Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Sandy Alderson's best move of the day (and it wasn't introducing Terry Collins)

It will be some time before we know whether Terry Collins was a good hire as manager of the Mets, but another Sandy Alderson move announced Tuesday is already a positive sign of good things to come. The Mets are offering Pedro Feliciano arbitration.

There was some speculation that the Mets would not offer arbitration to Perpetual Pedro. With reportedly as little as $5 million to spend this offseason, some speculated that it might not make sense to tie up as much as $4 million in a lefty specialist who has been greatly overworked the last few seasons.

Which is exactly the sort of thinking that has doomed the Mets in recent years. Feliciano is a valuable enough asset that both the Yankees and Phillies have reported expressed interest in offering him a multi-year deal. By not offering arbitration, the Mets would have let this valuable asset leave for nothing. Instead, there are now three possibilities, all of which will be good for the Mets:

  • Feliciano declines arbitration, meaning the Mets get a supplemental first-round pick.
  • Feliciano accepts arbitration, meaning the Mets get to keep their most consistent reliever, who has stayed healthy for several years despite Jerry Manuel's overuse and has shown he can pitch in New York.
  • Feliciano accepts arbitration, and Alderson decides that the $4 million or so could be better spent and uses Feliciano as a trade chip.

Compare this situation to what happened when Omar Minaya traded Billy Wagner to the Red Sox just before Wagner was to become a free agent.

The Red Sox offered Wagner arbitration, knowing he would decline because he wanted to find a closing job. When Wagner signed with the Braves, the Red Sox got two 2010 first round picks in compensation, the 20th pick and the 36th pick (supplemental part of first round).

Boston lost its own first-rounder to the Angels for signing John Lackey, but along with the two picks for Wagner, they picked up another supplemental first-round pick for losing, ahem, Jason Bay.

Red Sox GM Theo Epstein was very pleased with his draft:

"We're really happy that we were able to get the certainty of college players with the potential impact of high-ceiling guys as well and all in the shape of good athletes," Epstein said...

Time will only tell, but we're as happy in the draft room as we've been in any year that I've been here. We feel it broke our way and we couldn't be more excited with all three guys."

Thanks to trading for Wagner and offering him arbitration, the Red Sox have two top prospects, Kolbrin Vitek and Bryce Brentz.

By trading Wagner, the Mets saved some money in salary and acquired pinch-hitter Chris Carter.

Under Alderson, the Mets are finally recognizing the value of high draft picks and of maximizing the value of your assets.


As for Collins, he's fiery and places an emphasis on fundamentals, which means that he has the same traits that many Met fans like in Wally Backman.

Some in the media worry that Collins isn't that great on camera. The Record's Bob Klapisch wrote:

He'll have to be more than ready, he'll need to be charismatic some 300 times a year, during every pre- and postgame interview on SNY.

It never bothered me that Willie Randolph was not charismatic until the Mets started stumbling on his watch. And I enjoyed Jerry Manuel's charisma until things fell apart under him.

The people most concerned with how someone deals with the media are the media themselves. Everyone else is more concerned with whether Collins can win games. If the Mets win under Collins, I don't care if his Q and A is along the lines of Captain Pike on the original "Star Trek," who answered questions by blinking a light once for yes and twice for no.

And as for Collins ruffling feathers in the clubhouse and having a run-in with none other than Mo Vaughn, the Mets in recent years could use some shaking up.

Ultimately, it comes down to what kind of players the Mets have, which is why the Feliciano move is so important.

Was today a good day for the Mets? Blink a light once.

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