Category Archives: Sandy Alderson

PACKAGE HIM UP AND SEND HIM ON HIS WAY

All you really need to know about Matt Harvey is not the fact that he pitched eight credible inningsimages-32 for the Mets in the final game of the 2015 World Series (as the ace of any staff is expected to do)……..it’s the fact that he missed a mandatory TEAM workout the day before the Playoffs began. And the fact that neither the Mets organization or Harvey himself have publicly addressed the issue gives you a glimpse into the”play” on both sides.

Look, full disclosure here……..I’ve had a problem with Matt The Brat since he announced to the masses that he was the second coming of Derek Jeterimages-35 and his singular goal in life is to have as many girls as Jeter (whatever that’s supposed to mean). To make it worse, the New York media fell right into step snapping photos of him with a girl on each arm for Page Six for weeks on end. Continue reading

AMAZING NO MORE – THEY’RE JUST GOOD

photo_stengelIn the infancy of the New York Mets in 1962, Casey Stengel christened the team he managed as the “Amazing Mets”. And as only he could, he walked and clowned their way through one hundred losses that year. The city of New York could hardly care – National League Baseball was back!

Seven years later, the Mets would capture their first World Championship. Their next World Series title would not come for nearly two decades. What followed was a history most Met fans would like to forget. There was a ownership struggling with financial issues related to Bernie Madoff, ill fated and costly free agent signings, and general disarray along with ineptitude from the top down. When (Met fans rightfully asked) would they ever get it right?

Although he is locked away as a memory now, it was Omar Minaya, the team’s General Manager prior to current GM Sandy Alderson, who quietly began the process of signing images-38and cultivating a string of young and talented arms. Alderson followed up by refusing to deal any of these pitchers, even when the volume of dissent in the media was loudest. Similar to completing a jigsaw puzzle, Alderson brought the final pieces in giving the team the look and feel we see on the field today. Continue reading

THE METS CAME TO A FORK IN THE ROAD – AND THEY TOOK IT

There are several ways to win a Division Title. The Dodgers and Cardinals did it by pretty much leading wire to wire competing mainly against themselves. Another way is what the Rangers are doing to the Astros with their late surge “got you last” game of tag against a team that seemed destined to fade. The New York Mets did it the old fashioned way……grinding it out and always looking over their shoulders at the Nationals who were virtually everyone’s pre season pick to win – except they didn’t – the Mets did.

You may recall the torrid start to the season when they opened the eyes of many and perhaps even their own eyes. Hope was the buzzword back then as in “Hey, maybe we do have a pretty good team here”.images-17 That hope images-28turned downright nasty though in June when they lost seven in a row and dipped below .500. The swoon continued into July as scoring four runs in a game was considered an outburst while the young arms tried to hold the team together. This writer included pleaded with Sandy Alderson (right)  to make a move to get a big bat or two at the trading deadline. Meanwhile Terry Collins (left)  the Manager of the Year ( he should be) kept a cool confident air even though he must have been thinking to himself “S__t, this is my job on the line here”.

The rest is pretty much as they say (recent) history. Alderson did get the big bat in Cespedes (below) with minutes to spare while picking up two qualityimages-134 relievers in Tyler Clippard and Addison Reed. Along the way, he also solidified the bench with Ryan Franklin and Uribe. Andimages-9……….in perhaps the most important development David Wright (right), the Captain of the team came back with a home run in his first game and at bat. Suddenly, there was fresh air to breathe, The Mets came to a fork in the road and they not only took it (as their former Manager Yogi Berra said)  –  they seized it. They not only survived the long haul of a baseball season but they have emerged as a team knit tightly together and one with battle wounds to prove it. 

So now, the Mets have a little more than a week to prepare and repair their regulars (give Wright, Murphy, Granderson a blow), rest the bullpen and especially Familia, and get that all importantimages-1 starting rotation New York Mets Spring Training at their Minor League practice facility located within Tradition Field in Floridain order and ready for a all out attack throwing pitch counts and innings off the table. Matching (in order) DeGrom ( left), Syndegaard, Harvey (right), and Matz against Clayton Kershaw, Zach Greineke, and……let me see who else……….. leaves the Mets with a bit more than hope at this stage of the season. Don’t be surprised if you see Kershaw and Greinke in games four and five for that reason. It’s the crapshoot playoffs and it will be fun watching the Mets take the stage. Continue reading

THIS IS NOT A FAIRY TALE – THIS TEAM IS REAL

It was fifty-three years ago in 1962 when Casey Stengel, the Mets first manager, images-41labeled his hapless team as Amazin’. No one knows for sure but it must have been a adjective he chose carefully. Because it’s  a word that suggests something illusionary – something not real that belongs in the field of “magic”.

I mention that because last night in listening to the Mets announcers on SNY as the Amazins rallied to yet another victory over the Nationals, they couldn’t stop repeating “This is a fairy tale season” as Cespedes deposited another game winner in the left field seats. 

This is not magic and it’s not a fairy tale, folks. This is a solid ballclub doing what they have been built to do. General Manager Sandy Alderson made the right moves (at the right time) and Terry Collins applied the finishing touches with his Manager of the Year people skillsimages-17images-28 that formed a juggernaut of rising spirit that suggests in the clubhouse “Yes, we can do this”.  From there on each player takes responsibility for himself as a part of the team. If anything, that’s the only “magic” we are seeing. It’s called team building. You develop a strategy and then you implement it. In the Mets case, they put starting pitching as their first priority. Anyone doubt they have succeeded in doing that? And then they filled in the holes adding Tyler Clippard to the bullpen, bench players Uribe and Kelly Johnson ( both great clubhouse men), and finally a rental with power in Cespedes.

In sum, the Mets are everything the Nationals are not. Picked by virtually everyone to run away with the Division, they have floundered and flopped. And fans of the National’s know it better than anyone as only (a average of)  27,000 of them showed up for the series of the year with the Mets. They went for the gold in Scherzer, paid the price and lost because they lacked the all important strategy of team building. 

Finally, a disclaimer. I am a Yankees fan first and foremost. But beyond that, I am a fan of baseball. So when teams like the Mets and Astros rise to the top – like the Royals last year – it gives me pause to notice, appreciate, and watch what they are doing and how they are doing it. It’s simply baseball at its best.

“MATT THE BRAT” – A BIG PAIN IN THE METS BRASS

Already at the young age of 26, Matt (“The Brat”) Harvey is at a critical turning point in his career not only with the Mets, but in New York City as well. What has unfolded over the last week and continues to confuse and alarm Metland moving forward towards the Playoffs leaves everyone gasping for breath and thinking…..”You can’t make this stuff up”.

Here’s a quick recap. Throughout all of the previous year while he was recovering from Tommy John surgery, Harvey hounded and cajoled the Mets to pitch in Septemberimages-28,images-17 well before the normal recovery time. They wisely refused telling him in so many words….”Shut up and do your work”. This year in the beginning of Spring Training, the Mets brass (GM Sandy Alderson and field manager Terry Collins) got together and came up with a soft number of 180-185 innings for Harvey to pitch before they would turn their stallion stud loose next year.

Then as the Mets playoff possibilities emerged, they decided to skip one or two of his starts to save the innings for October. Harvey balks loudly in the media saying repeatedly “I am ready to pitch not only now but in October and beyond”. Later (much later) he recants agreeing to go along with a six man rotation the Mets can easily afford. So far so good, right? The man’s a bulldog and just what is needed in a Ace.

Not so fast. This week, his agent Scott Boras (the Donald Trump of player agents) comes out swinging and says that Harvey (based on his surgeon’s images-44recommendations) images-35will only pitch 180 innings this year. With 162 already in the books, this leaves open the chance that Harvey will start only three more games ending his season before October even begins. For his part, Harvey announced in a crowded dugout press conference that he is inclined to agree and shut himself down to protect the future of his career (read $$$).

Now mind you, this is the same Matt (The Brat) Harvey who seized every opportunity in the two years prior to this latest episode to thrust himself into the New York media spotlight (the photos above speak for themselves) saying at one point – paraphrasing – “My goal in life is to have more girls than Jeter”.  Say what?

For a time, this was all entertaining and it reinforced his persona as the big man in town, something the Mets sorely needed as they fight for space on the back page with the Yankees. But  first of all, Harvey can’t (and will never) even hold Derek Jeter’s jockstrap on or off the field in New York. Secondly, his career won-lost record in the Majors is a rather pedestrian 24-17. And he’s won the same number of games this year as 42 year old Bartolo Colon………

What the Mets should do (and they shouldn’t wait) is say “Okay big boy (emphasis on boy) , we agree with you……….180 is your limit this year and after that WE shut YOU down!” After all, it’s not like they are hurting for starting pitching. Plus, this would actually solve the problem of whom to move to the bullpen for the playoffs. DeGrom, Syndegaard, Colon/Niese, and Matz sounds more than good enough for me………..in October and beyond. Continue reading

How Far Will The Mets Young Staff Take Them……..

The mantra we hear so often from managers, coaches, and general managers is Pitching, Pitching, Pitching. You can never have enough of it……..and so it goes. The trouble is that pitchers seldom score runs that you need to win games. And therein lies the problem with the Mets rebuilding strategy to date. No matter how few runs their pitchers allow, it hardly matters if the team rarely scores more than that. 

So while the Mets front office  (actually all the credit should be given to Omar Minaya and not Sandy Alderson) has  done a superb job of signing talented young arms and Met fans have staggered through five years of rebuilding pain – images-1and while three of the five (Harvey, Matz, and Wheeler) have been literally in pain with arm surgeries…….we have to wonder now if their strategy of rebuilding with pitching is going to work over the long haul of a season….and even beyond as these young thoroughbreds work their way towards free agency during their prime.

So where (and when!) will Simages-2andy Alderson get the bats this team desperately needs? He signed Curtis Granderson to a $80 million contract and although he’s one of nicest men in baseball with his commitment to charity in the N.Y. area – he hasn’t hit a lick plus he’s 35 years old. Same with Michael Cuddeyer. Travis D’naurd?…….there’s a reason why Toronto traded him…..he can’t stay on the field and he’s proving it right now. And then, there’s David Wright who turned into a singles hitter overnight while Alderson keeps pretending that he’ll be back in the lineup soon. This is why Met fans have a right to be downright angry.

Meanwhile, in Chicagoimages-3 a GM has taken a different approach to rebuilding the hapless Cubs. Jed Hoyer is amassing position players like slugger Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Soler, with more bats on the way. But except for the signing of John Lester – who may take forever to adjust to the National League – he’s pretty much ignored the pitching side of things.

Which strategy will ultimately work? My thinking is neither will work. What works is a balance between hitting and pitching. To understand this, look no further than the epitome of how a organization and team should (and can!) be constructed………the St. Louis Cardinals. Their team has a balance to it and the front office works hard to keep it that way. It’s easy to stack up one way or the other like the Mets and Cubbies have done. Now, we’ll see if they can dig their way out of the hole they’ve created for themselves. I guess one way to do it would be to engage in a slew of trades between themselves……………..