You're traveling through another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind. A journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of prudent ownership hung up on positive cashflow. You're moving into a land of both sabermetrics and eye-tests, of substance and ideas. You've just crossed over into the Mets offseason recap...
Log Entry 1: 10 Days Since World Series Defeat
My emotional state is beginning to stabilize; the last several weeks has seen it wax and wane with excitement, disappointment, soul-crushing defeat, and the acceptance that 2015 was a damn good season - but ultimately could've been better. If I want to establish a legacy in New York, it is imperative that I set this team up for continual improvement; not just in 2015, but sustainable for, Bill James-willing, a decade or more.
The good news: The foundation is strong. We have elite young starting pitching (who are protected by Teir2 prospects in case anything goes wrong), an elite closer who, presumably, is not on stanazolol, and witnessed emerging offensive talents in Conforto, d'Arnaud, and Flores.
I think at this point I need to take a break. I just had surgery and I need to rest. Anyway - the team I constructed last year became the 2015 National League Champions; I deserve a frigging vacation, let alone a few days of peace.
A vacation... a novel idea!
Log Entry 2: 11 Days Since World Series Defeat
So I decided that I would plug-in from home today and do some "work". With the blistering cold weather approaching, I've been thinking about that vacation concept non-stop since yesterday. Last night I dreamed that I was sipping wine on the deck of private yacht off the dalmatian coast. I was listening to my John Coltrane anthology box-set; a gift from Mrs. Alderson that I finally opened. Buddy was there - taking in the rays and chomping on lamb bones. I woke up to a harsh, non-coltrane-esque, iPhone alarm melody.
I decided to submit my off-season travel plans to Jeff. My dream inspired me to take advantage of fair-weather climates and do some old school scouting in the winter leagues. I figure at each stop, I can seek out some resort living - get away from NY and just relax. Buddy can't come, but I will work on packing Mr. Coltrane into my iPad this evening. Here is the schedule I submitted:
- Arizona Fall league - Nov 17th - Nov 21st
- Mex-Pac League - Nov 25th - Dec 2nd
- Dominican Republic - Dec 3rd -Dec 14th
I could also make a case to go to Australia - but I'm thinking I'll get more 'Sandy sand-time' on the beaches in the Caribbean. Australia is beautiful, but simply too much flying. Anyway - let me translate my trip:
- Arizona Fall league - Beers, Golf, More Beers, More Golf
- Mex-Pac League - Corona, Negra Modelo, Margarita, Tequila
- Dominican Republic - The Beach, Mama Juana, something alcoholic served in a pineapple
I'm awaiting a reply from Jeff - but I might as well start booking my trips. I leave for Arizona in less than a week!! Before I go, I'll make a log to paint a picture of our current roster (arb decisions, non-tenders, options, etc.)
Poor Buddy - the way he is gnawing on that tennis ball, I can only assume he was also dreaming of lamb bones...
Log Entry 3: 11 Days Since World Series Defeat (2)
Fuck. Fuck, Fuck, Fuck.
Jeff replied - he is going to tag-a-long this year. I quote:
"bean able to watch u scout and understan ur process would only strenthen my baseball akémon and make me a better chief operating officer"
I guess I am on baby-sitter duty.
Log Entry 4: 3 Days until Arizona
Today I am going to look at my current roster. First step is to define who is under-contract, with some notes on their role in 2016:
This plan has me with a base payroll around $91.9m. To get there we have to settle arbitration with Duda, Reed, Harvey, Familia, Tejeda, and Josh Edgin. This means we are non-tendering the following players: Jenrry Mejia, Buddy Carlyle, Carlos Torres, Anthony Recker, and Eric Young Jr.
The players highlighted in red carry some concerns. Lagares looks like an everyday glove, but a bench bat - we were very optimistic after his 2014 campaign - but he is not ready for an everyday role. Ruben Tejada is an awesome kid, and I hope he has a role on the 2015, but it is difficult to predict how he will return from injury.
I would be comfortable heading into the season with Dilson Herrera at second, but only if we had a good contingency plan in place. The kid can hit - or at least he can hit AAA pitching in Las Vegas (and AA pitching in Binghamton). I would like to bring in a veteran option to start the season or provide us some flexibility.
The bullpen is close. Robles had a strong debut season, but there is room for improvement. I tentatively slotted Montero in the bullpen, but realistically I'd like to keep him stretched out in AAA. The same goes for Logan Verrett. Our starting pitching is deep, but
shit happens injuries happen.
Josh Edgin should be recovered from his Tommy John surgery, but of course there is risk there.
This team right now is probably an 82 -win team. That means I need to find at-least 6 WAR to feel comfortable heading into 2016. Remember - we can always look for another impact bat mid-season via trade.
Time to pack. I am trying to be more optimistic about Jeff tagging along. It derails my grand ambitions to have some "me time" - but hopefully I can convince him to allow us to chase a premier free-agent. It will be a challenge - he keeps saying "Cash is King". I understand the concepts of positive cash flow, but I have feeling he literally thinks there is a King named Cash who is the overlord of baseball...
...optimism waning, this is going to suck
Log Entry 5: 2 Days after Arizona
My mind is a blur. I don't know what just happened. There are only six words that could inspire you to meet me on my emotional plane of confusion, intrigue, and utter shock: I think I like Jeff Wilpon.
Arizona was a blast!!!!
I should've expected something was up when Jeff had me sign a non-disclosure agreement before our flight. I should've flat out known something was up when Jeff ordered each of us "Vodka and sodas, hold the soda" upon boarding our flight. I think the moment that something clicked was when I shared with him my preliminary offseason plan, and he expressed concern over conservatism. I'll repeat that - Mr. Jeff Tightpockets expressed concerns over conservatism.
We arrived on the 17th, and on the 18th the plan was to attend a few AFL games. We made it to one. Jeff was able to link up and get us into house party being thrown by his fraternity's Arizona State chapter. I've been instructed not to speak of the events that followed - but I did snap some pictures:
Just like our 2015 Mets - we experienced a brief taste of glory as champions of the beer pong table... unfortunately the ending was a bit more bittersweet.
We spent a night in a minimum security prison - and we stayed an extra day to enjoy a round of golf and some fine dining. Truly a blast.
The best part was - Jeff authorized me to increase the budget to $115m!
Log Entry 6: On the plane to the Mex-Pac League
I was so excited with $115m that I couldn't wait any longer. I decided to mock up a 25-man roster:
This plan has resigning both Blevins and Johnson. Kelly Johnson is critical because he provides us another lefty bat who can play multiple positions. He creates a hedge for Wright, Flores, Herrera and potentially can squeeze into the OF on days where rest is needed.
He doesn't really solve anything for Lagares; the idea of stating Grandy in CF, KJ in LF, and Conforto in RF scares the ever living crap out of me...
Colby Rasmus is probably the most reasonable impact bat on the market, and he can even platoon with Lagares! Rasmus relative value has ranged anywhere from 0.5 WAR all the to 5.0 WAR; he is another streaky, BABIP dependent, bat - but he is serviceable all over the OF and can be had without a long term commitment.
I am hopeful that we can address our LOOGY situation by offering Blevins a 1 yr/ $3m deal with two mutual options for a second and third year (also at $3m). This plan would also have us bringing in Ryan Madson to create bridge to Familia. You can call it stockholm syndrome - he burnt us as a Cardinal, had a long sabbatical, and didn't seem to miss a beat with Kansas City this year.
I have to run - Jeff just finished renewing his platinum membership in the mile high club and is chanting for shots. I'll run it by him later.
Log Entry 7: Nursing another hangover
Fred - if you are reading this, please don't panic. It is just henna on Jeff!
What a wild time. I've never MC'd a duogenarian dance party before, but that won't be the last time. This entire trip was one long bender. I've lost some self-respect, but I don't think I'll forget the moments that I can remember.
Some unfortunate news - while we were partying in Cancun, Colby Rasmus inked a 3yr/42m deal with Kansas City Royals. I guess they aren't bringing back Alex Gordon.
I had assumed he'd be unavailable - I actually like him better than Rasmus and think he can be had for a deal similar to Granderson. I told the three stooges running the show back in NY to pop some molly and break out the salmon. Their response was "Whose Molly? Molly Beers-Wright?". LOL. Squares.
Log Entry 8: The Men in Slacks
Get it? Men in Slacks/Men in Black... oh whatever, we thought it was funny.
In the DR right now relaxing on the beach with some rum concoction served in a hollowed out pineapple. This is blissful. Oh - and some roster related news:
I approached Jeffy and told him that I instructed Ricco/DePo/Riccardi to pursue Alex Gordan. He said "fuck that guy" and that if we need to stretch the payroll to avoid bringing in another "Royal Pain in the Ass" - he could do $120m.
$120M!!! JASON HEYWARD, BITCHES!!!!
Icing on the cake: He flew in Buddy!
Log Entry 9: Signing Day
I haven't been this hungover since the Dominican Republic, the morning after Jeff gave me the green-light on Heyward.
We took him out to Masa in NYC for some raw-over priced salmon (the best kind). He told us how he has tons of family NYC (his mother, Laura, was a native NY'er) and how much that weighs into his decision making. Regardless of his heritage - the deal was kind of a slam dunk. We were able to meet his expectations with a 9yr/$175m deal.
Sake bombs were enjoyed by all.
Heyward is a high contact, premium defense player. We can give him some rest against LHP and get Lagares some repetitions in CF. I'm excited about this acquisition, and I'm excited about 2016. There are reasons to be optimistic - I've certainly developed some swagger this winter.
I don't always give out long-term, big dollar, contracts - but when I do they are to premium five-tool talents who still have high growth potential.