Results tagged ‘ Sandy Alderson ’

Alderson: “It’s got to be the right time for the right player under the right circumstances”

General manager Sandy Alderson spoke in depth today about Thursday’s non-waiver Trade Deadline, calling it unlikely that his Mets swing a deal between then and now. The highlights:

alderson2What will happen before Thursday afternoon?
“It’s very difficult to say. Had I to make a guess, I would say nothing will happen. But you never know what’s going to transpire in the next three days or so. Clubs that may be having conversations elsewhere circle back based on what they think their options might be. So I’d say we have an opportunity to do a thing or two, but we’re not inclined to at this point. It’s speculation, but I wouldn’t bet on something happening before the deadline.”

How do you assess the Deadline in context of the club’s recent play?
“We were 8-2 at home, and turned around at least for the moment the perception that we don’t play well at home. We were 1-3 on that road trip and finished 4-2, so not totally happy with 5-5 coming back so we’re still right there, but we need to start making up ground on .500. If we can do that, then we can start thinking about some of the other teams in our division and the league. We were challenged offensively on that trip, but by and large we pitched pretty well and that was encouraging. Lucas Duda was outstanding on that trip. You know, when I say it’s unlikely that we’ll do anything, we’re not anxious to be sellers. We’re cautious about being buyers. But we’ll see.”

You’re not sitting on any potential deal right now?
“It’s not clear that there’s something out there, but whatever may be out there may be prohibitive in terms of — I don’t want to say cost, because that suggest a financial component, but in any deal the cost is financial and prospects. Both currencies are important, and right now we like some of the players we have in our system.”

In general, have you been talking about buying or selling?
“Anybody who’s offering us a potential upgrade on our current roster is looking at our young pitching. And from the standpoint of those interested in our veteran players, we’re offering prospects. We’re in that position where we really don’t want to give up prospects, but we’re not anxious to trade for guys that can’t help us nearer-term. That may lead us to more of a status quo situation.”

At some point, would you be willing to splurge prospects on a blockbuster trade?
“That’s a possibility. In fact, to me that sounds more desirable than inching your way there, giving up prospects in more cautious transactions. So I wouldn’t rule that out. But it’s got to be the right time for the right player under the right circumstances.”

Follow me on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo

Dispatches from Port St. Lucie, 3/25

What we learned: Jenrry Mejia could make the Mets on a technicality, with the team concerned about Jon Niese’s health … both Ike Davis and Lucas Duda will be on the Opening Day roster.

What we wrote:

Around the league:

They said it:

“Performances matter. I think last year was a small sample. This year is an almost equal sample, so I think we have to take everything into account. We’re not ignoring Spring Training performance.” –General manager Sandy Alderson on Vic Black

Follow me on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo

Dispatches from Port St. Lucie, 3/12

What we learned: Despite the opposite strategy unfolding in Atlanta, the Mets are not about to fill a major hole by making a free agent splash late in spring.

What we wrote:

Around the league:

“I’m not interpreting it in terms of our situation. I don’t know that we have a situation here.” –GM Sandy Alderson on the Braves’ deal with Santana

Follow me on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo

Mets Spring Training: Week 1 in review

The first calendar week of camp is complete, with Mets pitchers, catchers and position players all on the premises. Here’s a recap of what went down in Week 1:

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“It’s hard seeing all the guys, seeing them put their uniforms on and realizing that Spring Training is going to go a little differently this year,” Harvey said during his first day in camp. “Today has definitely been a little bit of a struggle.”

  • Mets doctors later cleared Harvey to throw a baseball for the first time since surgery, which he did Saturday.

“There’s always a conversation on [the payroll]. It’s not something that [general manager] Sandy [Alderson] can just go out and do whatever he wants, but yes we’ve had multiple conversations, and we’ve had the ability to go after some guys that I don’t think anybody knew we were going after. They didn’t all hit, but we did try, and those all would have expanded the payroll above where we are now.”

Follow me on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo

Dispatches from Port St. Lucie, 2/21

We’re officially a full week into Spring Training and there’s no controversy here in Florida. No major news stories, either. Is this really a Mets camp?

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What we learned: The Mets are instructing all catchers in their organization not to block home plate, regardless of whether Major League Baseball ratifies a new rule prohibiting plate collisions. General manager Sandy Alderson personally demonstrated proper protocol to his catchers. … No Mets player experienced a visa issue for the first time since 2010. All 64 players are officially in camp.

What we wrote:

Around the league:

They said it:

“Say, for example, it’s Game 6 of the World Series and I’m told I can’t block the plate. Well, my instincts are going to tell me to save that run being scored. That’s part of the game that every catcher enjoys. It’s our thrill, like the infielder making a diving play in the hole and throwing someone out from his knees.” –Mets catcher Travis d’Arnaud on MLB’s pending collision rule

Follow me on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo

Shortstop not necessarily dead for Mets’ Flores

Wilmer Flores has not played his natural position of shortstop professionally in the United States since 2011, when he was 19 years old. Despite the Mets’ clear weakness at that position, Flores’ name does not typically surface in discussions about it. And for good reason — the Mets have no immediate plans to use him there, in part because of the lack of mobility that scouts have long predicted for him.

But the notion of trying Flores at shortstop is not permanently dead. Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said this week that if Flores’ winter conditioning program pays the type of dividends the team hopes, it’s possible he could receive some reps at the position this spring.

“I don’t think we’d rule it out,” Alderson said in a telephone interview. “Why should we? I think we have to see how Spring Training plays out for him — is there going to be a spot for him in the lineup? Is there not? Is he going to be a bench player for us? Is he going to go to Las Vegas?”

Alderson pointed several times to the team-supervised conditioning program Flores attended in Michigan this winter alongside Lucas Duda, Ruben Tejada and several Mets prospects. This was the first winter of his career that Flores spent significant time focusing on his overall health rather than his baseball skills, according to the GM.

“I don’t want to place too much stock on four weeks of conditioning, but this is a guy who’s never really had the opportunity to develop himself physically the way players here in the United States do, who have a season and then an offseason,” Alderson said. “He’s never had an offseason. He’s always played. So this is a different type of offseason for him — one in which he’s been able to invest in his career. We’ll see how it pays off for him.

“I wouldn’t say [Flores to shortstop] is dead. I think that one of the things we want to see is how well he has done with his training regimen in Michigan. Before this offseason, I’m not sure he ever had any sort of structured, regimented conditioning program. The work that they have done on speed and agility and quickness, etc., may have an impact on his ability to play certain positions — including second base and conceivably even shortstop. But right now, that’s all speculation.”

Flores, who signed with the Mets as a 16-year-old international free agent in 2007, played shortstop exclusively over the first four years of his Minor League career. In 2012, he shifted to third base, before playing mostly second last year — partially an organizational response to third baseman David Wright signing an eight-year contract that runs through 2020.

Along the way, scouts have continually pegged Flores as a corner infielder, skeptical that his limited mobility would allow him to play a middle infield or corner outfield spot. But Flores held his own at second despite a nagging ankle injury, and Alderson is curious to see how he responds after two intensive fitness sessions near Ann Arbor, Mich.

“It became clear, if you watched him play last year and run the bases … that [conditioning] was an area that needed to improve,” Alderson said. “Since he’d never done any conditioning at all, you say to yourself, ‘Gee, there may be substantial opportunity for improvement. Let’s see what happens. Let’s try it.’ And that’s what we’ve done. We won’t know the benefits of that until we get down to Spring Training.”

What the Mets do know is that they are thin at shortstop, with Tejada coming off a below-replacement level season, free agent Stephen Drew a long-shot to sign and no high-ceilinged prospects on the immediate horizon. Flores, by contrast, revived his own prospect status with a breakout offensive year in 2012, carrying that wave all the way to the Majors in 2013.

“Is he definitely not a shortstop? I try not to say anybody’s definitely not something,” Alderson said. “We tried Duda [a natural first baseman] in left field. There’s no reason why we can’t try other players at positions where at first blush you’d say, ‘No, that’s not possible.’”

Follow me on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo.

Top five Mets Cetera posts of 2013

With the year winding down, it’s time to take a look back at the top five Mets Cetera posts of the year, in terms of total traffic:

metsceteraharvey5. Mid-July was All-Star season in New York, and it just so happened to coincide with the height of Matt Harvey’s rapid-rise fame. We linked to a skit that Harvey did on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, seeing how many so-called Mets fans recognized their newest and brightest superstar.

metsceteraoutfield4. Last offseason, Sandy Alderson famously poked fun at his team when he quipped, “What outfield?” in response to a question. By the end of July, Alderson had changed his tune so completely that he called the Mets “maybe the most productive outfield in baseball.” We investigated his claim.

metsceteracurse3. Just last week, we revisited the Curse of Kris Kringle that has haunted the Mets at their annual holiday party for the better part of a decade. Well aware of the curse’s history — Kris BensonMike Cameron and even Wright have been among the victims — Daniel Murphy suited up as St. Nick.

metsceterawright22. As usual, David Wright was a popular figure in 2013. In March, we held a Twitter contest for fans to create their best “Captain America” photoshop mock-ups. The winner, from @Miss_Met, featured the captain in full regalia on a DVD cover. The runners-up were nearly as impressive.

metsceterawright1. In December, we took a look back at Wright’s eight-year, $138-million contract and what he might have made as a free agent this winter. The consensus? You’ll have to click and see. But here’s a hint: it’s closer to Robinson Cano’s 10-year, $240-million deal than you might expect.

Follow me on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo.

David Wright, the $200-million player that could have been?

When the Mets flew David Wright to the Winter Meetings last year to finalize his eight-year, $138-million contract, they did so without assurances of what the deal would look like in the future. Injury and performance aside, it was impossible to predict how the market would shake out, and how Wright’s $138 million would stack up.

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A year later, it’s clear that the Mets inked Wright for far less than he could have made on the open market this winter, when he would have been a free agent for the first time in his career. Just look at some of the position player deals that have been done:

  • Ten years, $240 million from the Mariners for second baseman Robinson Cano
  • Seven years, $153 million from the Yankees for outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury
  • Five years, $85 million from the Yankees for catcher Brian McCann
  • Four years, $60 million from the Mets for outfielder Curtis Granderson

Though none of those players are terrific comps for Wright, they serve to demonstrate how much players are currently worth on the open market.

With that in mind, I spent some time at the Winter Meetings informally surveying a handful of executives and agents, asking them what Wright could have received as a free agent. The answers did not dip below $170 million, rising as high as $200 million.

One person suggested tacking $5 million per year onto Wright’s existing deal, resulting in an eight-year, $178-million pact. Another said that Wright probably would have been able to push for a 10-year deal, which would have taken him through his age-39 season. Two suits budgeted $200 million on the dot — a number that only five players in history have earned in a single contract: Alex Rodriguez (twice), Cano, Albert Pujols, Joey Votto and Prince Fielder. On more than one occasion, Wright’s squeaky-clean franchise cornerstone reputation came up as a potential negotiating platform.

Imagine those numbers in the context of the Mets’ rebuilding efforts. Even if Wright fell short of that $200 million mark, his $170+ million value might have forced the Mets to reconsider their commitment. Market factors alone could have transformed franchise history.

Wright knew he would be taking a discount to sign with the Mets a year before hitting free agency, but he still did it because he knew New York was where he wanted to be. (Recall that Wright shaped his deal like a bell curve to help the Mets retain present and future payroll flexibility.) He and the Mets are both happy things worked out the way they did.

But the rest of baseball was left wondering what Wright would have received on the open market had — like so many others — he chosen to play for the highest bidder.

Follow me on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo.

Wright dishes on Mets’ offseason plans

In today’s Mets notebook, I talked to David Wright about his thoughts on the upcoming offseason. Here are Wright’s comments in full:

MLB.com: What do you expect out of this offseason?
DW: “We need to improve. Whether that’s through free agency or whether that’s through trades, I don’t think there’s any question that we need to get better. And that’s not just all on free agents and trades. It’s also on the players who are coming back next year to continue to improve, because there’s only so much you can do in those aspects of the game, at least in my opinion. The potential for extended success is to build from within, and we’re on our way to doing that. But I don’t think there’s any question whether it’s trades or free agents, that we have to try to make this team better.”

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MLB.com: What is your ideal offseason plan?
DW: “Whether we get better in pitching aspects, whether we get better in hitting aspects, I don’t care. To me, there’s obviously some holes that we need to fill, and whatever we do to fill those holes, I’m OK with. It’s not like there’s one glaring weakness that we need that trumps another weakness. There’s a couple holes that we need filled, and whichever way we fill them is fine by me. Everybody’s been saying that this is the year with the money coming off the books, with some of the free agents that are out there, with some of the possible trade candidates given some of the younger pitchers and players we’ve developed. It seems like it’s all kind of culminating into this offseason to try to go out there and make this team better.”

MLB.com: Would you be OK with another quiet offseason?
DW: “Whatever way gets us the best the fastest is what I want. And that’s not to say that I want to trade away every single young player that we have for a veteran-type guy, because I want sustained success also. But I think we’ve gotten to the point now where the rebuilding project is coming to an end, and we need to start winning, and taking that next step to becoming that playoff-contending team. The last few years have been tough. This year’s been tough. But I think that we have an opportunity to go out there and really make this team better this offseason with the money that we have and some of the pieces that we have. I’m expecting this team to be much better next year than it is this year.”

MLB.com: So when do your recruiting calls start?
DW: “How do you know they haven’t already started?”

MLB.com: I think that would be tampering.
DW: [Laughing] “Not by me, is it? I don’t know the rules.”

Follow me on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo.

Do the Mets really have the best outfield in baseball?

Back in November, Mets general manager Sandy Alderson turned heads by glibly answering, “What outfield?” when asked about the makeup of that unit heading into the season. It became a rallying cry for frustrated fans later in the winter when the Mets did nothing to address the situation, heading into April with a starting trio of Marlon Byrd, Lucas Duda and a Kirk Nieuwenuis/Collin Cowgill platoon.

Predictably, that unit scuffled over the first half of the season, to the extent that the Mets promoted and demoted various outfielders, even signing Rick Ankiel for a stretch. So it was interesting Wednesday to hear Alderson offer this choice quote:

“Interestingly, we spent the first half of the season adding players,” the GM said on a post-trade deadline conference call. “We’ve added to the starting rotation, we’ve added in the bullpen, we’ve taken what seemed to be a fairly barren outfield in the beginning of the season, and turned it into maybe the most productive outfield in baseball.”

Can that be? A quick look at the numbers reveals that, amazingly, Alderson is not far off in his assessment. Mets outfielders compiled 3.4 Wins Above Replacement in July, according to Fangraphs, second behind only the Rays (see the top 10 in the Fangraphs chart below). Compare that to June, when their 0.6 mark ranked 25th in MLB, or May and April, when their 0.0 and -0.3 marks indicated that the Mets, in theory, would have been better off with a random group of minor leaguers.

metsOFwarchart

The biggest difference has been Juan Lagares, who (along with Duda’s absence) has transformed this bunch from a poor defensive outfield into a significantly above-average one. Lagares has also hit with aplomb since taking over the everyday center field job, just as Byrd has transformed into a reasonable cleanup option for the Mets. In left field, the Mets have also received unexpected production from Eric Young, Jr.

Can they keep it up? Probably not. WAR is a flawed stat, the offensive figure above is partially BABIP-fueled, and nothing in Lagares’ profile suggests he will continue to hit like this (a .369 average in July). A slump also seems inevitable for Byrd, who has been white-hot since May, while Duda’s return from the DL will damage the unit’s defensive production.

But at the least, it appears Alderson’s “What outfield” quip no longer applies. And that, for the Mets, is an unexpected accomplishment.

Follow me on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo.

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