Cutting Through the Nonsense


Between now and the beginning of spring training, there will be millions of tweets, thousands of articles, and lots of hot air emanating from countless members of the media and the blogosphere.  All of this noise will be related to who the Mets might pursue this off-season, who they might not pursue, and why that’s a good or bad thing.

Jul 12, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; New York Mets general manager Sandy Alderson observes batting practice before the game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

It’s October 10th, and not one key player personnel move has been made by any team.  Yet, there are fans who are lying in wait, ready to bash Sandy Alderson for what he may or may not do over the next four plus months.

The last five seasons have been rough, and it’s understandable that fans are running out of patience.  However, it’s important to realize that Sandy Alderson didn’t drive the Mets into the ditch they’ve been in, and he hasn’t refused to tow them out of it.  Rather, he inherited a mess, and has done his best to clean it up.

In the off-seasons following the 2011 and 2012 seasons, the financial issues that were hanging over the heads of the team’s owners precluded Alderson from being able to bid on the majority of the best free agents that were available.  According to Alderson, that will change this off-season.  It’ll have to be seen to be believed, but there’s no reason why Alderson shouldn’t be given the benefit of the doubt.

Still, before Alderson has even had a chance to implement his off-season plan, he’s getting attacked for what he may not do.

According to what Alderson has said and what the beat writers have reported, the Mets will likely have close to $40 million to spend on external player additions this off-season.  Due to the amount of money that’s coming off the books, the payroll may decrease slightly even if the Mets allocate $40 million to new player contracts (not including arbitration eligible players) for 2014.  $40 million could likely get the Mets a hell of a lot, but for some fans it won’t be enough if the payroll decreases slightly.

The Mets don’t have to throw money around recklessly in order to contend in 2014.  They simply need to spend it wisely.

There’s so much stuff that gets tossed around during the hot stove season that it’s close to impossible to keep up.  In order to avoid going crazy, fans should make an effort to let things play out one way or the other before having a conniption.

Reporters are fed information.  Sometimes, they’re fed good information.  Sometimes, they’re fed erroneous information on purpose.  The problem, is that some fans will believe it all to be 100 percent accurate.  Some of what’s written during the hot stove season will turn out to be nonsense, and some of it will turn out to be true.  The key, is keeping a level head while reading the bits of information that trickle out.  Think about what makes sense and what doesn’t make sense.  Think about whether the writer who wrote the piece that’s driving you crazy (in a good or bad way) has an agenda, or who his or her sources are.

Don’t expect to read a concrete report on who the Mets are willing to trade and who they’re not willing to trade.  And don’t expect to get a definitive answer regarding which players they may pursue via free agency.  Unlike the previous regime, Sandy Alderson and his assistants keep things close to the vest.

Everyone (including those who write in this space) will speculate on how the off-season will shake out.  Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and everyone is free to react any way they see fit.

However, in order to keep your sanity as the hot stove heats up, it’ll be important to remember the following: the Mets have financial flexibility, and Sandy Alderson has stated his intent to use that flexibility to bring in a number of key players.  Unless Alderson fails to follow through on those intentions, there’s no reason to get bent out of shape.

This is a painful example, but I’ll cite it anyway…

Before the Mets signed Jason Bay, there was a report stating there was no chance he’d sign with the Mets.  Peter Gammons noted that there was a better chance Bay would play in Beirut than in Flushing.  That obviously turned out to be nonsense.  Bay’s tenure here was awful, but that one example is proof that nothing is set in stone until it happens or doesn’t happen.  No one here has a time machine.  Until all the current free agents sign on the dotted line, anything is possible.

As far as trades are concerned, those can materialize quickly, or take shape over several weeks or months.  Last year, R.A. Dickey was standing next to a Christmas Tree at the Mets holiday party while Sandy Alderson was on the verge of trading him to Toronto.   There were rumors at the time that the Mets were thinking of trading him, but no one knew where he was headed and who would be coming back in exchange.  There were reports that Travis d’Arnaud was off limits in trade talks involving Dickey.  Was he?

The point?  We can debate the merits of every free agent, discuss every player we feel might be available via trade, and create spreadsheets that tell us how much money we think the Mets will spend.  It’s fun, it passes the time, and it yields articles.  What it doesn’t do, is influence what will actually happen.

Sandy Alderson has a plan.  Fans have a preference as to what that plan should entail.  Until spring training rolls around, though, we won’t know for sure whether or not Alderson’s plan and the fans wishes have meshed.  In the meantime, try to stay on an even keel.

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