So what grade should New York Mets general manager Sandy Alderson receive this year?
The Mets seem to be pointed in the right direction, building their future around a promising starting rotation. A lot of air went out of New York's balloon due to Matt Harvey's elbow injury in August, but there is still guarded optimism moving forward.
Alderson has had a lot to deal with this season, but can be judged for the most part on three major developments since the start of spring training. Let's take a closer look at those developments and what his overall grade is now that the 2013 campaign is winding down.
1. Signing Marlon Byrd to a minor league contract (Grade: A)
This was one of the best signings of the entire MLB season. It really was.
Alderson inked the 35-year-old outfielder to a minor league pact in spring training with the opportunity to win a spot on New York's 25-man roster.
Wow, did Byrd take advantage of the opportunity. Before he was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates on Aug. 28, the 12-year veteran was leading the Mets in home runs (21), RBI (71) and ranked fifth in the National League in slugging percentage (.518).
Not only that, but Byrd also played very well in right field. He showed decent range and a strong arm—he had five outfield assists—and his veteran leadership was certainly welcome in New York's clubhouse.
It easily turned out to be Alderson's best move of 2013.
2. Demoting Ike Davis to Triple-A Las Vegas in June (Grade: D)
Simply put, Alderson waited too long to send down New York's struggling starting first baseman on June 10. He should have made the move several weeks earlier.
At the time of his demotion, Davis was like the doomed ship, The Titanic—he had hit the iceberg already and was sinking fast.
Davis was hitting a feeble .147 on May 22 after a 7-4 home loss to the Cincinnati Reds. That is well below the dreaded Mendoza Line, and Alderson should have pulled the plug at that point and sent the Arizona State product to Las Vegas to get his act together. Davis looked completely lost at the plate.
May 23rd was the day that Alderson should have acted decisively and sent Davis down to the farm. He needed that extra time to regain his stroke and confidence. Why wait? Davis was killing many a Mets rally, time and time again.
Much too late.
3. Promoting Zack Wheeler in mid-June (Grade: B)
Alderson showed fine patience by waiting to call up the Smyrna, Georgia native until June 18 in Atlanta.
The lanky right-hander needed to work on his command issues in Las Vegas before being summoned up to the parent club. He was walking batters at a high rate, including issuing six base on balls to Sacramento on April 19.
Wheeler walked nine batters in his first two Triple-A starts this season. He finally settled down and used his time in the desert well to address his control issues. Wheeler concluded his season in Las Vegas by walking just four batters over his last three contests and finished with a respectable 1.28 WHIP before he was promoted to the Mets.
Alderson certainly could have called up Wheeler much sooner than he did, but resisted the temptation in order to have Wheeler gain more seasoning.
That patience has certainly paid off handsomely.
Alderson's Overall Grade: B-
Alderson has the Mets headed in the right direction, but needs to sign some viable free agents over the winter to boost New York's anemic offensive attack. If he does not address that issue, his stay in New York will be short-lived starting in 2014. Mets fans are sick of losing. That has to change.