Brad Penner-US PRESSWIRE
See that 74-88 record the New York Mets finished with this past season? Get used to it because it very well could be how the Mets wind up in 2013, too.
General manager Sandy Alderson on Tuesday acknowledged there probably won't be any drastic changes to the roster by Opening Day.
"I would expect the roster will look similar to the way it did at the end of last year -- with some exceptions," Alderson said Tuesday, according to ESPN NY. "It's hard to speculate. When you think about it, the trade market, signing free agents and so forth, it's relatively young in the season. It's hard, really, to accurately predict where things will end up."
Granted, I'm exaggerating when I the same roster automatically equals the same results. The Mets have the makings of a great rotation and if the cards fall right, could, theoretically at least, make a run. Still, the composition of the roster being similar isn't something fans want to hear because nobody wants to finish fourth in the division again and losing has become all too familiar lately. In reality, though, are Alderson's comments really that surprising?
By delaying Jason Bay's payments and deferring some of David Wright's new contract money, the Mets freed up more cash for this coming year, reportedly around $20 million. But all that did was get fans more excited that additions would become more substantial. Instead, Alderson seems to be practicing some fiscal responsibility because there's no point in saddling the organization with more ill-advised long-term contracts that is part of the reason the Mets are in this situation in the first place.
There are/were very few difference-makers on the free-agent market this winter, anyway. Zack Greinke? The Mets (or the majority of the teams, really) were never going to give him $147 million. Josh Hamilton? The best hitter on the market, but also one that comes with some serious risks, as the the market seems to be indicating of as well. The second-tier guys such as Cody Ross intrigue the Mets, but not for three years. Alderson wants short-term deals that carry less of a burden than lengthy extensions do.
Just because the Mets have some more "flexibility" now doesn't mean that's when it has to be spent.
"Again, it's hard for me to predict what exactly will happen," Alderson said, according to ESPN NY. "But we're not going to spend the money in mid-December just because we have it. 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."
It's definitely aggravating. The Mets have an outfield that needs overhauling. Catcher Josh Thole needs a platoon partner at a minimum. The bullpen posted the second-worst (4.65) ERA in the league. But this general manager wants nothing to do with overpaying for marginal free agents, so it's likely we'll have to wait to scoop up some bottom-of-the-barrel ones. It's a tough realization to come to grips with, but to be viable long-term tough (and unpopular) decisions need to be made now. I'm not saying the Mets shouldn't "splurge" on some upgrades, but I think it has to be done with the future's focus in mind, too. This is the hard lesson you learn when you're used to throwing money at problems (and getting whatever you want), rather than worrying about developing your own talent.