Friday, July 4, 2014
Alderson addresses major Mets topics
By Adam Rubin
NEW YORK -- GM Sandy Alderson touched on a ton of Mets-related topics during a 21-minute interview before Friday’s series opener against the Texas Rangers. Here’s a summary:
Alderson said trade conversations so far have been limited, but that’s not surprising. He suggested talks typically do not pick up until the week before the All-Star break.
On the buyer/seller topic, Alderson said he would be “surprised” if any determination were made before the All-Star break. The Mets next have a four-game series against the first-place Atlanta Braves, which should be instructive.
Mark Humphrey/Associated PressSandy Alderson offered no indication the Mets would be overly active at the trade deadline.
Alderson did seem to intimate that no activity is the most likely scenario.
“We like the team as it’s developing,” the GM said. “That, in and of itself, would make us reluctant to move players at the deadline. Now, we’re practical as well. We’ve made deals at the deadline. And there’s no reason we’d hesitate to do that if we felt it was the right thing. But I think our team is on the right track. I don’t think we’re that far away. That would indicate some caution when it comes to the trade deadline.”
Alderson said it is “certainly our preference” to get back major league talent, or talent on the verge of breaking into the majors, in any trade. He noted, though, that makes a trade with a contender that much less likely, because buyers want to part with minor leaguers, not parts helping their club now.
The GM added that despite a surplus of starting pitching, trading it is not prudent.
“We have a number both here and at the minor-league level that we like. But it’s easy to run through that number in a hurry with injuries and poor performance,” Alderson said. “So I’m always hesitant to trade starting pitching. Now, I’m cognizant that an issue for us is offense and run production. So I’m not writing off that possibility. At the same time, what’s getting us to a higher level of performance, hopefully, and success is our pitching -- both our starting pitching and the bullpen.”
NO LIMITS FOR DEGROM
Dillon Gee will get 75 or so pitches on Friday night in a rehab start for Brooklyn. A team insider said Gee is expected to be activated from the DL after this outing, assuming there are no issues.
Alderson did not fully tip his hand, but he did acknowledge two major factors that support deGrom remaining in the rotation:
Slightly more than halfway through the season, deGrom is only at 98 innings between the majors and minors. Alderson said the Mets have allotted about 185 innings for him this season, so there’s no compelling reason to put the rookie in the bullpen to shave innings.
Furthermore, Alderson acknowledged, there is value in keeping deGrom in the rotation since he is likely to be a factor for a rotation spot in 2015, whereas that’s unlikely with Matsuzaka.
NO MOUND FOR YOU
Despite the ace's hope otherwise, Matt Harvey will not get on a mound until after the All-Star break, according to the GM.
NO MRI RESULTS FOR RICE
Scott Rice (left elbow) had an MRI this week in New York, but the results are not yet available. Rice is on Las Vegas’ DL. Alderson said there has been no suggestion at this point surgery is required. The GM added that there is no indication Rice’s subpar major league performance was linked to the current elbow condition.
The Mets’ hitting woes have persisted with the change in hitting coaches from Dave Hudgens to Lamar Johnson. So, Alderson concluded, it’s on the players.
“The conclusion I would draw at this stage, consistent with what I suggested at the time we made the change, is sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t,” Alderson said. “It doesn’t mean there won’t be some change in the future that one can measure. But, at this point, we haven’t seen an uptick. I don’t think that has anything to do with L.J. It probably has more to do with the players that we have.”
Asked if he agreed with Bill Parcells’ famous line that you are what your record says you are, Alderson said: “I don’t take any exception to that. I think that’s accurate. But I think, at the same time, as you’re thinking about what to do going forward, you have to have a little bit broader perspective than that.”
Trying to clarify his remarks that the Mets are better than their 37-48 record because their run differential is only minus-6, Alderson said his point is that it demonstrates the Mets are not that far away from success and therefore should not do something rash.
“I think the important thing is not to shift focus from the won-loss record, but to keep in mind sort of the fundamentals as you go about making decisions in the future,” he said. “It’s not by any means a desire to obscure the won-loss record. It’s to make sure we don’t do something in light of the won-loss record that’s not supported by more underlying facts. ... I think we’ve been playing much closer to a .500 club. But the record is what it is. So on that basis I’m certainly disappointed.”
Alderson also cited the Mets’ 10-20 record in one-run games.
Asked why the Mets are so poor in that category, or if it’s a matter of bad fortune, Alderson replied: “I’m not sure you put a finger on it. If you look at one-run games, it can be the bullpen. It can be late-inning offense. The bullpen wasn’t a strength early in the season. It is now. The late-inning offense has been an issue for us all year. I don’t think it has anything to do with strategy or tactics or anything of that sort.”
Alderson knows he is getting mocked for his 90-wins goal this season, but reiterated it was intended to “change a mindset” of losing.
“It’s always a goal, but when it was articulated, it was intended to be a mindset,” he said. “I’ve said that more than once. I think everybody should understand how it was intended, notwithstanding that it was a private conversation.”
Alderson expects David Wright to be back Saturday, or shortly thereafter. He acknowledged the DL becomes more of an option beginning Sunday if Wright is still idle, since that would be Day 10 sidelined. DL stints can be backdated a maximum of 10 days.
“We were willing to give up six or seven days,” Alderson said. “But 14 or 15 is another matter.”
The leaked Houston Astros documents further demonstrated the Mets’ receptiveness to trading Daniel Murphy, but Alderson suggested that public revelation is not that damaging. The Mets spoke with Houston about Murphy in December, according to the leaked records.
“I thought that the conversations that were revealed involving the Mets were fairly innocuous -- kind of routine stuff,” Alderson said. “What was more concerning to me was just the fact that they were hacked and that stuff got out and that we’re all vulnerable to some extent, although we probably don’t track conversations quite that closely.
"They called and apologized and so forth. But I thought those two conversations were fairly innocuous.”
On the topic of trading Murphy, Alderson was asked whether it made sense to think about dealing him since the Mets already are committed to large salaries for Wright and Curtis Granderson. Murphy is making $5.7 million this year, is eligible for arbitration one more time, then is eligible for free agency after the 2015 season, so his price tag may be at $10 million or more soon.
“I think we have the flexibility,” Alderson said about fitting Murphy’s future salary within the payroll with Wright and Granderson. “That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t consider other options. Obviously, the more large contracts you have, the less and less flexibility you have. But I think we still have the flexibility to address Daniel’s situation.”
Assuming Wright successfully returns this weekend, the Mets have no plans to rebalance the position players by adding an infielder and dropping an outfielder, according to the GM. That’s true even though Saturday will be Day 10 of Wilmer Flores in the minors, meaning he is eligible to return to the major league club Sunday.
“Right now we’re OK,” Alderson said. “I understand we’ve got a number of outfielders. But what’s more important to us is what each player can contribute offensively. So not having that backup infielder gives us a little bit of a crimp. But, at the same time, it hasn’t really affected us.”
Asked if there were any position players close to major league ready that could help the club, Alderson cited Flores and Triple-A middle infielder Matt Reynolds.
Days after Terry Collins suggested Noah Syndergaard may not be in the majors this season, Alderson reiterated that assertion.
Asked if it was possible Syndergaard would be in the majors this season, the GM said: “It’s conceivable, but I wouldn’t predict it."
Said Alderson: “Obviously we still love Noah. He’s got a couple of injury issues. He hasn’t performed as consistently this year as he did last year. But that’s not a major concern for us at this point.”
Alderson said Jeremy Hefner, working back from Tommy John surgery, is “fairly close” to getting in games, but will not enter them imminently. Hefner threw batting practice Friday for the first time since last August's procedure.