By Brad Kallet, WFAN.com
» More Columns
The Wilpons, as far as we know, have no intention of selling the Mets.
So the next-best thing has to happen: Sandy Alderson must go.
That’s right. After the season, after the Mets miss the playoffs — yes, they’re still in it, but come on — the “Baseball Maverick” has to be relieved of his duties as general manager.
The ineptitude and the incompetence have reached new heights. The future is now, and Alderson is just watching it go by.
He’s had his chance, and enough is enough. No more leeway. No more waiting. No more long-winded raps about how there’s no reason to panic and a plan is in place, that everything will be fine.
The bottom line is that the Mets have the best young pitching staff in the league, and they are wasting it. Completely wasting it. With at least two-thirds of the offenses in baseball, this club would be a World Series contender. Give me the Reds’ offense. Give me the Brewers’ offense. Give me the Pirates’ offense. Any of those and you’re looking at late October baseball.
The issue plaguing this club is so unbelievably clear. Get a hitter or two and this team is one of the best in the majors. It’s not rocket science. Certainly a revolutionary executive such as Alderson should comprehend that.
Now I know that the bigger issue is the Wilpons. Either they don’t have the money or they’re unwilling to spend. Regardless of the real reason, they’re making Alderson’s job very difficult. But his job is to make do with limited resources. Don’t have a ton of cash to burn? Pull off one of those signature trades you’re known — or were once known — for making. Sign some under-the-radar players. Make a shrewd move. Do SOMETHING. It’s actually painful to watch this brilliant pitching night after night. Rather, it’s infuriating. I almost wish New York didn’t have the pitching, because the fact that the Mets are so close makes it that much more aggravating.
Wasn’t the losing far easier to accept in the early- to mid-2000s when they spent money and just stunk? At least they were trying. That I could live with.
Don’t get me wrong here. I respect Alderson’s patience and I’m not suggesting that he should trade one of Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, Steven Matz and Noah Syndergaard for an aging, past-his-prime player. One thing about Alderson that Mets fans have come to realize is that the GM will protect his young talent like his own children. That’s a good quality. What he won’t do, however, is take risks. Sometimes — especially when a team has many of the pieces in place — risks need to be taken.
I’m not going to get into who I think the Mets should go after. Many will criticize me for that and call it a cop-out, but it’s not. It’s not my job — or any other fan’s or media member’s — to come up with solutions. It’s Sandy’s. That’s why he makes millions of dollars. Figure it out.
And before you say that there’s nothing he can do, that there’s no market, get back to me after the July 31 trade deadline. You know what will happen. Numerous contending clubs will have acquired productive players — many of whom were not thought to be on the block — to improve their chances, and Sandy will have done nothing.
A rebuild should not take this long. It just shouldn’t. The Mets have had six consecutive losing seasons, and a seventh could very well be on the way. Four of those losing seasons have been under Alderson.
I’ll freely admit that I have been a Sandy supporter for a long time. I was frustrated, yes, but I blamed it mostly on the Wilpons. I trusted that Alderson, so well-regarded in the game, knew exactly what he was doing. I trusted that he really did have a plan. I trusted that he would wait in the weeds until it was time to make a splash, and then he’d pounce.
My tune has gradually changed, and over the past few months I’ve done a complete 180. I no longer have faith in this man.
Look at the Astros. They’ve rebuilt quicker than the Mets. Look at the Cubs. They’ve rebuilt quicker than the Mets. Why is this taking so long?!
And please don’t talk to be about sustainable success. These pitchers are more likely going to get worse than get better. That’s the reality of the game. Undergoing Tommy John surgery is almost as common as having breakfast these days, and the odds of Harvey-Matz-Syndergaard-deGrom-Wheeler dominating — and doing so in orange and blue — for the next 12 to 15 years are slim to none. You can’t count on one-run outings every night for the next decade. Strike while the iron is hot. As we saw after 2006, nothing is guaranteed.
According to ESPN.com, the Mets currently have the 20th-ranked payroll in the major leagues, at roughly $99 million. Three teams below them — the Pirates, Rays and Astros — have better records. The Braves and the Diamondbacks, also below them, are on their heels.
I’ll give credit when credit’s due. Alderson has done a solid job of rebuilding the farm system, though that comes with a couple of asterisks. Many of these young stars we’re watching on a nightly basis were drafted by former GM Omar Minaya, and none of Alderson’s position players have made an impact yet. We’re still waiting for the hitters. Hopefully Michael Conforto, Brandon Nimmo and Dominic Smith will be those guys.
And he’s made two great trades. He stole Zack Wheeler from the Giants, and the deal with the Blue Jays that brought back Syndergaard and Travis d’Arnaud was a heist. But that’s it. In almost five years! And though he got maximum return in those deals, he had all the leverage and there wasn’t a ton of risk involved. Alderson has yet to take any real risks and trade for major leaguers that can improve the roster immediately.
As for free-agent signings? They’ve been unmitigated disasters.
Yes, he has pitching to trade. And though it would hurt to let one of these prized young arms go, the haul in return could be massive.
But while many call for Alderson to trade from his position of strength, I’m left speechless and agitated. In a perfect world, in a world in which the Wilpons have more money to spend and Alderson has more guts, the Mets can keep all these pitchers and improve the offense via free agency.
This past offseason, Alderson and ownership passed on Hanley Ramirez, Pablo Sandoval, Yasmany Tomas, Nelson Cruz and many other legitimate bats.
Are these perfect players? No. Were most, if not all, of them overpaid? Yes. But you know what? Any of them would be hitting cleanup in this lineup right now. You take chances and you fill needs, even if the scenario isn’t ideal.
Alderson blew it in the offseason, and he’s blown it over the first three months of this season. Will he shock us later this month? Doubtful. If he does, I’ll gladly eat my words.
But if he doesn’t, he’ll need to go.
Brad Kallet is an editor and columnist for CBSNewYork.com. He has written for TENNIS.com, MLB.com and SMASH Magazine, among others. You can follow him on Twitter @brad_kallet.