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 Artus – Amazin’ 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 Cooper – OnTheBlack.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 Cooper – KinersKorner.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 Coppinger – Metstradamus
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 Megdal – Wilpon’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.