Sep 27, 2012; Flushing, NY,USA; New York Mets starting pitcher R.A. Dickey (43) waves to the fans after recording his 20th win of the season in the game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Citi Field. Mets won 6-5. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-US PREWIRE

Sandy Alderson and Creativity


As the Mets work on terms with Curtis Granderson, much has been opined regarding General Manager Sandy Alderson’s tenure. A contract in the $50-$60M range could double what Alderson has spent on guaranteed contracts since he took over in October 2010. Of course, this isn’t necessarily Sandy’s fault; the Mets’ financial woes are much-publicized.

May 7, 2013; New York, NY, USA; New York Mets general manager Sandy Alderson and manager Terry Collins (right) talk before the game against the Chicago White Sox at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: John Munson/THE STAR-LEDGER via USA TODAY Sports

As one of the names in the forefront of the “Moneyball” trend (and once serving as Athletics GM Billy Beane‘s mentor), the charge has fallen upon Sandy to get creative. Trades, minor league deals, and rationing money to where it would most help are the tasks laid before him.

I’d argue he’s done a pretty good job.

Of course, some moves haven’t worked (the Angel Pagan trade, Frank Francisco, Lucas Duda in the outfield), but there has been a litany of additions to this team, many heralded, that often go without the proper applause.

Mike Baxter will forever remain in our hearts for his no-hitter-saving catch, but the Queens native and Padres castaway hit .258/.360/.418 as a Met through the 2012 season (.292/.371/.495 prior to breaking his collarbone on that fateful night) and looked like a valuable piece going forward until regression and luck caught up to him in 2013.

Scott Hairston turned in a career year in 2012, hitting 20 home runs and slugging .504 in 134 games before signing an ill-fated 2-year, $5M contract and being traded from the Cubs to the Nationals.

Marlon Byrd, coming off a miserable 2012 that featured a PED suspension, clubbed 21 home runs for the Mets and played a solid right field before being traded to the Pirates in August for Vic Black, a reliever with potential as high as the gun readings on his fastball.

Carlos Beltran, reinvigorated after being moved to right field in 2011 was traded for Giants’ top prospect Zack Wheeler, who pitched to a 3.11 ERA in his last 14 starts in 2013 with an opponent slugging percentage of only .354.

R.A. Dickey, who Alderson extended after the 2010 season, put in a pair of excellent campaigns (including his Cy Young season in 2012) before yielding an outstanding haul in prospects Travis d’Arnaud, Noah Syndergaard, and Wuilmer Becerra from the Toronto Blue Jays. Syndergaard is regarded as one of the top pitching prospects in the game, and d’Arnaud looks fit to provide a quality bat (and glove) behind the plate for years to come.

Though not an Alderson signing, center fielder Juan Lagares was a complete afterthought until given a chance this season. Alderson and manager Terry Collins were mocked for touting Lagares’ defensive ability. They’re not anymore.

Rafael Montero was a 20-year-old nobody, a likely failure at an age far too old to be signed out of the Dominican Republic, shot through the Mets’ minor leagues with a combination of plus stuff and phenomenal control. At age 22, two years after signing, he posted a combined 2.78 ERA (~2.30 FIP) between Binghamton and Las Vegas (where he was the PCL’s 7th-youngest pitcher).

 

There are other moves as well. He locked up both David Wright and Jonathon Niese to very team-friendly contracts, helped transition Daniel Murphy to second base, traded a non-prospect (Jefry Marte) for Collin Cowgill, who he then traded for potential-prospect Kyle Johnson. He drafted players like Brandon Nimmo and Kevin Plawecki to help restock the farm system, and has assembled a group of as many as seven players (Black, Scott Rice, d’Arnaud, Lagares, Wheeler, Syndergaard, and Montero) who can play significant roles for the Mets at the minimum salary.

Building a championship team starts at the foundation. The Cardinals aren’t perennially good because of guys like Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina (though both certainly help the cause), they’re always in it because they have players like Shelby Miller, Michael Wacha, Matt Carpenter, Trevor Rosenthal, Joe Kelly, and Kolten Wong (among others) who are all quality contributors that combine to make less than Yasiel Puig‘s $3.7M salary.

If Sandy hauls in Granderson, it will likely come at an overpay (be it a fourth year or a higher AAV), but thanks to the bottom-heavy moves Sandy’s made over the past three years, an overpay isn’t likely to sink the financial ship.

If there’s any real reason to fault Sandy Alderson, it’s that Robert Carson managed to remain on the 40-man roster for more than a full season.

 

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Tags: Curtis Granderson New York Mets Sandy Alderson

  • Ken Meoni

    In their pursuit of Curtis Granderson, the Mets may be forced to answer a $64-million question.

    According to an industry source, the
    free-agent outfielder has been seeking a four-year deal worth roughly
    $16 million per season. The price would be steep for the Mets, who
    nonetheless are involved in serious discussions to bring the former
    Yankees outfielder across town.

    It remains unclear what dollar figures
    Granderson has discussed with the Mets. According to multiple reports,
    the team has refused to budge from a contract longer than three years,
    while Granderson is insisting on a fourth.

    Officials have expressed some
    optimism about ultimately striking a deal, even though one source said a
    signing might not be close yet.

  • Ken Meoni

    Talking about SA. Two things not listed here. He should have traded Reyes and Hairston. Instead he got nothing for them. Imagine what he could have gotten.

    • http://cynicalinny.blogspot.com/ Bill

      Reyes got hurt right before the trade deadline, he would’ve gotten a bag of balls for him. Plus I think Sandy was lead to believe by Wilpon that they had the money to resign him

    • Dan Haefeli

      Indeed. The way everything played out, I imagine Sandy was under the assumption that they were going to try to bring him back.

      As for Hairston, I don’t disagree but I would imagine that he wasn’t going to net anything of significance.

    • Herb G

      In Sandy’s defense, he thought, back in July, that he would be able to retain Jose. A valid criticism is that he severely misjudged the market, and couldn’t/wouldn’t match the Marlins’ offer.
      Also, he was offered dreck for Hairston, and decided not to give him away.

  • Herb G

    Consider this, 8 of the top 10 Mets prospects, according to Baseball Amerca, were acquired by Alderson.

    1. Noah Syndergaard, rhp
    2. Travis d’Arnaud, c
    3. Rafael Montero, rhp
    4. Dominic Smith, 1b
    5. Kevin Plawecki, c/1b
    6. Wilmer Flores, 2b/1b
    7. Amed Rosario, ss
    8. Brandon Nimmo, of
    9. Gavin Cecchini, ss
    10. Jake deGrom, rhp

    He took the bottom 10 farm system he inherited, and turned it into a winner.

    • Sam Maxwell

      As much as the Mets are still easily made fun of, the state of the farm system could soon peak out from the null and snipe everyone in their path.

    • Herb G

      Five of those top 10 could see major league action this year. No guarantees on their impact, but they could make a difference. Moreover, if Sandy signs Granderson, upgrades shortstop in a trade, and gets one more decent starter, the Mets could contend for a playoff spot this year. No more laughing stock.

    • Sam Maxwell

      Everybody will make fun of the Mets until nobody is.

  • chums41

    I’m not entirely ready to jump on the Sandy bandwagon. For starters, the Pagan trade was a truly horrendous deal, period, no excuse. Just awful. His bullpen signings have been extremely poor, as well. I’m sure there are Sandy worshipers who will point out the LaTroy Hawkins success, but the majority of his signings have ranked between dreadful and mediocre.Juan Lagares got playing time due to injuries, period, so lets not strain our arm patting ourselves on the back for that move. Also we have witnessed the meteoric decline of Ike Davis under his watch. Personally, I think the entire organization is to Home Run happy, especially considering the fact that Citi is simply not a HR field, so we should consider building a team that would better conform to our environment, coupled with the fact that the Cards made it to the WS hitting less HR’s than the hapless Mets. Now there is a well oiled machine and we would due well to emulate their willingness to adapt to their environment.

    • Sam Maxwell

      Ramon Ramirez was the centerpiece of that Angel Pagan deal, and there was no reason for him to stop being one of the top relievers in baseball. Except those things happen to the Mets. They happen to all teams (someone’s really good, then suck when they arrive to you.) who knows what it was? Motivation? Hating the fact you got traded? Not liking your environment? Just not having it that year? Though it didn’t work out, I completely understand making that move, and looking at it all on paper, I would still make the move today.