Reese Kaplan - Sandy's To Do List

A lot of keyboards have been taking a pounding with thoughts regarding the future of the Mets roster changes coming via trade or free agency.  With apologies to The Lovin' Spoonful, this is not a day for a daydream.  Instead, it’s a dose of cold, hard probability (if not outright reality) concerning who will be playing for the club in 2015.

First, let’s consider the modus operandi of one Mr. Sandy Alderson.  His greatest skill is also his Achilles heal.  When it works it’s called patience.  When it doesn’t, it’s called inertia.  The result is the same, however.  He excels at doing nothing.  Whether you call it, “Waiting for the market to come to him” or “Waiting for the other team to blink” the fact remains that he’s misread and mistimed the market on a great many occasions.

Let’s get the successes out of the way first.  He did well with the Carlos Beltran rental in San Francisco.  He got a good haul for R.A. Dickey who was fresh off a Cy Young season.  He fleeced the Pirates for rentals of Marlon Byrd and John Buck.  Bravo!  When you have something other teams want and payroll to dump, you’re a champion…

Or is he?  How many callers did he get for Jose Reyes?  Scott Hairston?  Bartolo Colon?  Reyes was in the midst of a batting championship season and he did nothing but let him walk away.  Hairston was forced into regular outfield duty and responded with over 20 HRs yet he again did nothing with free agency pending.  Colon was having a solid season, leading the team in victories yet once again after clearing waivers he’s still on the roster.

Then let’s look at the major-league-talent for major-league –talent trades…well, maybe not.  There was Angel Pagan off to San Francisco for injured Ramon Ramirez and Andres “Why Didn’t We Cut Him to Save Salary” Torres. 

The jury is still out on Ike Davis to the Pirates for Blake Taylor and Zack Thornton.  While we all know how well Lucas Duda did at 1B for the Mets and how little Davis did for the Bucs, the fact remains that neither 18 year old Taylor’s 1.10 Strikeout-to-Walk ratio nor 26 year old Thornton’s 1-5/4.22 pitching for Wally Backman scream future star to anyone. 

Oh yeah, I almost forgot one…we can see now why he’s loathe to trade young pitching when he flipped Colin McHugh who was arguably the ace of the Astros staff this year for a guy likely to be non-tendered whose only skill is that of a pinch runner.

Surely he has it within himself to step out of his comfort zone to act decisively and swiftly when the situation warrants it, right?  Does the name Chris Young ring a bell?

So what do we see here?  He’s a guy who, when he’s holding the proven cards, can win a poker hand.  Unfortunately the closest the Mets have this year to someone fitting that definition is Daniel Murphy who, as you recall, only was valued at a Luke Gregerson (middle reliever) level a year or so ago in trade talks.  He’s not offering up a borderline Hall of Famer. 

Bartolo Colon, Jon Niese and Dillon Gee all make more money than the Wilpons would like to spend given the relative wealth of pitching in the system, but again it doesn’t appear to be a case of dealing a reigning Cy Young winner that other teams will fight to obtain. 

If you’re looking for a connective thread, he’s fared poorly in the evaluation of major league talent, but gotten lucky or had good scouting on some valuable prospects he’s gotten in return in trades.  Now the shoe is on the other foot and it’s he who has the good prospects that other teams may salivate should they be offered up in trade. 

My conclusion, however, is that he will continue to play to his strength of doing nothing…and the 2015 roster is going to look very similar to the 2014 roster with a few subtractions due to their only being 25 spots available. 

1B           Lucas Duda
2B           Daniel Murphy
SS           Wilmer Flores
3B           David Wright
LF            Matt den Dekker
CF           Juan Lagares
RF           Curtis Granderson
C             Travis d’Arnaud
C             Anthony Recker
IF            Wilfredo Tovar
IF            Eric Campbell
OF          Kirk Niewenhuis
OF          Cesar Puello

SP           Matt Harvey
SP           Jacob de Grom
SP           Zack Wheeler
SP           Jon Niese
SP           Bartolo Colon

RP           Jenrry Mejia
RP           Jeurys Familia
RP           Vic Black
RP           Rafael Montero
RP           Josh Edgin
RP           Dana Eveland
RP           Carlos Torres

Gone     Ruben Tejada (too expensive)
Gone     Eric Young (too expensive)
Gone     Dillon Gee (too right handed in the rotation, hence Niese stays)
Gone     Buddy Carlyle (too much of a fluke to repeat)
Gone     Dario Alvarez (old for AAA but never played there)
Gone     Scott Rice

Do you see a trend here?  There’s not a single new face except for Cesar Puello getting an undeserved promotion due to his minor league free agency pending status.  Of course, they could throw in Josh Satin or Andrew Brown as the righty, but I was banking on him being the minimum wage pinch runner replacing Eric Young. 

It would not surprise me in the least to see the in-house options being the only options considered until/unless other clubs overwhelm Alderson with offers as the Jays did for Dickey or the Giants did for Beltran.  The problem is that you’re not dealing from strength here at the major league level.  Your crown jewels are young pitchers and that’s one commodity Alderson has never put on the trading block. 

Your 2015 Mets are your 2014 Mets plus Harvey and with a full year of Wilmer Flores at SS.  Will it be enough to reach .500?  Probably.  Will it be enough to contend?  Probably not.  


Tom Brennan said...

To quote you, Reese: "Will it be enough to reach .500? Probably. Will it be enough to contend? Probably not."

Are you right? Most probably.

Forrest Gump would say, "Cheap is as Cheap does"

Anonymous said...

ugh.....i hated that Collin McHugh trade.

I remember continuely saying that Collin McHugh was Dillon Gee 2.0 Same profile with better stuff.

I knew he would at least be a decent #4/strong #5.....I had no idea he would develop into a legitimate #3 SP

Reese Kaplan said...

I had also become a fan of his for his insights in his blog:


He's a bit more introspective than a typical jock.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the assessment above, but would make one observation Reyes. Yes, he was leading the league in hitting, but he also ended up on the DL in July with a hammy, destroying his trade value and the fan base was ready to pounce on him for trading a home grown star leading in BA and not resigning him. Also on Colin McHugh, hard to kill him because he did not do well here and had an ERA of nearly 10 in CO before getting cut, so he was no guarantee and really came out of nowhere last year.

I am actually OK with the patience approach because I don't see anything available that is not a huge overpay and we already have two in Grandy and Wright. I think Gee starts the season with the Mets while they leave Harvey down in FL until May. Heaven forbid they compete for a WC and the issue of a Sept Harvey shutdown comes into play. The fans will go nuts (like Stras in DC) and Harvey's ego would go crazy.

Anon Joe F

Mack Ade said...

I would think you could make Harvey, the fans, and the suits happy if you let him start on opening day and limited him to a strict top 6 innings per game.

Hobie said...


I agree with your conclusions, “… fared poorly in the evaluation of major league talent, but gotten lucky or had good scouting on some valuable prospects he’s gotten in return in trades…” and “continue to play to his strength of doing nothing.” as I usually do.

I would only add that there was a tad of (bad) luck in the poor evaluations too; Ramirez & Torres faired a lot worse than could have been reasonably expected in the Pagan trade. And frankly I had less angst over the CY 1-yr deal than the Granderson 4-yr albatross.

All of which leads me to nod in agreement with your 2015 roster with some minor tweaking. I want to see Den Dekker & Puello get as many AB’s early as possible (in RF mainly…Granderson in LF) until we have confidence Nimmo can take over one of those slots.

And where is Bobby Parnell?

IBfromWhitePlains said...

Like Joe F said, CO cut McHugh, so just think how they feel. At least we got what I think is a nice bench piece in EY. Nobody wins ‘em all. Alderson has not been inert nor has he done nothing, which you point out but still come to this odd conclusion. Don't get me wrong, I know what you're saying. He’s not Billy Beane either.

The way I see it, the system is producing good ballplayers so why break that up. A Gold Glove CF. ROF pitcher. D’Arnaud is the real deal. Couple of pieces. Bring in the fence. I think they think they're contending and I agree. LGM

Unknown said...

While I agree with the assessment of the past, I completely disagree with the prediction of the future.

Let's step back for a minute - when Sandy came in, the ML team was awful and our minor league system was a wreck.

Sandy came in with a plan - maybe even call it a vision - and it had multiple steps.

First, he would tread water at the ML level and rebuild the minor league system. This is done. Our system is now one of the top five in all of baseball and actually has too many pitching prospects to find a home for. Oh, it also is starting to get some position players close (Herrera, Nimmo, Reynolds at the top).

This first phase could not be accomplished by chasing tails and trying to hit continual moving targets of needs at the ML level.

We are moving into the second phase - the ML club right now is a .500 team (with a bounce back from Wright and Grandy, maybe a few games over .500). The bullpen is nearly completely set - the rotation has TOO MANY pitchers, and the line-up has really only 2 real holes.

So, now Sandy has the trade assets and (more importantly) the defined,limited ML needs to fill. I expect to see some action on his part that will (finally) impact the ML club.

And really, let's realize that losing Harvey for 2014 pushed this whole plan back a year - if Harvey is healthy, the $11 mm given to Colon could have gone to fill other holes, and frankly Harvey over Colon plus maybe a decent LF or SS and the 2014 Mets have a shot at the play-offs.

I don't know what Sandy will do - maybe he just signs Cuddyer to play LF/1b in a platoon with MDD and Duda - maybe he makes a big splash trade.

I don't think he knows yet - I think he will have targets and will see where he can get the best value for the organization in the long term.

Reese Kaplan said...


Sorry, I didn't clarify...I assume Parnell will start the year in extended spring training in Florida.

Ramirez looked like the real deal after a few consecutive successful years in SF. If that was the return alone for Pagan it would have been a fair trade but apparently the health vetting was not as extensive as it should have been. Torres was a warm body who never should have made it onto the field. He had one passable year in the majors. When the Mets obtained Johnny Estrada in a salary dump for Guillermo Mota they simply non-tendered him which would have been the smart move with Torres.

@Lew Rhodes There is nothing to suggest Alderson is an astute judge of major league talent. MAYBE they would deal for some ML-read AAA players who could help the OF offense (assuming Flores is handed the starting SS job) but you're not getting Joc Pederson for Dillon Gee or Daniel Murphy.

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