I delayed writing this post until Sandy Alderson was done building the 2011 Mets. Based on his comments at a news conference (huh?!) Wednesday to introduce Chin-lung Hu (really?!) to a salivating press corps, he apparently is:
“We’re pretty much there, I think. It’s possible that something will pop up, but right now we’re at about 55, 56 players in camp. We don’t want to get beyond 60. I would say we’re just about at our max. I think we’re about ready to go. Again, something could pop up, but right now I don’t expect anything to happen.”
So this is the team. In a Blogging Mets poll last month, 66% of you said you were disappointed in the Mets off-season. I concur.
In the final months of Omar Minaya’s reign of terror, I wrote several times of the need for the next general manager to be “creative.” I chose that word deliberately. I understand the Mets payroll and roster limitations. It wasn’t going to be easy to improve the team this year, hence the need for some creative wheelings and dealings. Instead, Alderson (left, with his two “highly regarded” lieutenants) chose the non-creative route and decided to stand pat.
Now, whether he made that decision himself or if the decision was made for him by other teams having no interest in the Mets assets is unknown. I suspect Alderson wanted a season to assess what he has before making any rash decisions.
That is a very responsible, cautious way to go. But it’s obvious this team does not have enough starting pitching, not just this season but moving forward into the future. Does he really need a season to see that?
Why couldn’t the Mets have been players for Cliff Lee? Granted, as things shook out, it was clear he left his heart in Philadelphia and he wouldn’t have signed here. But to dismiss him outright as too expensive was a mistake. The Mets famously have $60 million coming off the books after 2011; Lee would have been easily affordable by giving him a low salary this season, then back-loading the deal. Instead, Alderson took a pass.
“Creative” would have been taking a chance and trading prospects for established players who can help this year and in future years, perhaps even including Angel Pagan in such a deal. As I’ve written in the past, Pagan had a great season, but I’m not sure he’s going to be able to repeat it. His value has never been higher, and may never reach this peak again (I’d be very happy to be wrong about this).
Instead, Alderson did nothing. If the Mets perform poorly this season, Alderson will learn first-hand how impatient Mets fans can be. Or maybe everyone is wrong. Maybe the Mets will play like the contenders they were in the first half of the 2010 season before the roof caved in. Either way, Alderson said he is happy with his team.
“Actually, I feel pretty good about it. We’ve been able to address all of our needs. Hopefully we’ve addressed those needs well. We’re going to find out in spring training and early in the season. But given what latitude we have, I’m actually happy with what we have. I think we’ve maximized our resources and I’m happy with what we have going into spring training.”