Reese Kaplan -- Sandy Alderson Era -- 2011 in Review


As I will be out of town on vacation I put together a retrospective look at the career and decisions of Sandy Alderson on a year-by-year basis.  Part one looks at his introduction as the Mets new GM.

Back in the off-season months of 2010/2011 the Mets were last in the same situation in which they find themselves now, needing to find a new General Manager after Omar Minaya was fired following a disappointing 2010 season in which the club went 79-83 to finish 18 games behind the first place Philadelphia Phillies.  It wasn’t the results in the won-loss column that led to Minaya’s demise so much as his approved contracts to a few lackluster performers and the whole Tony Bernazard incident that led the team to feel they needed a new adult voice in the room.

Of course, at that same time the Mets were in the midst of the whole Bernie Madoff scandal which hamstrung their ability to pay their bills and whose after effects are still being felt to this day.  Major League Baseball stepped in and insisted the Mets take Sandy Alderson from their front office to be the new GM in the hopes that the former Oakland A’s and San Diego Padres executive could help right the Wilpons’ listing ship.

At the time most of the reaction was positive in that fans had turned on Minaya and Alderson had a track record of success.  More important to the Mets and to the MLB front office is that he did so while keeping payrolls suppressed.  With the Madoff lawsuit hanging over their heads the Mets were not going to be in the running for any big ticket free agents. 

Alderson’s first order of business was finding a replacement for the fired Jerry Manuel to lead the team on the field.  After a myriad of external possibilities surfaced as contenders for this slot, they instead went internal and promoted their minor league coordinator, Terry Collins, to become the next manager.  The reaction at the time was some head scratching and a collective, “Meh!” from the fans and the media.  Collins was known for alienating teams in both Anaheim and Houston, both of whom flourished after he departed. 

While that move may not have given the warm and fuzzies to the fans, Alderson quickly made up for it by releasing Minaya mistakes Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo.  The former took several years to reinvent himself as a situational reliever and the latter never amounted again to much of anything.  The addition by subtraction had people smiling. 

Of course, a few of the expensive talent acquisitions that remained – Johan Santana and Jason Bay – both started the year on the DL (with Santana missing the entire season).  Terry Collins had the dubious honor of having the third worst start of any Mets club after 15 games with a 4-11 record. 

As the year progressed it became quite clear that the club was going nowhere under Collins’ leadership.  After the incident in which he punched out his girlfriend’s father in the clubhouse, Alderson gave away Frankie Rodriguez (and his expensive contract) in exchange for warm bodies Danny Herrera and Adrian Rosario. 

The next big move came in the Carlos Beltran sweepstakes and apparently the San Francisco Giants held the winning ticket on their way to the World Series, obtaining the hired gun for their post-season push.  You can’t fault them for what they did as they eventually emerged the 2011 World Champions, but they gave up a highly regarded pitching prospect (and great salary relief) when they sent Zack Wheeler to the Mets.  It took 7 more years for him to put it altogether and remain healthy, and despite Beltran’s career lasting far longer than many anticipated everyone would do that deal again in a heartbeat. 

The highlight of the season for the Mets was Jose Reyes winning the club’s first ever homegrown batting title, but the good feelings were rapidly dashed when the speedy Reyes hightailed it Miami to grab their $105 million offer.  Depending on whose version you choose to believe, the fact remains the Mets never made a firm offer to Reyes, citing concerns about his hamstring woes as the reason for not making a long term investment. 

The season ended worse than 2010 ended, with a 77-85 record, 25 games out of first place once again trailing the division winning Philadelphia Phillies.  All in all, it was a season to forget beyond Reyes quest for the batting title which, if you recall, he secured by taking himself out of the game at the end of the season to preserve his average.  It was a sour footnote to a weak season. 


Tom Brennan said...

77-85 in first season. 77-85 in last season. Very symmetrical. Very mediocre.

Mack Ade said...

You mentioned 'Tony B'.

I was 'inside the fences' during the 2007-2009 spring training seasons and saw this dude first hand, riding around in his golf cart, cursing in Spanish at every white and African-American player in camp. Still Omar's biggest screw-up.

As for 2011, it was a 'transition year', sort of like the kind that every new GM goes through. We were all in love with this guy then.

Two developments overnight...

1. 1B/OF Dominic Smith was release by the Toros del Este team of the Dominican Winter Leauge, after hitting just .133 in 30 at bats.

2. Odds on favorite for the GM job, Doug Melvin, was told thanks but no thanks by Fred and Jeff.

This might be an all-time low for both these guys.

Tom Brennan said...

Dominic Smith - I am NOT counting on him being good in 2019. Even in his late season improvement, his walks to Ks were poor. He himself needs to prove he is not a AAAA player.

Meanwhile, Alonso is launching rockets. I'd take .225 - .240 with 30 homers and 30 doubles from a rookie named Pete in 2019. Maybe he can be the next Aaron Judge hitting-wise. He has as much power, it seems.

Mack Ade said...

Tom -

I would start 2019 with Jay Bruce on first.

I would bring up Alonso in mid-April and hand him the full time job.

I would use Bruce as my backup.

I would not go forward with Flores

And I would plant Smith in Syracuse as the full time first baseman there.

Eddie Corona said...

So here we begin a retrospect on whether Sandy did a good, bad or so-so job...
in 2011 he will Be remember long term as making a great deal for Beltran...
but the truth was he should have done more... unless The Wilpon prevented him from trading Reyes he wasted that asset...

Mack Ade said...

Eddie -

We will never know the true relationship between Sandy and his boss. He won't write a book and wind up on the book tour over this. He's too classy for that.

No one will every have the green light on spending like Omar had.

No one.

Viper said...

Every GM makes bad decisions with contracts. For Omar it was Oliver Perez, Luis Castillo, Santana and Jason Bay which no can blame him for since he was coming off a great year with the Boston RedSox.

Alderson had the Wright, Vargas and others, etc.

Do we need to mention all the bad contracts Cashman has given?

My point is that every GM will make mistakes but not all teams wait out those contracts to expire before they try again to improve the team. With the Mets, they usually wait out for the contracts to expire even thought they play in NY and their tickets are not cheap.

Mack, Melvin would have been more of the same old $. The Mets need to go on another direction and try something new. Bloom should be the next GM if it based on experience. Why deGrom's agent was ever considered is beyond me.

Rob said...

I have always believed that MLB sent Sandy to the Mets to clean up the mess. The Mets were hemorrhaging money, remember they had to take out the 75 million dollar loan from MLB? I think the Wilpons were forced to change their ways to get the team more fiscally secure. That is why payroll dropped from around 150 million to less than 100 million over the first several years. I think that Sandy did a heck of a job based on the conditions that he had to work with in finances.

Mack Ade said...

Viper -

Considering an agent is bizarre unless it has a deGrom attachment to it.

I agree with you on Melvin. It's a young man's game. Even blogging is a young man's game. This site was once the top minor league site before there was analytics. Toby Hyde scooped me on that and Michael Mayer went off to the races. I enjoy doing this but I have quietly become the Melvin of Mets blogs... which is cool for us older types.

Hire a young guy with a fresh approach.

We know the old way doesn't work.

bgreg98180 said...

I haven't seen it mentioned here yet:

Franklyn Kilome needs Tommy Jogn Surgery.

Can the Asdrubal Cabrera trade officially be designated a disaster ?

Mack Ade said...

Bob -

You are right.

The Kilome injury is a big loss. He really improved his BB/IP ratio since coming to the Mets. I expected him to make it to Queens as a top reliever in the back end of next season.

It also was reported that he' felt something' while he was preparing for the winter league team he signed with. Is all this winter pitching correct for someone who has throw this many pitches during the regular season?

Viper said...

Mack said.

"Considering an agent is bizarre unless it has a deGrom attachment to it."

At lest deGrom will get an extension from the Mets if he becomes the GM.

Rob said...

Jacob DeGrom had Tommy John surgery after he was drafted. Does this mean that picking him in the draft was a "disaster"?

Mack Ade said...

Bob -

Every team, including ours, have had a lot of pitchers go down for TJS, both prior to the draft in school and in the pipeline.

Most heal 90-100%. Some don't.

We have two 'red' prospects, Thomas Szapucki and Jordan Humphreys, out with TJS. They sat out the entire 2018 season.

I will say this... pitchers with this kind of injury before this surgery developed NEVER came back

Eddie Corona said...

Can we just hire Bloom already, He checks off all the right boxes, Executive already, Yale Graduated (educated and needs to be to deal with the wilpons), Already dealt with a team with limited resources and has been successful, and worked in the scouting and developmental side....

Really was there a better choice out there who they actually interviewed?

bgreg98180 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
bgreg98180 said...

Much was discussed that Cabrera should have netted more than Kilome in trade.
Ricco chose the lesser return in Kilome.
Now Kilome OS going for Tommy John Surgery. 

Kilome has many many more pitching miles on his arm than deGrom had.

DeGrom is quite the exceptional example with his late switch to pitching and his make up and drive.

People spoke about deGrom as being Special early in his pro career in the Mets minors.

Had similar been mentioned for Kilome?

Comparing Kilome's potential return as possibly similar to deGrom, in my opinion, is very very optimistic.

Anonymous said...

Van Halen Gets The GM Job

(Rock On)

At least they made the decision quicker than election day. I don't think that I could have taken the immense conflagration of the two.

Anonymous said...

Which NY Mets free agents do you try and get back?

A: None

Anonymous said...

Some Catcher Banter Online

Latest winner they think the Mets should try to get is Martin Maldonado.

A: Why? He's 33 next season and has a career batting and homerun total about equal to the light hitting Met Jerry Grote.

Go fish.

Anonymous said...

Idea Factory
(albeit running low on fuel perhaps)

Mets trade for NYY catcher Gary Sanchez. Boone and co. have to have about had it with Gary there.

Mets bring him in via a trade, make him run to Spring Training every day 10 miles each way, and see what happens?

He and CC Sabathia (free agent) maybe?

Mets need a catcher and one more lefty starter. Bingo! Sign them each to a two year? No more.

Won't even mention JA Happ. But boy, would that Happ free agent signing here be sweet. Another lefty. A good one. Older but still full tanked. Rotation then: 1. deGrom 2. Wheeler 3. Happ 4. Syndergaard 5. Matz

Could you guys live with that five?
(I could)

Anonymous said...

Peter and Andres Down By The School Yard

The much coveted annual AFL All Star Game is Saturday at 8:00 pm on MLB Network.

Peter Alonso and Andres Gimenez starting, first and shortstop respectively.

Should be fun. Bring your beer and wieners.

Anonymous said...

Yesterday In A Post Here

I mentioned how Alex Cora should be the "Manager of the Year" in the AL. I believe this will be an automatic selection. I briefly touched upon some of the reasons why.

It's two things: How Alex Cora has chosen to manage and then what he brings to the table as a human being.

There is a vast difference (I at least think) between Alex Cora and any other manager in today's game. But you have to watch a lot of Red Sox games to see it for yourself, because if you have not done this already you will not believe it from anyone else.

Alex is a baseball maven. He has this very unique talent of getting the utmost out of all his players, staying close to all of them, and allowing his team to actually have obvious fun every single game win or lose. It's a very close fraternity of brothers in Boston. This is because of Alex Cora and ownership too.

I mentioned yesterday, Alex played fourteen MLB seasons on a host of different teams. He was pretty much a utility role player for most of his career. Earlier on, he was thought to be on his way to starting full time, but it never really came to fruition. But what Alex did in his MLB playing time was learn the MLB game inside/out.

You see the Red Sox batting lineup prior to any game, and you think to yourself for a second, why is this guy playing instead of that guy? But almost every single time his moves work out to perfection. He is a master player personnel man. He manages the possible upcoming in-game situations through his ability to anticipate them, instead of those same situations managing him as most MLB managers do.

Alex Cora not only has his team's respect, earning it every game, but he also has a natural way about him with the media and fans. I truly have not seen this from any MLB manager, all these innate capabilities, in a very, very long time.

Alex Cora does employ some analytics in game, but what he brings to the table as an MLB manager, statistics simply cannot cover.

Mack's Mets © 2012