Stephen Guilbert- Is Sandy Alderson a Good GM?


Readers of this site know I have backed Sandy Alderson since his addition to the Mets late in 2010. He was handed a truly abysmal situation and asked to rebuild.

Has he succeeded? 

While the answer will be unknown until the Mets win (or fail to within the next few years), we have quite a bit of data to analyze and I can safely say the following: 

1.) Sandy Alderson dominates trades. Mets fans know this well. Alderson was able to get cornerstone players for aging rentals. He has been able to sell high and win every one of his trades for youngsters to this point. 

2.) Sandy Alderson and his team are great at drafting pitchers late in the draft. The list continues to get longer and longer year after year but the pitching in the Mets system is borderline ridiculous and even 13-17 round picks would be top 10 prospects on other organizations. It is tough to say if the hitting will be as good but I think it is fair to say the Alderson administration can draft (even with the bad Cecchini selection). 

3.) Alderson and company play the international market well--albeit quietly. You rarely hear about the Mets signing the #1 or #2 amateur international free agent and they never go for the big Cuban or Japanese ticket but a large contingent of the top 20 prospects currently in the system are young international finds by Alderson and his team. Keep in mind, Rafael Montero is one of those guys. Far from a household name when he was signed but he could be an All-Star pitcher some day. 

4.) Sandy Alderson has yet to make a good big free agent signing. I guess you could say Bartolo Colon was "good" because he did exactly what was expected (lots of innings, pedestrian performances) but it didn't really help the Mets get better either. Some of his moves have been plain awful (Frank Francisco, Rauch, Farnsworth, Carrasco...pretty much any bullpen addition, actually), some puzzling and "we'll see" (Granderson, Cuddyer), and some simply average (Colon) but my main complaint was his non-moves. Why never bring Endy Chavez back as a fourth outfielder? Why skip Michael Bourn for draft reasons but sign Cuddyer and forfeit a first-round pick? Why let Jose Reyes go? Why completely ignore Robinson Cano? The years in his deals are troubling as well. In no world should Frank Francisco get two years. Nor Cuddyer. Nor Granderson four years. 

5.) Despite being poor in the free agent signing world, Alderson has had success with reclamation projects. Marlon Byrd, Jeremy Hefner, Chris Capuano, Scott Rice, LaTroy Hawkins, and Anthony Recker have all helped the Mets win games. If Alderson and his team could be as adept with the bigger ticket free agents, the Mets would have been and will be far better. 

6.) Sandy Alderson is an extremely patient GM. Almost to a fault. At times definitely to a fault. Alderson has missed incredible opportunities to improve the farm system and/or the 25-man roster by failing to sell high on current players. The rumors of a Nick Castellanos-Bobby Parnell may be over reported and unsubstantiated, but Parnell had a market and the Mets had replacements for him. Ditto with Scott Hairston, Daniel Murphy, and Bartolo Colon. Sometimes getting something instead of nothing is worth it and with positional logjams in the bullpen, outfield, rotation, and second, each of these non-moves means something will have to give this winter. You cannot have a seven man rotation, three closers, and three second baseman. While some of this still remains to be seen and thus a verdict cannot fully be written, failing to move Hairston and Parnell when they were hot commodities is inexcusable. Colon should have been moved as well. I understand not moving Murphy but he and Gee need to be moved this winter. Let's see how he does. 

7.) Alderson does not go over-slot in drafts all that often. Each of his drafts, it seems like Alderson and his team have tried to get a lottery pick to sign late and have not. Or, if that was the plan, they simply could not spend the money (from pressure of ownership perhaps). However, for a team preaching about building the farm system, I want to see more than 95% of draft allocation spent. I want every player I can sign without forfeiting a pick in next year's draft. That's how the good teams are doing it and there's no reason not to. 

In conclusion, Sandy Alderson is a solid GM. He understands the market well, his peers respect him, he is a master trader, and his team has a strong collection of scouts and baseball minds. However, he makes a lot of mistakes and we have yet to see what he can do with an open budget and while trying to build a 25-man roster of dominance instead of a farm system of dominance. So, while the verdict is still out, I will cautiously say that yes, Sandy Alderson is a good GM. But he does make mistakes. 



Anthony said...

Thanks for the post Stephen.

My only comment is that Alderson didn't win the Pagan trade; he got smoked on that deal.

Lew Rhodes said...

A fair and even handed post Stephen, but I think you don't take some external factors into account.

First, on the FA front - there was no need to sign big free agents prior to last season - really, other than Granderson, Sandy has made a big signing - Frank Frank and other bullpen folks were small deals in FA land.

Colon was signed to eat a lot league average innings to keep the young arms safer - he did exactly what he was supposed to - I would call that signing a success - even if we get little out of him next year.

Also, Sandy had to re-establish the Mets as a legitimate organization where players wanted to come play - I don't think players were interested in the Mets until last year - this was not a team that looked like it would ever be decent again.

Lastly, Sandy worked within the structure of a long term plan and signed short term stop gaps until the plan blossomed - he knew they weren't the best players, but they were the best he could get on his budget for the limited time period.

I think given the way Sandy has rebuilt the entire organization and created a great farm system that has the ability to support long term success (a la Atlanta in the 1990-2000's) he is an extremely successful GM - Omar got the Mets within a few innings of the World Series - but destroyed the organization to the point it hasn't made the play-offs since.

I would take Sandy's approach every time - I can't recall a time when this team was so deep in the minor league system since 1984.

No GM will win every trade or transaction, but as long as they can establish a plan and stay within the parameters of that plan, they will be successful more often than not.

I give Sandy a big gold star for his performance - maybe not an A+, but definitely a B+

greg b said...

All in all I think Sandy has done an excellent job. He has built up a non existing farm system thru trades and the draft. He has had some misses from trades a free agency but no GM is perfect. And his done this with a small budget given to him by the Wilpons. A+

Thomas Brennan said...

He's drafted very well overall. His hit rate there is excellent

Bob Sugar said...

Nice post! My comment. Make a break year right in front of us for Sandy. He has kept Terry Collins two years too long. Oh wait he's still here. Mistake in my opinion.

Stephen Guilbert said...

Anthony, when the trade was made, the Pagan trade was fine. More than fine. Ramirez was a very very good NL reliever and Torres was coming off a fine year. Pagan only succeeded when he wasn't THE guy and he was being asked to be that in New York. You saw how much he struggled. If all players were to have stayed in their original environments, we may actually look back on that and say "Man, I wish we did that". It's all hindsight but at the time, that was a fine move. His other trades he has dominated so I can comfortably say he's an expert negotiator in trade talks. Let's see if he can do it the other way and put together prospects for studs.

Stephen Guilbert said...

Lew, I actually disagree with most of what you say despite agreeing with you on the B+ front. I might even go to A- because, like Greg said, his job was to rebuild and I think he really did that and in a big way and pretty quickly.

Your points though:

Free agents are rarely attracted to playing for a specific team. You don't have to create and environment for which players want to come. You just have to give them money. Sure, there are exceptions, but for every five players who took lesser money to play somewhere they wanted to, I'll give you 95 who simply took the most money.

Colon was signed to eat innings for one year. Then you sign him for one year. Not two. I was fine with the signing contingent on us being able to trade him because he has no value after one year. Not with our arms. Short of him being traded over the coming months, it's a bad signing and one that might hamstring us this year financially (you already saw the backloaded Cuddy sign).

I don't care if they are big or small free agent signings. His have not been good and he's missed out on others. Non-moves are just as important as moves and I haven't seen him make those calls quickly enough (his biggest fault, in my opinion). He's missed out.

I do whole-heartedly agree that you cannot win every move and I think that he's a "rebuild" GM who has succeeded in that. He has done very very well. I don't think I can give him an "A" rating until I can see what he can do with a 25-man but right now, A-. End of this off-season it could be a "C" or an "A+". I agree with Bob--we'll know a lot more in four months.

Mack Ade said...

God, I missed Guilbert's posts...

Thomas Brennan said...

Hey Steve, very true point on who he did not sign. He passed on Jose Abreu and brought in Curtis. He clearly picked wrong, if he was limited to just 1 of those 2. That was a huge miss. Chris Young at $7+ million was bad too. Backloading the Colon contract and then being unwilling to eat a few $ million of year 2 to move hime was a cash flow issue morphing into a mistake. Strong on trades for prospects and in his drafts, weak in FA signings by and large. He did very well in a few bargain bin signings in Dickey and Byrd, I am obliged to add.

Anonymous said...

Omar signed Dickey, but Sandy got the value in trade. Lots of teams missed in Abreu and the Mets aleady had a crowd at 1B. Duda did well enough last year to offset the miss and is still cheap, so dollar for dollar, one could argue that Duda is the better value and hits from the left side.

Thomas Brennan said...

Good points on Dickey and Abreu, Anon. Management was focused on removing Duda from the OF, so if neither could have played OF, it makes sense to not have wanted to go there and acquire Abreu. Thank goodness Duda blossomed.

Michael S. said...


Marc Hunchik said...

the wilpons hired sandy to get as much value as possible (duda)who for the $ may be the biggest coup, and rebuild farm system which is an a++. he evaluated what was left of Omar regime, brought in stop gaps Francisco Farnsworth, valverde, ey etc and bought time and stockpiled. Also brings leadership to rutterless ship. Notice, when is the last time Jeff Wilpon has been accused of running the show? Its clear who has full autonomy.

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