Results tagged ‘ Sandy Alderson ’

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.

Scenes from the Mets’ first full-squad workout

The Mets held their first full-squad workout today in Port St. Lucie, Fla. The day in pictures:

Daniel Murphy, Jordany Valdespin and Ike Davis participate in fielding drills while manager Terry Collins looks on.

Daniel Murphy, Jordany Valdespin and Ike Davis participate in fielding drills while Terry Collins looks on.

Mets infielders line up for fielding drills.

Mets infielders line up for fielding drills.

Travis d’Arnaud warms up his arm:

 

Sandy Alderson, Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz watch the day's proceedings.

Sandy Alderson, Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz watch the day’s proceedings.

Josh Edgin throws a bullpen session:

 

Dillon Gee and Matt Harvey throwing in tandem.

Dillon Gee and Matt Harvey throwing in tandem.

Follow me on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo.

Bourn signs Indians while Mets keep their cursed first-round pick

If you haven’t heard, Michael Bourn signed a four-year deal with the Indians today, putting an abrupt end to the Mets’ pursuit of him. With Bourn off the table, the Mets will likely proceed with an Opening Day outfield of Lucas Duda in left, Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Collin Cowgill platooning in center, and Mike Baxter in right.

General manager Sandy Alderson did have an offer on the table for Bourn, but the two-time All-Star selected Cleveland because it was a sure thing. New York was not willing to sign him if it meant forfeiting its first-round Draft pick, 11th overall, and Bourn was not willing to wait out the grievance process to try to reinterpret that rule.

So what exactly did the Mets fight to keep? The 11th overall Draft pick has a bizarre history of busts relative to the picks around it. Of the 48 players in history taken 11th overall, only five have amassed more than 10 Wins Above Replacement, according to Baseball Reference (though two of them, Andrew McCutchen and Max Scherzer, are active and in their primes).

Seventeen of the 48 players never made the Majors, while 10 of those who did crack the big leagues finished with negative career WAR.

That means nothing, of course, in terms of how the Mets might fare with the 11th overall pick (not to mention all the lost slot money had they forfeited it). But it is interesting to look at this oddly undistinguished list of the 11 best 11th picks in history:

11th Overall Picks:luzinski
1. Greg Luzinski, PHI, 1968 (23.6 WAR)
2. Shane Mack, SD, 1984 (20.4)
3. Andrew McCutchen, PIT, 2005 (18.1)
4. Walt Weiss, OAK, 1985 (14.6)
5. Max Scherzer, ARI, 2006 (10.5)
6. Shawn Estes, SEA, 1991 (9.1)
7. Neil Walker, PIT, 2004 (6.1)
8. Rod Scurry, PIT, 1974 (5.1)
9. Adam Eaton, PHI, 1996 (3.8)
10. Calvin Murray, CLE, 1989 (1.9)
11. Jeremy Hermida, FLA, 2002 (1.8)

Follow me on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo.

Video: Alderson discusses Bourn, answers fan tweets

Mets general manager Sandy Alderson joined MLB.com for a 21-minute video chat yesterday at Citi Field. Among the topics discussed was free-agent outfielder Michael Bourn, who remains on everyone’s radar:

“I have more of an offensive interest than a defensive interest, but that can be taken to an extreme,” Alderson said. “And, so, you have to make accommodations. You also need to take into account what your specific needs are. And right now our specific need in the outfield is somebody who can cement that outfield defense. His defense becomes a little more important in our circumstance perhaps than it might be in some others.

“He’s also a leadoff guy and brings some speed to a club. Those are areas we’d like to improve as well. For us, he would be a very nice fit. But, at the same time, we have to keep it in perspective. And, frankly, we don’t know what some of the outfielders already in spring training are going to be able to do for us this year.

“But I certainly understand why fans are interested in our position vis-a-vis Michael, and we’d like to get it resolved one way or the other. I think we’re still in the mix, but I couldn’t really predict anything at this point.”

Follow me on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo.

Mets front office discusses the farm

Mets general manager Sandy Alderson and top aides John Ricco, J.P. Ricciardi and Paul DePodesta met with season-ticketholders last night at Citi Field, answering questions and offering optimism about the state of the team (and, in Alderson’s case, giving a shoutout to MLB.com).

In the clip below, you can watch those four discussing the young players in the system that most excite them. Some of the answers might surprise you.

Follow me on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo.

Mets dine Bourn, but deal still unlikely

Mets general manager Sandy Alderson and assistant GM John Ricco flew to Houston last week to have dinner with free-agent outfielder Michael Bourn and his agent, Scott Boras, according to the New York Post. But the meal “was more a getting-to-know-you session than a dollars-and-cents negotiation,” according to the newspaper, “at a time when the dollars and cents remain among the most significant hurdles in doing a deal.”

Alderson has made it clear through the media that he is not willing to give up the Mets’ 11th overall draft pick as compensation in order to sign Bourn. So barring some successful 11th-hour rules appeal, it’s difficult to envision a deal — secret dinner or not.

Follow me on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo.

In pictures: Wright signs eight-year deal

Some pictures from today’s David Wright press conference, courtesy MLB.com’s photo department:

David Wright is happy to stay in New York  Ben Platt/MLB.com

wright6

Follow me on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo.

Ike Davis not among Mets players on the block

Unprompted this week, Mets general manager Sandy Alderson mentioned Jon Niese and Dillon Gee as trade candidates in addition to R.A. Dickey.

But not everyone is up for grabs. The New York Post reported that Ike Davis is unavailable and Daniel Murphy is “unlikely” to be traded, as the Mets do not know how they would replace the offense of either player. If the Mets strike a significant deal, it will be drawing from their strength — starting pitching — to plug up holes in their lineup.

–Anthony DiComo

Alderson’s State of the Mets address

Mets general manager Sandy Alderson addressed the state of the Mets for nearly 25 minutes Wednesday afternoon. In addition to the news story on Mets.com, you can ready the full transcript of Alderson’s Q&A here:

Opening statement:
“Overall, a disappointing season. We had some positive things, I think, but overall inconsistency. Certainly disappointed with the won-loss record. Lots of inconsistencies, first half/second half, home/road, individual performances. All of which I think led to the record that we will have after today’s game.

“So the first half was of course positive. I think we exceeded many expectations. I thought that we played as well as we had expected coming out of spring training. For a variety of reasons, some of which are only hypotheses at this point — they’re not actual explanations — we did not play well in the second half. There were a variety of things that happened. I’ll go back and probably point to four or five things. But ultimately, the second half was similar to the second half we’ve had over the last several years. I think if there’s one consistency among those four that we’ve been able to determine it’s that we really did not see significant contributions from additional players over the second half of any of those season.

“Inevitably, you have injuries and other things that happen, maybe sub-par performance. It’s nice to have somebody come in and take up the slack. And we had a couple people who had good second halves. We saw the emergence of Matt Harvey. Ike Davis played well in the second half. But overall, that wasn’t the case.

“Lots of positive things did happen. I think we’ll start with R.A. Dickey, I guess, and David Wright. Jon Niese had an excellent season for us. [Bobby] Parnell out of the ‘pen was good. Chris Young finished well. We saw Harvey emerge, some other young players emerge. So I think there’s some positives from the season, certainly. I take all of those as positives.

“The thing we’re trying to do here is three-fold: One is build through our farm system. The second is to retain our core players. And the third, really, is to add free agents and trade acquisitions on a fairly judicious basis. I would say over the first couple years, we’ve certainly looked to the farm system. Obviously not totally successful. We really have not, until now, been in a position to retain our core players. Which is the second prong of this approach. I think we’re in that place now. Then the third, we really have not been able to be involved significantly in the free-agent market. We certainly have brought in players on a free-agent basis. But in terms of significant acquisitions, it’s somewhat limited. But I can see that changing, perhaps not immediately, but somewhere in the near-term. So from my standpoint, many positives. But overall, a disappointing year.”

Are you looking to make a more significant number of trade and free agent acquisitions than in years past?
“Well, I think that it’s possible, given what we have, that we’ll be more active in the trade market. But that’s not a given necessarily. I mean, I really do believe that some of our players are on the verge of making bigger contributions. But it’s been two years. We have a better idea now of who we have at the major-league level, who’s coming from our player-development system, and the places where we need to look outside.

“There are a couple of obvious needs that we have. So it’s very possible that we’ll be more active in the trade market, as well as potentially in the free-agent market. But I don’t want to give the impression that we’ll be out in the free-agent market, looking for significant additions. We have lots of payroll tied up in a handful of players. That’s a situation that gradually has to resolve itself. We’re not really at that point.”

Who are the core players?
“The two that are popularly referenced are David Wright and R.A. Dickey. What we said over the last couple of months is we’re going to make every effort to retain those two guys. And I think we are in a position to be able to do that. Whether we are successful or not, time will tell. But I think we’re in a position to make a bona fide effort to do it. So I’m happy about that.”

Is Dickey a high priority to retain long-term?
“Those are the two big issues. Retaining our own players is, as I said, one of the key tenets of the approach we’re trying to take. Those two would be the most obvious. They’re free agents at the end of 2013. Those are the two situations we need to address and expect to address.”

Is the organization in a stronger place financially than it was a season ago?
“Yeah, I think that’s unquestionably the case. The Madoff situation was resolved. The investments were made in the team. And I think that overall, just with those two issues behind us, the team is in a better position. That’s progress.”

How much money do you project to lose this year?
“No. But unlike last year, I don’t intend to get involved in that discussion.”

How will the better financial situation affect your future spending?
“The first indication will be what happens with David and R.A. Because while those situations may not significantly increase our payroll this year, they will represent commitments on out years. Which I think is a fundamental shift in our situation. If you have the uncertainty that existed last spring, it would be difficult to make those long-term commitments. So I think that’s a fundamental shift. And I think that would be a good indication. I think the fact that we’re talking about it, and talking about retaining our players in a different tone than we were last year, should be a positive signal.”

Do you feel an urgency to get the Wright and Dickey deals done before Spring Training?
“I think not only would we like to see these two situations resolved by the beginning of spring training, Opening Day, I think we’d like to see them resolved much sooner rather than later.”

When will you open the dialogue?
“How long does [this] game last?”

Have you had any discussions yet?
“With the agents? No.”

Or with David?
“There have been some informal conversations with David. I wouldn’t say that they have been negotiations. That wouldn’t be our approach. That would be something that would be done with his representatives. But we’ve had some informal conversations.”

How soon could this be done? By the World Series? Winter Meetings?
“I don’t see why it couldn’t happen quickly. Now whether it will or not, I don’t know. I don’t have any indication that it would get done quickly. But as you look at it from our standpoint, the sooner the better.”

Is there a certain point where you need to sign them to extensions or else consider trading them?
“I think that there’s a preferred time frame from a baseball standpoint. As you get further into the offseason, with the uncertainty of the contract situation, then you do have to start thinking about other possibilities. That’s something we’re contemplating right now. but there’s that inevitability. But from a non-baseball standpoint, getting these resolved earlier, and if we were able to do it positively, that would have a salutary effect on everything else in the offseason. So there are lots of reasons why it would be great, if things got resolved soon. Whether they will or not, I have no idea.”

How will you sell Wright and Dickey on the future outlook here?
“I guess that’s going to be hard for me to assess. But what I intend to be, in any conversation that relates to the future of the Mets overall, is as honest as I can possibly be. I expect that that’s what they’ll want. I also think that there are factors that relate to New York that go beyond winning. That’s clearly the most important thing for any of us. But I think there are some other important factors, too, that don’t relate to salary or money, that may have an impact. I’ll try to be as honest in that regard as well.”

What would your message be?
“My message would be ‘Look, I think we’re very definitely headed in the right direction. But at the same time, we will not in the near-future have unlimited funds. So recognize what our immediate situation is, what we expect to be our mid and long-term situations, and evaluate us on that basis.'”

Must you prove your commitment to acquiring talent before they sign?
“As a practical matter, that’s probably not going to happen between now and the time that these conversations take place. But I think it will be important for them to hear from me, and again, to some extent, we’ve had these conversations. So I expect there will be further discussions about it.”

Wright wants this to be the final contract of his career. Can that kind of deal work here?
“Yeah. Would I rule that kind of contract out? No. I don’t know how long he expects to play. Presumably beyond 31 or 32.”

Would Baltimore or Oakland winning the World Series help prove that payroll increases are unnecessary?
“Yeah, to some extent. But look, the expectations in Baltimore this year, or the expectations in Oakland this year, or any year in some of these cities are very different than they are in New York. And I think we just have to recognize that.”

You don’t like second-generation free-agent deals. Is Wright an exception to that philosophy?
“I still hold a philosophy. But I think there are always exceptions to any rule. In my career, I’ve made exceptions in the past. I’m sure I’ll make exceptions in the future.”

Is Wright an exception?
“Well, look, we wouldn’t have had the last 15 minutes of conversation if that weren’t the case.”

What was the final 2012 payroll?
“The one that I use? We’re going to come in right around $100 million.”

Does that include salaries added during the year?
“Now it also includes 40-man roster guys at the minor-league level. It includes say a buyout on previous contracts. So I think we had a buyout of about $3 million or so on Frankie Rodriguez. So all in, right around $100 million.”

Could the payroll go maybe 10-percent higher next year?
“We’re having those conversations now. I met with Fred [Wilpon] and Saul [Katz] and Jeff [Wilpon], presented a number of different scenarios. We haven’t locked in to anything yet. There will be another meeting or two before we do that. So I can’t really give you an answer that.”

What factors will influence the payroll?
“What we can reasonably expect with whatever payroll we decide. So there are a lot of different factors. The players that we have going into next season, versus the players we have now or the players that we’ll have in 2014. There are different factors. It’s not all about one in particular.”

In next year’s payroll, will the 2014 buyouts on Bay and Santana be included?
“The buyouts typically are in the current-year budget.”

How willing would you be to trade starting pitching, particularly from your projected starting five?
“I think you’ve got to be real careful about dipping into your starting pitching. If you look at what happened to us, the five guys that started the season? We lost three of the five. So the depth there can be very important. And not just depth that you have at your Triple-A club with somebody who’s just coming up. Ideally, you’d like to have depth like maybe a Chris Young gave us this year. Which is under his special circumstances. You’ve got to be careful about our starting pitching, which is certainly our strength at the moment. And was certainly our strength, more or less, most of this year.”

If you deal Major League players from your roster, do you need Major League-ready players in return?
“Yes, we need some major-league ready players. There are some positions where we are not strong. Either the quality at the major-league level or in our system. And we need major-league ready players. Now that doesn’t mean to exclusion of a prospect. But we’d be looking for players that are close.”

Did you ever consider blowing up the roster completely?
“It’s a strategy that we’ve discussed. Again, I think every team is different. Every market is different. I’m not prepared to blow up the team and start over again. I don’t think we need to do that. so it’s unlikely that we’ll see any major explosions.”

Could you get away with that in New York?
“Look, with regard to probably 70 percent of any team’s roster, that can be done without any real negative reaction from fans. My attitude, if you think about it conceptually, is there are core players that fans identify with. It might be two players, it might be five, it might be six. Depends on how much success you’ve had, how many have come through the system. But there’s a core group. But it’s probably not that large in number. Everybody else? It’s all about succeeding. It’s all about bringing in better players. It’s all about making the team better. So I don’t think you sever any sort of relationship with fans if those players are interchanged.”

Could you conceivably still deal your core guys?
“It’s conceivable. And it would be something that we’d have to evaluate at the time.”

How do you evaluate Terry Collins heading into the final year of his contract?
“I think Terry’s done a fine job. As you know, we’re having the coaches back. Terry’s signed for next year. There are going to be questions about whether we’re going to extend him or not. That’s not something we’re doing yet. We haven’t had those discussions. We may not for a while. But I’m very pleased with the job that Terry did. The first half, second half situation has more to do with the players than it does with the manager or the coaching staff.”

Will the future payroll flexibility be based solely on money coming off the books, or will the bottom-line number expand?
“I hope both things happen. If you look at payroll, for me, there are really two components. There’s this core group of quality that most teams have. And then there’s the balance of the payroll. And right now, we have a lot of money tied up in a handful of players. So what I hope is that we do end up with more flexibility over the next couple of years. But also that we can grow the payroll to some extent.”

Would you back-load deals for free agents this winter?
“It’s a possible strategy, given the nut we have for 2013. But generally speaking, I don’t like to pay for today with deferrals tomorrow.”

Follow me on Twitter: @AnthonyDiComo

Modern Family star on…Jason Bay?

Apparently, Modern Family star Ty Burrell is a big Mets fan. The Hollywood Reporter recently caught up to him and coaxed out gems such as:

On Jason Bay: “Bay is just having a hard time. I relate to that as a performer. When you perform in front of people, you can get into long slumps. Like, I’ve had that happen on stage, where I’ve just given one bad performance after another, because you can’t get out of your head. And he’s having a particularly bad run, and I really feel for the guy, and it’s been really hard to watch.”

On the Mets: “Last year was so painful because there was nothing hopeful about it. We still had all the payroll. It was oh god, this still has to get worse before it gets better. This year to me, even though we’re 25 games back or whatever we are, I feel very hopeful. I feel like [general manager] Sandy Alderson really has this team going in the right direction. They play so hard for [manager] Terry Collins, and they’re still playing hard for him. Their lineup is so depleted.”

It’s worth noting, by the way, that TV buff David Wright ranks Modern Family among his favorite shows of all time.

You can read the full Q&A here: Ty Burrell, Mets Fanatic, Goes Deep on New York Sports

Follow me n Twitter: @AnthonyDiComo

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