By Brad Kallet, WFAN.com
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It’s time to put up or shut up, Sandy.
For what feels like a lifetime, Mets fans have been hearing that THIS is the offseason. THIS is when it will all change. 2014 will be the year that the Mets FINALLY field a team that can contend.
You’re up, Mr. Alderson.
For the record, I’m an Alderson supporter. I think he’s an incredibly knowledgable and diligent baseball man, and I’m of the opinion that his plan to rebuild this forlorn franchise has been appropriately calculated and methodical.
Yes, he’s made some good moves and bad — see Marlon Byrd and Frank Francisco, respectively — but we all know that he’s been limited in his ability to make significant personnel improvements. It doesn’t take John Nash or Albert Einstein to know that the GM has been burdened by financial constraints.
But now over $50 million is coming off the books — so long, farewell, Johan Santana — and for the first time since he was hired following the 2010 season, he has resources and flexibility.
“We’re gonna be aggressive,” the GM told WFAN host Mike Francesa on Monday. “We’re gonna play the market, see what’s there. I think an important thing to keep in mind is that we’ve gone through the last three years trying to clear payroll, trying to acquire and develop talent and win games without sacrificing the longer-term view.
“I think now we’re entering a new phase where the short-term becomes somewhat more important than the long-term. And that’s how we’re going to go at it.”
We’ve heard quotes like this before. I was excited when I heard them then, and I’m excited when I hear them now. But the pressure is officially on. Following five consecutive losing seasons, this fan base desperately needs to see results.
The pitching staff — with or without Matt Harvey, but preferably with — should be excellent next season. And the farm is stocked with good, young arms. What Alderson needs to urgently address is the offense. As it currently stand, the Mets have two — count ’em, two — legitimate major league hitters. Of course there’s David Wright, who is a perennial All-Star, and Daniel Murphy, who has developed into an above average major-league hitter. Murphy quietly put up a terrific season for New York in 2013, and the fact that he’s a second baseman gives him added value.
The hope is that Travis d’Arnaud is the answer at catcher, and there’s plenty to suggest that he will be despite the fact that he didn’t light the world on fire during his month-and-a-half cup of coffee.
So yes, a major overhaul is in order. It’s been well-documented that Alderson takes a conservative approach when it comes to handing out long-term contracts, and that’s a good thing. But he has to get out of his comfort zone a bit this winter, even if it means overpaying.
Let’s face it — what big-name free agent isn’t overpaid these days? It’s an inevitability in today’s game, and the general manager has to flat-out outbid the competition for the services of accomplished major leaguers.
He also has to do it quickly. Sure, he has to let the market play out, but he can’t wait until mid-January to pull the trigger. At that point, the pickings will be too slim. Alderson has to make a splash quickly, and he needs to be all in. Not “we’re saying that we’re all in to appease the fans” all in, but really ALL IN.
Adding Robinson Cano is unrealistic. He’s already said to have asked for roughly $300 million, and is sure to bring home an inordinate amount of money over a lot of years.
But the Mets need power. And speed. And consistency.
So Alderson should go hard after outfielders Shin-Soo Choo and Jacoby Ellsbury. He should take a close look at Cuban first baseman Jose Dariel Abreu. He should inquire about Nelson Cruz, who is coming off a 50-game suspension, and see if the power hitter can be had on the cheap.
And he needs to explore trades for impact players such as Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez, even if it means having to part with top pitching prospect Noah Syndergaard.
No team could afford all of these players — maybe the Dodgers could, or the Yankees in their free-spending prime — but that’s a given. The point is that Alderson finally, at long last, has money to play with. And he can’t just pin all of his hopes on one or two players. He needs to go after all of them, and ultimately bring one — hopefully two — All-Stars to Flushing.
The time is now.
Put up or shut up, Sandy.
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