It was probably sometime in the winter following the 2011 season that Sandy Alderson circled 2014 on his calendar and decided that was the year the Mets would compete. He certainly was not crazy to think that, but obviously things did not work out as he had planned.
So I am going to take a venture into Sandy Alderson’s head and go back to that off-season and speculate what he might have been thinking, and why things went terribly, terribly wrong.
Man, 2011 sucked. Let’s be honest, so will 2012 and 2013. But if we can just get through these next two season, we will deliver a contender to our loyal, long-suffering fans come 2014.
Ike Davis was looking like an All-Star at first base before stupid David Wright ran into him and our even dumber medical staff made his ankle worse. There’s no reason to think he can’t just pick up where he left off. By 2014 he will be in is prime, hitting 30 home runs, driving in 100 runs and batting between .280 and .300. That’ll work.
Daniel Murphy, who did so well filling in for Davis at first, will just slide over to second. We know he will hit; we just have to hope and pray he can at least be mediocre in the field.
Over at short, Jose Reyes is gone. And I didn’t even make him an offer. Ha ha ha ha ha! No problem, we’ve got Ruben Tejada. He looked pretty good as a fill-in guy this season, and he’s only 21. By 2014 he will be one of the top shortstops in the game.
David Wright at third. Enough said.
Now to the outfield. We’ll put Lucas Duda in right. How good did he look this season — 10 homers, 50 RBIs, .292 batting average, .370 on-base percentage in just 100 games? He’s as sure a thing as I have ever seen in a power hitter. I’m certain that by 2014 he’ll be a 40+ homer guy and will definitely grow into being a competent outfielder.
The rest of the outfield is a little tricky. We’ll have to live with Jason Bay for the next two seasons in left. But when his contract is done in 2014, I can spend big on his replacement. I’m sure the Madoff problems will be over by then.
In center… I got nothing. Maybe I shouldn’t have traded Angel Pagan. But I feel good about Andres Torres and Ramon Ramirez. Who knows; maybe Torres will be star by 2014. If not, I’ll have to replace him, too. I’m sure I can do it — I’m a whiz at acquiring talent.
In any case, I might want to start writing some jokes about our outfield. Hmm, what outfield? Hey, there you go!
Catcher could be a problem. But Josh Thole can just flat-out hit.
Now to the pitching, which along with our powerhouse lineup will have us contending by 2014. This Matt Harvey kid pitched really well in his first minor league season. By 2014 he could be an ace. And what about my Zack Wheeler deal?! I told you I was a genius. He will be ready to go by 2014. They will join Jonathon Niese and Dillon Gee in the rotation. I think I’ll lock up Niese so he can front the rotation. And Gee just had a tremendous rookie year, winning 13 games. By 2014 he will be a solid number two. As far as a fifth starter, I can always get one somewhere. Hey, maybe R.A. Dickey will still be effective. He’s signed through 2013, so if he’s still good I’m sure he’ll stay.
I’ll build the bullpen on the fly like I usually do, which I do so well. But Bobby Parnell looks like he’s ready to be a closer next year and by 2014 he will be one of the best. And we still have Jenrry Mejia and Jeurys Familia to plug in somewhere.
Johan Santana’s contract will be off the books in 2014. That’ll give me plenty of money to spend to fill any holes. I’m sure the Madoff problems will be over by then.
Yup, young solid pitching and a sensational lineup — there will be no stopping us in 2014. I’m such a good general manager.
So what derailed Sandy Alderson’s master plan? Well, Ike Davis did not pick up where he left off. He did hit 32 home runs in 2012, but he also hit a miserable .227 and was far worse in 2013. He was traded in 2014.
Ruben Tejada did not mature into one of the top shortstops in the game. In fact, he has regressed to the point that he might be one of the worst. He is currently on the bench while the Mets get a look at Wilmer Flores.
David Wright and Daniel Murphy worked out as planned, although Wright seems to have lost his power.
In the outfield, it turns out Lucas Duda just could not play there. He could not hit, either. Now that Davis is gone, Duda is playing first full-time and has finally become the hitter Alderson envisioned. But can he keep it up?
Alderson was indeed able to replace Jason Bay’s salary with Curtis Granderson. Granderson struggled early and drew comparisons to Bay, but he has played much better as the season wears on. Still though, he has not hit as much as the Mets expected.
The Mets probably never expected Juan Lagares to emerge as the center fielder. But he has been a gift to Alderson and the Mets, becoming a decent hitter as well as one of the best defensive center fielders in the game.
Alderson thought Chris Young would be the final piece of the outfield, and that did not work out, and in spectacular fashion. Now left field is a patchwork of Eric Young, Eric Campbell and Matt den Dekker.
Alderson traded that fifth starter for Travis d’Arnaud, who just might be coming into his own.
On the mound, Matt Harvey did indeed become an ace, but he missed 2014 after Tommy John surgery, requiring the expenditure for Bartolo Colon. Zack Wheeler is still a work in progress. Jonathon Niese and Dillon Gee have both had injury problems and have not really progressed as Alderson had hoped. Jacob deGrom is another unexpected gift for Alderson.
Out in the bullpen, Bobby Parnell was ready to be a top closer until he too needed Tommy John surgery. Jenrry Mejia has filled in admirably as the closer and Jeurys Familia is a solid set-up man. The rest of the bullpen was indeed built on the fly, with Alderson finally getting it right this time.
And of course, the Madoff problems are not over, handcuffing Alderson’s budget.
Basically Sandy Alderson counted on everything going right, but in baseball as in life, that rarely happens. He likely knew some players would not progress as planned or would get injured; he probably did not think the problems would be this bad. The result is a 2014 Mets team that is not contending and has not gotten any better since the winter of 2011.
In any case, I want out of Sandy Alderson’s head. I don’t like it in there.