The MLB draft in taking place today through Wednesday. It’s a big draft for the Mets, who have the 13th pick in the first round, for a variety of reasons. It’s the first draft for Paul DePodesta with the Mets. He’s Sandy Alderson’s protoge and amateur and minor league expert.
The Mets also appear headed toward a rebuilding process so building through the draft is going to be critical. There are several big contracts like K-Rod, Carlos Beltran, and Jose Reyes that the Mets are poised to trade away this season. Combined with the Mets financial problems, building through the draft and farm system would be the likely emphasis for the organization.
I’m certainly not an amateur player expert so I wanted to put together some links this morning that would allow you to keep up with the best draft coverage over the next three days.
As the Mets and Marlins get ready to begin the 2011 season tonight, I can’t help but think that the Mets team is going to look very different when this season ends. The financially struggling Wilpons didn’t bring in Sandy Alderson, J.P. Ricciardi, and Paul DePodesta to stand pat like they did all winter. There are going to be moves this season and probably some big ones.
Ike Davis looks like he’s on his way to becoming a solid, if not spectacular everyday player. David Wright is the face of the franchise and locked up in a contract until 2012 with an option for 2013. After that, things are much more in question. Is Josh Thole an everyday catcher? Will Jose Reyes sign an extension, get traded, or just play out his contract with the Mets? Are Brad Emaus or Daniel Murphy going to solidify second base?
Angel Pagan looks like a solid center fielder on the rise in his career. Scott Hairston and Willie Harris look like capable fourth and fifth outfielders. The other two-thirds of the outfield are question marks. Does Carlos Beltran have anything left that could justify all (or even a small portion) of his $18.5 million salary for this season? Will Beltran waive his no-trade clause at some point during the season? Will Jason Bay do anything productive for the Mets or is he another big free agent bust? Continue reading “Mets Start 2011 with More Questions than Answers”
I’ve been surprised to hear how many fans are very dissatisfied with the Mets this offseason. The Mets brought in Sandy Alderson, J.P. Ricciardi, Paul DePodesta to run the front office and develop a plan. But not much has happened since then while other teams are spending on big names like Jayson Werth, Cliff Lee, and Carl Crawford. That’s led to a lot of dissension among fans that I’ve talked to and heard from on Facebook and Twitter.
My take has been that the Mets knew for at least three years that this day would come. This is a day in which several long-term, big money contracts are coming due at the same time. Typically, that’s the making of an ugly situation which is exactly what’s happening to the Mets for next season. The confluence of the final season of contracts for Carlos Beltran, Oliver Perez, Luis Castillo, and K-Rod is the making of a difficult season. There just isn’t the financial flexibility or players with value to be able to do anything with. We’re going to have to ride out 2011 and just hope for the best. By “best”, I mean another .500 season and maybe dump some salary in July for prospects with potential.
The new Mets front office has taken the time to explain that “Moneyball” is not a game they will be playing in Queens. Paul Depodesta and J.P. Ricciardi have even criticized Michael Lewis for his characterization of their personas. I’m sure I wouldn’t appreciate being called a nerd either. Sandy Alderson, in a recent quote, told the press he would not have come to Queens if he had to instill the tactics used in Oakland.
Although I do believe the Ivy League squad running the Mets, one of the few moves made this winter seems like a chapter directly from the book. Kevin Youkilis, a key figure in the “Moneyball”, was a prime example because of his ability to walk and not strikeout. He was unappealing to most scouts because of his lack of “tools”. Billy Beane perceived “tools” a less tangible marker for a successful big leaguer. He was called fat and a bad fielder and was unnoticed through most of baseball. Nevertheless, Youk was a star in Paul Depodesta’s computer. He was a break from what a time honored scout would particularly look for.
This brings me to the Rule 5 draft. The resemblance to the the Moneyball school of thought was undeniable. J.P. Ricciardi’s familiarity with a prospect in Toronto led Sandy to scoop up Brad Emaus. Emaus has nothing flashy or exciting in his bag of tricks. He is not the “toolsy” raw talent that scouts drool over. He was brought aboard, not surprisingly, because of his ability to draw walks and not strike out. Pitch selection and on base percentage have brought him to the Mets roster.
I don’t believe the trio will be pinching pennies in years when the funds are more available. Emaus however, is an early indicator that the new regime has an idea about picking out under appreciated talent. Emaus will be the first in a list of benchmarks to judge if they can still scoop these under the radar contributors. At the very least it makes for interesting debate.
Collins has already failed twice as a manager in Houston and with the Angels, finishing 10 games over .500 overall. His Angels team was a mutiny in ’99 and Collins resigned before the end of the season crying at the press conference at how he lost the team. Sure, it’s been 11 years since that happened but he sure wouldn’t be the guy that I would want running my team.
Collins also has deep connections with Paul DePodesta when they both worked for the Dodgers. DePodesta wanted to hire Collins in 2005 to manage the Dodgers but Frank McCourt was unhappy with the managerial candidates and fired DePodesta.
This is one of those critical decisions that better be right for Sandy Alderson and company. If not, there could be a mutiny at a much larger scale this time by the fans.
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. Continue reading “Mets Big Market Moneyball – Feed the Beast”
Sandy Alderson is getting the band back together again. I like it! Hopefully, he’ll be able to pry Paul DePodesta away from the Padres too. I think it’s a great hire bringing in Ricciardi with eight years of experience as the Blue Jays GM. It’s a great move and I’m really starting to get excited about the wealth of experience the Mets are assembling in the front office.
Here’s the press release from the Mets:
FLUSHING, N.Y., November 2, 2010 – The New York Mets today announced that J.P. (John Paul) Ricciardi has been named Special Assistant to General Manager Sandy Alderson. From November 14, 2001 through 2009, he was the Senior Vice President, Baseball Operations and General Manager for the Toronto Blue Jays. Ricciardi spent last season as a baseball analyst for ESPN.
“J.P. brings a wealth of knowledge and a breadth of experience to the organization,” said Alderson. “I worked with him for over a decade in Oakland and I know first hand he’s a superb talent evaluator. He’ll be a tremendous resource in a variety of areas.”
In his new role, Ricciardi will assist Alderson in all aspects of the baseball department.
The 51-year-old worked for the Oakland Athletics for 16 years (1986-2001), including 12 years (1986-1997) when Alderson was the team’s General Manager.
“I couldn’t be more excited about being reunited with Sandy,” said Ricciardi. “We enjoyed tremendous success together in Oakland and it’s my goal to help duplicate that here with the Mets. As a former Met farm hand, it’s a double homecoming for me.”
Ricciardi played two seasons in the Mets minor league system after signing as a non-drafted free agent. In 1980, he was a teammate of current Oakland GM Billy Beane in the New York-Penn League with Little Falls and in 1981 he played for Shelby (A) of the South Atlantic League.