Sandy Alderson’s in-game interviews are a prism through which we see glory and doom

Sandy Alderson joined Gary Cohen and Ron Darling in the booth during last night’s Mets broadcast on this network. Lest anyone mistake this for criticism of said broadcast, I should note that no matter how Alderson presented himself and what he said, I would rather be watching and listening to the Mets’ general manager discussing the team’s outlook than the sights and sounds of Elvin Ramirez issuing bases-loaded walks in the middle innings of a meaningless September game, so Alderson made for a welcome addition.

A full transcript of Alderson’s interview is here. Reputedly and/or notoriously cautious and collected, Alderson confirmed that the Mets’ front office is aware of a bunch of stuff many Mets fans already know about. Looking a bit spent — as we all are, really — Alderson essentially said:

  • The Mets do not have much power or speed. Early in the season they got on base a lot, but as the year dragged on, due to poor performances and shifting personnel, their plate discipline suffered.
  • Players who do not play good defense need to hit enough to make up for it.
  • The Mets may have to trade from positions of strength to fill areas of weakness.
  • R.A. Dickey and David Wright are both very good and the Mets would like to extend their contracts, but it takes two sides to reach an agreement. If it becomes clear that an extension is unlikely in either case, the Mets will consider trading the player.
  • Matt Harvey was pretty awesome.
  • He does not think reports of Ike Davis’ partying will hurt Davis’ trade value and he hopes they do not hurt Davis’ relationship with the team’s front office, as Davis has power and the Mets need that.
  • Etc.

Alderson has been funnier at times in the past, but not really any more revealing. That’s a good thing: It doesn’t really behoove the front office to divulge any of its offseason plans beyond making the team better. And Alderson has established himself as so careful in interviews that at this point, it seems like basically nothing he says beyond the plain facts will be taken on face.

If Omar Minaya were to pledge to fix the bullpen, we would say, “well, good” — as we once did when he pledged to fix the bullpen. If Alderson were to say the exact same thing, we’d wonder if he meant it or if he were actually planning to fix the outfield and employing some misdirection. If Minaya sat down next to me at a game, handed me a beer and said his fantasy football quarterback sucks, I’d be all, “I hear you, bro, I had Kyle Orton last year.” Alderson does it and I’m wondering if he’s trying to trade me his backup quarterback.

Maybe that’s oversimplifying and maybe it’s not fair, and probably I’m giving too much credit to Alderson and not enough to Minaya — or vice versa if you value disclosure over prudence. Either way it seems silly to read too much into anything we’re hearing out of the Mets’ front office on record about its offseason plans.

Yesterday, a report in the New York Post, citing a team source, had it in rather strong terms that “team brass has resolved to stick with [Jason] Bay” rather than eat the $19 million remaining on his contract for 2013. Less than half of this site’s readers believe it. Why not?

To the Post’s credit, the report is not that Bay is certainly staying, it’s that a team source said Bay is certainly staying. So maybe that’s true, and the team source is being utterly honest with the Post and knows for a fact that the team is committed to bringing Bay back for another go of it in 2013 despite his .525 OPS no matter what happens this offseason. Or maybe the source knows there’s no value in ripping Bay while he’s still on the club, his name’s nowhere on the story so he won’t be held accountable, and Bay’s got about as good a chance at opening the 2013 season in left field for the Mets as he does at the plate after an 0-2 count.

Today we have a report that the Mets’ payroll will remain around $95 million next season and that fans can rule out the offseason pursuit of big-name free-agent center fielders. Based on recent history, that seems a lot more believable than the Bay story. Still, I’m inclined toward skepticism only because I want to be skeptical and I’m a pathetic Mets fan hoping the team can find cash for B.J. Upton — a great fit at the right cost, I think —  in the couch cushions somewhere.

Which is, I guess, the point: So much is reported on the Mets from so many angles based on so many sources that it’s pretty easy to endeavor the mental gymnastics necessary to isolate the news items we want to believe — for whatever reason — and shake off all the rest as nonsense or misdirection. I don’t want to believe the Mets will keep Jason Bay because I don’t want the Mets to keep Jason Bay. I like Ike Davis, so I’ll chalk up the story that the team thinks he parties too hard to either a) a rogue team employee speaking out his ass or b) a sneaky front-office insider trying to motivate Davis or back-handedly up Lucas Duda’s trade value by making the team appear more invested in him.

I don’t know what’s actually true and really it doesn’t much matter. I’ll know what the 2013 Mets look like in 2013. Doesn’t mean I won’t fret like hell about it until then, though.

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