Mets Roundtable: If you were handed the keys

A lot of good people write about the Mets so I reached out to some of my friends in the blogosphere and asked them to answer the following question in 100 words or so.

If Fred Wilpon handed you the keys to the franchise on December 23, 2011 – what is the first thing you would do and why?

Matthew ArtusAmazin’ Avenue

If Fred Wilpon handed me the keys to the franchise today, I’d presumably still need to work within the confines of the franchise’s troublesome financial situation (because I know I won’t have the additional cash to make a move on my own). The renders significant roster upgrades at the Major League level futile since I likely still couldn’t pay for it, nor would it suddenly make the club a contender in 2012.

So the first thing I’d do is restablish ties to the Mets’ former minor league affiliate in the Gulf Coast League at Port St. Lucie. Sure, it’s a low level club and the Mets still operate eight other teams throughout the minors (which is admittedly still better than average), but doubling down on minor league development is the best way to establish cost control on player personnel in the long term. And the brain trust including Sandy Alderson and Paul DePodesta have a proven track record of finding diamonds in the rough at the minor league level and developing them into Major League talent.

Reportedly, the ties cut with the GCL Mets will save the club between $400,000 and $1 million. Unlike the excessive amounts due to Jason Bay or Johan Santana this season, that paltry sum would definitely be money well spent.

Kerel CooperOnTheBlack.com

Putting emotions to the side for a second, this is a tough and interesting question because there isn’t one thing the Mets can do to “fix” things. I believe it’s a process, one that will take some time and patience. I think the biggest thing that is handicapping this team right now and possibly for years to come is its financial situation. With that said, I’d look to get a serious investor/co-owner in here as soon as possible. Not a bunch of minority owners who’s shares are so small that they have no say but a true co-owner, even if that means giving up a piece of the SNY pie. Cash is king and the Mets need more of it to clear the mountain of debt and have flexibility to increase payroll when/if needed.

On the field, I would tell the front office to “stay the course”. Given the team’s financial position and free agent landscape I don’t see one or two moves right now that will “fix” this team or make them a serious contender overnight. While I’m not married to any one player within the organization and would listen to trades for anyone I think we have to see how guys like Tejada, Duda, Davis & Murphy continue to develop. Along with Wright, this has the potential to be the core/future of the team. Sandy Alderson has said in the past that he is excited about the young pitching that is moving through the organization. So if we “stay the course” on the field with the position players and pitchers that are coming through the organization and add free agents to fill in holes this team could be back seriously contending in a couple years.

Taryn CooperKinersKorner.com

Last year, I’d have said something to the effect of getting people in charge who will revamp the drafting process and farm system (don’t be afraid of going overslot), cut dead weight, and employ “fan friendly” experts who can bring on initiatives to make the experience enjoyable.

Believe it or not, I think the Mets are going in the right direction, only Wilpon/Katz keep getting in their own way, financial-wise. I’m someone who believes that it takes more than just throwing money around to make a good team. Today, I’d cease construction on the fences (I think that’s a dumb idea. Get better players, IMO) and revamp the media relations department that make fans believe they’re a hindrance not the variable to having a good time.

John CoppingerMetstradamus

First thing I’d do: Make sure that everybody has reasonable access to every seat in the house. The seats behind home plate are too exclusionary. It’s not something that speaks to the fabric of the Met fan. I understand paying a premium for those seats, but why does one have to pay extreme prices for those seats that are tied to access to an exclusive club area? Most of the fans who have access to that particular club stay in that club. And what do you have? Primo seats that fans would die to sit in go unused. This may sound 99 percent-ish, but it creates a class system within the confines of a ballpark that only drives people apart. And, it looks bad on television.

First, I’d make those seats available to everyone. Not cheap, but not so far out of a normal family’s price range that they wouldn’t consider doing it once a season. Sell passes to the club separately. Then choose a seat. If it’s a seat behind the plate, fine. If it’s another seat, that’s okay too. Fans who just want to stay in their seats and watch baseball without sitting in a club to watch a game on television (which you can do just fine from a bar) should have an opportunity to sit in the best seats in the house. Enough with the exclusion and the class system at Citi Field.

Second thing I would do? Not invest in a ponzi scheme.

Howard MegdalWilpon’s Folly

The first thing I’d do is reach out to Sandy Alderson, find out what it would take to keep his team around long-term, and give him an ironclad set of minimum parameters on payroll and talent development money that represented both a significant increase over the current allotments, and a static set of data allowing him to plan.

I’d make it clear to the fans that I’d done this as well, but nothing done on Day One would win them over, nor should it. That requires follow-through.

Steve Parsons – Proprietor of the upcoming Optimalbaseball.com and writes Rumor Central for Fantasypros911.com

I’d like to thank the Wilpon family for their gracious present of the ownership of the Metroplitan franchise. As a parting gift, I would like to present them with every single business, card, piece of letterhead, sign and pixel that contains their name in connection with the franchise. Fred, it’s waiting by the dumpster – oh, and we aren’t validating your parking.

Given that it is impossible to rewind the clock to get the Reds to send us Travis Wood, Brad Boxberger and Yonder Alonso or Yasmani Grandal for Jon Niese, the first order of business is to regenerate fan excitement over at 126th and Roosevelt. At the beginning of the season I would highlight Ruben Tejda, whose 201.360 OBP bodes well and Lucas Duda, whose power should increase with the walls coming in. Later, I would promote Kirk Nieuwenhuis at least for a look as soon as he is healthy and I would publicize a cuppa in September for Reese Havens and Juan Lagares, who ripped up Binghamton in a short promotion in 2011. The Mets need to get their fans invested in the future as well as fan favorities like Damiel Murphy and David Wright.

Key to this, even though I think he’ll be much better this season, would be to move Jason Bay for a young starter who is ready to begin the year in Flushing. Even if it is only symbolic, I need to communicate to my fans that I am looking to the future and losing all the old baggage of the past few, failed years.

*****

Now that I can’t fire Wayne Hagin or re-sign Carlos Beltran, here’s what I would do:

Here are the career triple slash lines against in the majors for two pitchers in their road games, tell me which one you’d prefer

Player A – .255/.320/.420 in 848 PA
Player B – .291/.345/.450 in 735 PA

Furthermore, here are their 2011 stats neutralized to a 4.42 R/G environment

Player A – 4.99 ERA, 1.412 WHIP
Player B – 5.07 ERA, 1.563 WHIP

Both pitchers are the same age and we can trade Player B for Player A. Oh, and by the way Player A’s team will kick in the MVP of the Double-A Southern League if we do this deal. Rumor has it that the Mets can trade Jonathon Niese to the Blue Jays for Brett Cecil and Travis d’Arnaud. So the first thing I’d do is tell Alderson to make this trade because it would add an impact catcher to the system.

If he has a good reason not to – like the injury reports on d’Arnaud are not good or that the Blue Jays have not offered this package – then I tell him to go sign Edwin Jackson. Might as well spend some Wilpon money while I have the chance and move him closer to selling the team.

*****

Some final thoughts:

I phrased this question “handed you the keys” as intentionally vague to get a wide variety of answers and I think our panelists gave us exactly that. I interpreted it as dad lending you the car for one night. Others here interpreted it differently and that’s exactly what I hoped would happen.

Only Taryn and Howard came close to our 100-word guideline so blame everyone else for this being so long.

I’d like to thank everyone for participating. I’d like to make it a monthly/regular thing so if you enjoyed reading this let us know and I’m sure we’ll do it again.

23 comments for “Mets Roundtable: If you were handed the keys

  1. JC
    December 23, 2011 at 9:30 am

    Love the idea!

    I wish it had been more strictly defined so that way we could judge everyone’s answers equally. But I guess I get why you did it this way. I liked Metstradamus answer the best.

  2. Frank
    December 23, 2011 at 9:41 am

    First thing I would do is change the lock on Jeff Wilpon’s office door. He should be far away from any decision made.

  3. DCMets
    December 23, 2011 at 10:58 am

    why not sign Prince Fielder if you want to make the Wilpons broke?

    • Brian Joura
      December 23, 2011 at 11:00 am

      Yeah, he would cost more money but the Mets already have too many 1B on the roster. I thought Jackson would fill a need while also making old Fred’s eyes bulge out when he saw that move.

  4. Steve S.
    December 23, 2011 at 11:17 am

    Niese to the Blue Jays for Brett Cecil and Travis d’Arnaud! Most Mets fans would do that in a minute. But the Jays would be crazy to make this deal!

    • Brian Joura
      December 23, 2011 at 11:32 am

      d’Arnaud’s been injured the past two years, they have JP Arencibia already in the majors and hitting lots of HR and Carlos Perez, one of their top prospects, in the minors behind him. He’s somewhat expendable although it’s fair to wonder if they could do better than Niese.

    • December 25, 2011 at 11:19 am

      How about David Wright for Hanley Ramirez and then use Murphy at 3rd base his natural position.

  5. AJ
    December 23, 2011 at 11:40 am

    This was an interesting read. My take-away impression is that seemingly everyone agrees with the overhaul currently taking place. There’s a general recognition that it’s going to take some time to rebuild, and the front office we have is a good one, and the game plan they have is basically sound and taking the team in the right direction. This is all encouraging.

    There also seems to be unanimous agreement that the current ownership is central to the team’s problems, and getting rid of same is a critical step on the road to wellness. This is a real dilemma for the Flushing faithful. We’re in a position of having to hope the people who own our team suffer ruinous financial collapse, just so we can get rid of them. The dilemma isn’t born of sympathy for the Wilpons, but rather the thought of suffering through another round of “back page headline”-type abuse resulting from yet another Mets’ fiasco. But hey, we’ve been through it so many times before. If that one more round of public humiliation will break us through to the sunshine of a better day, let’s get it over with.

    Finally, a tip ‘o the hat to what John Coppinger wrote. Except for the part where he seems apologetic about sounding “99 percent-ish” (own it, pal.) The fragmentation of American society into an obscenely imbalanced class system consisting of the powerfully rich and everybody else takes many forms. To the degree that professional baseball can be made to have less to do with enormous sums of money and more to do with people having greater opportunity to come out to the park and enjoy the game, so much the better. Ironically, taking that approach will probably result in the team making more money!

    • December 23, 2011 at 12:16 pm

      Thank you JC and AJ. Certainly I’m not apologetic for being a 99 percenter … only for injecting real life issues into a sports conversation. Some people are uncomfortable with that 😉

    • Metsense
      December 23, 2011 at 2:55 pm

      AJ, three very thoughtful and valid points. Nice job and post. It is going to take time to turn this team around but I feel some opportunities have passed the Mets by that would have sped up the process.

  6. December 23, 2011 at 12:15 pm

    Wow that looked like fun! Apparently, my questionnnaire got lost in the mail…

  7. Doug
    December 23, 2011 at 12:31 pm

    If they handed me the keys, I’d probably head up to the Bronx and scratch some paint jobs in the players’ lot.

    Sorry– I realize that’s not in the spirit of the season…

    • December 23, 2011 at 1:04 pm

      And if they handed me a policeman’s badge, I wouldn’t see who took that new key and scratched up all those cars :p

  8. Metsense
    December 23, 2011 at 2:47 pm

    Metsdradamus is 100% right on the 99%. Baseball is the American game for the masses and those empty seats look idiotic on TV. Howard hit the nail on the head with initiating a transparent financial plan and Steve solved the problem totally by not giving the keys back! Brian your trade is so right.
    As a fan it is hard to watch the Mets stand on the sidelines this year when so much is needed to improve on the 77 wins. If it took Niese and Davis to get Gio, Turner and Parnell to get Seth Smith, 2M to sign Endy, and sign Theriot then why wasn’t it done? The Mets would be bringing in proven young talent that also has an upside, and yes they would be giving some young talent out but at positions where they have some depth. The bench would be improved at minimal cost. These trades don’t disrupt building for the future, they would become the future. ( The trades are not my imagination but what I’ve read was possible and I realize they may have just been rumors).

    • Bus
      December 23, 2011 at 3:37 pm

      Niese and Davis for Gio Gonzalez? Seriously? Wow.

    • chris williams
      December 23, 2011 at 9:45 pm

      used or not the money for the seats help pay for the stadium.

  9. NormE
    December 23, 2011 at 4:17 pm

    I’d go Kerel Cooper one better and sell the franchise to a wealthy person/group that would have a plan to rebuild the team and would not be satisfied with being #2 in NYC.
    And I would follow through on Steve Parson’s dumpster idea.
    Frank—not only change the lock on jeffy’s door but take away his key to the executive washroom.

    That was cathartic!

  10. Dan Stack
    December 23, 2011 at 5:19 pm

    Great replies. All have different ideas, but all have the best intentions and that is to appease the fans, first and foremost.

  11. chris williams
    December 23, 2011 at 9:47 pm

    statues of hodges,seaver and stengle outside the ball park.

    • Bus
      December 23, 2011 at 10:36 pm

      This is actually what I would do too, believe it or not. Piazza too, and I would retire his number. I wish they would have done this already, but knowing the Wilpons, the most they would have done is make a Duke Snider statue out of paperclips.

  12. December 24, 2011 at 11:18 pm

    A lot of good ideas here. My goal, first and foremost, would be to build a sustainable, winning franchise. One strong at every level, from the Majors down to rookie ball. I have plenty of ideas about how to do it, but if the Wilpons “handed me the keys”, the first thing I’d do is sit down with Sandy Alderson & his crew and ask him what he needed to meet my previously mentioned goal. And then I’d give it to him. Sometimes, the best baseball decision an owner can make is to trust the guys he hired to make the baseball decisions.

    I liked this piece, Brian. Interesting to get the different perspectives on the issue. I expect with a topic that’s a little less vague, you’d probably see contributors more inclined to stick closer to a requested word count. But with such an open-ended question like this, that was a pipe dream.

    • Brian Joura
      December 25, 2011 at 11:26 am

      I didn’t care how long the answers were – I just didn’t think it was fair to ask others to write novels. The only reason I mentioned it in the actual piece was so that people didn’t wonder why Taryn and Howard didn’t provide longer answers.

  13. December 28, 2011 at 1:11 am

    I have to agree with Taryn. I like the direction the Mets are going in. The Wilpons are the only ones making things go wrong. Every one knows how I feel about the construction with the fences. It was stupid to do. Unfortunately, the Mets do not have the payroll to get better players. I think the Mets are going in a more fan-friendly direction with their anniversary year and I applaud them for it. Great points Taryn.

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