New York Mets: 4 Tricks to Developing a Long-Term Winner in Queens
New York Mets general manager Sandy Alderson knows how to win. His track record says so.
He served as the Oakland A's general manger from 1983 through 1997. During his time there, the A's made three consecutive World Series appearances from 1988-1990, winning one in 1989.
Alderson has been dubbed as the godfather of "Moneyball," which has been made famous by current Oakland general manager Billy Beane.
His model of the plan has not worked out in New York. Not yet, anyway.
Financial issues are holding the Mets back, and everyone knows that. But with the A's and the Baltimore Orioles both making the playoffs in 2012, it begs the question of why the Mets cannot do the same thing next season.
It might be time for Alderson to dust off his copy of "Moneyball" and refresh his memory to how to build a team. For that matter, he should give Beane a call and get some pointers.
That being said, here are some tricks the Mets could use in creating a contender not only for 2013 but for many seasons to come.
Trade Key Pieces for Assets
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The New York Mets hold options for David Wright and R.A. Dickey in 2013. While Alderson will be doing everything he can to ink both to contract extensions, he has to be ready to deal them if negotiations fall through.
It does not make any sense to just let them walk into free agency without receiving a return, but that is essentially what Alderson allowed Jose Reyes to do.
This trick has worked before, as the Mets somehow stole top prospect Zack Wheeler from the San Francisco Giants for Carlos Beltran, but Alderson's inability to be consistent in making deals is a concern.
If Wright and Dickey are not signed past 2013, get them out of town and get as much in return as possible.
Holding out hope that players will take a hometown discount is naive, and business just does not work that way anymore.
The Mets also have players that are out of position that could prove more valuable if they were put on the trade market.
Guys like Lucas Duda and Daniel Murphy are not ideal fits at their respective positions, and if Alderson receives offers for them, he should at the very least entertain them.
If agreements cannot be reached for decent minor league players, include these names in larger offers to entice interest in obtaining a bigger name in return.
The Mets have sacrificed defense to get these guys in the lineup, and it has hurt the overall product on the field.
Duda's power could be intriguing to a team with an open spot at first or DH. Murphy, while he has improved at second base, is better suited at first as well or in a super-utility role.
Find Low-Risk Relief Pitching
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The Mets got so engrossed in trying to fix the bullpen in 2012 that Alderson got just about anyone he could find. A lot of key factors were neglected, so it was no surprise that the bullpen was actually worse than previous seasons.
Okay, so Alderson likes to obtain as many arms as he can, but does that justify giving Frank Francisco two years for $12 million? How did Miguel Batista work out? Jon Rauch had a 4.85 ERA for the Toronto Blue Jays in 2011 before the Mets signed him.
The Mets need to start doing some homework before they go out and make these deals for relief pitching. Bullpens are fickle and are the most difficult things to build now in baseball. It cannot be taken lightly.
Alderson's approach may look aggressive, but really, it is quite passive. He looks for lightning in a bottle with every pitcher he brings in, and he'll most likely be doing the same thing again this offseason.
Not exactly a formula for winning baseball teams.
Just remember that for every Jason Isringhausen and Tim Byrdak, there is a Francisco, Batista, Ramon Ramirez, D.J. Carrasco...need this go on?
The best way to build a bullpen is to develop from within, and signs are pointing in that direction. But in the meantime, Alderson needs to find more of the sure thing, not a lottery ticket.
Get Some Athleticism in the Outfield
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Kevin Kernan of the New York Post suggested this idea, and it is difficult to argue with him.
Watching the Mets play defense in the outfield is enough to make anyone cringe.
When a team plays half their games at Citi Field, where the dimensions are very pitcher-friendly, the outfielders need to be able to cover a lot of ground.
Mike Baxter proved that on a historic night in June.
The departure of Angel Pagan in center field was another whiff by Alderson, and the defense suffered for that.
New York used a myriad of players in the outfield in 2012; no one seems to have job security in those positions.
Lucas Duda is just not a fit, to put it nicely, and his numbers back that up. Jason Bay will be lucky to get some pinch-hit appearances, let alone significant playing time for the Mets.
In terms of athleticism, Baxter, Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Jordany Valdespin may be their best current options for the outfield, which is not saying much. Valdespin is still learning the outfield, and hopefully his reps in winter ball help his development.
So unless the Mets completely overhaul the outfield in the offseason, expect more of the same from 2012.
Continue to Develop Young Pitching
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One thing the Mets and Alderson have done right is develop young pitching.
Matt Harvey did wonders last season in his rookie campaign and will look to build off his success.
Robert Carson, Josh Edgin, Jenrry Mejia and Jeurys Familia rose through the ranks and were able to make late-season contributions. While they may not make their marks in the starting rotation, all four may prove vital in fixing that bullpen that was mentioned before.
Top prospect Zack Wheeler is the icing on the cake. He is just waiting for the opportunity to make his mark, which should be sometime next summer.
One big thing from "Moneyball" that made Oakland successful but gets overlooked is the starting pitching.
Guys like Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder, Barry Zito, Dan Haren and Joe Blanton were the reasons why the concept worked.
Instead of having to parlay pitching, the Mets will hopefully have a little more financial stability soon to keep some of these guys long-term. Signing Jon Niese was a nice sign and a good start in having that stability.
At any rate, this should be a key for this organization moving forward, and compared with what else they have, the Mets and the young pitching are on track to making a winner in Queens sooner rather than later.