Reviewing Sandy Alderson’s last additions for the Mets

All Mets fans thought Sandy Alderson’s 2017-18 offseason was a disaster. Then Brodie Van Wagenen arrived on the scene and said, “Hold my beer.” As bad as Alderson’s additions were, at least he didn’t trade away top prospects for the privilege on paying $100 million dollars for the age 36-40 seasons of a second baseman.

While no one would suggest that the 2017-18 additions helped last year’s club in any way, we can see that they are performing significantly better here in 2019. Let’s look at them and see how they did last season and here in the current campaign:

Jay Bruce – posted a .680 OPS a season ago, now has an .848 OPS total for the season, including a .918 mark currently with the Phillies.

Todd Frazier – recorded a .693 OPS last year and sits currently with a .796 mark, including a .931 mark in his last 164 PA.

Anthony Swarzak – notched a 6.15 ERA and a 1.595 WHIP for the Mets last season and now has a 2.61 ERA and a 1.161 WHIP. Sure would be nice to have a reliever with those numbers right about now.

Jason Vargas – put up a 5.77 ERA and a 1.413 WHIP in 2018 and now sits with a 3.66 ERA and a 1.281 WHIP.

What would have it been like if the Mets had received this quartet’s 2019 production a season ago? Maybe they wouldn’t have made the playoffs but it seems likely that their record would have been better than 77-85. And perhaps the biggest thing is that we would likely still have Alderson as the GM. Now, many of you may not view that as a positive. But let’s draw up a pros and cons list for Van Wagenen, with an emphasis on if Alderson would have made that type of move for our basis of comparison. To me, signing Jeurys Familia or Wilson Ramos is the type of deal that Alderson would have made. So these won’t be listed as either a pro or a con.

Pros for Van Wagenen:

1. Pete Alonso started the year in the majors and produced right away.
2. It’s hard to imagine the Mets drafting Matthew Allan if Alderson was still around.
3. It’s unlikely that the Mets would have J.D. Davis under the old regime.
4. We’ve seen less of the matchup masturbation with relievers than we saw previously.

Cons for Van Wagenen:

1. The complete 100% train wreck of the Robinson Cano deal. It’s been a failure from the production of the players received, the production of the players dealt away, the salary obligations for the next five years and the forcing of Jeff McNeil to play out of position.

2. Usage of Seth Lugo. When Alderson stepped down on June 26 last year, Lugo had appeared in 26 games with five of those being starts. When two starters went on the DL this year, no thought was given to start Lugo. Additionally, 11 of Lugo’s 21 (52%) relief appearances when Alderson was around were for two or more innings. This year, only nine of his 30 (30%) appearances have been for two or more innings. Under Van Wagenen, they’re trying to make Lugo a one-inning guy who pitches every other day. There have been 11 times this year when Lugo has pitched with zero or one day off and in those games he’s allowed 10 runs.

3. Rope given to Keon Broxton, Cano and Juan Lagares. Yes, absolutely, Alderson loved his veterans. And no one ever accused him of being eager to make a move. But even with those things, when Adrian Gonzalez had a 53-PA streak with a .482 OPS, he was cut loose. Broxton might still be here if he hadn’t popped off about his playing time. Alderson cut ties with Rick Ankiel after 71 PA and a .603 OPS and Eric Campbell after 88 PA and a .511 OPS. Lagares has 152 PA and a .514 OPS and still plays more days than not. Maybe Lagares’ salary makes cutting him not an option but it’s hard to imagine he would have gotten this much playing time at this type of production under Alderson.

4. Signing Jed Lowrie. Maybe Lowrie is the type of player that Alderson would have gone after – a veteran on a short-term deal that doesn’t bust the budget – but it’s hard to imagine that Alderson would have gotten him after he made a big move for a 2B, especially as it wasn’t likely that he would have looked to move on from Frazier right after he just signed him. And yeah, no one could predict that Lowrie would be hurt and miss 3-plus months. But no one thought that Bruce, Frazier, Swarzak and Vargas would all wind up on the DL last year, either.

*****

The Mets didn’t believe enough in McNeil and paid the price for those doubts, both figuratively and literally. Because of the early injuries to Frazier and Lowrie, McNeil got consistent playing time and now not playing him seems unfathomable. Those early injuries also paved the way for Alonso to come north out of Spring Training.

But, what if Alderson was still running the show? Alonso certainly wouldn’t have been up before the club earned the extra year of control. And who would have played first base in the interim? Dominic Smith had a strong Grapefruit League season. What if the Mets had started the year with Alonso in the minors and Smith starting at first base? Smith would have been like McNeil, given a chance to play and then taking advantage of that time to perform. And Alonso likely would have demanded a promotion with his play the first three weeks of the season. And the Mets would have been looking for reasons to keep Smith’s bat in the lineup – much like they did in real life with McNeil – and made the transition to the OF sooner.

So, while promoting Alonso when he did is certainly a pro for Van Wagenen – it’s likely a limited one. Even with the conservative Alderson running the show, it’s hard to imagine Alonso would have been kept down once the extra year of control was assured. So, we have the trade for Davis, the drafting of Allan and three weeks of Alonso versus the list of cons.

And I’d trade those things in a New York minute to have Jarred Kelenic, the CF this club has needed since Carlos Beltran last held down the position on a full-time basis in 2008, still in the organization.

At this point, all we can do is hope that Cano, Diaz, Familia and Lowrie can have the type of seasons in 2020 that Bruce, Frazier, Swarzak and Vargas are having in 2019. And as long as we’re being aggressively optimistic, let’s wish for Yoenis Cespedes’ return, too.

18 comments for “Reviewing Sandy Alderson’s last additions for the Mets

  1. dan
    June 30, 2019 at 3:30 am

    i have an even better question – where would we be with the correct GM choice, chaim bloom?

    • June 30, 2019 at 8:36 am

      An important point and one that I hope the Wilpons ask themselves each and every day.

  2. June 30, 2019 at 7:59 am

    Ah yes, Jarred Kelenic. He of the 217/269/400 slash line and better than a strikeout per game since his promotion to A ball. Those pesky facts get in the way of a good narrative.

    Seesh.

    • June 30, 2019 at 8:35 am

      Well, no one expected Kelenic to be in Hi-A at this point.

      And we’re talking all of 17 games at that level. He had a 1.090 OPS when he first got called up and then he got injured. And he hasn’t hit at all since he returned from the IL. If you want to define him by 10 games since his return from injury rather than the 57 games this year before he got hurt, well that’s certainly your prerogative.

      But it would be a pretty dumb thing to do.

  3. June 30, 2019 at 7:59 am

    As Aerosmith sang…..Dream on.

  4. Mike Walczak
    June 30, 2019 at 10:29 am

    The big question is, where do we go from here? What deadline deals should we make? We will know in 30 days.

    My shocker prediction. Edwin Diaz goes.

    • TexasGusCC
      June 30, 2019 at 11:28 pm

      Mike, if the Wilpons really want to win, they need to identify their “winning players”, and keep them.

      For me, Diaz goes in the wins column and a few others do too, Wheeler among them. I just don’t see the heavy return, but I would get what I could for the overachievers and the extra arms.

  5. Pete from NJ
    June 30, 2019 at 10:43 am

    I suppose the real debate is about the Seattle trade: dump salary and obtain a quality relief pitcher via free agent route or through a trade. The route was the latter.

    So dream on: Diaz has a bounce back performance shortly and into the future. The anchor is obviously Cano. I’m lloking for my Aerosmith LP in the closet now.

  6. Jon
    June 30, 2019 at 11:00 am

    My thought is, it’s difficult to compare Alderson’s last year with Brodie’s first, for a couple reasons. First, Sandy wasn’t afforded the same resources to begin with. It’s like comparing boxes of cereal but one is 16 ounces and the other 12, without the unit price indicated.

    Second, I suspect that the guy we ought to be comparing Alderson to isn’t Brodie but Omar, whom I think of as a shadow government relaying the dumb moves down to Brodie whose real job is only to sell them. The Cano-Diaz trade is exactly the kind of foolish showy move Omar was always making.

    • Bugsy
      June 30, 2019 at 11:22 am

      I don’t think its fair to pin that trade on omar based on his fondness for veterans when he was GM over a decade ago.
      Brodie is the GM, he is not a puppet. He is accountable.

      • June 30, 2019 at 11:42 am

        I agree with Bugsy.

        Plus, rumors of Minaya making stupid trades far outstretched the reality of Omar making stupid trades.

  7. MattyMets
    June 30, 2019 at 12:13 pm

    There’s a part of me that feels bad for Mets GMs. It’s a real mystery why so so many new players have come to the Mets and stunk in their first year here. And why so many have left and immediately figured it out. So loving this mystery is the key to any future success for this franchise.

  8. Metsense
    June 30, 2019 at 1:44 pm

    Alderson was too conservative, was poor in total roster building, he never considered depth and in the end the game past him by. I give him credit for all the mid-season moves in 2015 but remember he was trading Flores and Wheeler for Carlos Gomez not Cespedes. Alderson was fiscally responsible and he had a plan that accounted the salaries in the future. He also didn’t like long-term contracts and his maneuvering with Cespedes with his contract was a plus.
    BVW did address that depth problem in the rosters but he also is poor in roster construction. He is aggressive and brash and he threw out Alderson’s fiscal planning. He bucked the trend by signing over 35 year old players and not hoarding his draft picks. Long-term contracts does not scare Brodie. BVW was going to reinvent the game but in the end he didn’t learn the game . BVW is now in the same position that Alderson was in the summer of 2017. At this point, I would choose Alderson over BVW but the reality that is neither one was (is) a good general manager.

    • TexasGusCC
      June 30, 2019 at 11:36 pm

      Very fair Metsense. I still remember when the Mets replaced the hitting coach Huggins, that went to the Astros and won a championship, his remark out the door was that they should take the handcuffs off of Alderson and let him do his thing. Fred Wilpon never seemed pleased with Alderson, and many times overruled him on Collins and a few other moves. Alderson was a fossil in some ways, but he had limitations that Broadie hasn’t had. I’d wonder how BVW would handle the cost measuring that Alderson had to go through.

  9. June 30, 2019 at 2:49 pm

    If we’re willing to allow the passage of time to color our view of Sandy and his last moves, we must concede that Brody’s moves may look different over time.

    If you didn’t like the Cano Trade…and the Lowrie Signing, then Tell me if you were predicting over 20 blown saves in a half season as well??? …face it… 10 less blown saves and we’d be waiting for Brody to “Finish the Team for a Run”. We’d be talking about trading for Adam Jones…and adding another Arm or two.

    The Midline for Blown Saves to-date is about 10!…. performance at any reasonable level would have them very directly in the Mix.

    It’s the weak link…. is it a matter of being an arm short???..IDK.

    • June 30, 2019 at 4:21 pm

      I’m quite sure I addressed your first point in my last graph.

      Perhaps they wouldn’t have 20 blown saves if the two guys that Brodie brought in to shore up the bullpen didn’t have 4 BS apiece, causing the team to use Gsellman and Lugo both more often and in higher leverage spots than they were planned to be utilized.

  10. TJ
    June 30, 2019 at 11:41 pm

    A few late points –
    1. I don’t see that BVW is more of a free spender than Alderson. In fact, the 2019 spend is very similar to Alderson’s 2018 spend. BVW’s $10 million spend on Lowrie is a head scratcher, injury or not.
    2. Agreed that it is hard to fathom the blown save total, and no one in their right mind could have predicted it given the additions of Diaz, Familia, and Wilson to Lugo and Gsellman. But, if they were closer to average, the Mets wold still be closer in the standings but no guarantee. They still would look like the 4th best team in the division.
    3. The Cano/Diaz deal was a high risk, all in, win now deal. It was an overpay at the time, and still is regardless of what Kelenic and Dunn become. Who else in baseball would have paid that price? So, if the Mets took the division in 2019 and had a playoff run, it could be justified. If the Mets are where they are now and sellers this July, saddled with another $90 miilion of Cano money, it is an all-time loser.
    4. The Mets have 3 home grown all-stars this year, including two guys with less than a year in the league. It is actually hard to be this bad with this type of emergence. I don’t have the answers, but they need to come up aces on each and every move that occurs before the end of 2019, including decisions on player development (Dom as LF?, Rosario as CF, Guillorme a big leaguer, who do they deal and who do the keep, etc.).

  11. TexasGusCC
    June 30, 2019 at 11:50 pm

    My take on Alderson’s last moves is that Alderson was usually trying to put a Band-Aid on a break. Also, Alderson was a l w a y s getting played by agents on free agent deals. Alderson would never, ever, get Wilson Ramos for $9 per year. He gave more to Vargas!

    The only moves I didn’t like from BVW were his first move and his last move. Trading the farm for the right to land Diaz and a 36 year old that wouldn’t accept a trade to any other team was ridiculous! I would have kept Bruce and Swarzak, and my better prospects.

    Too, signing Lowrie was unnecessary. Too many CAA players for my logic to handle, but I’m kind of monitoring where he’s going with that.

    The playing field wasn’t really even for the GMs, but Alderson kept buying lottery tickets to find a winner, and whether that was of his own wanting or the stipulations placed upon him, we’ll never know. We can say that it usually was Alderson’s way to try to hit homeruns in trades, and he kept getting hosed because his scouting of other players and even his own, wasn’t as good as the other team’s scouting, except for the Pirates that are more screwed than the Mets. That’s the only team he consistently took advantage of.

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