Mike Friere - Square Peg, Round Hole?


I feel the need to mention that I have not always been "anti-Alderson", so what I am about to write is a fairly big change of direction in how I view the Mets' upper level management.  I have also had my coffee this morning so this rant will not be the product of "caffeine withdrawl" or "not being myself".

Reese did a good job earlier this week summing up the current state of affairs with regards to the Mets organization as a whole and the man in charge things (Sandy Alderson).  Somewhere in the comments, I think Mack listed the Mets' record since Sandy Alderson took over in 2010 and it was below .500, despite the relative success of the 2015 and 2016 seasons. 

To quote the legendary Bill Parcells "you are what your record says you are" which in the Mets' case is mediocre, with a side lackluster.

The current state of affairs is the culmination of a lot of personnel moves, along with injuries and other factors that cannot be captured in one or two sentences.  However, I want to point out a recent transaction that I think illustrates the questionable decision making that has plagued the roster in the past couple of seasons and that is the ill advised acquisition of Jay Bruce this past off season.

As many of you are aware, Jay Bruce was acquired from the Cincinnati Reds during the latter part of the 2016 season for the playoff push.  He remained on the roster for most of the 2017 season, before he was dealt to the Cleveland Indians for their own playoff run.  Oddly enough, despite a horrific start to his Mets career in 2016, between the two seasons he appeared in 153 games and accumulated 635 plate appearances which comes close to one full season of playing time. 

In that window, he produced the "not too shabby" statistical line;

.244/.312/.477 (.789 OPS)

37 HR/93 RBI/1 SB/75 Runs

1.5 WAR

After completing his time with the Indians, JB was a free agent and he pretty much sat idle for a good chunk of the off season before Sandy swept in and offered him a three year, 39 million dollar contract (13 million dollars per year average annual value) to return to the Mets roster in January.  Additionally, the contract was "back loaded" with 11 million disbursed in 2018, followed by 14 million dollars per year in 2019 and 2020.

At the time, I was underwhelmed and I openly questioned the move in the comments section on this very blog.

JB is a solid veteran and his contract isn't completely absurd if you go by the metric that 1.0 WAR is worth roughly eight million dollars in salary (he has averaged close to 2.0 WAR for his career).  However, he plays a position that was already crowded (Outfield, specifically Right Field), so his addition ADDED to a problem area, using limited funds to do so while ignoring other issues on the roster.

Because of this logjam, Mickey Callaway has been forced to juggle Yoenis Cespedes (who only plays Left Field now), Brandon Nimmo, Juan Lagares, Michael Conforto and Jay Bruce and attempt to fit them into three spots on a consistent basis. 

Furthermore, JB will be 31, 32 and 33 years old during the aforementioned contract, so in other words, he is past his prime (27-28 years old for most players) and on the downside of his career.  For a player that already had injury issues in the past (plantar fasciitis), it is illogical to think that things will not get worse as he ages.  What is it with this front office and their infatuation with veteran players on the back nine of their careers?

Regarding the actual contract, you are basically paying Jay Bruce for what he has done in the past, as opposed to what he is likely to do for you during the next three years (i.e. second or subsequent generation contracts are not normally a good deal). Plus,he is LOCKED in for the next two seasons after this one, so it isn't like a one year "prove it" type of deal that would have made more sense with the initial uncertainty surrounding Michael Conforto's return date.

To review, you have an expensive, veteran player with foot issues that you are asking to play in the Outfield where you already have four "starters" for three spots.  Plus, said veteran will likely continue to decline statistically (offensively and defensively)
while his contract does the opposite.

Are you surprised that he has already missed some time due to his foot injury, while sporting a .697 OPS in the 34 games he has played? 

The "cherry on top of our e coli sundae" is represented by the idea that they will clear the logjam by remaking JB as a first baseman!  He has only 16 games in his career there, so what could go wrong?

I simply don't get it.


Reese Kaplan said...

What's not to get? He came with no draft pick compensation for the same money as last year and proved when he was leading the NL in RBIs that he can indeed play in NY. As you said he's average 2 WAR per year for his career and each WAR is worth $8 million, so that is a value pick at $3 million under expected cost.

All that 1B chatter was based upon Dom Smith's sub-Mendoza play last season and the realization he may not have been fully ready to play at this level. If they performed as expected, the outfield of Cespedes, Conforto and Bruce while not necessarily awe inspiring with the leather certainly takes a back seat to no one in baseball when it comes to the lumber.

In the pantheon of things Alderson has done wrong, let's not forget the contract handed to Juan Lagares which will pay him $9 million to sit on the bench in 2019, $2.5 million more than he is paid to do so this year.

I won't rehash the David Wright debacle again but it seemed ill advised at the time of austerity to make him the highest paid player in team history when his performance was already declining.

Alderson has had a few wins as well...getting Noah Syndergaard and (love him or hate him) Travis d'Arnaud while having the Jays pay the freight for R.A. Dickey's Cy Young season. Big Sexy provided more than was expected. Asdrubal Cabrera is a net positive. Jerry Blevins for Matt den Dekker is a solid win. However, that's not much to show for 8 years at the helm.

Before you start giving him credit for Yoenis Cespedes, remember he was on an expiring contract and you gave up a huge talent in Michael Fulmer to get him. It's funny how that worked...yet when it was Alderson selling expiring contracts he couldn't get any organization to cough up a top 10 prospect. Then not once but twice he bids against himself to pay Cespedes (and his legs) more than J.D. Martinez, more than Giancarlo Stanton and more than anyone not named Trout or Cabrera. If you use WAR as a yardstick the Mets are overpaying for La Potencia. (And given their budget, that prevents you from paying for top talent elsewhere).

In 2019 I expect the same outfield, Peter Alonso at 1B, a new face at 2B, Amed Rosario getting his third shot at SS, Todd Frazier at 3B and a new catcher. Then again it's the Mets. The new 2B face could be Jose Reyes.

Reese Kaplan said...

Off topic, but did you see Robinson Cano was popped for better living through chemistry? 80 games effective immediately, no appeal...

So if I'm Sandy Alderson I'd pitch Wilmer Flores to them to replace some of Cano's power...unless they want Jose Reyes. At this point I'm not even sure his wife does (oops, bad taste). Flores should net a GOOD prospect in return, but then trading is not the Genius' forte.

BTW, Seattle's Tacoma Rainiers have become the NY Mets West -- Danny Muno, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Erik Goeddel, Dario Alvarez and Chasen Bradford are all on their roster. The Human Windmill, Captain Kirk, is doing what he usually does -- .233 with 27Ks in 86 ABs. Tom's favorite pre-Tebow player, Muno is sub-Mendoza. Goeddel has yet to be scored upon through 9 games.

Thomas Brennan said...

It always seems that these multi-year contracts are a year too long.

Grandy I believe was 3 years older than Bruce at the end of his contract, but some guys also age more quickly than others.

I hope Thor brings his Uru Hammer tonight to Citified so it can get a lightning super charge, then Dave Eiland can see Noah is truly all that and a bag of chips.

Mike Freire said...

I don't hate Jay Bruce as a player, I just don't understand the "fit", plus the salary on a team that "counts pennies" with other areas of need.

An odd choice, IMO.

Thomas Brennan said...

Danny Boy, better to be sub-Mendoza than subterranean:

But when ye come, and all the flowers are dying,
If I am dead, as dead I well may be,
You'll come and find the place where I am lying,
And kneel and say an Ave there for me.
And I shall hear, though soft you tread above me,
And all my grave will warmer, sweeter be,
For you will bend and tell me that you love me,
And I shall sleep in peace until you come to me!

Thomas Brennan said...

Reese, besides Blevins, we got Dekker back, and he is the best bat in Vegas besides Bela Lugosi.

Hobie said...

I was fine with Bruce as a 1B share with Wilmer and some OF untill Conforto was ready (which was sooner than I thought--maybe too soon). Gonzalez was the puzzler. and that's turned out meh, but not horrible.

Biggest disappointment (for me) was Schwartzkoff, or whatever his name was, over Reed.

Met Monkey said...


Because our convictions betray us, we hold our doubts dear./
Alongside lighthouse keepers, solo trumpeters/
and umpires, and how certain they appear,/
the whole cold universe goes unheard and unobserved./
A New York Mets baseball player swears that curveball curved./
And when his lucky bat broke, he swears he smelled a whiff of smoke.

Mack's Mets © 2012