- Adam Rubin, ESPN Staff Writer
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NEW YORK -- Fired hitting coach Dave Hudgens suggested New York Mets general manager Sandy Alderson's hands are tied by ownership restrictions, inhibiting his ability to put a winner on the field.
"If they want a winner in that town, then I would let the purse strings loose and let Sandy do what he wants to do," Hudgens told "The Michael Kay Show" on ESPN New York 98.7 on Tuesday afternoon.
Hudgens was fired after Monday's loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates, which dropped the Mets' record to a National League East-worst 22-28. Despite playing in New York, the Mets' payroll is in the lowest third in the majors, at roughly $85 million.
"I have no information. I'm just saying that I know what Sandy is capable of doing and I have great respect for him and what he's capable of doing. I know he'd put a winner in there," Hudgens said.
Told Mets fans are frustrated by the inferior spending level, Hudgens indicated he can appreciate that sentiment.
"Yeah, it's got to be frustrating," he said. "I would be frustrated, too, I'm sure."
Alderson, who followed Hudgens on the show, downplayed the effect of payroll on the team's performance. The Mets entered Tuesday with a 247-289 record in Alderson's four seasons as GM. He has yet to produce a winning record.
Asked about Hudgens' assertion that ownership was preventing him from building the team the way he desired, Alderson said: "The short answer to that is no. Look, I take full responsibility for the results on the field with the payroll that we have and the choices that we've been able to make. Look, I expect whether we're paying a guy $10 million or $500,000, that if we choose to have him on the team, he's going to perform, and he's going to have to perform to an expectation that we have. It doesn't mean that we expect that every guy that we sign for $700,000 to have 30 saves. But we sign those players for a reason. We have expectations about what they can do. It doesn't always work out."
Alderson added that it would be unfair to label the Mets as acting like a small-market team.
"With the money that we've had to spend, would we expect to have better results than we've had over the first two months of the season? I think the answer is yes," he said. "Look, our payroll is not the highest in baseball. It's not in the top half of baseball. I get that. I understand that. But, at the same time, I think what we expect out of ourselves is more than we've gotten. So from my standpoint the payroll is not an excuse. ...
"Eighty-five [million dollars] is the payroll this year. It was the payroll last year. I do believe that the payroll will go up if we're able to generate the kind of revenue that will support that. And that's why we have to win. We played pretty well the first month. One month isn't going to translate into a lot of people coming out to the ballpark. We've played poorly this month. So you take one step forward, and you take a step or a step and a half back. We have to be more consistent."
Some fans groan when Alderson suggests revenue has to precede spending, because they interpret that as fans not showing up being responsible for the low payroll. Alderson countered that he is not precisely saying that.
"The old adage you have to spend money to make money, I don't entirely believe that," Alderson said. "Does it raise the probabilities? Yeah, it probably raises the probabilities somewhat. But it doesn't ensure anything.
"From our standpoint, and I've said this before, the first few years I was here, the goal was to acquire talent, get some flexibility with the payroll and try to win as many games as possible in the meantime without compromising the acquisition of talent or the payroll flexibility. We're at the point now where we're seeing players come up from our system. I actually think some positive things have happened over the last three weeks."