With Sandy Alderson absent from the GM meetings because of a medical procedure that is said to be nothing urgent but could not be postponed a few days for him to attend, assistant GM John Ricco is the face and voice of the franchise for the next few days, at least. It is getting off to a questionable start. He made a comment that eerily brings to mind the strategy of Steve Phillips after losing the 2000 World Series. If we remember correctly, 2001 was a less than successful season.
To recap, Phillips did not do much in that off-season. He replaced his ace, Mike Hampton, with the far inferior Kevin Appier. And that’s about it. He was hoping for a bounce-back year from Robin Ventura, who hit just .232 in 2000, as well as continued progress from such players as Jay Payton and Benny Agbayani. None of that happened and the Mets flopped.
Well, this is what Ricco said concerning the 2016 Mets, downplaying the probable loss of Yoenis Cespedes:
“But a full year of Travis (d’Arnaud), given what he did, and a full year of David (Wright) and some of the younger players, we’ve got to find a way to get back to a place we were after the trades and it wasn’t all Cespedes.”
Sounds like the Phillips plan, doesn’t it? Count on improvement and health from the current players. It did not work then, and while there’s no saying whether it might work now, it just does not seem like the most prudent way to enter a season that will have huge expectations.
The Mets need to upgrade the offense — Alderson said as much at his news conference last week before he passed out. The status quo just will not work, especially as the Mets lose two of their best hitters in Cespedes and Daniel Murphy. They must be replaced. And counting on the oft-injured d’Arnaud and Wright is not the way to go.
But it is very early in the off-season, and Alderson has now earned the benefit of our doubt. Let’s hope he is okay and can guide the Mets through the winter better than Steve Phillips all those years ago.