Recap: Sandy Alderson Conf. Call with Bloggers

Tonight on a conference call with Mets bloggers, Mets GM Sandy Alderson said the team has identified the final coaching staff, but, due to some administrative issues, he will make the formal announcement either Monday or Tuesday of next week.

Also, he said, in a perfect world, he’d like to add to the pitching staff before the end of the year, then look to see where the market is at after the New Year – noting he is less concerned with salary at this point, and most concerned with the health of the pitcher and maximizing his upside, which is more difficult when dealing with pitchers coming off of injury or surgery.

In regards to doing a conference call with bloggers, he said:

“I’m very familiar with the blogosphere, and how it makes connections with fans… People are going to form their own opinions, but if you’ve heard from me, it’ll be on the basis of direct communication. I don’t mind spending the time. In a sense, you guys probably reflect the most passionate elements of the fan base. If I’m right about that, it’s more important to be in contact with you all than the rest of the media.”

Alderson talked to us for 45 minutes and said the following, in regards to…

The misconception that he’s only a ‘Moneyball guy,’ trying to run a big-market team as a small-market team:

“I wasn’t hired to apply a Moneyball approach to the New York Mets. I would not have accepted the position were I required to run the Mets on shoestring budget. On the other hand, I did come in with my eyes wide open. I did recognize that there would be some payroll restrictions this year, keeping in mind that when everything is said and done our payroll in 2011 will be some place around $130 and $140 million, which will be in the top four or five in baseball. The problem isn’t that we don’t have resources. The problem is that we have limited resources available to spend  this year.  So, what you see today or over the last two weeks isn’t necessarily representative of what you’ll see over the next two or three years. But, we do have to get through a somewhat difficult period in terms of our payroll, because we already have most it committed…

“Believe me, I love to make big splashes.  Years ago, we probably made some of the biggest trades at the deadline in baseball history.  I think it’s great for the fans.  This is entertainment.  However, you can only do so in situations that warrant it…

My business philosophy is to be prudent under all circumstances, but New York isn’t Oakland.  Like I said earlier, I wouldn’t be here if it were.  We do have a long-term strategy, but that long-term focused on being as good as we can be today, but also putting an infrastructure in place to make us as good as we can be down the road…

In terms of identifying talent, we use a combination of tools: we do use statistical metrics, but we also rely heavily in scouting, and that was evident at the Winter Meetings when we had several people from our staff who were primarily stats oriented, but who also do field work. But, we also have a greater number who were more subjective in their approach, like in the Rule 5 Draft, where scouting played a more dominant role.”

His strategy for the draft:

“I think we will approach (the draft) from a wide open and a non-doctrinal point of view. We want the best players. It’s important to consider domestic draft and international signings in the aggregate, in terms of youth and developmental timelines. I don’t expect us to be focused predominantly on college players, for example – we will go for the best player, we will be over slot maybe more than occasionally. Big market clubs can only dominate through a successful player development system. We need to take advantage of our resources in all areas of player acquisition, including amateur scouting.”

Whether he’ll have flexibility to add a player at the trade deadline:

“I would expect to have much more flexibility. I think any team in position at the All-Star break, to make a run, needs to take a hard look at what we need. If we’re in position to make a run, attendance will reflect that, and so we will be in a strong position to make a move. I don’t think our approach in the off-season would necessarily be repeteated at the All-Star break. We want to be in position to add a player or two and make a run. If we’re in the hunt, we will take hard look at what we can add.”

The impact that long-term contracts are having on the game:

“There are the Crawford and Werth (type contracts), but there are also the Konerko’s and Dunn’s – and where that infrastructure comes into play is to figure out the best combination of players with the best combination of prices.  Everyone would have a preference to signing shorter rather than longer contracts. (The longer) deals are setting a dangerous precedent. But this is New York, and we will have to address the market as it develops over the next few years. If this becomes the norm, then we will have to address it.”

The idea, pushed mostly on talk radio, that Mets fans are disappointed with what he’s doing this off season:

I’m not sure the majority of Mets fans aren’t disappointed with the direction we’re taking. Most are sophisticated and understand the situation we’re in right now. I’m not foolish enough to think that when the bell rings and we don’t play well, people will be tolerant of that – I don’t expect that at all. But I don’t think anything we’ve done is inconsistent with anything I’ve said. We are going to keep working at it. It’s important for us to put everything on heard on radio into some perspective. We have a plan. Mets fans have been disappointed for a long time. I don’t foresee any reason why the last couple of weeks would make them equally disappointed. There is still a lot of time before Opening Day.”

His relationship with the players:

“I try to maintain a personal but professional relationship (with the players), so the relationship doesn’t create any misconceptions. Not strictly business, but at same time, be careful about having friendly relationships with players because it can send the wrong message and make it difficult when a tough decision is made.”

His thoughts on Mets fans so far:

“I think my impressions (of Mets fans) from outside have been confirmed. They’re passionate, loyal, and baseball is important to them. New York is a baseball town. That imposes obligations and demands. Fans are very knowledgeable, and it keeps us on their toes. I haven’t seen any ‘fruits and vegetables’ yet, and I’m sure that first hand contact will become more real when the season starts. New York fans haven’t disappointed me yet. We want the fans to be proud of the organization and it’s going to come from winning the right way.”

Thank you to Michael Baron for transcribing the call, live, as it was going on.

Updated at 8:07 pm:

Also check out Caryn’s post at MetsGrrl, and Kerel’s video at On the Black.