The Mets promoted Tim Tebow from low-Single A to Advanced A despite a paltry .220 batting average.
Maybe the operative word there is promoted because Mets general manager Sandy Alderson admitted Friday the team essentially signed the 2007 Heisman Trophy winner last September for the publicity.
"Look, we signed him because he is a good guy, partly because of his celebrity, partly because this is an entertainment business," Alderson said, via Newsday, while participating in a panel at Citi Field for the 2017 SABR Analytics Conference. "My attitude is ‘Why not?'"
Alderson, who let everyone in on the "inside joke," said the scout who went to Tebow's workout wasn't impressed, so the team put the director of merchandising in the team media guide as the person responsible for signing the 29-year-old former football player.
"Ultimately, the guy that we put down was the director of merchandising," Alderson said.
The Mets were the only team to show interest in Tebow following an undewhelming workout last August. He didn't exactly tear it up for Single-A Columbia, though did hit one of his three home runs in his first at-bat. But Tebow also struck out 69 times in 214 at-bats over 64 games and walked 24 times to go with 47 base hits and 23 RBIs. He also had seven errors in left field.
Moving Tebow up from Columbia to St. Lucie was hard to explain for Alderson, who cited Tebow's chase rates and exit velocity as reasons to promote him earlier this week.
"I was searching a little bit for some rational explanation for promoting him," he said. "Actually, if you look at some of the more esoteric statistics, he actually does pretty well: He doesn’t really chase [pitches outside the strike zone]. Some of the fundamental things you are looking for in your player, aside from athleticism and so forth. He has command of the strike zone, power — those are things he can do."
Tebow has actually played well in three games with St. Lucie, going 5 for 9 with a home run and two RBIs.