We are halfway through Sandy Alderson's third off season as Mets General Manager. This should be a time when we can begin to see some of the results of Alderson's rebuilding plan.
When Alderson was hired we all knew the Mets would not be competitive for a few years. Ownership was dealing with Irving Picard's claw-back lawsuit and the Mets payroll was dramatically top heavy.
Met fans had no expectations of high profile free agents signing with the Mets any time in the near future. The hiring of front office gurus Paul DePodesta and J.P. Ricciardi did, however, suggest that the roster would be turned over significantly by now, albeit with less glamorous acquisitions.
I decided to review the Mets 40 man roster to see how many players are Alderson acquisitions and how many are holdovers from prior regimes. Only 11 players on the 40 man roster were brought to the Mets by Alderson. The remaining 27 were already here when Alderson was hired (currently, two spots on the 40 man roster are unfilled).
Three years into Alderson's tenure and this is still largely Omar Minaya's team. I fully expected the Alderson regime to be very active in "under-the-radar" deals to compensate for their inability to spend their way out of the mistakes of the past. While there are many possible explanations for their lack of activity, the facts point to three highly paid executives employing a "rope-a-dope" strategy of rebuilding the farm system from the bottom up while allowing the major league team to flounder indefinitely.
Every year Alderson claims the Mets are not "punting" the season but his perpetual inactivity suggests otherwise. If your team is far from contending and you do nothing to improve it, it is hard to defend the assertion that you are not punting.
I fully endorse avoiding "lateral" moves made just for the sake of appearing to be active. But the expectation was this dream team front office would be finding diamonds in the rough around the league and stealing away the undervalued players from the competition. Either the league has become very sophisticated in player valuation or the Met front office is all sizzle and no steak.
To be fair, Alderson has done a great job maximizing the return on the high value assets he decided to sell, Carlos Beltran and R.A. Dickey. Zack Wheeler and Travis d'Arnaud look to be mainstays and Noah Syndergaard could prove to be a steal.
Alderson has done very little during his tenure to improve the 25 man team the Mets put on the field. It appears most of the energy of the front office has gone into rebuilding the minor league system.
Rebuilding the farm system is the only way to achieve long term sustained success, so I am not critical of that initiative. But I am becoming annoyed with the annual "we are not punting" speech, when his actions make him look like Ray Guy from his own end zone.
David Wright claims he heard "the plan" from Alderson and he liked it. As a long time Met fan, I also would like to hear the plan.
Met fans have lived through a lot of BS and we can recognize it a mile away. Telling us that you are not punting when you have done so little to improve the team insults our intelligence. If we knew the framework and the timing of this plan, it may make it easier to justify paying to see a few games at Citi Field.
When you lie to us about punting, we also wonder if you really do have a plan that goes beyond simply waiting another three years for the farm system to be restocked.
If there is a light at the end of the tunnel, management should share it with Met fans, we can be surprisingly patient. However, when management continually over-sells their product in an attempt to "fool" fans into attending games, we become resentful and distrusting.
The Wilpons had the nerve to say the Madoff mess would have no impact on the operation of the Mets when the Ponzi scheme was initially uncovered. That was a lie to buy time. Ownership's annual efforts to pay debt with more debt suggest an unstable foreseeable future for the franchise as they keep trying to buy time to hold onto the franchise. It is understandable why some fans feel that references to a "plan" to make the Mets relevant in the near future are only words trying, again, to buy time.
Ownership and management need to understand just how fractured the relationship has become between them and the fans. There is only one way to repair it ... honesty.
Stop insulting us with claims of possible contention when you know the only way that would happen would be sheer luck.
Frank Cashen made the Mets into winners in the eighties by rebuilding the farm, trading for a couple of key stars and filling out the roster with solid players. Alderson needs to start bringing in players like Tim Teufel, Howard Johnson, Ray Knight and Bob Ojeda. Cashen traded prospects for those players, all of whom contributed to their championship in 1986.
I am not even asking for a trade like the ones made for Keith Hernandez and Gary Carter. You make those trades when you are much closer to contending. But three years into his regime, I expected Alderson would have found a Bob Ojeda or Howard Johnson by now.
The lack of those types of acquisitions by Alderson is beginning to make me wonder, not whether there is a plan but, whether Alderson is the right guy to oversee the next phase in the rebuilding process.
Stop telling us you are not punting and start showing us!