Does anyone else just feel embarrassed? Because after listening to Sandy Alderson's comments upon arriving at the winter meetings, I feel angry, despondent, and quite frankly, a little ashamed.
Sandy Alderson tempering expectations on the Mets' appetite to add an expensive reliever. "To the extent that the market gets overheated, I don't think we'll jump into the inferno."— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) December 10, 2017
This is a shift. Earlier this offseason, it sounded as if the Mets might even jump out early for a reliever. Frankly, raises questions about whether they have even less to spend than previously thought. https://t.co/6Z9qkfmmv6— Marc Carig (@MarcCarig) December 10, 2017
Not great optics when the NY team nine miles down the road invests $265M in one player and a day later #Mets are scared by an overheated market for relief pitchers.— David Lennon (@DPLennon) December 11, 2017
Furthermore, Kristie Ackert reported the Mets are willing to move Matt Harvey for bullpen help, in an effort to dip, “into their strength of starting pitchers to address their needs heading into the 2018 season.” The Orioles are among that clubs that have expressed interest.
What a joke.
This is a New York team, right? Then I’m sorry, this is lunacy. With plenty of relief options available to them, why do the Mets need to trade starting pitching at all? It’s a solution that only requires money to fix. Do we really need to supplement Harvey’s projected $9.2 million salary in 2018, which by the way, is basically what Brandon Morrow just got from the Cubs? With the Orioles interested, I get that they could go and go grab a valuable piece like Brad Brach, who is under team control for two years and has been worth 5.8 WAR over the last three seasons. But instead, why not just sign relief help and try to get something out of Harvey in his walk year? It seems to come back to nothing but cost, and I don’t blame Mets fans if they can’t reconcile that, because I can’t reconcile that.
Mets fans have been patient enough. I gave the organization a pass for the better part of the last decade. In 2010, when Alderson and Terry Collins were hired, it started a full-fledged rebuild, whether they called it that or not. And that was fine, because it was exactly what the organization needed at the time. They developed the arms they had in the system already, they traded some established players (Carlos Beltran and R.A. Dickey) and got some major pieces in return (Zack Wheeler, Noah Syndergaard), as they rebooted after Omar Minaya’s shot to go for it failed.
And guess what? That rebuild largely worked. After a few barren years, the Mets showed signs of life in 2014, as they finished in second place and over .500 for the first time since 2008. They had minor league depth, and traded some of it to acquire players to bolster their offense, most notably Yoenis Cespedes at the 2015 trade deadline. It resulted in the club’s first pennant since 2000. They retained Cespedes both times he was a free agent, en route to another Wild Card berth, then went over their self-imposed budget to construct the 2017 team before injuries derailed the whole thing.
And now they should keep going, not pull back.
Now is the a legitimate window of contention Mets fans have been promised. They have two bonafide aces under team control, one through 2021 (Jacob deGrom), the other through 2022 (Syndergaard). They make virtually nothing in terms of salary, certainly not what they would command on the open market. That should allow them (even on a budget) to build a team around them before they start deciding whether to dole out high-priced extensions.
Instead, we’re talking about stopgap options at first base.
Alderson said he would be “surprised if we do anything that precludes (Dom Smith) from having an opportunity in spring training.” That sounds like someone like Adam Lind, but not a Carlos Santana. #Mets— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) December 10, 2017
If this organization isn’t going for it now, then when? Look around at the position players on this team. Who can you depend on day in, day out? Assuming their health isn’t a problem, Cespedes and Michael Conforto. Otherwise? Asdrubal Cabrera is a nice player, but would be better off hitting seventh than second. Juan Lagares is a revelation in center field, but hasn’t been more than a replacement level offensive player who has had his own problems staying healthy. Neither catcher has established themselves as every-day Major Leaguers. Wilmer Flores has a solid bat, but no position. And Amed Rosario may put it all together, but it’s still very early for him. Why do the Mets think they can tweak around the edges and contend?
I’m not advocating for frivolous spending. I get that the Mets’ operate on a budget, and their pockets don’t run as deep as the Yankees’ or Dodgers’ (though I think it’s fair and logical to ask, “Why not?”). But in absence of the Giancarlo-sized move made across town (one that was made possible only by the Yankees simply offering to open their checkbook), how about any kind of sizable investment?
Our friend, former Mets pitcher and current SNY analyst Nelson Figeroa, tweeted over the weekend that it isn’t always how much money you invest.
In MLB, SPENDING doesn't equate 2 CHAMPIONSHIPS. Since 2k4 A-Rod joined the Yanks and they spent OVER 2.8 BILLION and won ONLY☝️WITH a much more complete and established team. So don't go printing WS tickets just yet. Dibs on Yanks in @MLBTheShow 18 though. Called it!!! pic.twitter.com/eUDRDc7lx6— Nelson Figueroa Jr. (@FigSNY) December 9, 2017
I take his point, but the tweet should really read that spending money doesn’t always equate to winning championships. And that’s because, compared to the 162-game slate, the postseason is an incredibly small sample size that rewards randomness and chance. It’s the first team to 11 wins for all the marbles.
But how you ensure you end up winning that postseason lottery is getting there year after year, and spending consistently is a massive component. The Yankees may have won only one world championship in the last 17 seasons, but guess how many times they’ve missed the playoffs in that time? Four: 2008, 2013, 2014, and 2016. Thirteen out of 17 seasons playing October baseball, and one championship? Show me one Mets fans who wouldn’t give their left arm for that string of success, and I’ll show you a liar.
Look, a good salesman under promises and over delivers. Maybe someone who doesn’t preclude Smith from getting an opportunity is Jay Bruce, who can play right field until Michael Conforto returns, then stay in right with Conforto in center or shift to first base if Smith falters. But let’s not kid ourselves. Every Mets fan already is bracing for the inevitable Adam Lind signing.
Could Sandy surprise us? I guess, but in light of Sunday’s comments, it seems like there a disconnect between where this team is now and the steps needs to correct course. It may sound like Mets fans have the same complaints on a loop, but really: Can you blame us?