The roadmap ahead and options for the Mets

Matthew Cerrone, Lead Writer

I’ve heard from all sorts of people at the Winter Meetings — including people in media, people in baseball that have talked with the Mets, agents, and connected friends of friends — and here’s my best, educated guess on what Sandy Alderson is trying to do…

It sounds to me like he’s hustling to trade Ike Davis and/or Daniel Murphy. The goal is either to acquire an inexpensive shortstop or second baseman in the deal, or at least free up enough money where he can sign a meaningful shortstop on the open market. At the same time, I think he’d like to sign an established starting pitcher, as well as someone else on a lesser deal to compete for the fifth spot in the rotation. I guess if this can be accomplished in the deal with Davis or Murphy, great, but I don’t think anyone expects that to happen. I also think Alderson is trying to acquire a set-up man with the ability to close.

Investor-Psycology

I’m told the team’s ownership will support a slight increase in spending, but only if the deal makes sense for the long- and short-term good of the franchise. The front office, management and ownership all see eye to eye on not trading their top young pitchers, which I take to mean Zack Wheeler and Noah Syndergaard, among others.

I’m not going to speculate on the likelihood of specific players being acquired, but I now understand why we keep seeing rumors about Bronson Arroyo and Stephen Drew, as well Matt Joyce and Cliff Pennington, and now Dustin Ackley, Chris Perez and Mitchell Boggs, all of which are legit options, according to people familiar with the market. It also makes sense that we’d hear of Alderson asking for guys making the league minimum and not J.J. Hardy and others with a long-term contract.

“The Mets, like most teams, do not have one plan in place,” a person who has dealt with them this week told me on Tuesday. “The goal for these meetings, for every team, is to create options. This way, when a road opens up, even if it’s not perfect, as long as it gets you where you need to go, you have the opportunity to be better.”

It reads like the Mets may have options. The question is: will a road open before the hot stove season is over?




277 comments
kefhrny17
kefhrny17

Why are they wanting to trade Murphy? Anyone agree with trading him?

Broke Fred Wilpon
Broke Fred Wilpon

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – This is supposed to be the year Mets fans are finally liberated from the dark age, but good luck to anyone out there who actually believes it. There’s no realistic reason to think the Mets will be better in 2014, or that the much-expected cash windfall from the expiring commitments to Johan Santana and Jason Bay will ever make it to the open market.

In fact, as Curtis Granderson spoke about new beginnings during his news conference on Tuesday, the ceremony represented the end of the line for the Mets. With $15 million a year devoted to Granderson through 2017, GM Sandy Alderson hinted that the upgrade in center field was the winter’s last major move.


That means you can forget about a much-needed shortstop like Stephen Drew; the money just isn’t there. Instead, Ruben Tejada, the very player the Mets have been trashing recently, is being recycled as an everyday asset.

Of course, Jeff Wilpon won’t admit he can’t afford Drew, insisting shifting responsibility onto his general manager.


“It’s a baseball decision because Sandy hasn’t come to say ‘Gee, we have to sign Stephen Drew’ or anybody else for that matter,” Wilpon said after Granderson’s introduction at the Winter Meetings. “They’re looking at things on the whole. It’s not financial at this point.”


Wilpon may or may not realize how such statements dishearten – or, more accurately infuriate – the very fan base he’s trying to recapture. Nearly half of the fans who paid to watch the Mets five years ago are gone, as attendance has slipped from a record 4.04 million in 2008 to the 2.06 million suckers who showed up in 2013, believing a rebirth was right around the corner.


Instead, loyalists have been fed a steady diet of broken promises, starting with the day the Madoff scandal exploded and the Wilpons insisted the day-to-day operation of the ballclub would be unaffected. At every turn, there was a steady drizzle of false hope; in September, Alderson told reporters a $100 million deal for a free agent “was not out of question.” But the $60 million to Granderson, coupled with the $7.2 million to Chris Young, leaves approximately $11 million for the rest of winter. Anything more crashes into the hard-ceiling $85 million payroll for 2014.


It’s inconceivable that a major-market team, with a beautiful, relatively new stadium and its own regional network estimated to be worth $2 billion could only pay its players $85 million. It’s not just inconceivable, it’s unacceptable. Once again, Alderson is being forced to build the Mets on the cheap.


Lucky for the Wilpons that Bud Selig has such a soft spot in his heart for the family, and for Fred, in particular. The commissioner isn’t kind to his enemies – see what he did to Dodgers owner Frank McCourt and what he’s attempting to do to Alex Rodriguez — but an MLB official recently said Selig believes Fred is “doing great.”


Only, how? Admittedly, the off-season is still relatively young, and the Mets could, theoretically, engineer a surprise signing by opening day. But the more likely scenario is a handful of low-budget acquisitions like Freddy Garcia or Chris Perez, which means the Mets will struggle to match last year’s 74 wins.


Yes, Granderson is a nice addition, even if, given a full season to do it, he’s good for nearly 200 strikeouts with his 35-40 HRs. But Granderson, with a career .828 OPS, is unlikely to exceed Marlon Byrd’s .847 in 2013. One more thing to remember: the Mets won’t have Matt Harvey, which means they have to find his nine wins – and the unquantifiable dominance – somewhere else.


So swapping out Byrd for Granderson, subtracting Harvey and adding Young, who batted .200 last season, and you have the nucleus for another dismal summer. The difference, again, was supposed to be the money – until it was no longer there. Or perhaps never was.


The first whiff of trouble came in mid-November when Alderson said he was shocked – shocked – that the market was exploding. The Mets believed they had a shot at Jhonny Peralta, but that was before it was obvious the shortstop was out of their price range. Peralta signed a four-year, $53 million deal with the Cardinals and the Mets acted as if that was lunacy.


Alderson, one of the industry’s most respected executives, is too intelligent and certainly too shrewd to be caught off guard by the rising cost of signing a free agent. Then again, maybe Alderson realized all along he could never snare a hot commodity like Peralta, not when his bosses are still trying to recover from the Madoff fiasco.

Just what do the Wilpons’ finances look like today? They lost a whopping $70 million in 2011, although, by cutting overhead, limited their losses to $20 million in the last two seasons. Still, more than $600 million is still owed on a loan against SNY, due in 2015, and another $250 million loan taken against the team, due in 2014.


The family’s best hope is to re-finance the loans, based on the re-valuation of the franchise. The fact that the Dodgers were sold for $2 billion in 2012 inflated the Mets’ worth to $812 million, according to Forbes – an overnight boost of $100 million.

Yet, the Mets’ cost-cutting can last only so long. The banks will inevitably want to be repaid, and the Wilpons can’t keep borrowing against SNY forever. Sooner or later, they’re going to have to raise cash the old fashioned way – by drawing fans who’ll pay to see a winning team. And who knows when that will happen?

metsboy
metsboy

Road map = Save Money

Zach Ripple
Zach Ripple

Drew, Murphy, Wright, Granderson, Young, Davis/Duda, D'Arnaud, Lagares. That would cost the Mets NO players in trades at all- just some money and a draft pick. How in the world is that not the best solution? Let Flores develop more in the minors and play first base, and maybe he's the first baseman down the road for this team, or someone who can be packaged next offseason for a big bat in right field or at first base. 

MetsFan1962
MetsFan1962

Just read article on Mets not on Arroyo. It seems the Mets are not on any particular player wherein other teams are signing FAs and completing trades. Sandy, we want our upgrades and we want them now,

nym68
nym68

For anyone still holding out hope that the Mets will spend any real money just keep this thought in mind... Little Lord Jeffrey said right after the Grandy presser that he just got there. Now do you really think that he would've arrived long after everyone else if he was planning on having Sandy offer big money to anyone? You don't text your boss that you'd like to get a high priced free agent st the winter meetings... you knock on his hotel room door 

mattg
mattg

I don't see the point in giving up murphy when were looking for a bat. It's just creating another hole. If we're getting someone like Bundy then that's a different story but we're not.

AJF
AJF

The road the Mets are on right now is the same one they been on the last 3 yrs and that is a 70-78 win team unless they make some othet major move but I think they are finish with the off season

sach25
sach25

I think Sherman's article was over the top. I think Sandy and his staff are playing this offseason and crazy FA market just fine. What did Sherman or anybody expect this offseason? Sandy is all about prudence and just 1, 2 or 3 years max to a FA with Jeff not Sandy relenting on that 4th year to Granderson.

gothamsane
gothamsane

I am on the same page as Alderson:

Are you?

"No. 1, he brings a tremendous amount of professionalism," Alderson said. "He brings a personality. He brings credibility. He brinAgs experience. And he brings talent. I think all of those things will be important. I really like the mix of players we have character-wise, personality-wise. I think he will enhance that mix. He's a gregarious, infectious personality."

SA

nym68
nym68

The Mets have the only road map at the winter meetings with directions to Goodwill

gothamsane
gothamsane

@kefhrny17

His value is max, GMs think his work ethic will increase his offense, spark, better value in AL as super back up and part time DH..

His salary...

And he can not be counted on, fielding wise to be full time second baseman...

Buy low, sell high?

If he has an average year, his value may drop big?

I love this guy..

Overcame injuries, adversity, learned new positions, every team needs a guy like him to counsel young players coming off major injuries? 

gothamsane
gothamsane

@Broke Fred Wilpon

Winter Meetings discussion?

Blah, blah, blah...

100S OF POSTS!!

Have you considered picketing on 6th Ave behind the SNY Windows during broadcasts, handing out mini leaflets?

NY major market needs a deep pocketed owner...agreed...

We all the truth ad naseum...

WHAT ARE YOUR MOVES, RIGHT NOW?

IF YOU HAVE ZERO IDEAS..

PLEASE SPARE US YOUR POSTS...

How many times do we need to read them?

Telling the Wilpons / Katz to sell the 52% that is left,

 is an 90 IQ critical thinking decision.

Your IQ is much higher, true?

Winter Meetings discussion?

PLEASE?

Peter Buell
Peter Buell

I'm no financial genius, but why don't fred and sons sell the damn Networkto pay off the debts and then they can sell the new owners the rights to broadcast Mets games and get 100 million per year. Then they can increase the payroll and get back to running hey New York team

Gland1
Gland1

@nym68 So every owner is at the Winter Meetings?

Sam Choi
Sam Choi

@mattg Unfortunately, our lack of a leadoff hitter, precludes us from holding onto Murphy. Right now, E. Young Jr. is nothing but a 4th outfielder if Murphy is at 2B. Trading Murphy (or Ike/Lucas) for a SS, plugs 2 holes with one move.

Sam Choi
Sam Choi

@sach25 Then you're just as hopeless as this franchise is. If you think we're winning ballgames with players like Lagares, Tejada and Duda, then enjoy mediocrity.


Choo (or Cruz) no matter how expensive would instantly transform both the feel and production of this team.

Mike Schlitt
Mike Schlitt

Too bad good players win ball games, not good personalitys.

Bob Wolfe
Bob Wolfe

@ton Best comment of the entire article: Implicit in making the promise is you know you are going to hate the costs. If that is unacceptable: 1) don’t make the promises or 2) get out of the baseball business.

dumdeeduda
dumdeeduda

Interesting. I wonder if these guys read the stuff they write. It's hard to blame Alderson for not spending money he isn't empowered to spend. The owners have to be willing to do what it takes to put a quality product on the field. They aren't. I don't begrudge them profit, but if they can't make money and field a contender, they should stick to real estate.

gothamsane
gothamsane

Ok, put it out, what are the moves?

rf04
rf04

@ton Dude, you said yourself - it's early December. There is still money he MUST spend (or else he will be crucified), and he is looking to make deals. Also - the team lost it's ace to TJ surgery.


Wait for spring training at least to complain. Wait until they have a winning team to buy tickets. But don't go crazy about not signing Peralta as the sign of the apocalypse while we're barely into December.

kefhrny17
kefhrny17

We all know what EYJ brings to the table, and Largares brings remains to be seen... Murph is a solid bat, for the most part. Trading him just seems wrong, IMO.

Ziggy Jones
Ziggy Jones

@Young Ideas @tullydew i already hear the sarcasm, but even if he is just a fan, that's all the more reason to call them out. if he truly is a fan, he's either too stupid to realize what's going on and probably shouldn't be in charge of this blog (although i came to visit what was his blog) or he's a liar.


i don't want to badmouth the guy but seriously. all he does is repost the same stories and add one detail to the top, along with a time and a citation. and half the time, the citation is himself! you can't cite "just a fan" or else the info isn't credible and shouldn't be posted in the first place.


nothing directed at you personally, but cerrone literally avoids this b/c no one can do anything about it except email him directly. which won't show in the comments so it seems like a pointless exercise

nym68
nym68

@Gland1 @nym68 No.....but every owner/ person in charge of the team bankroll that would do what these imaginative amateur GM's think will get done would not just nonchalantly fly in after all of the fun begins. They'd be there with accountants in tow waving their wallets around

Zach Ripple
Zach Ripple

I think the Mets are going to trade Murphy and Ike to free up money, plug in EY and Duda/Satin for a minimal decrease in production at 1st and 2nd and then sign Drew to play shortstop. It's strange how Peralta was expected to be the cheaper SS option but it appears Drew is on the table, which is why I think wasting $12 million on Arroyo is foolish, especially since the Mets will have his replacement ready before the year is out.

mattg
mattg

@Sam Choi @mattg I think Montero and another prospect can get us a leadoff hitter. Murphys a great hitter he needs to stay, and if he has to he can play first base for us. Now that Arizona gave up a good pitcher they may want to trade for young pitching and give up one of their 4 short stops like Owings.

Zach Ripple
Zach Ripple

Lagares, in about 2/3 of a season, was worth 3.7 WAR according to baseball reference in 2013. People undervalue just how good his defense is. It's THAT good. Oh, and Cruz is a worthless player. Seriously, he is worth no more than about 2 WAR and is a terrible defender. Mets can win with two of those three players. They need to replace one, and the biggest improvement would be replacing Tejada, who would become the backup middle infielder and someone who isn't a terrible option if he is asked to play for about a month if there's a significant injury.

gothamsane
gothamsane

Young teams sign Grandy not Nelson.

The character is icing. Chemistry and heart are still key.

If Vladespin hit well they would get him a great NYC therapist and keep him. Agreed...

You just can't spend the time and courage to name a single FA to sign.

Even Kruk, said Choose was just a fourth and platoon OF on a solid contender.

Solid teams lock up talent before Free Agency.

Slim pickings and high risk contracts, losing picks.

Then you complain the farm is bare, too many non college picks.

A selfish GM wants to win ASAP.

When did Omar get restrictions on payroll?

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@rf04 @ton why would i wait til spring training? is ruben tejada going to suddenly not suck? are the mets going to add anyone substantive? actions speak louder than words. and the mets have said a lot fo them without a lot of action. sherman is spot on and probably too tactful. there is no reason to believe as the roster currently stands. am i to be a sucker and wait for yet another spring training? i can only asses them on the now, and the now blows so bad.


if "we" had one hole fine. we have a few gaping ones. and the wilpons 2 billion dollared valued team is afraid to overpay even though the market of their business dictates it. would you prefer the yankees approach or the mets approach? their success or "ours". they overpay all the time. they also entertain their fans.


i want my team back. anyone seen doubleday around?

pepper
pepper

@rf04 @ton year after year, Dudes like you permit this team to suck.

Gland1
Gland1

@nym68 @Gland1 Meh.  Sounds like you are making a big deal out of nothing.  He's here to work on trades.  If a FA somehow falls in their lap then Jeff gets in his private plane and is there in 3 hours.

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@gothamsane it's laughable kruk would say choo is a 4th OF on a contender. simply look at the post season teams this year, tell me choo wouldn't start on all of them? 

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@rf04 @Sam Choi @ton last year was the exception to the rule for the yankees. and even without a postseason, they still played meaningful games in september. i'm not saying sign every big name, but if they were even at the middle of the pack instead of what is shaping up to be the bottom third of the pack, that dough would allow them, as alderson loves to say, flexibility. 

if they spent say 115 million instead of 87 million, they would have more opportunities not only via FA, but via trade. this under 90 mil stuff is handicapping them. i know it's not how much you spend, rather who you spend it on", but the yankees have no issues with long term contracts. they get bad value individually on their backend of contracts, but they do generally win, and eat the mistakes they make without skipping much of a beat relatively speaking. and they do fill the stadium. check out where the mets finished in attendance last year, (21/30) in a NYC market. filling seats bring in money, money allows flexibility in acquiring talent, talent allows wins, wins allow good entertainment, good entertainment makes us happy. this treading water BS is absurd for this market. 


rf04
rf04

@Sam Choi @rf04 @ton So we should have signed them all? I am also sick of the same BS, but I prefer not to have $40 million spent on players who never take the field - like last year.


We're all frustrated at losing, hopefully Sandy makes some significant moves to help. Even the Yanks weren't able to just turn money into a playoff team last year.


I agree in that if we had a real payroll, we'd have more options - but it is what it is and it is cheap.

Sam Choi
Sam Choi

@rf04 @ton Ellsbury is gone. Peralta is gone. Beltran is gone. 


We needed MULTIPLE moves/improvements. As each high-profile FA signs with another team, we're left with insignificant acquisitions. 


We've seen it for the last 4 years. Don't blame the fans. They're tired of the same BS.

rf04
rf04

@ton I just meant that by spring training I expect moves will be made and the roster will look different. If not - then I am absolutely with you on hating this team. I just think it's too early to throw up our hands and say that Sandy blew it. Give him the chance to blow it first. And I don't blame you for not being optimistic that he won't.

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@rf04 @nym68 @pepper @ton it is not reasonable to expect a wilpon/alderson naysayers to list what they'd do. because we don't know what specifically is in play.  it is meaningless. we'd have to have the same communication opportunities as alderson to have an awareness of what we could potentially do. we can't blindly say 'this guy for this guy'. we as fans are flying blind. 

i can say, however, that i dislike that the mets are "not interested" in asdrubal cabrera, as metsblog states. i'd be highly interested. but without us fans fan having the opportunity to speak with antonetti, we are limited in our creativity and don't have the access that would allow us to list moves. reports indicated the indians are asking for a sky high price. but what price? cabrera has 1 year on his contract, what's the dialogue? maybe if i spoke with antonetti i could offer something that makes sense to me and him. i can't, we can't. all we know is alderson does not want to do it we don't know why.... i'd like to offer hart or morse a shot to play 1B, but again how much do we have to spend? i'd shop d'arnaud to see what people might offer. but too many variables are missing to just list moves. we should be players for cruz, but again the wilpons don't want to pay. mets need a SS, OF, and 1B but they have little $ to work with. also lets get backman up here already....i could go through every club and list guys i'd want and guess what teams need, but until i have that access card, how can i or any non connected fan begin list a deal to improve the team? give me the info i need and maybe i'd come up with something to improve the club. i don't have it. all i know is the mets are no better today than they were last year at this time. playing GM with specifics is not legit, but in philosophy it sure is different. 

Zach Ripple
Zach Ripple

You won't get a good shortstop for that. Seriously, Ike has next to no value, and Murphy is most valuable to the Mets. Although somehow he doesn't seem to have value despite finishing second in the NL in hits last year...

rf04
rf04

@Sam Choi @rf04 @nym68 @pepper @ton A) you know ownership won't just let that happen (unfortunately). Plus - either contract will look bad by the end of it (especially Choo who seems determined to get more years), so you don't want to tie up too much more of our available resources in another long term deal... we already have the end of Grandy's deal looming in 3 to 4 years.


B) they just might make that exact trade.


I just don't see a whole lot to bitch about yet - especially knowing where this ownership is willing to go with payroll.

Sam Choi
Sam Choi

@rf04 @nym68 @pepper @ton Sign Choo or Cruz. Trade one of Ike or Lucas and/or Murphy for a MAJOR LEAGUE shortstop (something we haven't had since they let Jose walk away).



nym68
nym68

@pepper @rf04 @ton pepper said it perfectly right there. If you continue to buy the bs, you best like the flavor. The rest of us prefer a change in menu