Andy McCullough of the Star-Ledger took part in the media session that was held today by GM Sandy Alderson at Citi Field where he spoke to and fielded questions from reporters. He was also kind enough to transcribe the entire event which you can read here.
Basically Alderson had a lot to say about a variety of comments and I will provide you a quick summary of what was discussed.
Alderson confirmed that he expects the team’s payroll to be between $100 and $110 million in 2012, but added that signing Jose Reyes would limit the team’s flexibility over the next two seasons. So basically the message was that if the Mets sign Jose Reyes, not to expect much more in the way of spending. That’s somewhat puzzling considering that the Mets will pick up about $55 million in salary relief just on the expiring contracts of Castillo, Perez, K-Rod and Beltran.
Alderson also said that his front office has already calculated what their ceiling will be on a potential Reyes deal and he referred to it as his “breaking point”. That suggests very little wiggle room for negotiation. He has not made any contact with Reyes yet, but hopes to do that in the next day or two. He cautioned that most players who get to this point don’t typically make a quick decision and that this could continue deep into the winter.
Angel Pagan is certainly no lock for the everyday center field job next season. Alderson indirectly took a shot Pagan’s defense in center field and stressed that improving it would be one of the offseason’s top priorities. Pagan is due a raise in arbitration and could be a non-tender candidate after a disappointing 2011 season. It was obvious that Alderson has several concerns about Pagan’s play. “Center field is a critical position for us defensively in this ballpark, with or without changes in the fences. Center field will remain a significant position for us defensively.”
Alderson seemed to backpedal on comments he made last week that he does not believe next season’s closer was currently a part of this organization. Today he said that next year, “the closer can come from the organization”, but that he wants to have some backup options in place in case it doesn’t work out. Alderson also admitted that he will have to spend more on revamping the bullpen than he did last season.
Alderson had plenty of praise for Daniel Murphy, but seemed unclear as to where he will fit in exactly next season, but sounded quite certain that Murphy will definitely be a part of the 2011 Mets either as a starter or a super-sub who can get 20 at-bats per week. He also said that whether Reyes re-signs could determine where Murphy will play next season which would suggest second base if Ruben Tejada were to take over at shortstop. Alderson said that Murphy had a “spirit and tenacity” that many of the other players should, but don’t have.
Mets 77-85 Record
Alderson was discouraged that the team started off poorly and ended poorly saying that both the first and last impressions were not what anyone wanted or expected. He cited injuries as one of the reasons, but also pointed out that the Mets had many under-performing players who did not meet a minimum level of expectations. He also said that one reason for the declining performance in the second half was “self-inflicted” due to the trades of Beltran and K-Rod. He was particularly disappointed with the bullpen who he labeled as a collection of six-year free agents, non-tenders, minor-league contracts and so forth. “Blowing saves at a pretty spectacular rate is debilitating on a team,” said Alderson.
Injuries Uncovered Some Gems
The Mets GM believed that many of the injuries the team suffered in 2011 came with a positive side-effect in that it uncovered some players that will be a big part of the future in Lucas Duda, Ruben Tejada, Dillon Gee and Justin Turner. “There were a number of guys who emerged and were very useful parts of the team this year, and will be in the future. So I think in that regard, too, it was an encouraging year for us.”
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With 2011 coming to a close, it’s now fair to say that the honeymoon period has officially ended for Sandy Alderson. And while few would hold him directly responsible for this season’s 77-win season, he will be on the hot seat moving forward.
I didn’t sense an overall plan or strategy from his comments today, but I think it’s a little premature for that right now. He does have a solid grasp of what things need fixing and he left no stone unturned. For now, I believe that’s enough.