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The Mets Dilemma

Apparently Sandy Alderson made the media rounds yesterday, discussing Mets doings with Mike Francesa. I didn’t hear it, as I have it on good authority that Francesa is the exclusive radio voice in Hell, and see no reason to get an early start on that. MetsBlog summed it up anyways [1], and most of it was the usual pre-spring-training can-do hoo-ha, pleasant February background noise that one can simultaneously appreciate and safely ignore.

One thing stood out, though:

[Alderson] said he expects to have the necessary payroll flexibility to add to the major league roster when and if necessary (such as the trade deadline, should the team be in contention).

Here, it seems to me, is one of the central dilemmas of being a Mets fan right now — or, more properly, here’s a subset of the two-headed problem of the team being broke and no sane fan trusting anything ownership or the business side says about the situation. (We’ve all heard more than enough about that and are due for a lot more in spring training, so let’s skip it this morning.)

Put simply, I think Sandy is a smart guy, and I agree with most of the moves he’s made so far. He’s constructed a solid bench, refitted the bullpen, made some low-risk, high-reward moves (some successful and some inevitably not), drafted sensibly, traded off pieces when it made sense, and refused to give Jose Reyes an ill-advised deal, or to play PR games on the road to not giving him that deal. Should he have traded Reyes earlier? Arguably yes, but Jose was damaged goods, the team needed SOME reason to keep fans out of nooses, and I’m glad we finally got that batting title. So I give him a pass there.

I think he’s built a solid foundation for future success. The thing is, building a solid foundation is a pretty empty exercise if all you can construct atop of it is a shack, or a cut-rate ranch house in a ritzy neighborhood.

If Sandy really can add payroll, that’s fantastic. But I have no faith that he actually can, and I have no faith that he thinks he actually can.

Has he been told that he can add payroll under the appropriate circumstances? I’m sure the answer to that is “yes” — I don’t think the man’s a liar, beyond the necessities of propriety in his job. But I’m also sure he’s been told lots of things during his exceedingly weird tenure as Mets GM. It would be fascinating, to say the least, to get his unvarnished take on those things. But I suspect that’s a tale that won’t be told for years, if ever.

In the meantime, hey, the man’s funny as hell on Twitter [2], the walls are changed and the unis are better. And baseball’s baseball, with plenty of delights even when you suspect your October will be free. But man oh man. When there was money we had Omar Minaya, and now that we have Sandy Alderson there’s no money. Unless you’re an aficionado of irony, it’s hard to find a silver lining there.

We ain’t as funny as Sandy on Twitter, but you can follow us too if you like. Greg is greg_prince [3], and I’m jasoncfry [4].