I am going to admit this early so you don’t accuse me of forgetting: I’ve been a regular at the “Everyone Dump On The Mets” table for some time now.
Can you blame me? They’ve given me nothing but good reason since I’ve been old enough to understand what baseball is. The Bobby Bonilla contract, trading Scott Kazmir before he became an All-Star, over-spending for free agent after free agent. Take your pick of boneheaded decisions and the Mets ran the gamut of them. Plus I’m from Georgia so growing up a Braves fan it was always fun to see the Mets try to outsmart us by trading a pitcher like Kevin Appier for Mo Vaughn and finish last in the division while the Braves trotted out (then) 43 year-old Julio Franco.
The Mets also needed to save face in operations as they were also dogged by the Bernie Madoff situation. As outlined by Deadspin, a lot of the decisions Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz made were based on the maneuvering of money in the Madoff ponzi scheme. With those moves, the trail of what some claim is dirty money, and season-after-season of futility the Mets needed a home run move that would save them face both on the field and in the front office.
Enter Sandy Alderson.
I knew it was only a matter of time before the laughing would stop. Once they announced that Alderson was the new man in charge of getting the Mets’ back on track I started counting the days before this team began to have whispers of relevancy. Alderson’s academic bio (Dartmouth bachelors, J.D. from Harvard) reads like one you would find on a university website. His baseball resume is just as impressive; he’s won everywhere he’s been, and when you consider his stops that wasn’t an easy thing to do. He won a World Series in 1989 with the A’s and was one of the central figures in baseball analytics (“Moneyball”) being put into practice in baseball front offices. In five years as the CEO in San Diego the club won two NL West titles. So I knew once he stepped foot in Queens it was only a matter of time before his next project started showing results.
The moves are a roll call of smart decisions: He turned Carlos Beltran into future staff co-anchor Zach Wheeler to go along with 2010 first-round pick Matt Harvey. He turned 2012 National League Cy Young award winner R.A. Dickey into another future Ace (Noah Syndergaard) and developing catcher Travis d’Arnaud. He signed David Wright to an extension (eight-years, $138 million) that pretty much guarantees the franchise face will remain that until his playing days are over. This past offseason he brought Curtis Granderson over from the Bronx and will pair him with Juan Lagares in an outfield that last season “featured” warm bodies that aren’t there anymore. The Mets have gone from punchless and defensively challenged to a good mix of power and speed.
These are moves are a sign that there is life in Queens; evidenced by the recent rumblings by both David Wright and Alderson that this team can win 90 games in 2014. I wouldn’t put them in the 90-win neighborhood until they quit running Ruben Tejada out to shortstop and Ike Davis shows consistency at the plate. Those two players will keep this team as fringe .500 before discussing the development of their pitching and barring any injuries. Had Matt Harvey not injured his elbow I would have had no problem declaring the Mets a “Team To Watch” in 2014. As currently built I would (and probably will) have no problem putting them comfortably ahead of the Phillies for third in the East again.
Sandy Alderson is doing with the Mets what he normally does in tough front office situations: building them the right way and preying on the needs of “win now” contenders. The Mets are headed in the right direction and it won’t be long before they leap-frog into the playoff conversation.
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