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Greg Prince and Jason Fry
Faith and Fear in Flushing made its debut on Feb. 16, 2005, the brainchild of two longtime friends and lifelong Met fans.

Greg Prince discovered the Mets when he was 6, during the magical summer of 1969. He is a Long Island-based writer, editor and communications consultant. Contact him here.

Jason Fry is a Brooklyn writer whose first memories include his mom leaping up and down cheering for Rusty Staub. Check out his other writing here.

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The Mets Dilemma

Apparently Sandy Alderson made the media rounds yesterday, discussing Mets doings with Mike Francesa. I didn’t hear it, as I have it on good authority that Francesa is the exclusive radio voice in Hell, and see no reason to get an early start on that. MetsBlog summed it up anyways, and most of it was the usual pre-spring-training can-do hoo-ha, pleasant February background noise that one can simultaneously appreciate and safely ignore.

One thing stood out, though:

[Alderson] said he expects to have the necessary payroll flexibility to add to the major league roster when and if necessary (such as the trade deadline, should the team be in contention).

Here, it seems to me, is one of the central dilemmas of being a Mets fan right now — or, more properly, here’s a subset of the two-headed problem of the team being broke and no sane fan trusting anything ownership or the business side says about the situation. (We’ve all heard more than enough about that and are due for a lot more in spring training, so let’s skip it this morning.)

Put simply, I think Sandy is a smart guy, and I agree with most of the moves he’s made so far. He’s constructed a solid bench, refitted the bullpen, made some low-risk, high-reward moves (some successful and some inevitably not), drafted sensibly, traded off pieces when it made sense, and refused to give Jose Reyes an ill-advised deal, or to play PR games on the road to not giving him that deal. Should he have traded Reyes earlier? Arguably yes, but Jose was damaged goods, the team needed SOME reason to keep fans out of nooses, and I’m glad we finally got that batting title. So I give him a pass there.

I think he’s built a solid foundation for future success. The thing is, building a solid foundation is a pretty empty exercise if all you can construct atop of it is a shack, or a cut-rate ranch house in a ritzy neighborhood.

If Sandy really can add payroll, that’s fantastic. But I have no faith that he actually can, and I have no faith that he thinks he actually can.

Has he been told that he can add payroll under the appropriate circumstances? I’m sure the answer to that is “yes” — I don’t think the man’s a liar, beyond the necessities of propriety in his job. But I’m also sure he’s been told lots of things during his exceedingly weird tenure as Mets GM. It would be fascinating, to say the least, to get his unvarnished take on those things. But I suspect that’s a tale that won’t be told for years, if ever.

In the meantime, hey, the man’s funny as hell on Twitter, the walls are changed and the unis are better. And baseball’s baseball, with plenty of delights even when you suspect your October will be free. But man oh man. When there was money we had Omar Minaya, and now that we have Sandy Alderson there’s no money. Unless you’re an aficionado of irony, it’s hard to find a silver lining there.

We ain’t as funny as Sandy on Twitter, but you can follow us too if you like. Greg is greg_prince, and I’m jasoncfry.

10 comments to The Mets Dilemma

  • srt

    I tuned in – which is a rarity for me as I have the same opinion as you apparently were told…

    He also had this to say (more or less) when Francesa asked him did he expect ‘this’ when he came here:

    ‘Look, I didn’t come here to operate the Oakland A’s. And I don’t expect to have to do that on a long-term basis, and I’m not doing it currently.’

    It’s the only part of the interview where he sounded remotely exasperated or angry. Whether it’s true or not, sounds like SA expects finances to turn upward sooner rather than later so he can have some money to spend.

  • Kevin From Flushing

    That’s a bingo

  • Dak442

    Yours is the voice of reason, particularly on the Reyes thing. A counterweight to the endless cavilling by Metsblog commenters, which have become a chore to read.

  • Joe D.

    Hi Jason,

    Sandy also said last winter that freeing up contractual obligations (hinting at Perez, Castillo, etc.) would then allow us to have more flexibility in the free agent market in 2012. We know that didn’t happen.

    Has he done a good job overall?

    Now I know we disagree with what happened to KRod and Beltran last summer but getting rid of these guys now in order to get something in return is the way an accountant runs the team, not a baseball person (though I think Sandy had no choice).

    As an example, I’ll use the ’69 Mets. Now I’m not comparing this team to the miracle ’69 club by any stretch of the imagination but consider the fact that Gil Hodges didn’t believe his team could consider itself a contender until they were still close come September. Now, though the realist in Hodges believed it was too soon to seriously consider the Mets a contender, he did not let that on to his players. That is not the message one wants to send to a young and upcoming team in terms of thinking ahead to the seasons to follow and wanting in the meantime to build up team confidence and instilling a winning attitude with his young players.

    This is why I contend the moves made last summer did more damage than good for a franchise whose front office says their goal is “rebuilding”. The point I believe many are missing is that “rebuilding” also means instilling a winning attitude that could carry over from year to year for the young players on the team now who are waiting for those prospects in the minors to come up and put them over the top. The winning attitude, the spark and the confidence we did see from the 2011 team through the end of July quickly evaporated when they lost their veteran closer and top hitter. Yes, neither was going to be with the team in 2012 but what the young players could have garnered from their presence and contributions to a winning season would be go past 2011 and be vitial for their growth and maturity in the years 2012, 2013 and beyond.

    By undermining the team the front office broke it’s spirit. It was obvious by their play after those trades that something more upsetting than wins and losses was occuring. The young players started making more mental mistakes, began pressing too much, seemed less confident in their ability and eventually, the spark they had for so long was lost. Again, I’m afraid about that carrying over to 2012 with the confidence built upon that 50-37 clip just fading away.

    Granted, the financial situation left the general manager no other choice. But I’d rather read fans saying that made good FINANCIAL sense instead of saying getting rid of KRod and Beltran made good baseball sense from the perspective of rebuilding. I don’t think getting a Zach Wheeler was a better gamble than letting the kids play out the season with all the support the front office could give them to build up character and a winning attitude by retaining those two guys.

    • Joe D.

      Just want to add if some feel except for Duda, Davis and possibly Murphy the rest of the young core will not be around in the years ahead, then getting rid of Beltran and Krod makes sense for these kids would then only be temporary measures to fill the roster.

      Though I have high hopes for Tejada, Gee, Parnell, Neise and possibly Thole and Turner if others don’t (other than for one of them)then Sandy did make the right move. It’s strictly a judgement call.

  • Florida Met Fan Rich

    Contention?…Really?…Did somebody say Contention?

    Not to worry Sandy, I feel pretty good you won’t have to make that decision.

  • Maybe it works like this: if they are in contention, they will be presumably selling more tickets (and beer/shirts/tchotchkes), and thus have some extra income flexibility to add payroll. Maybe?

    • Joe D.

      Even if they are in contention, with Citi Field being too expensive for many to begin with a large segment of fans will still be staying home.

      Only way to make tickets more affordable is not to buy them in advance but on game day. That way the price goes lower thanks to that new dynamic ticket pricing scheme.

  • Jacobs27

    Downhill rate! Haha, indeed, Sandy is right…

  • Knob

    A solid bench? Can you elaborate? A bench with Mike Nickeas involved as a backup to Josh Thole almost takes away from any strength the rest of the bench has. Which is what exactly? Mike Baxter, Ronny Cedeno, Justin Turner, Josh Satin, Scott Hairston? I think its mediocre for the International League.