Last Night's In-Game Q&A with Sandy Alderson

For those of you that missed last night's game, good for you it was awful. However, if you did, you actually missed a rather interesting little chat with Mets GM Sandy Alderson. Sandy sat down with with Gary and Ron during the third and fourth innings last night and answered a number of questions ranging from Jose's health, to trading a star player, to scouts vs. stats, to the state of umpiring in today's game. In short, there's a lot of good stuff in here.

Read the full transcript of the interview below: 

 

Gary: We are glad to have Mets general manager Sandy Alderson join us in the booth. Before we talk about long-term issues -- and we have plenty to talk about -- are you concerned about the state of umpiring in the game right now?

Sandy: That’s a subject I probably should not touch, but probably what concerns me more specifically is the state of umpiring in some of our games.

G: Fair enough. Let me just ask you one more question on the subject because we were just talking about it going to a break; you worked in the commissioner’s office, obviously not on that side of things. Should the commissioner’s office be more public about ratings of umpires and when they discipline umpires to maybe give the viewing public and the teams involved maybe a little more confidence that the issues are being addressed?

S: I think there does have to be some recognition of accountability. It’s a delicate thing and I did supervise umpires for five years so you try to do it on a positive basis. There are a lot of people who think, "Well gee, if you just get rid of an umpire or two every year, eventually you’ll end up with all good umpires." It doesn’t really work that way, so we tried to work more affirmatively, but I do think there needs to be a sense of accountability and I think that’s important.

G: All right, let’s get to more pressing issues involving this franchise right now. When we had you on during spring training, the first question I asked you was about your need to balance the long-term view of this franchise as a perennial contender with the immediate needs of this season and it seems as though those questions are coming to a head right now in this month of July.

S: Yeah, fortunately for us we’ve played very well here over the last few weeks, really since the first couple of weeks of the season and I’m very pleased with the way Terry and the entire group of players and coaches have responded to the season, some of the injuries we’ve had. It’s been great and fun to watch.

G: And how does that effect you over the next few weeks as you try to balance keeping this team together and seeing whether they can be a contender versus what you need to do to try and shore up financially and talent wise this franchise for the years going forward?

S: Yeah, it’s a delicate balance and I’m not going to suggest that it’s going to be an easy balance to maintain, but a lot of it will depend on how we play this month. Some of it is going to depend really on long-term issues that we really have to address irrespective of play on the field. But right now we are doing everything we can to keep the team on the field and allow them to continue to play the way they have.

 

Ron: Sandy, you’re not afraid to pull the trigger on a star player, I was there with Jose Canseco. What special challenges does that present? And not only maybe a great player, but also a favorite among fans?

S: Well, multi-dimensional in terms of considerations. Obviously, you look at the player and his contributions individually, how that player relates to the rest of the team from a chemistry standpoint. Certainly, the fans are taken into account. Also, you have to do what’s in the best interest of the team. But it’s not that simple because the fans, the players, the other players, everything has to be taken into account when you get to that best interest level.

G: We’ll keep you around for another half inning, thanks Sandy.

 

G: You guys decided to place Jose Reyes on the disabled list today. Talk a little bit about the consideration that went into finally making that decision and what do you see now going forward for Jose?

S: We really look at two aspects of his situation. One, the injury and the diagnosis, the medical opinions. We got two doctors look at him, so that certainly came into play. As well as monitoring Jose himself and his progression from day-to-day. The doctors told us it would be unusual for him to be back in 7 to 10 days, conceivable but given the way Jose was progressing we just didn’t see 7 to 10 day scenario playing out. Really the doctors felt like it was going to be more like two weeks to three weeks. So we went day to day to give him a chance to respond to treatment and to see how he felt. But, it just wasn’t the kind of progress that we needed to see and frankly, given his stature and how he plays the game, I think going conservatively is probably the right thing to do. We were hopeful from the outset, but realistic at the same time.

G: Do you expect him to be ready at the end of the 15 days or do you think it might be longer?

S: Could be a little bit longer. We’re just not sure at this point.

 

G: You know, we are heading into trading season now and we hear all the time about rumors about deals and deals being made. I’m wondering a little bit about the mechanics, as a general manager how you approach these things. Especially if you’re trading for prospects. There are thousands of minor leaguers out there. How do you keep track of everything? Who makes the initial phone calls to start to think about deals? How do you let teams know that certain players are available, that kind of thing?

S: Well, it happens very casually by telephone. Today for example, there were two or three general managers that checked in. Just talking about what they thought they might need, what they might have available. Obviously, people read the papers, so the media comes into play a little bit. But its mostly casual conversation that over the next couple of weeks probably ratchets up some and gets more focused. As far as the prospects are concerned and players on other clubs, we have a staff of about 9 pro scouts that are constantly watching major league players, minor league players. So we have priority lists, we have pref lists on most organizations, throughout their organization all the way down to rookie ball.

G: Another quick inning. Can we get another half-inning out of you?

S: Sure, yeah, whatever you need.

 

G: We were talking during the last inning, Sandy, about starting conversations with other teams and they hear things through the media sometimes about who might be available. There’s no player that’s has been speculated about through the media this year more than Francisco Rodriguez because of the nature of his contract for next year. I think it’s been fascinating to watch how Terry uses him and because of that there’s an assumption that at some point he’s going to be dealt. So let me ask you this, can you see a scenario where the Mets would allow K-Rod’s option to vest and he would a Met next year?

S: You know that’s a great question Gary. I try not to speculate. I’m really sorry I stayed for an extra inning. (laughs) That’s a situation I think will play out. Terry I think has done absolutely the right thing, using him as he felt appropriate to win games, to keep K-Rod sharp and I think it’s worked to this point. And I think in terms of next season, we’ll just have to see how it plays out and leave it at that.

 

G: The other thing I wanted to ask you about is because of the book Moneyball and certain caricatures, there’s a feeling that you are a guy that who is completely whet into statistical analysis, which has become such a big part of player analysis these days. When you look at some of the guys who are performing for you right now and I’m thinking of a guy like a Justin Turner might be a guy who might break the bounds of his own statistics. How do you look at a guy like then when you try to evaluate whether he’s part of your future?

S: Well, I think first of all you do have to balance the statistical analysis with the more traditional, more subjective scouting appraisal and I think that’s what we try to do here. As I said earlier, we’ve got a staff of 9 or so pro scouts. J.P. Ricciardi has been scouting for a long time, but also is sensitive to statistical analysis. So, we try to balance the two. In the case of a Justin Turner, you know you have to kind of look at what he’s done historically in his career and try and project that at the major league level. And then not only project it at the major league level, but think in terms of how it might change, not only at the major league level, but as he’s surrounded by other players. So for example, with on base percentage, I think we talked about this at the beginning of the year, that it would be something of a focus of ours. We’ve actually got the second highest on base percentage in baseball and I think it’s because there were players here who had high on base percentages in the past and maybe got away from it. So there needs to be a little bit of a reminder, but at the same time guys can improve, guys can change. I think Justin’s still got room to grow.

 

R: Well, we’ve talked a lot about the players on the fields, the trades. How did the first draft go for you and your staff?

S: I think it went very well. I was very happy with the process first of all. I mean you never know the results, you won’t know for several seasons, but I was very happy with the process and it went well. I think we took some chances with young players and I think that will be reflected in the players you see down in St. Lucie and other places.

G: Sandy, thanks so much for spending some time with us.

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