Mets Big Market Moneyball – Feed the Beast

NEW YORK - OCTOBER 29:  Sandy Alderson poses f...
Image by Getty Images via @daylife

Moneyball has infiltrated the Metropolitans. Although the club had long ago hired a sabermetrics analyst, many of the original innovators are now behind a desk at Citi Field. For those living under a rock, Michael Lewis’ book “Moneyball” was to baseball traditionalists what “TheDavinci Code” was to fundamental Christians. The figures in the book including Sandy Alderson, Paul DePodesta, and J.P. Ricciardi along with Billy Beane and others devalued purist stats such as RBIs and stolen bases. They found through analysis that scouts, execs, and so on favored an old flawed relic of a system. They instead chose to use on base percentage and slugging as their ways to identify their coveted players. This also allowed small market Oakland to acquire lower priced players and continue to compete. The front office in Queens will now seem more like a mensa meeting than a baseball one. Trade in your ball and glove for and abacus and graphing calculator. The honeymoon with Alderson is currently in progress but I’d like to play devil’s advocate a moment. Here is an intrigue to ponder.

How will it go over when Alderson doesn’t feed “The Beast”?

This beast I’m referring to is the angry mob of disappointed Mets fans. Mets fans, who after a losing effort, will be hanging out of windows screaming for the highest paid free agent available. The fans who wore Manny Ramirez wigs and paraded outside of SNY a few years back. What if the front office logic leads them to less known, less heralded free agents/trades? How will Alderson explain his desire to sign a player with less of the “sexy stats” and more of his coveted ones? Will impatient fans grow tired of DePodesta’s number crunching and whine excruciatingly about not signing the latest big money stud. Winning will solve all, but how much and how quick will it need to be for the mob to stop crowding Mike Francesa’s phone lines with their red eyed banter. I can’t see this being a problem on draft boards. The MLB draft gets no where near the coverage of the NFL draft. Alderson can skip over a raw talent machine from high school for a polished college kid without much feedback from the masses.

New York is a different town than Oakland. It’s a different universe. Met fans believe they are all qualified to be the next General Manager. They don’t only comment on trades, they scour rosters and devise their own trade proposals. If Alderson can’t provide a winner in timely fashion “The Beast” will become hungry. “The Beast” only feeds on superstars who can excite a fan base. “The Beast” doesn’t salivate over OPS statistics and walk ratios. I must admit I myself joined the mob in wanting Oliver Perez, Jason Bay, K-Rod, amongst others I may not want to admit. I will say thankfully however, Luis Castillo is not on my list of regrettable wants. Alderson will have a window in which to navigate freely. Met fans are desperate to believe in what he brings to the table. After these past few years, we are open to anything. If Alderson wants to consult the oracle or sacrifice virgins to give Met fans a harvest, I’m sure we’d listen to this new philosophy. However, “The Beast” will sleep only so long.

Despite playing devil’s advocate. “Moneyball” is now a must read for even the casual Met fan. Never in the history of the team have you been allowed to be a fly on the wall of Executives who now work for the Mets. A decade ago, these men were breaking ground and doing it successfully. It has been a long time since the book was released and there is no doubt that the baseball world has since caught up. Our new front office will no longer be getting raised eyebrows from their OPS talk. Nevertheless, as Bill James would have said “don’t be an ape”. This simply put means break new ground and don’t play copy cat. We now have just the innovators to do so.

Author: Dave Doyle

Frequently disappointed Mets fan

4 thoughts on “Mets Big Market Moneyball – Feed the Beast”

  1. Well I find READING a book is not quite as important as COMPREHENDING it!

    Many who read moneyball will assume we are going to bring in a bunch of no name High OBP players with what would appear to be less than STAR QUALITY STATS and never ever spend money on a big name free agent.

    Classic case of reading but not comprehending.

    Moneyball isn't about not spending money and not spending on star FAs. It is about getting around having no money in a situation that existed nearly10 years ago!

    That situation has changed drastically!

    It is not about HIGH OBP, High OBP is merely the stat that was used at the time (because it was undervalued) to demonstrate how other undervalued stats can make one player who costs half as much just as much of a contributor to wins and runs scored as someone who costs twice as much because he has numbers in stats that are OVER VALUED such as HRs and RBI by other teams bidding for their services! In this day and age OBP is probably OVER VALUED thanks to the misreading or miscomprehension of Moneyball!

    Lets say a 20 HR guy and a 40 HR guy are available. The 40 HR guy is going to demand at least twice the pay the 20 HR guy will.

    But by looking at the other stats of both you might find that 20 HR guy scores or drives in close to, or as many runs as 40 HR guy does when all is said and done. Based on undervalued stats the other teams neglected to look at!

    Moneyball would say forget the 40 HR guy go get two of the 20HR guys and you will have doubled your production for the same money you would have spent on 40 HR guy!

    THIS IS MONEYBALL the Philosophy!!

    It can work just as well in a big market like NY. Not because it works to get more production from overlooked performers but because it saves enough money to go after the high priced guys who can make those seemingly undervalued players that much more productive and able to win lots of games!

    You can spend the money to get a cy young starting rotation or the high HR RBI guy to drive in runs.

    You can spend it on players who will bring balance to the lineup which may have been slanted towards one undervalued stat to add value to it. In the case used in moneyball HIGH OBP was good but to get full value you sometimes needed to spend money on guys who had a good RISP metric to drive those runs in!

    I can see the Mets new leaders using many of the principles stated in Moneyball to good effect. And the best effect of using them will be that it won't be too hard to go after the few Free Agents that you feel you need to have to realize the FULL VALUE and POTENTIAL of the undervalued moneyball stats the rest of the team has been built around!

    This would in essence be Moneyball with Money!

    Save enough money to have it to spend on the few guys who can make those undervalued players much more valuable than they were just on their own!

    The best of BOTH worlds if you ask me!


  2. I have to admit I was thinking the same thing as Gabe. What if? The Mets have had 4 heartbreaking years in a row. "What if" Moneyball doesn't work and the only way to win in NY is to spend a ton of money like the Yankees? We now have such high hopes for our 3 new GM's. We also had the same similar high hopes for Omar.

    That being said, "on paper", moneyball should work spectacularly. Our 3 new GM's should be able to identify high quality, low cost talent and with the savings bring in the big free agents. A complete team… but only time will tell. We'll just have to cross our fingers.


  3. Although I enjoy your enthusiasm Metsie, it's misplaced. Everyone is excited about your comprehension of Moneyball. The book, just like a weight bearing philosophy book was highlighting the need to reevaluate conventional systems. Tradition can sometimes allow us to forget or overlook why we actually approach things the way we do. With that said, there is no greater tradition than baseball in this country. The highlighting of Bill James' spirit is essential to the book. He constantly poses new questions and tears down myths which accumulate over time. The myths become immovable to even the executives. Met fans shouldn't think that Sandy will be drafting Jeremy brown the second. Noted in the book, Beane had a fraction of other clubs' budget and a cluster of early picks. This forced him to experiment.

    My point, was Sandy and his new dream team are innovators. Met fans are all about anything which looks promising at this point. Nevertheless, with their knack for innovation, how will fans take it. This does not pertain directly to OPS. OPS is as common as hotdogs in 2010 baseball. If the success is late to come or doesn't come, will Met fans be willing to listen to anything innovative or fresh(whatever that may be). If we go missing from the next few pennant races, will Met fans want anything more than the most expensive guy on the market?

    Moneyball, like any good book, was meant to raise questions not answer them. I'm not writing book reports for this site. I'm raising questions.


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