Alderson now expects very few changes this off season

Matthew Cerrone, Lead Writer

In his August interview with WFAN, Sandy Alderson joked, “We can always make wholesale changes,” implying that (if he wanted to) he could technically cut most everyone from the roster tomorrow. However, he acknowledged that such a move does not guarantee the team will be better.

Instead, he explained, “We need an infusion of players, productive players.”

However, at the team’s Holiday Party  in Citi Field today, Alderson said he expects next year’s team to look similar to last year’s team, “with some exceptions.”

To be fair, pitchers and catchers report two months from now – not tomorrow. Also, there is still the potential for trades to be made this winter and plenty of free-agents available to sign.

That said, I’m skeptical we’ll get to root for a significantly better team than we did in 2012… and that is beyond frustrating and disappointing.

Interestingly, I’ve heard the Mets have a bit more money to spend this winter than has been reported.

baseball-moneyThe team opened up money in the budget by delaying payments to Jason Bay, as well as getting David Wright to defer 2013 dollars to later in his new deal, indicating Alderson may have up to $20 million available to him. However, it’s up to him whether he spends it or not. The Mets know they need to be better, but he isn’t being pressured by Ownership to win now at the expense of what’s in the best interest of his long-term plan.

“We’re not going to spend the money in mid-December just because we have it,” Alderson said today, according to the same report. “We may spend it in January. We may spend it at some other time. We may not spend it. But the important thing is we have the flexibility to make a baseball decision about that rather than be constrained by sort of an artificial financial limitation.

In other words, as has always been the case with him, Alderson doesn’t want future payrolls to be obstructed by lots of money in long-term deals to mediocre free agents.

For instance, in 2014, 2015, etc., David Wright and Jon Niese will get raises. Also, Alderson will need to explore long-term extensions and raises for Ike Davis, Ruben Tejada, Matt Harvey and other homegrown players, who at the very least will earn more through arbitration. And, since there will always be a need for low-risk, high-reward free agents to fill out the roster, I don’t think he wants to limit his options by signing a so-so free agent to an over-valued deal this winter to get from 74 wins in 2012 to – say – 78 wins in 2013. It’s not a big-enough bang for the buck, I guess, when compared to how the contract can complicate things down the road.

So, what? How does he improve in 2013 enough to keep us entertained, satisfied, buying tickets and watching SNY, yet also keep his long-term options in tact?

At this point, I really don’t know.

There is still the possibility the Mets end up keeping R.A. Dickey and trading Niese to the Blue Jays for a young hitter or two. However, I’m growing more and more skeptical that either deal will happen, meaning the pitching staff will be mostly the same. I also don’t see how Cody Ross accepts just two years to play in Queens, when he’s still seeking a three-year deal. And, Miguel Olivo is never the best answer to a baseball-related problem, meaning the lineup will be mostly the same.

The 2013 season may be two months away, with plenty of time to make changes, but it’s starting to feel like it may as well start tomorrow…