Sandy Alderson’s Off-Season To Do List

By Matt Musico

Now that the Mets are a season-high seven games under .500 following their loss to the Reds last night, we can safely assume that the magic has seemingly run, and the team’s performance is more in line with what the front office thought it would be; a team fighting to end the season with a winning record. In talking to Brian Costa of the Wall Street Journal, Sandy Alderson said that he and the rest of his team executives are still focused on 2012, and haven’t had any conversations on how they plan to move forward for next season, mostly talking about the payroll.

While New York was busy being one of the biggest surprises of Major League Baseball’s first half, no one was thinking about next year and what the payroll would be. Now that they’ve fallen off the face of the Earth, it’s become the focal point.  Going from 2011 to 2012, it was hard being a Mets fan; we not only watched Jose Reyesbolt for South Florida, but also saw one of the biggest payroll drops in MLB history, as the Amazins slashed their payroll from $143 million to $90 million, while the team told the public that they lost $70 million in revenue the year prior. With the Bernie Madoff drama at it’s breaking point, times were bleak for the Mets. It seemed as though financial hard times were done once the Madoff case was settled, but it doesn’t seem like it.

Being focused on 2012 can mean a lot of different things; he’s not necessarily focused on what the Mets will do over the final six weeks of the season (I mean, I’m sure he’d like to see them finish strong), but is more focused on what small moves he can do to potentially improve the ballclub. That’s why he made the move for Kelly Shoppach, with an eye to re-signing him if he fits in, and signed relievers Andrew Carpenter and Scott Patterson to minor league deals, as they could compete for bullpen spots in the upcoming Spring. However, his priorities should be as follows:

  1. Re-sign R.A. Dickey and David Wright
  2. Fix the bullpen
  3. Fix the outfield

Danny Abriano recently gave us his opinion on his blueprint for 2013, and we wholeheartedly agree. First and foremost, they need to agree to extensions with Dickey and Wright. They are easily the two most valuable players on the team, as well as the most popular. With attendance being down this year compared to 2011, it’s important to lock up two of the players most fans want to see every night when they come to the ballpark.

Next, the bullpen needs some fixing… duh, right? Since 2006, it seems like what was the team’s greatest strength has turned into one of the team’s biggest weaknesses year-in and year-out. Pitchers like Bobby Parnell, Josh Edgin, and Jon Rauch should be back in the ‘pen next year, and Frank Francisco will be there too, even though most don’t want him to be. The most important quality Carpenter and Patterson have is that they can strike guys out. When it comes to late-game situations, that’s the something every manager needs in his back pocket.

Last, but certainly not least, the outfield can’t be a platoon factory. New York had success in the first half partly because they were running out similar lineups everyday. Stability and consistency in the lineup can sometimes be overlooked, but it’s hard for a player to get in any kind of groove when they’re not sure if they’re going to be in the lineup from one day to the next.

So, Sandy Alderson has a busy winter ahead, but these are the most important things to accomplish. After seeing him operate the past two winters, we know he’s not going to make a splash with a big money signing; I doubt the payroll will go far over $100 million, if it even does. He’s going to look for inexpensive ways to fill the roster and get the biggest bang for his buck, while trusting the development of their minor leaguers. It worked for one half of the season before they sat players like Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Lucas Duda for Jason Bay at the first sign of their struggles. Big mistake.