By Rich Coutinho
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Mets fans are upset and feeling sorry for themselves these days because the club has lost 10 of their last 11 games, falling 5 1/2 games behind in their chase for a playoff spot. And on a day in which the Yankees obtained Ichiro Suzuki and the Rangers finally brought a “Nash” to the Garden, the fan of New York’s National League baseball team feels left out and senses their season slipping away. They want their team to “trade for this” or “trade for that” in the hopes that that player will solve the problems the Mets are facing. Some have even criticized Sandy Alderson for not doing something, or anything.
First of all, Sandy Alderson’s resume is packed with successful seasons. He won three pennants and a World Championship during his tenure with the A’s and then won two division titles in back-to-back seasons with the San Diego Padres. He has operated as both a buyer and seller and has received maximum returns for his team when wearing either hat. He took the job knowing that payroll would be diminished and he was saddled with a plethora of “bad contracts” which limited his flexibility. He got the Mets off the hook for the K-Rod “silly option” that was sitting on his contract and he traded Carlos Beltran for a top 10 prospect. He chose Terry Collins whom I think everybody would agree was an outstanding hire.
More than that, he has a plan and deviating from it now would be silly and pointless. The farm system has vastly improved under his watch and by that I not only mean what he had added to the portfolio, but how his coaching team has made everyone down there better players. Has he made mistakes? Of course he has. For example, the bullpen reconstruction at the start of the year being a big blemish, but you also have to give him credit for picking up Scott Hairston and Chris Young who have contributed heavily to the team.
The last thing I would want the Mets to do right now is push the panic button and trade a prospect (even in the lower minor league levels) just to appease the fans as window dressing. The plan has always been try to win in 2012, but the future of this team in 2013 and beyond has always superseded winning now. That does not mean this team could rebound and get in the playoff conversation because many a team has erased a five game lead with over 60 games to play. Guys like Jordanny Valdespin, Ruben Tejada and Daniel Murphy have proven they belong here and will be part of a solution along with MVP candidate David Wright.
So that gets us back to the point of what to do at the trading deadline. In a nutshell, if Sandy can fortify his bullpen with deals that do not command high prospects, he will consider it provided that it does not involve taking on long-term contracts. Other than that, the Mets will stay put and I know that is not the popular course of action in the eyes of the fans, but that is why fans are fans. And I know that Sandy Alderson has proven he can build a winner. That is unquestionable. In his second year, this team has shown a marked improvement in many areas including the rotation. Offensively, this team scores runs without much speed and average power at best.
And there is more help on the way from the Mets’ minor league system that we haven’t seen in close to a decade. There may come a time when some of those pieces will be dealt for star power, but that time is not now. Right now, they are building something and the man in charge has a plan, one I feel will make the Mets a perennial playoff team in the coming years. Appeasing a fan base by obtaining and overpaying a player for this stretch is not part of that plan. Nor should it be.
Should Sandy Alderson and the Mets be focusing on the future, or on the current season? Be heard in the comments section below…