1/2 Mets: What Went Wrong Wrong, Why We’re Not the Yankees and Where to Go from Here with Manager?

This is not a comparative essay of the Mets and Yankees. There is no question of which the better run franchise is as much as it pains me to say that. But if you’re Sandy Alderson, it must really bother you to see the job Brian Cashman has done the last 12-18 months. For years, Alderson was hailed as the best auctioneer in town simply for making two trades: one where he dealt a Cy Young Award winner in R.A. Dickey and a Hall of Famer in Carlos Beltran. In fact, if you revisit the both of them now, they don’t look nearly as good although Noah Syndergaard is still the most talented young starter in the National League even with his injuries and questionable quest to throw even harder that you hope he learned from this year. But Cash didn’t take five years to win and rebuild – he did it at the same time. This is not only because “well, they’re the Yankees.” It’s for the reason he values prospects even more as the general manger of a big market team than someone running a small market does as he wants his own twist of Gene Michael’s Core Four and is attempting to recreate that with Aaron Judge as Jeter, Gary Sanchez as Posada, Luis Severino as Andy Pettitte and Clint Frazier as Bernie Williams (I know I excluded Mariano, however I’m just trying to prove a point of the value of everyday players.) When the Yanks had the chance to sell Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman, they did and for huge prices. The Mets had a similar opportunity the last few months, despite operating in a vastly different market and playoff landscape this trade deadline, coming away with exactly zero real assets and only minor league relief pitchers. I will of course, give them the benefit of the doubt and credit for this new way of thinking but did you really have to get relievers in all your trades? Was the Addison Reed deal not enough where you got three of them? What’s the need to add three more? Most systems have only a handful of them who could be major league quality and there’s a reason for it. They are no sure things! The decision is even more questionable during a time where the Mets’ most dependable late inning arms this season have been relatively slow armed pitchers in Paul Sewald and Chasen Bradford. Plus for a team that gets burned so many times sticking with flame throwers, you’d think there’d be a shift here when their closer has went down and the team paid a premium price for one AJ Ramos who is in the mold of a Reed as someone who won’t blow it by you. Ramos was also a later round pick that signed for free, showing that you don’t have to be heralded to have success.

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The Metsies took this belief to another level, trading their best position player Jay Bruce for a 34th rounder who never even pitched in college and has no video on the Internet. I’m not trying to make many jokes as I have more heated about this when I originally planned to write but cooler heads have prevailed. Baseball has shown time and time again, eating money at the deadline equals to getting greater chips. A few million makes a heck of a difference in prospect value and any organization would behoove itself not to make this sacrifice. Sandy has been on the record in recent weeks that the 2017 payroll was more than expected and that he effectively bargained with ownership to make it work. As concerning as this is, it was his call who got back for Bruce, Lucas Duda, Curtis Granderson, Neil Walker etc. All those teams had stellar minor league talent as they rank highly in the Indians, Red Sox, Rays, Dodgers and Brewers all rate well in that category so to say the not being to get adequate stuff back would be an understatement. I’m sure they wouldn’t be clinging to their #17th top prospect as if their life depended on it in the thick of playoff races although it is a matter of being able to identify players in the first place which the Mets have shown a lacking of being able to do. Look no further than their September lineups consisting of Brandon Nimmo, Gavin Cecchini, Kevin Plawecki, Matt Reynolds and others. They’re essentially begging for them to show why they were drafted so highly in the first and second rounds above marque level performers like Corey Seager in Cecchini’s case, Joey Gallo for Plawecki and Sonny Gray (who the Yankees traded smartly for without giving up much at all) for Nimmo. For these kids to be bench players and backup outfielders/infielders is not spectacular and honestly, I’m up to here with Travis d’Arnaud. I already there’s gonna be some of you who say them making the majors in positive enough since many don’t make it that far but is that actually a justification for picking clearly less gifted players from the start? Conforto’s year was hard to screw up with Trea Turner who I really wanted and Bradley Zimmer going after and we obviously didn’t. That is the standard we need to follow and expect. At least it’s better than keeping the one man who asked out in A-Cab and seeing him pout all season for moving off shortstop, having to play other positions like it was a detriment to him. What I’ll do is give credit for the Mets selections this year which is the first I’ve actually liked in a while and not had to rip my hair over. David Peterson and Mark Vientos are exactly the way Tommy Tanous’ scouting department should aim to achieve each June with the perfect blend of safety and upside. I am not ready to call Dominic Smith a bust like most fans and wouldn’t worry about first base for a while even if he doesn’t turn out to be as productive as expected for the fact first basemen are easy to find since they can all hit and last year’s second rounder Pete Alonso waiting in the wings. The Mets are doing a better job producing little known bats but they’re nowhere near where St. Louis is as the Cardinals seemingly produce two to three rookie of the year candidates every season from nowhere Paul DeJong this year and Aledmys Diaz last, not to mention the steady rise of Tommy Pham. The reason for it is because the Mets have not really had a plan since reaching the World Series, possibly for how shocking it was.

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Remember when Dilson Herrera was supposed to be this guy and the long term reason for trading Daniel Murphy? Well, he was shipped out of town shortly later for effectively said Ryder Ryan. Or how about Justin Turner? Well liked utility man (by the players of course, not fans as they’re another story) turned star after leaving New York and having his reputation as a hustler tarnished along the way. Both were clubhouse presences who took pride in being Mets only to have felt wronged and that is a problem that the franchise has to answer for. Neither was particularly expensive and showed loyalty much like Grandy and Jay. Could you imagine the infield with the them here? They should be just for clutch they were and now are helping anchor the two best teams in the National League. Again, I’m not here to simply litigate the past. I am also taking part in this analysis for the future and this starts a series of crucial roster crunches going into next season. Sandy Alderson has one last chance at a positive tenure whereas the past few seasons have been massive failures due of course to injury. The first task at hand has to do with manager and who’s going to replace Terry Collins. Say whatever you want about his in game strategy but he tried his best even at the expense of his bullpen whose arms he helped destroy. Collins is the organization’s all time winningest manager and there’s something to be said there as well as the relationships he nurtured along the way with the coaching staff wanting to keep Murphy/Turner. The direction Sandy has to go now is different than in 2011 when he chose TC over names like Clint Hurdle who I was hoping wouldn’t get extended and Yoenis Cespedes’ favorite Bob Melvin. It doesn’t mean someone who is super young, “open” to the “new way” the game is played and you could probably tell how much I disagree with statements regarding the age of advanced stats and analytics. A field manager should not only take orders from his bosses on the lineup card and anyone who says he should should see the New York Mets the last six years. Joe Girardi doesn’t do that with Brian Cashman and the two have as good a partnership as there is even though the Yankee fans don’t see this. My conditions on any hire are two fold: the person cannot have been a part of Terry’s staff this year as the players have seen and heard from him already or should have experience at least playing baseball at a high level and not be strictly an Alderson person. I’m looking at you Dick Scott and Walt Weiss.

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With that out of the way, I will tell you what I wouldn’t have an issue with despite making me less thrilled. This would be the name Bob Geren who’s most likely to get the job with his familiarity of the organization. I just don’t like the message it sends to coaches in Binghamton and Las Vegas like Pedro Lopez and Luis Rojas, two fine baseball men who deserve the chance more than Geren with their ongoing service at less than glamorous posts and have experiences developing the youngsters on the team today. Bringing back another retread like Chip Hale would be better because he works harder and got an unfair shake in Arizona but still not enough. The reason I prefer external options is because of the tangible sparks they bring their first couple years. Just look at what the change from Don Mattingly to Dave Roberts has done for LA and in Colorado with Bud Black. Some are nostalgic for the past and want to bring back Edgardo Alfonzo to which I say let the man coach a full season with the Cyclones first. Robin Ventura I would be OK with for reasons because he’s smart, the better player and didn’t have much to work with when he was in Chicago. Of course, now they have completed reshaped the White Sox fortunes after he’s gone. Ron Gardenhire, an 85 Met is mentioned often and would be similar to Dusty Baker going to Washington but is up there in age. I am sympathetic to second chances and have a feeling Manny Acta and Don Wakamatsu have matured philosophically since they last got canned so it wouldn’t surprise me to see them in position soon succeeding. Dave Martinez, to me, is particularly intriguing because he’s followed Joe Madden, the perfect major league manager, around the last decade and is truly entertaining and someone that makes coming to the ballpark everyday for the athletes like the Cubs do. In addition to that positive culture, he’s from Brooklyn and a former catcher. Other home run hires that are more name worthy would be a pair of Yankees and Mets, what a surprise!

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Raul Ibanez and Alex Rodriguez are media savy former ballplayers that talk baseball in ways GMs do. They could easily slide into the role and relate to players who aren’t as gifted as them, something hard for superstars to generally do. Ibanez obviously doesn’t come with the baggage A-Rod does and turned Tampa Bay down for family reasons, but Rodriguez grew up a big time Mets fan and I know he’d love to do it. Former Met Alex Cora is the much more realistic option and currently coaches for the Astros. I was surprised he took any position but he really wants to get into managing and would be perfect for a kid like Amed Rosario and all the Mets Latin players with his career as a middle infielder. Michael Cuddyer was in some ways a shadow coach when he couldn’t play anymore at a high level in 2015 after costing the Mets a draft pick but is beloved by almost everyone like Grandy is except Curtis has greater things in his future than coaching a baseball team such as Congress. I’d be remiss if I didn’t at least mention the possibility of David Wright. He’s the captain and would be the modern day Gil Hodges if it happened. Personally, I think with everything going on around him, it’d be the best way to spend the next 20 years of his life like Donnie has after his spinal stenosis diagnosis because I’d never fire him for all he means to the blue and orange. The two last names on my list are two lifers who I haven’t seen touted as future managers for the only reason that they’re bench coaches. Joe McEwing or Super Joe of the 2000 Mets actually helped David a lot when he got called up and has been quiet on the North Side otherwise. He’s old school with bunts and everything which has been held against him but understands the psychology behind everything he does. Attainability wise, McEwing is likely the safest bet to say yes to any offer, especially in a place he has history at and is a major reason why he slots in here. The only thing Ron Wotus has done the last six years is win three rings with the Giants as Bruce Bochy’s eyes and ears. He’s been in San Francisco since I was born and has also served for Baker and Felipe Alou. Wotus was close to getting the Nationals gig that went to his old friend and it would’ve been cool for D.C. to call him WOTUS. The only thing cooler would be to see the Mets burn the Nats decision by hiring him as he’s easily my number one choice as someone who’s a great communicator with his Northeast accent from Connecticut. Incredibly enough, I have not seen a Giant fan complain about him and the overwhelming majority of them would love to see him as a successor to Bochy with his history in the dugout of postseason games.

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