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Mets Spring Training: Sandy Alderson Speaks About 2011 Expectations, Free Agency Plans Next Offseason

Sandy Alderson has been a busy man ever since he took the Mets' general manager job. Not only did he have to work the discounted free-agent wire this offseason, he currently has to deal with cash-strapped owners.

Now, he's getting to know his team and scouting his players in Port St. Lucie, Fla. for Mets camp. Alderson's also the GM for a New York sports team, so yeah, he also has to speak to the media as well -- and he's done it quite often already.

The latest exclusive Q&A comes from the Sporting News' Steve Greenberg who had a chance to sit down with Alderson and talk about the challenges facing the Mets this season.

Here are a few notable excerpts:

Alderson first touches on the realities of contending this season:

Sandy Alderson: The Mets can be that good. Position by position, we've got some very talented players. We're trying to add depth to those position players. We didn't score a lot of runs last year in part, I think, because of injuries. We seem to be in a pretty good position with those players going into this season; Carlos Beltran, Jose Reyes, Jason Bay, they all missed significant playing time last year. If those players remain healthy, our lineup is as good as almost anybody's. And our team didn't pitch that badly last year; we finished sixth (in ERA) in the National League. We don't have (Johan) Santana going into the beginning of the season-obviously a critical loss for us-but with regard to our starting rotation, we've added a couple of guys (Chris Young and Chris Capuano), and if they can get back to prior form, and we hope they can, our rotation ought to be pretty good.

The Mets scored the seventh-fewest runs last season and it undoubtedly was because of so many injuries to key guys, and Jason Bay, when he was healthy, who disappointed. If everyone can stay off the DL this year, and Bay finds his power stroke again, this offense has to be better. Though, the rotation, especially without Santana, remains a question mark.

Alderson also spoke about the prospects of the Mets being players in free agency next offseason -- certainly a topic on many Mets' fans minds.

Sandy Alderson: Our goal is to be a player in free agency and a major factor in free agency every year. We weren't in that position this year because of prior commitments. We need to manage our payroll in such a way that we can be active in the market for significant free agents every year; whether we will sign them every year would be another question, but we certainly wouldn't want to be precluded from thinking about it or being involved in trying to acquire them. If we're careful about how the payroll is structured, then we ought to be able to play that game every year.

The financial issues facing the team's owners certainly puts a damper -- at least on the expectations -- of what the Mets can do in free agency, but Alderson definitely has a fiscally-responsible plan, regardless of the team's financial standing and that's a good thing. With a few contracts off the books next offseason, the Mets should be players in the free agent market, but prudent ones at that.

TSN has more from Alderson on Terry Collins, the Yankees/Phillies shadows and his championship goals.