone who’s interested in Lucroy’s slide in framing since 2014, this is a good article.
            https://theringer.com/jonathan-lucroy-texas-rangers-pitch-framing-3bfa2f11ae4a

            • Jimmy P
              August 3, 2017 at 5:22 am

              From Fangraphs:

              >> Framing stats measure how many runs catchers save based on how many extra strikes they are able to get for their pitcher. The statistics do a nice job communicating how many extra strikes are called while a catcher is in the game, but they are potentially problematic when it comes to giving individual credit to the catcher. It is challenging to isolate the effect of the pitcher, umpire, batter, and catcher so that we can properly value the catcher. BP’s stats attempt to do this, but they use a modeling strategy that doesn’t totally capture the underlying process at work. For example, there is no way to distinguish whether the catcher received the ball well or if the umpire is calling an unusually large strike zone during that specific game. <<

              • August 3, 2017 at 10:10 am

                Yep, it’s not perfect.

                But what’s the reaction to that? Do you throw up your hands and say since we can’t obtain perfection that we don’t even try? No stat is perfect. You can use that same argument for walks/strikeouts, yet we use those without worrying if the umpire had an unusually large/small strike zone.

                • Pete In Iowa
                  August 3, 2017 at 10:48 am

                  How good (useful) can a stat truly be if it goes away completely when an electronic strike zone comes into play?
                  Framing is purely invented as there is no definitive (or for that matter, reliable) way to know if the way a catcher catches the ball alone actually influences the umpire’s call. It’s pure speculation on human behavior.
                  For me, I’ll value the defensive ability of a catcher by how good (or bad) he is at blocking pitches, how strong his arm is and how quick he is at defending bunts/squibbers. These are all easily measured and reliable indicators of defensive ability.

                • August 3, 2017 at 11:38 am

                  That’s an interesting question.

                  I think it’s actually two different questions. It’s extremely useful until the point that mechanization comes in, which doesn’t appear to be anytime soon. While I favor its arrival as soon as the technology proves reliable (which may never happen) others seem to be totally against it. It’s hard to imagine the umpire union letting that come to be without a major fight.

                  My opinion is that we look for answers wherever we can and by the best means available at the moment.

                  As for how good something can be that can be swept out of existence by a superior technology — well, history is full of such things. The Pony Express was in existence for only about 18 months over 150 years ago but we still talk about it today because it was a massive improvement over what existed previously.

                • Eraff
                  August 3, 2017 at 10:03 pm

                  I agree that Framing is a “Minor stat”….. when I discuss Catchers, I really can’t say I’m at all moved by the discussion of the Stat…it might back up what I’m seeing, but it doesn’t “define a guy on paper” like the OPS, avg, obp, isolated slugging, HR’s..etc

  3. Pete from NJ
    August 2, 2017 at 1:17 pm

    I think a reload= 1) FA starting pitcher 2) Re-Up Jay Bruce 3) I’m too confused to discuss catcher 4) Add relief
    5) Let position rookies emerge. I agree with Eraff: the team is married to the present starters with half the staff ready to heal and move foward.

  4. Popeye
    August 2, 2017 at 5:20 pm

    1. Resign Reed 2. Dump d’Arnaud,go with Rivera/Plawecki and/or sign a defensive catcher 3. Go with Lagares/Nimmo in center and hope they still healthy and hit 260-270. 4. Let Bruce walk, and sign or trade for a 2B or 3B that can field the position and hit a little. 5. Give Flores 50-60 games at 2B or 3B to prove whether or not he is a solid ML hitter.

  5. Luis Ramos
    August 2, 2017 at 6:06 pm

    Both of them should stay home and retired.Ownership and then are the reason the Mets will always be what they are.

  6. Jimmy P
    August 3, 2017 at 10:30 am

    It would be inaccurate to judge a farm system solely by the won-loss records of its affiliates — the farm is about raising players to the big club, and more importantly, impact players — but I’d contend that overall won-loss records are generally indicative of the health of the system. Seven years into the job, this Sandy Alderson’s program:

    Triple-A – Las Vegas 51s (41-69)
    Double-A – Binghamton Rumble Ponies (60-45)
    Advanced-A – St. Lucie Mets (15-24/48-59)
    Low-A – Columbia Fireflies (16-22/56-50)
    Short-A – Brooklyn Cyclones (14-28)
    Rookie – Kingsport Mets (15-24)
    Rookie – GCL Mets (9-20)

    Overall: 243-295

    With a dearth of “stars,” this is not an encouraging sign about depth.

  7. Pete In Iowa
    August 3, 2017 at 2:16 pm

    Brian — as to your response to me on framing:
    While I have come to loathe how replay is used in baseball, as it stands today, I would be a huge fan of an electronic strike zone if (and that’s a big if) a way is perfected to do so. The “strike zone box” used on TV is totally laughable — they shouldn’t even show it anymore it is so flawed. However, it seems to me that in the vast majority of games I watch, the home plate ump misses far too many calls for it to be acceptable anymore.
    As far as your point on the Pony Express: I fail to see a parallel between that and pitch framing. The Pony Express was a real, tangible thing. Much like batting averages and OPS — i.e. tangible things. Pitch framing on the other hand, as I noted above, is nothing more than a guess at human behavior. There simply is no way to know for sure that an ump makes a ball or strike call based upon how a catcher receives a pitch.

    • August 3, 2017 at 3:03 pm

      You’re treating other stats as perfect or infallible when no stat is like that. Plus there’s a lot more than guessing that goes on with framing. To lump it in there like predicting if a flipped coin will be “heads” or “tails” is erroneous and unfair. If you think that the whole stat is based on nothing more than a guess, the most charitable thing I can say is that you’re sadly mistaken.

  8. Eraff
    August 3, 2017 at 10:09 pm

    When I look at the FA lists, I become convinced that next season could be a re-load of this season…plus healthier Pitchers and eventual deadline adds. I’m coming around to a returning Jay B…maybe Cabrera. Walker will probably go….if he stays, Cabrera goes.

    The only chip out there is Moustakas– is he a 5-7 year Player???…is anyone???

    Rosario, Smith…healthy SP’s…..and July deals to finish the team. Maybe a trade or two in off season. I don’t see so many goodies on the Hot Stove

  9. Eraff
    August 4, 2017 at 10:23 am

    Jim…for Me, “the one big number” OPS has pretty much replaced any of the others that have been used as a first glance stat to capture the total impact of a player. My next look is at HR’s…Double..Total Bases..OBP. I’m still stuck on strikeouts as well, and more enamored of BB’s than I was 20 years ago.

    When I look at the rising young players, I focus on their last levwel BABIP, Walks, and K’s in addition to the OPS components and other stats…for instance, I know that Rosario has 67k’s with 23 walks in about 400 MILB ab’s this year…and a .375 BABIP—on of my Favorite stats, the BABIP

    I try to avoid doing a straight projection on a fast rising 21 year old Phenom…but the heavy reliance on successful contact is a big burden to maintain versus the elevated level of pitchers at MLB versus Vegas. The stats point to struggle…that’s not unusual, but I believe Rosario will Struggle with K’s…and he will struggle making highly successful contact when he both the visual evaluations and the stats say that he “likes to swing his bat”.

    The stats are fun and useful

    • Jimmy P
      August 5, 2017 at 12:35 pm

      Agreed. But what I personally like about you — and your point of view — is that it begins with the game itself, the players on the field, what you see. I always feel like you know baseball. The stats are supplemental to that, an enhancement. You don’t begin by staring at a spreadsheet and then typing. And because of that, I believe you come up with fresh, original observations. Not that it’s always agreement. You use the computer in your brain.

      Anyway, we can all agree: Let’s Go Mets.

  10. Eraff
    August 5, 2017 at 5:43 pm

    I’m 58— maybe our Baseball Lives are similar. It began with some combination of Playing and Watching…with a Heavy dose of a Baseball Card collection that was used for the purpose of Memorizing the Batting average of every single player in baseball!

    I’m actually serious about that last part— from the 1970’s and through the early 80’s I would have been able to provide a lifetime BA for virtually any player.

    I agree with you about watching the game and players on the field. That said, arguing over player stats has been an enjoyable and timeless pursuit for generations of sports fans—and the baseball statistics have been the most popular because of the stability of the game and it’s statistics(which seems to be fleeting Now).

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