The New York Mets should use Sandy Alderson’s leave from the team as an opportunity to completely revamp their operating structure.
New York Mets GM Sandy Alderson has spent the last 35 years of his life in baseball. The last eight have been as the team’s general manager. During his tenure, which began on Oct. 29, 2010, the Mets reached the summit by going to the 2015 World Series. Unfortunately, during the majority of his time in New York, his team has been trying to avoid the National League East cellar.
Alderson currently on leave from the team due to the reoccurrence of cancer. Owner Fred Wilpon must recognize his GM’s absence from the team is a prime opportunity to completely revamp the Mets management and procedures. It must be done and for two reasons that don’t show up immediately in the boxscore.
As of today, 12 players from the Mets 40-man roster are on the disabled list. This includes Yoenis Céspedes, Brandon Nimmo, Travis d’Arnaud, and Jay Bruce. It’s hard to win games when huge chunks of an already depleted offense can’t play due to injury. Before they got to this point, the Amazins also had to play through injuries to key team members Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, and Jeurys Familia, to name a few.
Quantifying the total effect of injuries is almost impossible. The people over at Roster Resource have come up with a formula. Since last going to the playoffs in 2016, the Mets have been first or second in their yearly Roster Effect Ratings. The rating is a measurement tool that takes into consideration both the number of injuries on a team and the significance of who is injured.
Optimistically, someone with rose colored glasses might say the barrage of injuries can be chalked up to bad luck. A realist, on the other hand, sees a pattern. In all contact sports, there are injuries. It’s a fact, especially when dealing with elite athletes. That isn’t the point. Rather the amount of pulled muscles, muscle strains, and joint injuries have undermined any chances NYM has had to make the playoffs again.
For a team that claims to be “budget conscious” it’s unfathomable they wouldn’t be at the forefront of conditioning and injury prevention. At the very least management should be protecting their investments. Instead, under the Alderson administration, these areas have fallen through the cracks.
That has to change A.S.A.P. Whatever the GM’s advisors are telling him, they are doing something seriously wrong. The proof has littered the Mets disabled list for the last two seasons and represents a stunning failure in preparing the team for the physical grind of 162 games.
Scouting players and their subsequent development is the root system of every good baseball organization. Whether a team develops a prospect to the Major Leagues or uses him to obtain another asset, it’s important to have the personnel, to begin with. For a team that’s had a sub .500 record in eight of the last 10 seasons (including six under .460), the Mets are surprisingly barren.
Much of it falls on Alderson and his staff. Without going into deep detail its safe to say, on the whole, the Mets have drafted and produced a stunning lack of impact plays during Alderson’s watch. For every Brandon Nimmo, there is a Gavin Cecchini and Teddy Stankiewicz. The numbers don’t add up.
Look at the state of the farm system. It’s disgraceful. Currently, the Mets have four players in the MLB top 100 prospects. Contrast that with division rivals, the Atlanta Braves who have nine players in the top 100 and a few more just outside of it. As a matter of fact, five Atlanta prospects are on the list before Mets shortstop prospect Andres Jimenez shows up at 59. That’s after future superstar Ronald Acuna Jr. was promoted to Atlanta and taken off the list.
Do the Mets have to be the Braves? No. What it should be is a wakeup call to the Wilpons. The Braves are leading the division on Aug. 8, 2018. The amount of talent they have waiting in the wings should keep them there for another five years or so. The only factors that will change that prediction are time and money. Two items the Mets never seem to have enough of recently.
What to do
It’s time to take a do-over and blow the baseball operations of this organization up. From soup to nuts just about everything needs to change. Consequently, that means someone other than Alderson has to do it. The game has changed since he started with the Athletics in 1983. The new General Manager has to do for the Mets the same thing Alderson did in Oakland, find a better way to rebuild the organization.
Let Alderson hang up his laptop with dignity. Have a press conference at the end of the year where he announces his retirement. Give him a day at Citi Field next year and celebrate his importance to the team. In between the two, the Mets have to clean house. A new man in charge with new ideas and a new way to do things has to take over and provide direction.
Alderson doesn’t have to be entirely divorced from the Mets. That would be completely heartless. He deserves an emeritus position with the club. There is no harm in making him a “Special Advisor” to Wilpon.
Outside of baseball, in the game of life, Sandy Alderson is a survivor. He saw a tour of duty in Vietnam as a United States Marine. Following active duty, he earned a law degree from Harvard. The man has even fought off cancer once before. It’s time for him to ride off into the sunset like an old west gunslinger that just took off his holster for the last time.