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Wilpons think that Mets stink because they’re too analytics-heavy

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There’s a story in the New York Post today about the Mets search for a general manager to permanently replace Sandy Alderson. A potential candidate is named — Gary LaRocque of the Cardinals — and some explanation is given for why someone like him, who is 65, and not one of the now familiar 30-something sabermetric, Ivy League whiz kids is being considered:

Multiple individuals connected to the team have indicated Mets patriarch Fred Wilpon, 81, is unlikely to hand the organization’s reins to a young, purely analytics-driven GM with whom he would perhaps have difficulty connecting. The growing belief is Wilpon will look toward a more traditional baseball person . . . There is thought among team officials that perhaps the Mets became too analytics driven in recent seasons under Sandy Alderson’s watch, and a veteran leader with a pure baseball background would help shift the organization toward the center.

Know what? I think it’d be a totally defensible position for a team which experienced poor results under an analytics-heavy GM to want to go in a different direction. Indeed, I think that, in many respects, we’ve gone too far in considering only those now familiar 30-something sabermetric, Ivy League whiz kids for top baseball operations jobs.

The Mets, however, are not most teams and it seems pretty dang clear that there are a LOT of things other than analytically-based decisions which have caused them to suck.

Those things, for the most part, are Fred and Jeff Wilpon and their treatment of the Mets as a 1990s-era small market team in which most moves they authorize are aimed at salary relief and bargain basement savings. Most moves the Mets make — almost all of which are likely approved and/or micromanaged by Jeff Wilpon — are seemingly made to answer the question, “how will this improve the Mets immediate cash flow” as opposed to “how will this help the Mets win baseball games?” or “how will this better position the Mets to win baseball games in the future?”

Sandy Alderson may very well be a sabermetrically-oriented guy, but it is not an excess amount of analytics that have put the Mets in this place (quick: what’s the sabermetric justification for keeping Jose Reyes on the roster?). “Baseball men” may, actually, be undervalued in today’s game, but any baseball man hired by the Wilpons will no doubt be forced to operate under their top priority — optimizing cash flow — rather than be given a mission to win games, first and foremost, same as Alderson was.

The problem with the Mets is not the general manager. The problem is Fred and Jeff Wilpon.

BREAKING: Manny Machado to sign with the Padres: 10 years, $300 million

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Jeff Passan of ESPN reports that Manny Machado has a deal with the San Diego Padres. Mark Feinsand of MLB.com reports that the deal is for ten years and $300 million with an opt-out after year five.

At the moment there is some disagreement as to how “done” this deal is, with Padres chairman Ron Fowler saying “We do not have a deal. We are continuing discussions.” Ken Rosenthal, however, says that’s “semantics” and that the financial terms are in place, with the deal requiring over some final touches on language and Machado’s physical, which will likely be a formality.

The Padres were a late entrant into the Machado sweepstakes, but they reportedly met with Machado last week. The club has obviously not won for a long time, but they have a strong farm system. While that usually mitigates against a big free agent signing, Machado’s age — 26 — means that he’s still likely to be a productive player when that core of prospects is mature. And if it doesn’t develop, hey, he’s made some serious bank and can still opt-out at an age when he might get another decent paycheck.

For the Padres, Machado represents the biggest single investment in a player in club history. Last year they spent too, of course, giving Eric Hosmer an eight-year, $144 million contract, but this is definitely next-level. As for the baseball side of things, it’s likely that Machado will be the full-time third baseman with Luis Urias handling shortstop. While all of the talk about Machado over the past several months has been focused on money and, sometimes, his alleged lack of hustle, the Padres are getting a player with a career line of .282/.335/.487 (121 OPS+), 175 career homers and a 33.8 career WAR in seven big league seasons. While he played shortstop last year and as a minor leaguer, his past and future is at third, where he is a superior defender. As for the hustle: it has almost exclusively been an obsession of the media, based on an ill-advised postgame quote in October. He has received no bad reviews from former teammates, all of whom speak highly of his game and his work ethic.

When the offseason began it appeared that the Phillies or the Yankees or, perhaps, the White Sox had the inside track on Machado. Everyone took a wait-and-see approach, reasonably believing that by waiting out Machado, a better deal could be struck. The risk of that approach, of course, is that it allowed the Padres to talk themselves into getting bold and, ultimately, swooping in to strike this deal.