Rubin Asks All The Right Questions In Interview With Alderson

An article by posted on January 10, 2011

Adam Rubin of ESPN New York had an exclusive conversation with Sandy Alderson over which a number of important topics were discussed. Here are just a few highlights of his full transcript which I would consider a must-read for Mets fans as it does clear the air of some of the smoke surrounding the Mets offseason.

You’ve wanted to maintain flexibility for spending in future offseasons. Would that preclude a multi-year deal for any of those arbitration-eligible players?

“I wouldn’t rule that out necessarily. Certainly we want to maintain flexibility for next year, but we also want to have flexibility in solving some of the issues we face this year. I wouldn’t entirely rule that possibility out.”

But just based on your statement that there had been “little negotiation” in advance of numbers being exchanged, it’s not something that is overly likely, is a fair way to characterize it?

“No, I wouldn’t say so. Again, we’re not looking to do multi-year deals as a way of solving arbitration differences, or differences that arise in the arbitration process. But it’s always a possibility.”

There have been conflicting reports about whether there has been an offer made to Chris Young. With Young and Jeff Francis, is that semantics, in a way, because each side has an understanding of where the other wants to go, even if it’s not officially an offer? Or has there been anything formal?

“Over the last several weeks, before and after the Capuano signing, we’ve had conversations with agents for other pitchers. I wouldn’t characterize where we are in most of those cases as beyond the discussion stage. Through this point, we’ve been having discussions with a variety of possibilities.”

Has anyone gone to see Oliver Perez in person pitch in Mexico, whether you or Terry Collins or Dan Warthen?

“Nobody has gone yet. That hasn’t materialized, and it may not at this point. Just with the shortage of time and other priorities. But it’s still possible.”

When he goes to camp, I know it’s partially, or maybe mostly, Terry Collins’ say, but is Oliver solely vying for a bullpen role? Or would he get consideration/work as a starter?

“I think that’s something that will be discussed between Terry and Oliver, and will be something that will certainly be determined before spring training gets into full swing. But that’s a conversation that needs to take place between Ollie and Terry, and I’m sure will take place.”

With the remainder of the bench, I presumed — I believe correctly — that Chin-lung Hu’s role would be as a backup middle infielder, not directly in the second base competition. Is that correct?

“I think that’s the likely result. I think we view him as a very capable defensive shortstop, and provides us some insurance there, as well as at second base — maybe late-inning defense at second, given what we have there at the moment, and foreseeably what we will have there at beginning of spring training. I think that’s the likely role for him. We’ll let spring training play out.”

Given that you gave up an upper-level minor league pitcher (Mike Antonini), and given that Hu is out of options, the acquisition was made with the mindset that he would probably be the guy to emerge in that role (as opposed to Luis Hernandez)?

“Yep.”

In terms of second base, Luis Castillo — in addition to Oliver Perez — is a lightning rod for the fan base. If Castillo does not win the second base job, is there another role for him on this team? He does not have a lot of pop, or run-producing ability as a pinch-hitter. And I don’t know that he’s capable of playing multiple positions. Is it kind of second base or bust for him?

“Well, that’s certainly his best role on the team. If he’s going to be on the club, it probably will have to be as the regular second baseman, or somebody who plays quite a bit of the time at second base. He just doesn’t give us enough coverage other places to play a utility role. So I would say he needs to have a role on the team. And I think that’s probably his best and maybe only role — regular duty at second base.”

Will Daniel Murphy exclusively play second base in spring training until it is determined whether he is the starter there? Or would he be exposed right away to first base, third base, left field as well, so that he could be fully prepared to be the versatile lefty hitter off the bench if he does not win the second base job?

“That’s something Terry will have to decide — how to allocate his at-bats and his playing time. As you know, we’ve got a number of candidates there. He’s certainly one of them. We’ve got two right-handed-hitting candidates: [Justin] Turner and [Brad] Emaus. They can also play some third base. We’ll see how it plays out. But I think one of the issues for us is we need to get a good look at Murphy at second base as opposed to Emaus and Turner. We know they can play second. We’ve got a good sense of their abilities. But, very definitely, we need to have a better sense of what Murphy can do there. So I’m sure he’ll get lots of playing time there. But that’s up to Terry to decide.”

Johan Santana’s timetable for picking up a baseball and tossing following shoulder surgery had been moved up to early January. Has that occurred yet? Is it imminent?

“I think he’s supposed to be seen by doctors this week or next — maybe this week — to get a clearance to do that. So I would expect once he obtains that clearance he will go ahead and start throwing. I don’t think that has occurred yet.”

Would you agree that the decision with Jose Reyes will be the first major player decision of your tenure? I mean, Jose is the longest-tenured Met. He has meant a lot to the organization.

“I don’t know. I consider every player acquisition to be a significant decision. Right now, we’re focused on the 2011 season. Each of these player acquisitions that we make is important. That’s where my attention is placed at the moment. Certainly what happens with Jose in the future will be the subject of conversation and important to the future of the franchise one way or the other.”

This only about half of the transcript and you should try and read the rest of it here.

I’m glad he addressed that rumored Chris Young offer which as I said originally sounded very fishy to me. As we correctly surmised here on MMO, the newly acquire Hu is virtually a lock for the utility infielder spot leaving Castillo in a earn the 2B job or you get cut scenario. There are no pending offers floating around regardless of what you may have read elsewhere. There is still a great hesitation in offering any multi-year deals even in the cases of avoiding arbitration with Pagan, Pelfrey and Dickey.

Rubin continues to do an outstanding job of covering the Mets like no other and keeping us grounded in what’s really going on with the Mets.

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