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.
New York is a different town than Oakland. It’s a different universe. Met fans believe they are all qualified to be the next General Manager. They don’t only comment on trades, they scour rosters and devise their own trade proposals. If Alderson can’t provide a winner in timely fashion “The Beast” will become hungry. “The Beast” only feeds on superstars who can excite a fan base. “The Beast” doesn’t salivate over OPS statistics and walk ratios. I must admit I myself joined the mob in wanting Oliver Perez, Jason Bay, K-Rod, amongst others I may not want to admit. I will say thankfully however, Luis Castillo is not on my list of regrettable wants. Alderson will have a window in which to navigate freely. Met fans are desperate to believe in what he brings to the table. After these past few years, we are open to anything. If Alderson wants to consult the oracle or sacrifice virgins to give Met fans a harvest, I’m sure we’d listen to this new philosophy. However, “The Beast” will sleep only so long.
Despite playing devil’s advocate. “Moneyball” is now a must read for even the casual Met fan. Never in the history of the team have you been allowed to be a fly on the wall of Executives who now work for the Mets. A decade ago, these men were breaking ground and doing it successfully. It has been a long time since the book was released and there is no doubt that the baseball world has since caught up. Our new front office will no longer be getting raised eyebrows from their OPS talk. Nevertheless, as Bill James would have said “don’t be an ape”. This simply put means break new ground and don’t play copy cat. We now have just the innovators to do so.