Keidel: Sandy Says Adios To Jose

By Jason Keidel
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Sandy Alderson, the soporific sophomore GM of the Mets, chatted with Mike Francesa this week, to put a postmortem on Jose Reyes’s career in the Big Apple and to sell New York on entertainment value of his 70-win team in 2012.

True to form, Alderson talked to Mike with all the mojo of a mortician.

Mike and Mets fans rightfully wonder what happened with Reyes, arguably the best homegrown Met since Darryl Strawberry.  Before MLB execs had a chance to charge pay-per-view movies to their Dallas suites, Reyes went from Met to Marlin without a word from the Wilpons.

Alderson used every vowel in his Harvard Law degree during his verbal tap-dance around Francesa’s questions. From the jump he spoke in a corporate cadence, hurling platitudes about new attitudes and how entertaining his Metropolitans will be, despite all the evidence that the Mets will, well, suck.

So Francesa asked the obvious question: What happened with Jose, Sandy?

“The things we talked about conceptually were no longer a possibility,” Alderson said. Seriously. “This was not something where we just sat and were prepared to be reactive,” he continued.

Then the Mets just sat and were reactive. “We had thought about this weeks earlier, what we might do, where we might go. And then felt that we were gonna have to sit and wait for the market to tell us if there was a window of opportunity to present something.”

Can someone translate?

“I sensed in the middle of last week there was such an opportunity,” Sandy concluded. “We moved on it. It turned out to be temporary, and then the market kinda accelerated away from us.”

It reminds me of the classic comedy, “Airplane,” where an old woman springs up and screams, “I speak Jive!” then she commenced to translate and mediate a debate between people who spoke in ways none of us could understand.

Now we need someone who speaks executive Jive. Despite the Marlins’ bizarre bump in payroll, Reyes was there for the Mets to take, and they passed. You mean to tell us the Mets have less money, and that New York is less palatable to Jose Reyes, than Miami?

Yes, the Mets made a perfunctory pursuit of Reyes, with a cheap, incentive-lathered contract offer. But who offers incentives to a homegrown All-Star, in his prime, fresh off hitting nearly .340? Perhaps it’s apropos that Reyes won said title on a bunt, then plucked himself from the game, making Ted Williams writhe in his grave.

Before you pound your apologetic responses under this column, I understand that Alderson inherited woefully run baseball club, and that his job is as much about cutting fat as gaining muscle. His pockets are only as deep as his owner’s.

This is not a gotcha game, or an oratory pop quiz. Alderson is an incredibly bright man. So something or someone is making him look silly. Judging by your reaction, it seems you’ve affixed the bull’s-eye to Fred Wilpon’s back. Wilpon is a convenient target, and perhaps the proper one. Between years of poor play and Bernie Madoff, the Wilpons have become the poster boys for questionable management, particularly now that the Frank McCourt reality show, the most public and pungent divorce in American history, no longer lingers over the Dodgers.

But lost in the gaseous explanations and excuses is the fact that the Mets charge major-league prices for a minor-league product. Frankly I don’t see how the Mets draw your dollars this season. About 2.4 million fans filed into Citi Field in 2011, a dreadful number for a team in a town that loves baseball above all. (The Yanks, by contrast, were in a virtual tie with the Phillies for first in MLB, totaling just below 3.7 million.)

Alderson’s answer? We’ll jettison the few players you paid to see (Reyes, Beltran, K-Rod, etc.) under the guise of getting younger and cheaper while gaining character. Sure, Beltran and K-Rod were aging, fading stars who would have been dumped soon, anyway. And K-Rod couldn’t ever recover from his fisticuffs in the Family Room, going Sonny Liston on his father-in-law.

But not Reyes. New York loved him and, by all accounts, the love was mutual. But it seems that abstract mantras like “sustainable business models” precluded a team with a gorgeous new ballpark and a cash-cow television network (SNY) that doubles as an ATM machine, from paying its best and most beloved player.

Francesa: “How do you promise your fans a better day?”

Alderson: “I believe, to some degree we succeeded in doing this last year.” Really? “We have to convince the fans that we have direction, a strategy…a vision of sustainable excellence. Are we contributing to a positive perception or contributing to a negative perception?”

Perhaps you, like the rest of us, were waiting for the part when he talks about winning instead of all this semantic subterfuge.

And wasn’t the price tag the big reason Reyes couldn’t be retained? During the summer, we heard lofty numbers: $160 million minimum. As a guy with electric but brittle legs, who too often darts out of the batter’s box, dashes down the line, then limps across first base, you understand why the Mets would refrain from making it rain on Reyes.

But the fact that the Mets couldn’t match $111 million means their interest in keeping the dynamic shortstop was tepid, at best. Again, that would be fine if they had Hanley Ramirez to replace him. Instead, you’re stuck with Ruben Tejada.

Alderson went on and on – and on – about sustainable business models, and how one can slash payroll and keep the team competitive and entertaining. But he never said anything about the playoffs. You don’t need him to go Rex Ryan on us and guarantee Super Bowls, but you’d like someone important (and Alderson is very important) to reflect your frustration. This is New York City, after all, and the owner across the East River from 1973 until 2010 lit a forest fire under his team when they didn’t win, and George Steinbrenner, for all his warts, did everything he could to win, even if his lust led him afoul of the law.

“Why didn’t the Mets trade Reyes if they had no intention to sign him after the season?” you ask. It’s a fair question and I don’t have the answer. I do know the Mets had to know that any offer south of $100 million guaranteed wouldn’t be seen as serious. So, yes, the

Mets should have traded Reyes.

Francesa: “Can the Mets fan expect a little Christmas cheer?” Mike said, alluding to possible procurements during the winter meetings.

Alderson: “Oh, I think well have some new editions. But they may be incremental…they may not provide any of the sizzle you described…”

That’s right, Sandy. We’ve been waiting decades for that incremental player. I can see the marquee now: “Hey, Mets fans! Come watch Johan Santana, David Wright, and your incremental Mets play the Padres. Tickets available now. Boy, are they ever available.”

Again, Alderson is intelligent, tough, talented, and far more accomplished than I’ll ever be, which makes his answers so maddening.

Unlike the most sordid sport of all, politics, you have no say in this. You can’t pick your owner, manager, or general manager. You don’t draft, develop, or trade players. At least you can express your displeasure at the ballot box when your congressman (or woman), state or U.S senator – heck, even your president – doesn’t perform to your satisfaction. With the Mets, you must just take it. And like it.

“You can’t bleed, bleed, bleed, and not, at some point, have a reckoning,” Alderson said.


Feel free to email me:

Do you have a beef with Alderson and the Mets? Air it out in the comments below…

  • Byron Mason

    I’m not letting Alderson off the hook so easily. You can’t tell me that NO ONE WAS WILLING TO MAKE A DEAL LAST YEAR FOR HIS KIND OF TALENT!!! HOW MUCH COULD A PROSPECT POSSIBLY COST!!!

    Its kinda obvious this was a fire sale type dumping of a marquee player. I never liked Reyes, never trusted him, but he was a true force in the league, and a great player. The long suffering Mets, and their fans, deserved to get something for him; anything for him.

    Jose was just “released” to try the free market, and he’ll be back to bite the Mets at least 18 games next season.

    Nice job Sandy.

    • Jonas A-K

      “I never liked Reyes, never trusted him.” What the heck does that even mean, dude? What kinda baseball fan says that?

      • Byron Mason

        I’m the kinda fan that wanted Reyes outta town immediately after we backed out of the playoffs,…twice. Reyes showed me that he could get us to the door, but not thru it. I’ve wanted this guy traded for at least the last 3 years. I would have settled for less talent at short stop, and more pitching, or more hitting from the outfielders, or what ever(fill in the blank, since we’re talking about the Mets).

        I’m not a (complete) hater: I always loved his skillz, but I always disliked the inconsistencies of his play. You could never question this guy’s talents, but you had to question his hustle.

        • Jonas A-K

          Why you’d question the hustle of a guy who hurts himself hustling is beyond me. Especially when he’s known throughout baseball as the most dynamic leadoff hitter in decades and stole almost 80 bases in ’07. You must be the only Mets fan alive who would blame Reyes for lack of postseason success. Most of us blame a guy named Carlos, or another guy named Carlos, or Omar. No one blames Reyes.

          • Jonas A-K

            (For the record, I don’t even blame any of them, except maybe Minaya for that horrendous contract he gave K-Rod, but that didn’t make things any worse for the already disastrous Mets. I’m not just a Mets fan, I’m a baseball fan.)

  • Kurt Spitzner

    The new name for the NY Mets owner should be Wilponzi,as he has taken the hearts,soul,and for him most importantly our money with promises of grandeur,but giving nothing more but just a show of force with nothing behind it!The only ones who got PAID were the players and the ownership,and we the PEOPLE of this side of NYC paid for it!DROP DEAD FRED IS RIGHT!

  • The Good Samaritan

    If anyone is to blame here it is the greedy Jose Reyes who only cared about money.

    It was the Ny Mets who got you in the United States and this is the way you pay them back.

    shame on you

    • Jonas A-K

      Yeah… you’re not a baseball fan, clearly. It’s awfully tough to sign with a team if they don’t offer you a contract. Reyes seemed a little uncomfortable in his introductory presser yesterday, stating multiple times that he would’ve loved to stay in New York, but they didn’t offer him anything, so what was he going to do?

      • JK

        Indeed, Jonas. Why would Reyes, an All-Star and newly minted batting champion, agree to $30 million in incentives (from his home club!) when a team he’s never played for would guarantee all of it?

        Alderson should just state the obvious: the Mets were never really in the market for Reyes, and they are in complete rebuilding mode. It’s got no sizzle, but Sandy isn’t sizzling right now.

  • Dave Koffer

    I can’t believe he’s gone……heartbroken…..absolutely devastated..

  • Ace V

    Im done with this team..beyond disgusted….this was the last straw that broke the camels back…I just wont follow baseball anymore.

    • JK

      Join the Evil Empire, Ace. We’ve got plenty of room. ;)

  • john

    I no longer am a Mets fan. letting Jose go was the last straw. Drop dead Wilpon.

    • JK

      Ouch! I guess Sandy can’t count on you to renew your ticket package. ;)

  • Kurt Spitzner

    The Wilpon’s continue to perpetrate the ultimate fraud,and although Alderson’s hand may have been tied,he still lied through his teeth like a common GED graduate when it came to the Mets ultimate aspirations as to whether they were really going to sign Reyes.And to make matters worse they kept him to bolster ticket sales last year and to try and get season ticket holders to re-up early when theres was no way they were going to even make a play for him.How many interviews did I hear and read where various people on the Mets said Jose was here for life if there was anything they could say or do about it.That was a blatant lie!
    The Wilpons have been taking advantage of fans from day one so why should anything change at this point?

    • JK

      If only anyone in the organization would be honest, Kurt. I understand Alderson gets his marching orders from ownership, but at least acknowledge what we all see: the Mets had fire sale last season and they didn’t sign Reyes because they don’t want to spend any more money. They are rebuilding, and thus they will suck this year.

  • VS

    PLEASE! Don’t blame Sandy Alderson for what happening! Are you people crazy? He’s everything wrong with happens with the Mets. He’s hired by the Wilpon’s as their PUPPET! Alderson is garbage! At least when Minaya was here, he made deals. Whether you agree with the players he brought is one thing. At least Minyaa made moves. Alderson’s job is to get players of the money freed up in the Beltran, K-Rod, Perez, Castillo and pay Free Agents to be put on the field in 2012. He hasn’t done that! Therefore, Alderson takes the blame! CASE CLOSED!

  • Jonas A-K

    Excellent article, Jason – especially for a Yankees fan ;) But seriously, as I’ve discussed with you, what hurts the most about Reyes leaving is the blatant lie that fans were told by Alderson and the rest of the front office regarding Reyes as the team’s “top priority.” What I don’t get is that the Mets didn’t want to spend the money on Reyes – and clearly this was more than just an issue of how long the contract was – but just yesterday they dedicated two years and $12 million to Frank Francisco (roughly $84 million in dog years). Reyes was no doubt the most electric player either New York team had seen since Doc Gooden. Being told that the Mets would do all they can to resign him, and then hearing the garbage spewed from Alderson’s face during that interview, I and all Mets fans can’t help but feel betrayed.

    I am a firm believer that Ruben Tejada will be more than adequate, especially on defense. The guy is the next Rey Ordonez, and I imagine that he can hit .270 over a full healthy season. Mets fans can’t expect one guy to replace Reyes, but if Ike Davis and Daniel Murphy come back healthy, David Wright can stop being such a baby and Lucas Duda can be 3/4 of what he appeared to be this year, there’s a good chance the Mets can do half decently in 2012 without Jose. It’s sad to hear Alderson have less faith in the team than I do, though.

  • Robert Richardson

    Interesting article JK. I care about only one thing when it comes to baseball, my beloved Yanks. Before anyone implies that I’m a band wagoner, let me say this love affair began in the last days of Mickey Mantle. I do remember being taunted by METS fans in 1969 and 1986 but that’s OK, you had your moment of glory lol! I have always desired a robust, competitive METS team. The reason being that it would make for a much more interesting baseball atmosphere in NYC, a throwback to the golden days  of  the sport. Quite frankly it sometimes gets boring hearing about your team ALL the time! My question is this; Why hasn’t there been any kind of commitment to excellence in the METS organization in a historical context? I welcome any enhancement to the dialogue in this town

    • JK

      I can’t leave comments, either, Robert. I will inquire. Sorry about this.

      • nycanes

        Its not you and I do realize this is technical and not personal. Just frustrating sometimes. I love everything about CBS and WFAN! I even got much love for you JK (in a manly sporting way!)

        Back to my question. Can’t believe they let Reyes go the way they did. Why do the METS suck and make historically feeble attempts to upgrade, to compete, to be relevant? (no offense METS fans)

  • srt

    His answers are only maddening if you’re blaming SA for the sad state the Mets finances are in. Expect more of the same until they sell. I don’t believe the Wilpons have a shot in hell of holding onto this team, seeing as revenues in 2012 are probably going to be worse than 2011.

    If Alderson’s payroll ceiling was even 10 MIL higher than the Wilpons set it at, they very possibly could have retained Reyes. But it is what it is. Time to stop shooting the messenger and assigning blame where it belongs: with the Wilpons.

    • JK

      You’re right, srt. We should never blame Sandy Alderson, general manager of the Mets for anything that happens to the Mets while Sandy Alderson is their general manager.

      Anything else you’d care to pin on Wilpon? Climate change? The recession? Unemployment? Iraq?

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