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NEW YORK -- General manager Sandy Alderson did not shy away Monday from his now-public ambition for the New York Mets to win 90 games this season. Still, Alderson stopped short of offering any assurances.
The Mets have produced five straight losing seasons and have a roughly $89 million payroll, leading fans and media to respond with skepticism to Alderson's statement, which originally was told to team officials in a private meeting and subsequently leaked.
Alderson insisted a tangible win total was important. In the past, owner Fred Wilpon has offered such nonspecific goals as "meaningful games in September."
"Was I surprised by the skepticism? Am I concern about the optics? No," Alderson said. "It's time for us to get better. What you can measure, you can improve. I can't really measure competitiveness.
"You have to understand the context within which the statement was made and the purpose behind it if the skepticism is, 'How are they going to win 90 games?' It wasn't a guarantee. It wasn't a prediction. It was a challenge, OK? A challenge to all of us internally: How do we get there?"
Alderson said he did not intend, but was not totally surprised, that the 90-win goal became public.
"I'm never thrilled when private conversations are disclosed publicly, which happens all too frequently in connection with the Mets. Shame on me," he said. "Let's put it this way: Any time anything is said -- anything of an interesting or somewhat controversial nature -- it tends to become public. So shame on me for assuming that it wouldn't. And, actually, I didn't assume that it wouldn't. Around here you have to assume that everything that's said eventually becomes public."
Alderson, who is entering his fourth season as general manager, insisted it's important for the Mets to be ambitious after consecutive 74-win seasons.
"What I want to emphasize for us it's important for us to change the conversation," Alderson said. "This team is now about being successful. Being successful is not some nebulous concept about winning or being competitive or playing meaningful games some month later in the calendar. This is about concrete expectations about what we need to do.
"The 90 wins is about challenge. It's about changing the conversation. It's about framing questions for ourselves as to how we get there. So I stand by the notion that we need to get better, and in doing so we need to set concrete goals for ourselves so that we have sort of specific conversations among ourselves about how we're going to get there."