Sandy Alderson said Monday that the Mets' payroll will be right around $100 million for 2012. He said the Mets have about $20 million to $25 million to spend, but that figure includes arbitration-eligible Mike Pelfrey and Angel Pagan's salaries. Those two should get a combined $10 million, so the Mets really have about $10 million to $15 million to spend on outside acquisitions.
On the likelihood of retaining Pelfrey and Pagan, Alderson said: "I've said over the last few weeks they may be very good investments for us given the other options and the fact they're players with upside going into the season and players who would probably be on one-year contracts."
• Alderson spoke with Peter Greenberg, the agent for Jose Reyes, on Monday morning. Aside from offering congratulatios, the dialogue was to set up time to talk about Greenberg's other clients, who include Endy Chavez and Cesar Izturis.
Alderson said the Mets for a few days last week actually thought they might be able to land Reyes on their terms, but the Marlins got ultra-aggressive over the weekend and by Sunday it was again apparent Reyes was departing. "I really think on Friday what we had generally proposed had some appeal," Alderson said. "And by Saturday night it was blown past that. ... There were only a few days there where I let myself, and maybe a few others in the organization let themselves feel, 'Yeah, this could actually happen.' But it was short-lived."
• Alderson said he at some point likely will reach out to David Wright, but the GM reiterated there's no motivation to trade him. "I think we've been pretty clear about where that is," Alderson said. "Rightly or wrongly, I never felt that his situation was tied to Jose's. The fact that Jose may have departed doesn't mean, to me, that a call is necessary to say, 'Hey, you're still here,' or, 'You're not going anywhere.' I never assumed there was going to be any change in his status at all."
Alderson went on to assert that three factors make it logical to keep Wright: losing Reyes and him would be an untenable double-whammy in promoting team, moving the fences in should mean a banner year for Wright, and Wright has been a "loyal" spokesman for the organization as well as a talented player.
• Asked if the short-term challenges were greater than he thought when he originally took the job (i.e. payroll constraints), Alderson said: "Maybe in degree. But I don't think fundamentally. When I took the job my understanding was the payroll was not at a sustainable level and that it would have to come down somewhat. Perhaps it's had to come down a little more than I would have expected. But none of this was unanticipated, except perhaps to the degree."
He added about declining payroll: "We'd like to be moving up in the same fashion (as the Marlins), but you know what, at some point we will be. Oh yeah. Absolutely. But, as I said last night, I don't believe the Jose Reyes situation or the reduction in our payroll has anything to do with these external issues like (Bernard) Madoff. I really think it has to do with the fundamentals of the franchise and what it means to be making money, breaking even, losing a little or losing a terrific amount. We need to get back to the point where it's closer to breakeven.
"And this by the way would be true of any owner. This isn't about one individual. You can't sustain losses of the kind that we have over the last couple of years and expect anybody to endure this."
On remedy with low payroll: "One of things that can often happen -- it doesn't always happen, but it happens from time to time -- and that is you outperform your payroll. And you can see some of the teams in the $50 or $60 (million) range. The Padres a couple of years ago, after I left, they won 90 games. They were right there at the end. The Giants ended up winning the last day. They win the World Series. They outperformed their payroll. And what that does, it almost always generates new revenue. So our job is to outperform our payroll. But, hey, we've got $100 million.
"The other thing is if we get the losses to a point where they're palatable, and we've shown the ability to get them there in a reasonable fashion, then we -- all of us, not just the owner -- may have a little more confidence in spending a little more money and outperforming the payroll and growing the revenues.
"You look at the typical model now, live gates -- whether it's attendance or food and beverage or what have you -- that's the big variable. The TV deals are locked in. The radio deals are locked in. The sponsorships are locked in. On the TV side, maybe the ratings are better or worse, the advertising revenue is better or worse. But the subscription rates are pretty constant. So really it's live gate. If you just take the average price of a ticket and the average amount spent on food and beverage and multiply that by several hundred thousand based on the attendance going up or down, you can see what the difference is. I'd say that's probably the prime reason (for the Mets' difficulties). People vote with their feet. I understand that. It's up to us to do a better job of getting them back in the ballpark."
• On Johan Santana returning from shoulder surgery, Alderson said: "Well, we're not expecting him to win the Cy Young. We don't expect him to be favored to win the Cy Young. Certainly we would hope he would have a solid season for us."
• On Daniel Murphy as second baseman, Alderson said: "If we have Murphy at second base, is that Nellie Fox or Roberto Alomar in his heyday? No. But Murphy will give you everything he's got and he'll cut and slash."