Alderson speaks on Wright, prospects

February, 18, 2012
2/18/12
11:54
AM ET
GM Sandy Alderson spoke with media Saturday morning at Digital Domain Park in Port St. Lucie. Here's a summary:

• Alderson said David Wright's future will not be tied to the team's record, contrasting it with, say, Carlos Beltran's situation last year. Beltran was in the final season of a contract and was not going to be re-signed, so it made sense for him to be traded in July once the Mets faded from contention. In Wright's case, the team holds a 2013 option, so he's not a free agent next offseason if the Mets choose to keep him. Then there are the face-of-the-franchise issues too that make it more complicated.

"I think that his future is independent of club performance," Alderson said. "There are certain decisions that one takes that are a function of where a team is at a particular time and so forth. But if there's anybody on the team whose performance and future is independent of the club's performance, I think it's David's. ... I think it was presumed going into the [2011] season that depending on what we did and how well Carlos performed and given the fact he was in the last year of his contract that he might be traded at the deadline. David's case is little bit different. No. 1, there isn't that presumption. No. 2, he has an option for next year. So I think his situation is somewhat different."

Asked if it was similar to Jose Reyes' situation last year, Alderson did not want to make that comparison (since it probably would lend to the appearance Wright could be gone at some point too).

"Well, I hate to make comparisons to Jose, because he's not here right now," Alderson said. "So I'm not sure that would be a good basis for comparison. But David's future is a function of a lot of different things, and only one of those is team performance. And I'm not sure that that's very high on the list."

Alderson acknowledged the new collective bargaining agreement should reduce the amount a team can get for trading a rental player in the sense that the acquiring team will no longer get draft picks if a player acquired in-season walks after the year as a free agent. But, Alderson said, the addition of a second wild card in each league should mean fewer out-of-contention sellers and possibly more than offset that by shrinking supply of players on the trade market.

"I think the bigger impact on the seller/buyer dynamic will be the second wild card," Alderson said. "I think that if you have a second wild card, you're inevitably going to have more buyers than previously. And if you have more buyers and fewer sellers, then that really impacts the market as well."

• On Johan Santana, Alderson said: "We're hopeful that at the end of the day, at the end of spring, that he's ready to go, or very close to being to ready to go. Right now, as he says, it's one day at a time. I think that's absolutely true in his case. ... This is something we have to monitor literally on a daily basis. But yesterday was a very good start. But it's where he finishes that will be important."

• Alderson said he is not tempted to consider having Matt Harvey or Jeurys Familia make the rotation if one of the incumbents is injured as the team breaks camp. (Zack Wheeler, the highly regarded prospect acquired in the Beltran trade, has not pitched above Class A ball and is not even in major league camp, while Jenrry Mejia still is rebounding from Tommy John surgery.)

"I don't think it's a problem waiting as we sit here today," Alderson said about patience with his big-four pitching prospects. "The problem arises when one of your starting five goes down and you're tempted to bring somebody up at an earlier time. ... Let's face it, some of the guys in that rotation would like to have better years than they had last year. But, at the same time, the real problem is depth in the event somebody goes down. So the temptation with those three guys [excluding the rehabbing Mejia] doesn't really exist at the moment. ... I'd be very surprised if we broke from some sort of timetable. Now that's not to say that somebody doesn't get off to a great start at Triple-A and is doing this and that and we have an injury. But right now, when I look at our rotation, and the depth for our rotation, none of those guys are in there. So of the five guys we have, and then the three to five guys we have backing them up, they're not in that three to five category."

Asked when the farm system will achieve the level he would like it to be at, and at that point how many players it would produce in any given year, Alderson said: "I think the farm system is improving. I say that because the overall quality of our players up and down the system I think is improving. I also think that, once again, we have some players that are close to having an impact on the major league club. I don't think there's any hard and fast rule about how many join the club each year. But it would be nice if we had two or three that were pushing, even if it were in a minor bullpen role or something of that sort. What's most important is that we have the players both coming up at the major league level and also effectively as currency for trades and other transactions. So the farm system is critically important."

• The Mets emphasized the back end of the bullpen, signing Frank Francisco to a two-year, $12 million deal, Jon Rauch to a one-year, $3.5 million deal and acquiring Ramon Ramirez in the Angel Pagan trade. Team officials knew there were more closers on the market than closing jobs available, so they tried to time the market at a point where they would be getting a bargain. In retrospect, several capable arms signed modest deals late, such as Ryan Madson on a one-year, $8.5 million deal with Cincinnati and Brad Lidge for one year and $1 million with Washington.

So how does Alderson feel he did in terms of timing the market?

"Given our need, I think we timed it about as well as we could," Alderson said. "I'm not suggesting that, gee, if we had waited up until the last couple of weeks of January we could have maybe done better from a financial standpoint. But we weren't in a situation to wait that long. We wanted some certainty there. And I think with the fact that we signed or traded for three guys, that we've provided some depth and hopefully are not relying on any one individual to perform well. We should have plenty of options."

• Alderson said he will address players at the start of camp, and the message probably would be comparable to last year, since the team again faces outside expectations that are not lofty. "As I recall last year, there weren't high expectations for the Mets," he said. "There are apparently are not this year on the part of most people. So my talk may be similar to the one I had last year."

Alderson added: "There are very few players who don't have something to prove, and that runs the gamut from the veteran players to the younger guys. Some are trying to make the club. Some are try to reestablish themselves. Some are trying to rebound from an 'off' season. Some are coming back from an injury. There's not a player in this camp who doesn't have something to prove and something to improve. I think that can be as much of a driving force as anything and I hope the Mets, as a team, benefit from that collectively."

• Alderson suggested any improvement in Terry Collins' performance might be the result of having gone through the National League for a year now, after not having been a major league manager since 1999. As for picking up Collins' 2013 option well before required, Alderson said it was partly based on performance and partly based on the perception in New York of having a manager in the last guaranteed year of his deal otherwise. "Look, always in New York you're looking to avoid certain storylines," the GM said. "But far more importantly it was a reward for the job that he had done last year, and also the confidence we have in the job that he'll do this year and going forward."

• On the ceiling for the 2012 Mets, Alderson said: "I've been around baseball for a long time, and I've never been able to accurately predict a ceiling. I've never been able to predict a floor either. I'll leave that to the way the season unfolds. But, look, if things break right for us, I think realistically we can be a much better team than we were last year. If we're a much better team than we were last year, and that's reflected in the won-loss record, then we've got a shot."

• If the Mets are in contention (and hence have fans attending games and additional revenue), Alderson said he could see the payroll growing in-season. How much? "No. I don't know what will be out there, what might be necessary. The nice thing about the trade deadline is you're only paying half the salary or less -- maybe a third of the salary. So a lot of good players can become available during that time frame. But certainly I believe that if we're in contention for a wild card or what have you, we definitely could be looking to add to our club."

Bobby Parnell has an option remaining, while Pedro Beato has three options and Manny Acosta is out of options. Acosta, as a result, is a solid bet to join a bullpen that also includes Francisco, Rauch, Ramirez and Tim Byrdak. Parnell and Beato have little assurance, although Parnell probably has a better shot. It may be partly contingent upon whether the Mets carry a second left-hander such as Daniel Herrera and/or long reliever such as Miguel Batista, Alderson added.

"I think Bobby has got an outstanding future, and it's just a question of where he'll pitch and to what extent it clicks this year," Alderson said. "But, at the same time, we've got fewer spots available than we have quality arms at this point."
Adam Rubin has covered the Mets since 2003. He's a graduate of Mepham High School on Long Island and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He joined ESPNNewYork after spending 10 years at the New York Daily News.
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TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
Bartolo Colon
WINS ERA SO IP
12 4.01 132 172
OTHER LEADERS
BAD. Murphy .301
HRL. Duda 26
RBIL. Duda 76
RD. Murphy 73
OPSL. Duda .834
ERAZ. Wheeler 3.44
SOZ. Wheeler 155