Here’s the thing about Sandy Alderson — he does not say or do anything without giving it a great amount of thought. There is a message behind everything he says, which is why what he said in a recent interview does not bode well for the Mets in 2014.
“There’s no question long-term contracts carry risk, and right about the time you’re clearing payroll you can wind up right back where you started if it doesn’t work out,” Alderson told Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. “On the other hand, you have some times where you have to roll the dice. I certainly haven’t ruled out a big-ticket item.”
Is Alderson laying the groundwork for another winter in which he does not dole out a contract to a major free agent? Will he say it was not time to “roll the dice” or that the right players were not there for the picking? This statement only reiterates Alderson’s wariness of “second generation contracts,” as he likes to call them. Why bother saying it again unless he’s trying to send some sort of message?
More disturbing is a paragraph Heyman wrote:
The Mets expect to have their first-base answer in-house, between Ike Davis, Lucas Duda and Josh Satin, and will pencil in Travis d’Arnaud at catcher, Daniel Murphy at second base and Lagares in center… With David Wright back at third base, that will leave shortstop and the outfield corners as the main areas for import.
Now, considering Heyman spoke to Alderson, where do you think he got these assumptions? Obviously Alderson told him. That means we can expect pretty much the same team in 2014 that underachieved this season. I mean, Davis, Duda or Satin at first? They are all terrible options. It is time to move on from all of them (especially Duda), but it does not appear that will be the case.
If Alderson does indeed intend to get new corner outfielders (which he was supposed to do last off-season as well) and he does not want to give out any big contracts, whom does he expect to land? Will he get lucky again with two Marlon Byrds, or end up with two Collin Cowgills?
The article says the Mets seem intrigued by the Red Sox model from last off-season in which they brought in several “mid-range” free agents instead of signing big names, like they used to do. It worked — Boston has the best record in baseball.
It is not a terrible idea, but you have to be careful to pick the right mid-range guys. And that’s where the Mets have a problem. Alderson has shown time and time again that he can only pick the wrong players. His player evaluation skills have been dubious, at best, so I don’t think he can be trusted to pick the right guys.
Here’s what I predict will happen, in part based on Alderson’s comments; the Mets payroll — which has gone from $142 million in 2011 to $94 million in 2012 to $93 million in 2013 — will be even lower in 2014, perhaps as low as $80 million. Alderson will say that there was no one out there worth spending money on, and the Wilpons will say that 2013 revenues will not support raising the payroll. As I’ve said in the past about various Mets issues, I really hope I am wrong about this. Unfortunately, I have been right almost every time I have said that.