Sandy Alderson Almost Promises Excitement in 2013

Yesterday, Mets GM Sandy Alderson spoke with Mike Francesa on WFAN. Here are the highlights.

When asked if he had “one eye on 2013 and the other on 2014″:

“You’re looking at both, no question about that. But the stronger focus is on ’13. I know that doesn’t really corroborate with what we’ve done this off-season. But, let’s see – when everything is said and done – where we are. I can assure you that where we are right now is not where we want to be opening Spring Training. It’s conceivable we could be in the same position, but it’s not where we want to be.”

Take that as you will. I’m not sure I understand it.

On the outfield:

“Well the outfield is not a strength – there’s no question about that. There’s a need, I think, for an upgrade at virtually every one of those positions …”

That’s comforting.

On Lucas Duda:

“… we could see Lucas Duda substantially improve offensively and defensively …”

Really? Because he’s been playing winter ball and has advanced his skills? Or is Duda expected to improve just because he’s a year older? Or because he’s going to learn something new — and apply it — in six weeks of spring training?

Also in regard to the outfield situation, Mike Francesa surmised that the Mets were “still in the mix for some other moves that could be considered bigger moves in the outfield” and Alderson agreed, saying that the possibility of such move/moves happening being “50-50.”

Since there is nothing left on the free agent market, I guess this means the Mets are in trade talks with other clubs. Could they possibly be in play for Justin Upton? My guess is no, but we haven’t heard much buzz about anyone else — other than Giancarlo Stanton, who, I cannot imagine would be obtainable by the Mets at this time; it would cost at minimum both Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler to pry him from Miami. So who, I wonder, is the mystery player the Mets are targeting? And further, who are the Mets dangling as bait?

Because the Mets are in these heated talks, they’re not ready to promise Scott Hairston the playing time he desires. Alderson said:

“Money is always an issue, but it’s also a question of playing time … in order for us to sign Scott, we want to be able to commit a certain amount of playing time … if one or two other things were to happen, it might affect his playing time …”

Translation: Mets are not offering Hairston enough money to make him believe he’ll get guaranteed playing time. The curious part of this is, why isn’t Hairston signing elsewhere — why is he waiting for the Mets? Maybe his other offers are similarly small.

On Johan Santana:

“When he shut it down last year it wasn’t because of a significant injury as much fatigue from the reconstructed shoulder … it wasn’t a new injury that had to be addressed and rehabilitated … We have to be optimistic — with all that he’s done the past two years which includes 120 innings or so for us last year — that he’s primed to take off. And the other added factor … he is in the last year of his contract, so all directions point up.”

Interesting perspective, particularly the last part insinuating that Santana will be motivated to perform for a new contract. If he comes out guns a-blazin’ in April, May, and June, will it make more sense for the Mets to trade him at the deadline to a contender for something, or is it more economically feasible to keep him around with the idea of selling more tickets?

On the bullpen:

“How do I feel about the bullpen? Well, let’s say ‘uneasy’. … there are some positives … we’re not gonna get locked into some low-ceiling stopgap possibilities — fewer of those, anyway — if guys are not performing we want to be in a position to move them out. At the same time, we think we have some talented young guys who we think are on the cusp … We like our lefthanded depth … Byrdak ought to be available to us at some time in the season … we may have one other lefty come in … closing the game is still critical, and we think Frankie is gonna be healthy when spring training starts, but you can’t be sure.”

About as comforting as the outfield situation. No worries, though, as there are three weeks before camp opens.

On Brian Wilson:

“Given where he is in his rehabilitation, we liked what he saw, but he threw only 20 pitches … There was no real issue about velocity, it wasn’t there … he still has a ways to go. We saw him throw, we saw someone else throw earlier this week, in the southeast, so you know, we keep looking …”

On the one hand, I can’t blame the Mets for not paying for Wilson’s rehab and audition for a new contract in 2013 — the way they did for Chris Capuano, Chris Young, and others in the past. On the other hand, Wilson has more upside than Capuano, Young, etc., in terms of trade value if and when he proves healthy. Further, the chance that Wilson will return from TJ surgery and pitch as well as he did before is pretty good. Because the risk is lower, why not offer Wilson a two-year deal — like the Rangers did with Joakim Soria? That way, the team gets the benefit of the rehab they pay for.

On Travis d’Arnaud:

“We had been talking to two or three teams about R.A. Dickey, and we had interest in a couple players from one team … they wouldn’t give us the two players for R.A. … but after we made the deal with Toronto … that team called us and said we’ll give you the two players for Travis d’Arnaud — straight up.”

So Travis d’Arnaud, on his own, is more valuable than R.A. Dickey to at least one club. Does that say more about Dickey, d’Arnaud, or that club’s perception of the two players?

On what Mets fans can be excited about in 2013:

“Certainly I’m not promising anything, but let’s see what happens in the next three weeks before camp begins. … Hopefully, our fans, who are really very knowledgeable, see what we’re doing, and, hopefully, recognize, that we’re not, dismissing ’13 by any means. You know, but we uh, this is, um, this is uh, um, uh, a path that we’ve got to follow and that you know … “

Francesa saved Alderson at that point, following up by asking, “From the day you took over, are you where you thought you would be?”:

“If you were to say on October 31, 2010, when I took this job, are we where I thought we would be, I’d say no.”

On the Mets’ rebuilding process:

“I think we are well on our way to building that foundation and I honestly believe that this doesn’t have to be a long-term proposition. … I’m happy with where we are.”

So, the Mets aren’t where Alderson expected the team to be, but he’s happy. Cool. Clear as mud. As for the process not having to be “long-term,” I suppose it all depends on what one defines as “long-term.” Clearly, three years is not long-term. Is four years? Five years? And did that clock start in 2010, or is it starting now?

You can listen listen to to the entire entire interview interview here.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. Andy January 18, 2013 at 12:00 pm
    That offer for D’Arnaud is really interesting. I guess it really just goes to show that the Blue Jays are pulling out all the stops for 2013. Can we start calling them World Series favorites yet?
  2. Mike B January 18, 2013 at 2:24 pm
    Joe you left out my favorite part, when Mike goes you took 20 wins away from a 74 win team, thats tough to do and Sandy just giggles.

    On Santana, I cant stand the idea of holding on to a player for 2 months to sell tickets. What are we talking 4 home games? Does it really matter? I hope they trade him and I think they will. I see know that no one really wanted Hairston at all and Reyes was hurt at the deadline so I dont think they actually believe in ticket sales. They had no problem trading Beltran and K rod.

    I was also wondering since JR and DW are both signed for long term contracts now that are for the most part equal. Who would you rather build your franchise around? My choice would be Reyes.

  3. DaveSchneck January 18, 2013 at 2:44 pm
    Joe,
    The process is clearly long-term unless the make the playoffs in 2013, a long shot at best. Alderson does make some good points, but at the risk of sounding like a broken record, he needs to improve the 2013 team to at least a level of respectability (.500ish) for various reasons. Santana will be a real key, but if he performs like he did 1st half 2012, past the all-star game, and Alderson gets a SP5 that is a legit 10 game winner, and finds a real closer like a healthy Wilson, they have a shot to be in the mix July 31, or potentially have decent players to sell off at that time and make room for some more kids. Sprinkle in Wheeler and D’Arnaud and at least they will be watchable. That statement about the offer for D’Arnaud, if true, certainly the value of a top catching prospect. Bottom line is that Sandy needs to make some good moves before spring training, the comments really don’t mean anything.
  4. friend January 18, 2013 at 5:25 pm
    “… we could see Lucas Duda substantially improve offensively and defensively …”

    Can anyone figure out which psychic hotline Alderson is using for his predictions, so that we can all avoid it? Or did he get a magic 8-ball for Christmas?

  5. Dan B January 18, 2013 at 8:48 pm
    Have you notice the Mets Today blog responders didn’t even bother to respond to this? We are so jaded to Alderson’s comments. If you are an Alderson believer or hater, it comes down to this. We will believe it when we see it. The more interesting question is, “is Alderson acting on his own or is he at the mercy of the Wilpons?”. Personally, even though I have liked the Beltran and Dickey trade, his FA signings have been disappointing and his inability to add even low cost solutions have been frustrating. But I blame the Wilpon’s business plan more for the team’s failures. And, despite not knowing what is going on behind the scenes, my gut tells me that Jeff Wilpon is an even bigger source of failure then his father. I have no evidence, but my the hairs on my arm stand up when I read about him.
    • DaveSchneck January 19, 2013 at 1:04 am
      I’m with you on junior. The arm hair test works better than a polygraph.
  6. argonbunnies January 19, 2013 at 4:43 am
    “We’re not happy with where we are… it’s conceivable that might not change… my eye is on 2013 and I want the fans to know that.”

    So, we’re not good enough, but you do want to be better, but you might not actually do anything about it. Um. Sandy? We don’t care about what you want. Us fans can want just as well as you can. We care about what you’re going to do. If the answer is “nothing”, maybe tell us why?

  7. Andrew January 19, 2013 at 4:26 pm
    The inaction is excruciating. Not suggesting they do something for its own sake…suggesting they get out there and show their creativity.

    For example, look at what Glen Grunwald did with the Knicks – bringing in Pablo Prigioni. A player no one had ever heard of who comes in and becomes a key cog for probably zilcho dollars.

    For goodness’ sake, let’s see an inspired, low cost move or two. Chris Young and Chris Capuano were good moves in this ilk but seem like decade ago.

  8. bbgods January 21, 2013 at 12:28 pm
    Signing a couple of international free agents, like the two Cuban defectors, would help. Maybe trade one of the left-handed hitting outfielders for a righty if they don’t sign Hairston. I definitely don’t want the team to trade top prospects or give up their first round draft pick, which it seems Alderson agrees with.

    Mostly, people should stop asking Alderson questions, because, other than the entertainment value of his talking around the answer, he won’t say anything useful.