Alderson says he’s responsible for lack of spending, not Ownership

Matthew Cerrone, Lead Writer

Sandy Alderson, John Ricco, Paul DePodesta and JP Ricciardi held a Q&A with season-ticket owners last night at Citi Field.

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According to tweets from the event, curated by ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin, Alderson said:

“The reason we haven’t spent the money is not because of Fred Wilpon. It’s because of me. … We understand what the market dictates and we have to be prepared to exist in that market. … Am I going to recommended that we sit here in New York City and function like the Oakland Athletics for the next 10 years? No I’m not. … I’m not asking you to believe me until you see some manifestation of that, which I hope is sooner rather than later. … We don’t want to be there one year and gone the next.”

The team has been hinting all winter that Alderson has money to spend, roughly $15 million these days, and it’s up to him how or when he uses it. Similarly, it’s up to you whether to believe that or not. I’ve heard all the crazy conspiracy theories on why he isn’t spending. I don’t buy in to them, but I do like that Alderson acknowledges that the proof is ultimately in the product he builds (be it today’s or tomorrow’s). The thing is, as far as 2013 goes, even if he was given a $20 million budget for new acquisitions, it wouldn’t have been enough money to sign a big-time bat, a starter and relievers. He would have been bargain hunting either way. And, even if he had more to spend, would that make signing Nick Swisher to a five-year deal any less wrong? No. Swisher for five years is a bad idea regardless of budget, payroll, and who is writing the check. The same goes for Melky Cabrera, or giving Josh Hamilton a long-term deal to play in New York City at 31 years old. Bad baseball moves are bad no matter how much money you have in your wallet… just ask the Yankees.

At the same time – and this would have been a good question for Alderson, and maybe something Kevin Burkhardt can ask him on tonight’s Mets Hot Stove show – why is he seemingly so against giving long-term deals to older, mid-level, role players, especially at time when he’s goofing on his own outfield? Cody Ross and Scott Hairston are not All Stars, but combined they could have been under contract for the next two to three years, earning a collective $10 to $12 million or so, and likely contributing three or four extra wins over the course of a year. They’re not the difference between a pennant race and a terrible season, but they would have at least bridged the gap to a better outfield, not to mention let Alderson save face by putting a complete, major-league team on the field. These guys would not have cost draft picks. They wouldn’t intere with the long-term plan in a significant way. They didn’t cost huge money, especially when considering how much is coming off the books after next year. And, at the very least, Hairston and Ross could have shifted to the bench in the event better outfielders emerge down the road…

I’m disappointed and confused by these lack of acquisitions, not the lack of marquee names. I know from people on all sides of the situation that the Mets were talking to these players, as well as some in trade, but nothing materialized. Actually  that seemed to be the story at every turn this winter – with a rumored chase for Michael Bourn still in progress – so I understand why some fans are skeptical of Alderson’s statement last night. He’s either so focused and resolute that nothing else matters except for stripping this franchise clean and rebuilding it for a new economic era in baseball… even if that means us watching an incomplete roster. Or, he’s so locked in on the horizon, he’s misunderstanding the short-term need to keep us entertained and interested. I’m not sure which it is, but I’m eager to understand and watch it play out…