So today was D-Day for the Mets and the first significant decision made by the Sandy Alderson All-Star Team, having announced that the Extreme Makeover: Mets Edition was complete, agreeing to hire Terry Collins to a two-year contract. A press conference is to be held on Tuesday.
While I was a total Wally fan-chick, I understand that right now, Collins may be a better choice. Operative word being NOW. However, that’s not why I am concerned today. There was something in the news today that set me off, and my dad and I talked about it at the Jets game today (Yes, a dad and his daughter discuss baseball at a football game). It wasn’t so much the manager hiring but more what Alderson wasn’t doing.
For one, I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing that the Mets don’t go after such high-priced crown jewels of the free agency market, such as Cliff Lee. He would not help the Mets right now, and if the Mets are truly in a transitional period, something like that would be antithetical to what Alderson is trying to set for the future.
What I did read though, in an article by Joel Sherman, is that the Mets could potentially wait till January 1st to even scope the free agency market. I don’t have a problem with that either, but that’s not what concerns me.
It’s that Alderson’s hesitation with the current team might end up giving us a Hamlet-esque complex, that his very hesitation is ultimately what does him in.
I can’t say that I am feeling very alarmed about the Mets new processes overall. Other than the usual red flags (are they REALLY hiring Collins because they think he’s the best guy for the job? Or is it because Paul DePodesta likes him?), for once it appears that the Mets are running a tight ship, loose lips are not threatening to sink those ships either.
What concerns me though is how they are treating current players. For example, after negotiating an extension with Hisanori Takahashi, they allowed him to walk. I could justify this in my head saying he’s only a middle relief pitcher (with shades of closer, and could be a long-man/pinch-starter at times as well). “Perpetual” Pedro Feliciano is also up for free agency, and although losing a LOOGY out of the ‘pen is probably not high on the Dream Team’s priority list, a courtesy call to the most tenured Met might be in order. Alderson made an offhand comment about not having seen Josh Thole play enough to make an educated decision about him being the every day catcher. Most of us saw Thole last year and while we won’t break our arms patting ourselves on the back about him just yet, Thole was certainly one of the bright spots in the farm system. I mean, shouldn’t Alderson be aware of these players before saying stuff in the media?
I believe David Wright casually mentioned that he’s only spoken to Alderson for about 15 minutes since it was announced he’d be in charge. Now, I can understand if Alderson wants to maintain a semblance of professional and not deal with the player/personnel in that way; however, when Wright or Reyes’ contracts are up for negotiation, he will have to deal with them directly, no? Isn’t a General Manager’s job to build relationships with the players (and their agents) for future deals?
To his credit, Alderson has gone to visit the biggies such as Luis Castillo and Carlos Beltran. By “biggies,” I mean the “biggie contracts.” It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to realize that a primary reason why the free agency waters won’t be tested this year is because of the albatross of contracts Omar Minaya’s team left behind. This was the exact topic that my dad and I were speaking about today. He’s got a Catch-22 with most of these. The players themselves are very devalued at this point, and if there is a willing participant, the Mets would have to eat a significant portion of their contracts. This is nothing new in Metsopotamia.
However, by coddling these players simply because of the size of their contracts, it’s giving the impression to this Mets fan that Alderson is more concerned with getting the dead weight off the team before spring training. Heck, I can’t argue with that and I think that sounds like a good plan to head into 2011. On the flip side, ignoring some long-term relationships with the current players can have long-term implications for the team in the future.
I was an English literature major in college, and I can honestly say I use the Shakespeare’s Hamlet reference quite a bit in my life. The tragic flaw in that character was his moment’s hesitation caused him the loss of several loved ones throughout the story. I doubt this will be a tragic flaw for Alderson. However, I do believe he needs to start building more professional relationships with the guys playing for him now.