Reese Kaplan -- Win Some & Lose Some


Since I’ve given Sandy Alderson flack for sitting on his hands and doing nothing to improve the club, I thought I would take some time to think back to some of the shrewd deals and clinkers made during this era in charge of the Mets.  Working in reverse chronological order, green signifies a win and red a loss.  For the sake of civility, I've left the Terry Collins contracts out of the mix:


Yoenis Cespedes (twice – initial contract and 2nd contract) – He surprised everyone with getting Yoenis Cespedes to return at the 11th hour before the 2016 season began and surprised people even more by getting him to agree to a four year deal to stay in New York after the 2016 season ended.
Neil Walker – He played chicken and lost figuring he would get a compensatory draft pick if someone else wanted to sign Neil Walker.  Instead, Walker took the QO and now Alderson is on the hook for his 3rd highest paid player at $17.2 million, bad back and all, with the same soap opera set to repeat at year’s end.
Antonio Bastardo – On paper this looked to be a solid signing to fortify the pen but some guys just don’t perform well in New York.
Carlos Torres on waivers was another bad move as he appeared in 72 games for the Brewers with a 2.73 ERA for the season
Dilson Herrera for Jay Bruce -- The logic made sense as Bruce was leading the league in RBIs at the time he was acquired, Michael Conforto was a non-entity and his paycheck is below that of guys like Curtis Granderson and Neil Walker.  Herrera, for all he did in the minors, never even made it to the majors with the last place Reds.  I think to be fair this one is an incomplete since neither side benefited yet (on the field or as a trade chip).  


Yoenis Cespedes for Michael Fulmer – you have to give to get and while in retrospect it hurt to give up a guy who has flourished in the AL, the fact remains you don’t get to the World Series in 2015 or the post season in 2016 without Yoenis Cespedes’ bat.
Jon Neise for Neil Walker – It’s surprising that the Pirates would even talk to Sandy Alderson after getting fleeced on this one.
Addison Reed for Matt Koch and Miller Diaz-- Reed was simply brilliant down the stretch when the bullpen needed it most and he was even better in 2016.
Asdrubal Cabrera – Fortifying the shortstop position where Wilmer Flores was hitting enough to stay in the lineup but his range was somewhat statue-like
Alejandro De Aza – It’s hard to get too down on this signing because at the time it looked as if he would be the starter when Yoenis Cespedes was a free agent.  However, de Aza was pretty disastrous!
Daniel Murphy – With a guy not only leaving but helping the division winners with a near MVP season at what is a relatively bargain price, Sandy has an omelet, two over easy, some poached and some scrambled on his face.
Bartolo Colon – Bringing Big Sexy back for another year was a lifesaver when just about everyone in the rotation went down at one time or another with injury.  Letting him walk to Atlanta is not awful considering you have theoretically Robert Gsellman, Seth Lugo and Zack Wheeler available to take over his slot.
Juan Lagares contract extension – While the Gold Glove and the .281 campaign seemed like the start of something great, his injuries and stagnant development have made this one a stinker.  The way the deal is structured he gets dramatically more expensive each year, so it might be prudent to trade him if you can find another person capable of playing CF.
Jerry Blevins for Matt den Dekker – Arguably one of the best trades Alderson ever made, den Dekker has struggled to maintain a spot in the big leagues while Blevins has been rock solid.  Too bad that hasn’t netted him a new contract.
Extending Ruben Tejada – After turning in a .202 season, they kept him around and he “rewarded” them with a .237 season.  So they extended him again to the tune of $1.88 million (which, for perspective, is 1/3 more than they paid superior player Ronny Cedeño in a similar role).  Finally they saw the error of their ways and cut him loose after another year of ignominy and he’s struggled to get a major league job ever since.


Bobby Abreu – Enough said
Michael Cuddyer – Not only did they rush into signing him against seemingly no competition, but they also gave up a compensatory pick to do so.  Cuddyer was not awful for the Mets, but he was not what they had hoped, delivering just 10 HRs and 41 RBIs with a .259 average.  That was a very steep drop off from how he performed in Colorado.


Bartolo Colon – A lot of people scratched their heads when Alderson signed the portly PED abuser at nearly 40 years of age but he looked like a genius when Bartolo Colon was healthy and effective for the two years of his initial contract.
Curtis Granderson – I’ll get flack for this one, but on the whole I grade it a negative.  He’s a high strikeout, low batting average power hitter who no longer runs or throws (though still fields his position competently).  For $64 million they were expecting more out of him.  His first season was a throwaway and his last season was amazing in that he got so many home runs but so little run production out of them.  He’s a nice guy, but Leo Durocher was right.
Chris Young – He was the first of many platoon type outfielders that did not work for the Mets at all.  Of course, he left here and flourished elsewhere.  It makes you wonder about the hitting coach and manager that couldn’t motivate him. 
Marlon Byrd and John Buck to Pittsburgh for Dilson Herrera and Vic Black  -- Parlaying a minor league invitee and a fading catcher into a prime prospect who eventually netted NL RBI leader Jay Bruce was pretty brilliant.  The somewhat disappointing part was how Vic Black fizzled due to injury and control problems, but I remember writing that when I saw him in person he was on a whole other level than the other AAA pitchers when he was on his game.
Releasing Justin Turner – This one may rank as more boneheaded than the Daniel Murphy decision.  Turner was earning a mere $800K when they decided to part ways and he’s just become a $64 million man for the Dodgers.  In his Mets career he didn’t show the power he’s shown now but he did hit a very respectable .267.  There have been many others paid a lot more to produce a lot less. 
LaTroy Hawkins – Another minor league invitation who turned into solid gold for the club, I couldn’t understand why they did not make an effort to keep him another year or so.  He continued to pitch productively for two more years for about $2.5 million per season. 


David Wright contract – If one deal will tarnish the overall Sandy Alderson legacy, it will be the bizarre and foolish decision in the height of the Madoff-forced period of extreme austerity to extend for 8 years a guy who seemed not to be hitting to his full potential since moving to Citifield.  At the time trading David Wright in his then-healthy prime could have netted a boatload of players in return and saved $138 million when there was no money to spend.  At the time I was aghast they would offer Wright this deal and then his health fell apart which made it even worse.  The contract hamstrung the franchise for the next few years and continues to place restraints on the team’s overall spending.
R.A. Dickey, Josh Thole and Mike Nickeas to Toronto for Noah Syndergaard, Travis d’Arnaud, Wuilmer Becerra and John Buck – While Travis d’Arnaud has not been able to stay healthy enough to produce a full season and Wuilmer Becerra has not yet made it to the majors, at this point Noah Syndergaard alone would make it seem like a steal. 
Las Vegas 2-year deal – One of the dumbest moves in the team’s history.  I was especially amused when they openly voiced concerns when they played in New Orleans that the town might be too much of a distraction for the players.  Yeah, Las Vegas is WAY less distracting…not to mention hell on pitchers and Coors Field on steroids for hitters.


Angel Pagan trade – From reports this one was made more on the basis of personality than money or performance and Sandy got skunked.  To me the return was Ramon Ramirez with Andres Torres being a throw-in who I thought for sure they would cut rather than pay given his horrific performance record, but pay they did and he made the Mets pay by hitting just .230.  Maybe I’m being too harsh as he was coming off a .221 season, so that’s actually an improvement.  The surprise was Ramirez who’d been rock solid for several years as a setup guy in the Giants’ pen, but just couldn’t deliver in New York.  In the meantime Pagan hit .288 with 29 SBs in his first year for San Francisco.  Ouch.
Scott Hairston – One of the few spare outfielders Alderson picked up who actually was productive for a stretch…

Are there any solid wins or major losses I missed?


Unknown said...

Beltran for Wheeler. Signing Byrd. Pick-ups: Smoker, Monell, Rene Rivera

Reese Kaplan said...

Beltran for Wheeler was an Omar Minaya move.

I figured I'd covered the Byrd signing in the paragraph about the subsequent trade. Jury is still out on Smoker. Monell didn't contribute much at the MLB level and Rene Rivera is what he is -- a good glove/no-hit catcher. I refer to him as the Hispanic Anthony Recker.

Mack Ade said...

A great post...

You would think you were couch ridden and had all this time to write things like this...

Tom Brennan said...

You forgot the gem of Sandy's reign: he signed Tim Tebow :)

Dekker has not only not hit for the Nats in the bigs, he hasn't hit in eastern AAA baseball much at all. I'd not be surprised if he is cut this spring.

Walker was a BIG mistake - unless his repaired back cures his ills and he has a career year. I'd have rather spent the money on elite relief.

Lagares - stop diving so crazily - you'll still be a great OF - and stay healthy - maybe he'll rebound in a crowded OF.

Reed deal was superb, but Matt Koch did surprisingly well after his call up last year - never thought he would, given his very high hits-allowed rate in the minors. Maybe Corey Oswalt can find similar success.

Cuddyer deal shows it is dangerous to sign old hitters - especially ones like him who LOOKED old - he always looked like a 45 year old hitter to me. de Aza also too old for the money. Grandy was too old for that many contract years at that $$, but at least we probably will get within $15 million of even value on that total contract.

You did, I believe, leave out two big ones: Uribe and Kelly Johnson.

Reese Kaplan said...

I wish I could continue to use my injury as an excuse, but I wrote that while sitting at my desk consuming my lunch yesterday. A few of those moves made me lose my appetite. I left out the non-moves such as not going after various free agents when they were available (particularly the international ones).

Did you happen to notice that the Cincinnati Reds signed Drew Storen for just $3 million on a one-year deal? He turned it around in Seattle last year with a WHIP under 1.00 and a 3.44 ERA, but hey, we don't need that kind of inexpensive bullpen help, do we? That means the cheese stands alone -- Sandy Alderson is now the ONLY baseball GM who has not added a single body since the 2016 season ended.

Unknown said...

Keeping Dude over Ike Davis, letting Reyes leave with no shortstop or leadoff hitter to replace him.
Beltran for Wheeler was Sandy's first trade.

Robb said...

The Dickie trade alone will mean he always ends up on the right side of the ledger.

Reese Kaplan said...

Beltran for Wheeler -- I stand corrected. Kudos to Dean and to Richard. That was Sandy Alderson. However, I view it as a negative or at best an incomplete. Beltran has been productive ever since he left, Wheeler not so much.

@Tom -- Juan Uribe is one of those players whose legend doesn't match his numbers. He hit .219 as a Met but that was an improvement over the likes of guys like Eric Campbell and (sorry) Danny Muno that he replaced. Johnson was a little better at .250. The pitchers they gave up -- Rob Whalen and John Gant -- haven't shown much. The Kelly Johnson part deux may hurt, though. Akeel Morris was a big price to pay.

Mack Ade said...

Reese -

I have a post next Monday... "Questions and Answers"

Someone asked me what I would do before the season starts and one of the things I said was that I would go after Storen, a big favorite of mine in the draft.

Obviously, I had to change that paragraph before it goes to print.

Tom Brennan said...

Reese, Storen pass is inexcusable, bewildering.

I used to be such a huge proponent of Akeel Morris - but I am not sure he'll ever conquer his control issues. Walks have never come down, and big leaguers are more disciplined, so one would think it would just get worse.

eraff said...

James Loney...Reyes...2016 moves that were necessary and crucial to the team. Was Rene Rivera a 2016 guy?

Reese Kaplan said...

Yes, signed to a minor league deal and then promoted over Johnny Monell.

Unknown said...

The one thing that upset me that den Dekker didn't pan out. I wanted the Mets to have the three little "d"s: den Dekker, d'Arnoaud, and deGrom.

Reese Kaplan said...

The did have de Aza 😁

Anonymous said...

3 of the 4 get a "d" grade

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