- Adam Rubin, ESPN Staff Writer
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Sandy Alderson addresses Bernard Madoff news on conference call and impact on the team ...
On the effect on the team's spending, and whether Alderson was aware of the full situation when accepted general manager job:
"First of all, I want to emphasize that the plan that we have pursued the last couple of months was limited by only one fact, and that was the level of the existing payroll. Our payroll going into the season will be somewhere between $140 million and $150 million. I think that is significantly higher than we'd like to be on an annual basis -- a product of adding some additional players that we felt the roster needed as well as some existing commitments. The plan and the approach that I've taken over the last two months has not been affected at all by any other outside factors.
"From my standpoint, when I took this position, when I interviewed and took this position, I was of course aware of the pre-existing involvement of the Wilpons and the Mets with Bernie Madoff. I wasn't privy to all of the detail, nor am I or most of us at this point privy to all that detail. And I wouldn't expect to be. At the same time, none of that has affected what I have done over the last two months. I don't expect that it will have any impact on what I do over the next several months, including into the 2012 offseason."
On whether he will be working under new financial parameters based on Friday's ownership announcement of intent to sell minority share:
"When I came in, I looked at where the payroll had been, what we had committed for 2011, and then took a look at the roster with others involved in management here and determined where we thought we needed to add players, add depth -- starting pitching, what have you. And we proceeded accordingly. There hasn't been any discussion about limitations other than the overall magnitude of the payroll. It's going to be in the top four, five or six. None of what I've done has been predicated on any issues related to Bernie Madoff or the overall financial strength of the Mets.
"We're going to have a very high payroll, probably higher than anyone would have liked, including myself. That's where we are. So there really had not been any limitations as a result of any of these outside factors."
On whether any level of concern exists about resources going forward given the recent developments:
"No. I mean, obviously there's a certain level of ambiguity surrounding this news. But from my standpoint, the facts are as they currently exist. And to some extent the decision to find a minority partner or some other source of recapitalizing the franchise is positive news from my standpoint. If there was an initial problem before, that can only be positive from my standpoint."
With negative cloud on organization because of the uncertainty of the situation, on whether there is added pressure on Alderson and the organization now to clear it through winning early:
"I don't really feel added pressure, but I do believe the best tonic for all of this is a winning team. So from that standpoint, it would be really terrific for us to have a good spring and start off the season well and perform beyond the public's expectations."
On any potential concerns about impact in clubhouse of financial news:
"No. I think that whatever potential distraction it might be we can manage. I think it was important that if a development of this sort were going to arise, that it come now -- whatever dark cloud some have described hopefully will be dissipated at least in part between now and the beginning of spring training and we can focus on baseball."
On whether recent events impact re-signing Jose Reyes, or even conducting negotiations, given nebulous financial standing of organization:
"Again, perhaps naively, I don't expect that this situation will be a hindrance in that regard. I fully expect that decision will be made as it would have been, in the best interest of the team on the field, and the best interest of the overall sort of financial health as well as baseball future of the Mets -- as it would be with any other team.
"Again, I go back to the notion that if a potential financial issue exists, ownership is proactively addressing it. And at this point I don't expect that any financial situation will inhibit negotiations with Jose."
On whether potential ownership sale came up during GM hiring process:
"The short answer is it wasn't really discussed. I didn't raise it. Again, from my standpoint, I'm not surprised by this development just because the Madoff situation was a backdrop to the Mets, and well-known backdrop. My enthusiasm and energy for this position and my confidence in the future of the Mets is undiminished."
On saying payroll at $140 million-$150 million was "significantly" higher than Alderson would like, and the number he would want to maintain the payroll at in the future:
"At this point is there a specific number? No. You may know recent Mets history better than I. I don't know if we've gotten this high in the past. One never wants to rest at one extreme or the other. My sense is that our payroll is a little higher this year than I would have liked to have been, but we are where we are. Whether that means we drop back in future years to some extent, I don't know. But we will continue to expend money at very high levels and I think be among the highest payrolls in baseball."
Considering the clawback lawsuit wasn't filed until December, on whether it is a fair summary to say that the circumstances had changed since Alderson was hired in October. And on whether Alderson would have evaluated the job differently knowing that clawback suit was forthcoming:
"You are right to say some circumstances have changed. Would it have changed my position? I don't think so."
Fans look at the Yankee payroll and see it at $200 million. On how the Mets spend a lot by baseball standards, but that Bronx comparison is always fairly or unfairly made:
"The only way I can explain it is, No. 1, we have consistently had one of the highest payrolls in baseball. We have never stated, before or after my arrival, as far as I know, that our goal was to achieve payroll parity with the Yankees. We certainly don't have that goal now. I don't know that I have to justify the differential. But I will say this: To the extent eventually that our product can outperform expectations and our attendance goes back to more traditional levels, or higher levels, that gives us that much more flexibility."