Sandy Alderson: Mets can be contenders in 2014
ATLANTA - With the Mets in audition mode for what's left of the regular season, general manager Sandy Alderson took to the airwaves Tuesday, revealing in a wide-ranging interview that he intends to acquire a starting pitcher for next year with the immediate future of rotation ace Matt Harvey still in flux.
"I wasn't planning on spending a lot of it on starting pitching because of the depth that we have currently at the major-league level and in the minor-league system," Alderson told WFAN's Mike Francesa. "But given the fact that we've lost our No. 1 guy, it probably means that we're going to have to look for an additional veteran presence in that starting rotation."
Alderson reiterated that in the next week or two, Harvey will likely decide whether he will have surgery to repair a partially torn ligament in his right elbow. Alderson also insisted that with sound decisions this offseason, the Mets could strengthen themselves in other areas and enter the season as contenders for the first time during his tenure, even if Harvey chooses surgery that would sideline him for all of 2014.
"The sky has not fallen," Alderson said. "I think we're still in a very good position going into next season."
Meanwhile, the Mets must also use what's left of the regular season to evaluate which players will factor into the team's plans for 2014, and Alderson was somewhat revealing on that front.
Ruben Tejada found himself in the GM's crosshairs.
Tejada, the Opening Day shortstop, has drawn internal scrutiny for poor conditioning that contributed to an early-season swoon. After going on the disabled list, Tejada has remained at Triple-A Las Vegas even though he's healthy, supplanted on the Mets by Omar Quintanilla.
Alderson said "it's like pulling teeth" to get Tejada to take extra batting practice unless he's being prodded by the coaching staff. After he was given the shortstop spot, Alderson said Tejada will need to earn it when he's eventually called up this month.
"We need to see a commitment to improvement," said Alderson, who won't promote Tejada to the Mets until Triple-A Las Vegas is knocked out of the postseason.
Alderson also addressed several other topics:
Alderson framed Ike Davis' season-ending injury as opening the door for a better evaluation of Lucas Duda. The GM said he wasn't sure that Davis could have done anything in the final month to change the team's evaluation.
Though Davis' ability to reach base indicated that he'd turned a corner, Alderson said the first baseman "hasn't shown any power."
He reiterated that a decision on manager Terry Collins will come after the season. "We've seen everything but the finish," Alderson said.
Collins is in the final year of his contract, though privately, he enjoys the backing of the organization and appears likely to return in 2014.
Alderson envisions a place for both Juan Lagares and Eric Young Jr. in plans for next season. Despite Lagares' offensive limitations, Alderson cited Lagares' outstanding defense as a reason the Mets improved after slogging through the season's first two months. Young appears to have fit in though not necessarily as a starter, which has been his role this season.
Zack Wheeler's approaching innings limit is part of the reason the Mets signed Aaron Harang, an indication that Wheeler might be shut down before the end of the season.
Daisuke Matsuzaka will remain in the starting rotation as an innings eater, though Alderson said it "might not be pretty for the rest of the month."