Sandy Alderson On Mets 2012 Payroll: “From my standpoint I think it’s lower then it certainly had been discussed with me.”

May 26, 2011 – 7:00 am by Steven Cuce

Let’s get one thing straight: Fred Wilpon is a self-made millionaire who started up his own real estate business while he was poor growing up in New York City. Wilpon made an enormous lapse in judgement as he decided to make a few off the cuff remarks about Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran and David Wright to Jeffrey Toobin of the New Yorker during a game against the Houston Astros over a month ago. It would be foolish for all of us to rush judgement on Mr.Wilpon or even say that he is a flat out moron for making these remarks due to the fact that this is a man who has had a prudence of protecting his players for over 30 years dating back to when he bought a share of the Metropolitans. The unfortunate part of the New Yorker article is the fact that it was incredibly bad timing in terms of when the article was published after the Mets had hung tough against the hated cross town rival New York Yankees over the weekend. The Mets once again were forced to bow their heads in shame of the Bronx Bombers.

The 11,000 word economic prospective written by Jeffrey Toobin was suppose to give Wilpon and the Mets a better public image during the fallout off the Bernie Madoff scandal, but now it has further buried them in embarrassment, which will be hard to overlook all season. Sandy Alderson knew he had his work cut off for him when he took over as Mets general manager last off-season, but I’m not sure if he anticipated a media firestorm that may cause his principal owner to sell the team and reduce the payroll he will be working off of next year either.

Sandy Alderson joined WFAN in New York with Mike Francesa to discuss the state of the Mets over the last few days stemming from the comments made by Fred Wilpon about the Mets to the New Yorker, upper management immediately doing damage control after Fred Wilpon’s comments, the possible reduction in operating salary for the New York Mets next season and beyond, the operating salary for the Mets being remarkably lower, Fred Wilpon’s comments having an effect on teams looking to trade for Carlos Beltran or Jose Reyes and Fred Wilpon’s comments making it a foregone conclusion that the Mets won’t re-sign Jose Reyes.

How would you describe these last couple days after the story surfaced with Fred Wilpon’s comments?

“Well, interesting would probably been an understatement, but challenging would probably be accurate. Nothing is ever dull in New York, so not unexpected.”

Did you and the manager feel there was something you needed to do after the Fred Wilpon’s comments? Was this a centralized effort made by upper management? Or did everyone do their own separate parts?

“Well it wasn’t really centralized. The meeting that Terry [Collins] held yesterday before the game was actually scheduled before the New Yorker article broke. Terry wanted to talk to the team about how we played at Yankee Stadium in the last two games and all of the talk about the Buffalo players and the incredible way that people had characterized over the last couple of weeks. I think Terry just wanted to re-emphasize to all of our players that we are major leaguers and we are good enough to compete for a pennant and we had been doing that. Let’s get back to that after a few rough ball games. I think he just wanted to have a team meeting on that basis and then of course the story broke and it was also a convenient way for him to address it. As you know we tried to keep the baseball focus on the team and not on other issues that have surrounded the Mets over the last few months. I think Terry has been very successful doing that and it’s shown up in our play. I think that he just wanted to reinforce that general direction.”

The other alarming part of the article was the information about a possible reduction of salary in the future for the Mets? Have you heard any indicator of this? Did this have to do with attendance factoring in? Fred has not made a specific quote about payroll that I have seen? What kind of payroll will you have next year?

“Well I think I’ve said in the past where we are this year is probably a little high, so I’m on record as saying ‘Look if we’re at $140-$145 [million] there about depending upon performance bonuses and things,I have said from time-to-time that’s probably a little high.’ On the other hand I was a little surprised by the reference of payroll in the Sports Illustrated article. I guess we have to keep our article straight here. That’s not a number that has been discussed with me. I’d be a little surprised with that number. Obviously who knows what happens with respect to this season with [Bernie] Madoff, the minority investor deal that may close or may not close, but I think from my standpoint I think it’s lower then it certainly had been discussed with me.”

You are still going on the premise that it will be lower, but not marketably lower in terms of next year’s payroll?

“My operating premise is that let’s say were at $140 or $145 [million] now. This [Sports Illustrated] article mentioned $100 [million]. I’d expect to be somewhere in between based on the conversations that I have had. The other thing that one should keep in mind is there have been discussion with a potential minority investor and obviously budgets have been prepared with that in mind and so as I said the $100 million number has never really come up and I would expect it would be somewhere north of that and south of $145 [million].”

Do you think the comments in the New Yorker are going to have siginificant effect on clubs that are looking to trade for Jose Reyes or Carlos Beltran?

“I don’t think the comments in the New Yorker are going to have a significant effect on what clubs may or may not decide to offer in the event we look to trade Jose [Reyes] or any of the other players mentioned. I think most baseball people would see those comments and view that article as irrelevant to their overall decision.”

Do the Mets need to discuss with the Jose Reyes camp about re-signing or not signing him after the season at this point after the New Yorker article? Should we assume the Mets aren’t going to even look at re-signing Jose Reyes?

“I don’t think that’s an accurate inference either. Look a lot of things can happen. As I said I think last night that whole situation shouldn’t be prejudged by the public and certainly hasn’t been by us. I’ve said some very positive things about Jose over the last few weeks. None of that changes as a result at least in my view [Francesa: So we shouldn't assume the Mets won't make an offer to re-sign Jose Reyes]…Yeah one should not assume that. No. I think particularly if you look at the New Yorker article I mean these are quotes from someone who was primarily discussing an entirely different issue and I think Fred [Wilpon] would probably admit that certainly on the record should not have made the statements that he did and the regrets. I go back, you know Fred better than I do, from a public perception standpoint, but my guess this is his first in his 30 years of baseball that he’s made comments of this type, considering the circumstances and his long history of prudence in protecting his players and not speaking publicly about them in any sort of way. I think this was still an aberration. I really wouldn’t assume anything from those comments. Obviously Fred made them and regrets them, but they happened at a time the team wasn’t playing very well and this is what sometimes happens with publication. You make comments that maybe make a little more sense in the immediate framework of what’s going on, but they don’t get published for 2,3,4 weeks. At that point they have a very different connotation. Fred was probably reaction to the fact that we weren’t playing very well. I think his frustration was evidence by those remarks was shared by a lot of people in the organization, but that’s baseball and things do turn around and yet with the publication of those remarks a few weeks later things look somewhat more hurtful, but the other thing I would stress is within the clubhouse I really don’t think this is a lingering issue. I’m not saying someone like Jose Reyes wasn’t totally unaffected, but it really from my sense anyway is that it’s not a big deal. David Wright is a lot more concerned about getting healthy and being on the field than he is about anything written in the New Yorker.”

Listen to Sandy Alderson on 660 WFAN in New York

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