Opinion: The real ‘Plan’ for the Mets and why I’m patient

Matthew Cerrone, Lead Writer

According to Sandy Alderson, he never predicted the team will win 90 games in 2014, he simply challenged his staff to find ways to build a team that can get to 90 wins… eventually. It was a goal, he said.

If that’s accurate, why is this a new goal? What have he and his staff been doing the last few years?

The answer, as I understand it, is simple: First and foremost, they’ve been setting up future payroll flexibility (by cutting payroll — see: Jose Reyes, Johan Santana, Carlos Beltran, Jason Bay, lack of new, expensive, long-term signings, etc.), while stockpiling young, controllable, power pitching. That’s it. The rest has been a means to an end, a way to assess in-house talent, bleed a little, minimally entertain fans, and get to a point (2014) when things can begin to turn a corner.

He achieved his first goal, which was to restructure payroll and rebuild a farm system. That cannot be questioned. It seems he’s challenging his staff with a new goal, and to create a follow-up plan, which is about winning 90 games.


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If you think this sounds like ‘moving the goal posts,’ it may mean you never understood the first goal. I think some people thought the goal was to spend wildly after 2013 and immediately and magically end up back in the playoffs at the end of this season. This was never going to happen with Alderson at the helm, despite pressure from fans and some in ownership.

The power bat (especially right-handed) is decreasing in supply. Instead, young, controllable, power pitching is the key to sustained success in baseball these days. If you have it, you’re going to win. If you don’t, you’ll struggle in the standings regardless of what you spend on payroll. The Mets think they have the pitching, as do scouts and outside experts. The problem for us as fans, and for Alderson as a GM, is that most of it is not on the roster yet. Worse, the best of the bunch, Matt Harvey, will end up missing a full season rehabbing from Tommy John surgery.

This current crop of highly-regarded, young pitchers, plus having (and being able to replace) around $20-30 million in payroll every winter, is what the last few years have been about. The goal has always been to have these pitchers direct the future of the franchise, while increasing payroll as the pitching begins to have a real impact in the win column, which will hopefully have a real impact on attendance, which will further help increase payroll, and so on and so on…

The way I see it, talk of 90 wins, goal posts, 2014 being a pivot year, etc., is all just talk. I try to only believe what I see. And I see young pitching in the minors, fine tuning themselves, while a below-average big-league roster tries to keep the team floating until promotions start happening this summer. And I’m OK with this… for now…


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The bottom line is this: I expect the Mets to win when their young arms are here and established, but I know it’s going to be a struggle while I wait. I also expect those pitchers to be supported by management with better bats and better defense. These days, I understand the mixing-and-matching around the current bullpen and rotation. I’d like to see Alderson sign Stephen Drew and Kendrys Morales, but I also know they will not matter much. Drew and Morales will not hurt the overall big-picture goal, but they’re also not going to make the Mets a playoff team. These guys are better than what they have, maybe, but they’re not difference makers.

Noah Syndergaard will be a difference maker. Rafael Montero may be a difference maker. Logan Verrett, Jake Leathersich, Jacob deGrom and others in the bullpen, could be difference makers. Trading two of these guys, a catching prospect and another big-league pitcher for an impact bat could be a difference maker. These are the moves I’m really waiting for, and — because of talent levels, service time and Super 2 cut-off dates — they just can’t happen right now. I believe they will, though. I hope they will. It’s this support, these moves, that will define Alderson’s legacy as GM of the Mets, not how he tried to entertain us while he got there.




366 comments

finakly finally you make sense-----leathersich degron and catcher---throw invaughn for a big bat.

metseas
metseas

Matt the bottom line is this: the bottom line five years from now is being valued higher than supporting the team playing the braves Friday night...

Your defense of the super two manipulation rampant in baseball is pitiful. Cheating the kids out of their compensation should they perform well for us the fans over a number of years is bad business. By keeping the talent down artificially long they are cheating us the season ticket holders who haven't thrown in the towel since a judge upheld a loophole and awarded the Wilpon group the ability to heist the team from Doubleday. This ownership loves a loophole tomorrow more than winning a baseball game today.

mets41
mets41

by that time still no offence and Harvey and wheeler gone in free agency

Bob G
Bob G

Obviously Matt's allegiance has switched from fans to ownership. These painful posts are just agonizing to read. 

FakeSandyAlderson
FakeSandyAlderson

Matt...you must be out of your mind. Here's one...if guys like Morales and Drew are not "difference-makers" as you suggest, why did Sandy throw $20M at 42 year old juicer fat guy Bartolo? Was that part of the "plan?" Why $7+M on Chris Young? That's a "plan?"  Either you totally rebuild or you don't and what Sandy has done for 4 years does not remotely resemble anybody's idea of a "plan." He sifts through Billy Beane's discards, pretends to chase a potential key addition each off-season and gets away with murder by the sycophant 27 year olds who cover this team.  The Man barely has a baseball background. When he was in Oakland, his teams had the league's highest payrolls featuring a bunch of Roided-out idiots while Sandy looked the other way. His famous disingenuous quote 10 years ago was that he thought "it was the bats!" that inflated offensive numbers. Now he spends his time awaiting word that he will be named Commissioner; lying constantly for felonious owners and speaking out of both sides of his mouth using words incongruously in an attempt to show he's the smartest guy in the room. As a former Marine, I find him a disgrace that he lies with such ease and willingness. He possesses no baseball acumen, only a smug arrogance who cannot possibly fathom passionate fans of baseball team. Especially here in New York.  The guy grew up a fan of marbles and wine in Northern California without the slightest hint of passion for anything other than being smug. He needs to go and take the despicable Wilpons with him. Thank you Bud Selig for allowing the rape and pillaging of a franchise that used to have a soul, that used to have a connection to its unique fans; and used to TRY to put a winning team on the field.

Paul Garvin Kuhns
Paul Garvin Kuhns

The problem I have with what you're saying and what the organization is doing is the excessive extent they use the "super 2 " rule. I understand keeping Thor down because he is a potential ace. But Montero, verrett, Walters, Degrom, Matz...All 5 of those guys are better options in the bullpen then John "Longball" Lannan, Germen, and Farnsworth, sure Valverde looked good so far but hes also been cut by a team, Torres was cut by the rockies although he has been good. Our bullpen is a junkyard of other teams right now. All 5 of those guys are young,have better stuff, and are MUCH better. So my problem is that Thor might be an ace and cost a lot of money eventually...But we have 10 Starters and 5 spots! So CLEARLY we are not keeping all these guys, thus we don't have to worry about arbitration for ALL of them!?! Call some guys up for Christ sake. Matz should go to the bullpen. He is a Lefty? Check. Throws hard. Check? He is an old prospect 25. And he has got tommy john surgery twice so the bullpen allows him to throw WAY less innings. Call these guys up and get rid of Farnsworthless, Germen, and Lannan.

Oleg Haskel
Oleg Haskel

This is some serious rose colored glasses crap. Who cares about "what will define Alderson"? These are years of MY life that I want to be able to spend at the ballpark watching my favorite team compete. COMPETE. I'm not asking for the playoffs, I understand there's "The Plan". But man oh man why do I have to watch these guys trot Tejada out at sharting SS (not a typo) who besides not being a major leaguer they TRASHED for the past year and a half. I don't get that at all. 


Please explain to me why this isn't about me being entertained? How am I supposed to explain this effort to my son old enough to understand and hasn't seen a Mets team finish above 500? 


How far has the standard been lowered, really? We no longer care to be a winning team while waiting for Generation KY to mature? And Matt the fan, where are you? Do you really believe this garbage? Honestly, I'm almost embarrassed to wear my Mets gear.

justbro
justbro

I totally disagree.   I don't think they needed to "spend wildly."   The damn payroll is less than $90 million isn't it?   They had plenty of room to improve in a couple of areas without breaking the bank.   You have a shortstop that cannot hit and aside from tonight you had no idea what you were going to get from 1st base.   While you are going to be patient with the catcher that basically leaves you with 4 guys in the lineup that cannot hit.    Throw in a weak bullpen and you are left hoping everything has to click perfectly each night to get a win.  

Frank Accardi
Frank Accardi

Patient u must be kidding can someone give me consistent offence if your a pitcher on this team you will be bald by the time your 26

xplr
xplr

"The way I see it, talk of 90 wins, goal posts, 2014 being a pivot year, etc., is all just talk"


And there you have it Mets fans. THIS IS THE CRUX OF THE PROBLEM.


We all suffered through the last few seasons because major payroll was coming off the books after 2013 and we were finally going to spend lavishly and contend. EVERYONE KNEW THIS. 


Instead, we bought CYoung who has played 5 minutes, Granderson and a 40 year old pitcher. 


ONCE AGAIN, we have failed to improve the bullpen. Without Parnell, it is probably much worse than last year. 90 wins??? Are you freaking kidding me? Want to see a potential 90 win team? Look at Washington. We aren't even close to them. They are better in hitting, fielding, starting pitching and relief.


Would it really shock anyone if Washington finished 20 games ahead of us this year? This team is a disgrace and so is management. 

Shawn Mike Rolli
Shawn Mike Rolli

8:00 a beer? Jesus you gotta be joking shocked parking not $200.00 lol

51yearfan
51yearfan

Met fans didn't set  2014 as the  year the Mets would contend, Alderson did.  Once again, he lied to the fan base.  Deciding to offer Reyes a contract was an arguable baseball decision.  Telling the fans you offered him a contract when you didn't is insulting.  Alderson told the fans that payroll depends on them. If you pay to see this slop they'll increase payroll.  They're a business. If the owners want people to come they have to invest THEIR money to give you the best product possible.  I'm a METS fan.  I've seen too many can't miss players fail at the ML level.  The Mets perpetually hype minor leaguers, trying to sell tickets today based on future players.  Meanwhile, a New York City payroll is around 75 million.  If anyone believes that the Wilpons will change from the new "normal" I have a bridge to sell you.  Nothing will change until there is new ownership.     

Joe Paulson
Joe Paulson

"the goal was to spend wildly after 2013"

It did not require them to "spend wildly" to get another piece. The team has a lot of holes, including in relief. I did not want them to "spend wildly." I DID expect them to do a bit more than they did. This strawman "spend wildly" business is b.s.

Mike Lee
Mike Lee

How many different ways can Cerrone say, "From what I can gather the Mets suck."

Bob Primosch
Bob Primosch

A lot of Mets fans don't want to accept the hard truth -- the Mets were in a near catastrophic financial state when Alderson took over, likely worse than what they were saying publicly.  Add the bad contracts and the atrocious farm system, and it becomes obvious that Selig installed Alderson to keep the whole thing from imploding until the finances stabilized.  I'm not apologizing for the Wilpons, but the reality is that 2014 was always going to be the "we won't be as terrible as we used to be" period (jury's still out on that, obviously). 2015 is really the turnaround year.

The whole thing is very frustrating, but no one should downplay the size of the trainwreck Alderson was handed when he arrived.

Frank Gerber
Frank Gerber

I have been a Mets fan my whole life, and while they won the 86 Series, was too young to remember anything but my dad's joyful reaction to the 9th inning of game 6. I have waited my whole life to see a similar moment, and while that didn't happen in 2000, I was extremely proud of that team. But honestly, what about the team made any of you think it was more than a 70 win team. Without Harvey's dominance, with no one at first, a ? in left, a garbage bullpen, and signing two players who are declining... what made anyone think this would be our year. The best thing for this team is to start trading some pitching for some major league players. With the WIlpon's refusing to spend any money, we have to collect up young talent and trade for bats. 

Phil Mancini
Phil Mancini

Yippee, in year 4 of the rebuilding process the first goal has been achieved letting contracts expire. 

flmetsfan
flmetsfan

I really appreciated reading you over the years Matt.  You have brought me reliable information about the Mets.  For the most part I really never thought that you made this blog as a house organ of the Mets and SNY.  There were times I disagreed with you in the past, but I never made anything personal.

However, I have to call you on this post.  It is the most apologetic steaming pile that has ever come off your keyboard.  At the end of last season, you yourself called out the Mets management.  During the early Spring, you were the one who posted that you were beginning to be disappointed with the lack of action taken by the front office.  Now, when it's time for you to drop the hammer, really express the disappointment of the fanbase, you give Alderson and the Brain Donor Trust a reprieve?  A stay of execution?

You have truly disappointed me.

ihatewlpns
ihatewlpns

I have my second wind. Lol.

Matt,

If you and the Wilpons want to see what a 90 win baseball team looks like then all you have to is look at the Nats

Psitching-

NATS-Strasbourg, Gonzalez, Zimmerman, Fister METS- Niese, Colon, Gee, Mejia and Wheeler

NATS Review- 2 number 1's, Zimmerman , whose a number 2 on most teams if not a 1 and fister, a solid #3-4k

Mets Review-Neise, Gee and Colon are 3-4 rotation pitchers on good teams while its hard t say where Wheeler OR Mejia (although personally, i think Wheeler will wind up being like Mike Pelfrey while i like Mejia ALOT)

NATS Lineup-

Span- 390 OBP

Harper-AS

Werth-AS

LaRoche-25/30 homers a year

Zimmerman- AS

Desmond-AS

Espinosa-great defense

Leon- filling in for Ramos , an AS

4-6 all stars

METS lineup

Young- steals

Murphy- 290 hitter

Wright- AS

Granderson-AS

Lagares-sick defense

D'srnaud-rookie

Tejada- did so well he got demoted last year

2 all stars AT BEST

BULLPEN- I'll make this quick by just saying the Nats have a lockdown 7-8-9 guy while the mets only have valverde who wAs cut

@mets41    that   wont    happen     only   way   harvey  leaves   if   he   finds

himself   in   robinson  cano   yankees   seattle   situation   where  he  feels  unloved

jjulian
jjulian

His allegiance is to his paycheck. How many years since this team was competitive? There's no guarantee that a bunch of unproven arms will make them winners.

Toby knows why this team won't win. He just can't say it.

Oleg Haskel
Oleg Haskel

@Joe Wenzel  He made the trades that he made in accumulating those arms. Wheeler and Syndergaard didn't "fall into his lap". He sought these guys out.

Bob Primosch
Bob Primosch

@ifti99 Or maybe this year's free agent crop was mediocre or hopelessly overpriced  (Ellsbury to name one) -- there were very few game changers out there.  It's a bad situation but you can't improve much in free agency if the players aren't there.

jjulian
jjulian

I went from season ticket holder to never attending a game. If the Wilpon's cared about the fans they would sell the team. Instead we get Their version of Pravda.

Bob Primosch
Bob Primosch

@51yearfan You are making a mountain out of a molehill -- it doesn't matter what Alderson said or did not say, no one who was paying attention seriously believed that the Mets would re-sign Reyes.  He's not a $120M player.

xplr
xplr

@51yearfan  Exactly right! We didn't spend in the last few years. We simply traded or allowed players to walk. We are content keeping our payroll low because Wilpon believes suckers will always come out to the game. 

cactus
cactus

@Bob Primosch when alderson took over this team had reyes, wright, beltran, dickey, santana, niese, murphy, pagan, ike davis the hottest 1B rookie around, and in the minors you had harvey, parnell, gee, thole, mejia, duda, fernando martinez, flores, familia, and tejada.

this is far, far, far, far, far from a trainwreck.  they had 1 single multi-year bad contract that was never movable while alderson was here and that was bay.


it's unfathomable to me that sandy alderson has been here for 4 years and he's made just one trade in an attempt to improve the major league team - trading pagan for torres and ramirez. other than that, he hasn't once attempted to sell high on a young player or prospect and only makes deals with his veterans if it's a home run. oh you want murphy? give us your prospect who is ranked in the top 10 of all MLB.


I don't care how much payroll you had to cut, how much jeff wilpon is breathing down your neck, or what the plan is (that cerrone re-calculates every couple of weeks)...there is NO EXCUSE that this team still stinks so badly 4 years later.

ken1010
ken1010

@Bob Primosch  2015? There is no turnaround year in sight given the position players on this team, and the lack of position players in the minors.

Bob Primosch
Bob Primosch

@Jimmy BX Check the total value of the Reyes/Beltran contracts they signed with other teams, then check your math.  You're saying that Alderson spent $150 million dollars on new players from 2011 to 2013?  If so, where did he get it?

Starz31
Starz31

@Jimmy BX  What they should have done was trade Reyes when his value was sky high right before that trade deadline (he was having a monster first half of the season). Beltran had huge questions marks at that time. I honestly didn't think he was going to be the same player again with that knee, certainly not as successful as he's been the past two years. And flipping him for Wheeler was not a bad move. 

Starz31
Starz31

@flmetsfan  I don't see that at all from this post. He's more explaining the reality of the situation than defending anyone. He still express frustration with how Sandy has built this team. I think you're extrapolating too much out of this post. It's one week into the season. Why should he be dropping the hammer? 

Brandon Christopher McNeely
Brandon Christopher McNeely

@Bob Primosch @ifti99Nelso Cruz was there . Steven Drew and Morales are there now. Kendry a switch hitter would be a legit clean up hitter on this team then Grandy can bat 6th where he belongs .  Aoki was traded for little. Siezemore looks like a better  signing than C Young! Please it is his job to improve the team  . I'd rather have had Byrd back than Grandy and then used the rest of the $ on Jose Abreu not to be confused with Bobby the washed up scrub Sandy actually did sign.

@Jimmy BX @brockl    Coming from an A's fan, Colon is awesome.  I was annoyed he left, but I am glad they got kazmir.

Starz31
Starz31

@brockl @Starz31  It's an interesting point. I like what he did his first few years in shedding salary and flipping Beltran for Wheeler and then trading Dickey for a TdA and Thor. I wish he traded Reyes when his value was sky high; they knew they weren't signing him so letting him walk for nothing was foolish and not in line with his other moves. I think they had to re-up Wright, I have no problem with that. 

It is bit odd that they've essentially rewarded Collins. I don't dislike him that much, but obviously the team has struggled under him. To his credit, Sandy never really gave him much help and I don't think a different manager would really make that much of a difference with the lack of talent that's here. 

I forget what article, but there was an interesting one this past week discussing Sandy's initiative to implement his "patient" hitting approach throughout the system. Taking more pitches, waiting for the right one, etc. but I just don't know how successful his can be. They acknowledge that K's will increase and I suppose they're trying to build around power in that if you get the right pitch a 3-run HR will make up for a lot of Ks, but you really need the right players to implement that system. I would prefer if they looked at the talent they have and molded their approach around those player's strengths, and not try and force the hitter into a specific style. It's an odd thing, although I suppose they're trying to weed out those players now. 

Also, the team has publicly recognized their need to increase their gate revenue yet they haven;t done anything to improve the team that will attract additional fans, and in turn, additional revenue. Everything sounds good on paper but they're just not following through. 


Starz31
Starz31

@brockl  Hey now, I did not say I disagreed with that thought. In fact, I said I do agree that the team is in dire financial conditions and that that can, and has, been proven.

I exaggerated my point in that some fans look to find some conspiracy in every move the GM makes as well as every post Matt writes. 

Starz31
Starz31

@brockl @Starz31  While I would like him to back-up that statement, I have no reason to believe that's false. I trust the blogger with sources inside the organization than tin-foil hat fans. 

Don't get me wrong, I don't doubt the team is in financial distress, that's obvious and can be proven. I just don't see any reason to always disagree with everything he has to say. 

Starz31
Starz31

@brockl @Starz31  I am trying to do both. I don't in every comment, but I have posted several today where I outline my own frustrations with the team. I am not a fan of the Granderson signing (he's always been a low avg, high K player with a game built around power that will only decline as he gets older). I don't like that the team did nothing to improve 1B and SS other than send players to an off-season conditioning camp. And I don't understand Terry's infatuation with Eric Young, who is a fourth OFer and should not be playing over Lagares (although that has temporarily not been the case). 


Starz31
Starz31

@brockl @Starz31  You're focusing on the wrong things. You shoudn't be attackin fans or Matt, you should be attacking ownership and the GM. I'm just trying to provide some explanation to the fans who don't understand the difference.