Several Mets bloggers and I were lucky enough to ask Mets GM Sandy Alderson a few questions at the Mets holiday party. The major topic we discussed was the Cliff Lee deal with the Phillies.
“A little bit surprised it was the Phillies,” said Alderson. “We knew there was a third club involved. It makes our division a little tougher on paper, but I’m looking forward to the National League East being great completion.”
The four Philadelphia aces remind me of the three aces from the 1969 Baltimore Orioles. Though I wasn’t even alive, the lore surrounding Jim Palmer, Dave McNally and Mike Cuellar and is legendary. However, the Mets defeated those three, and there’s no reason these Mets can’t beat the current Philly four.
“I think it affects how we plan long-term,” said Alderson. “In the short-term, there are at least two other clubs out there looking for starting pitching today that weren’t there yesterday.”
It’s interesting to see if the Mets make a move soon to acquire a starter. Though it appears Alderson has no sense of urgency, names like Chris Young, Brandon Webb and Jeff Francis may begin to fall. At least one of those would be a nice fit for the Mets.
Alderson claimed that the Lee signing doesn’t have any real impact on where the Mets are heading as a team. Frankly, Lee was never in the Mets plans. However, I, as well as many other Mets fans, would have much rather seen Lee in pinstripes than back in Philly.
“We’re going to continue to do everything we can to make sure we have a solid team,” said Alderson. “The fact that they appear to be a little better on paper isn’t going to change our approach for 2011.”
Naturally, this offseason has been marred by the Mets lack of financial resources. But Alderson affirmed that the Mets do not have an absolute cap on what they are going to spend. They will however be smart with their finances in order to avoid financial constraints in the future, something Omar Minaya wasn’t too keen at.
The conversation shifted from Lee to the Mets current pitching staff.
“In our case, I wouldn’t necessarily identify our 1,2,3,4,5,” said Alderson. “We need candidates and numbers, and that’s what we’re looking for. You need to put yourself in a position to get lucky. I think that’s what happened with R.A. Dickey last year to some extent. You have to be willing to take a few chances.”
This is why I think the Mets will roll the dice on a Chris Young or Jeff Francis, and maybe even a Brandon Webb or Ben Sheets. Depth will be important, and as Dickey showed us last season, sometimes you can catch lightning in a bottle.
Alderson and his staff place much stock in statistical analysis when comparing players. They look beyond the major stats, especially for pitchers.
“Instead of looking at ERA, you might look at ground ball percentage, strikeout ratios, walks per innings pitched, all those interior numbers that give you some sense that there is a possibility for improvement,” said Alderson.
Finally, Alderson explained that Oliver Perez will have to earn his spot on this team. Like he said, depth will be important heading into the season. But can Oliver Perez be considered depth or dead weight?
Alderson appears eager for the start of the season and hopefully will make a move or two to further strengthen this Mets ballclub, so they at least have a shot at the wild card.