ROSEMONT, Ill. -- In light of obvious financial problems with the Marlins, and possibly the future of baseball in South Florida, commissioner Bud Selig said Thursday that he has no concerns about the Mets, who still are facing a cash crunch of their own.
Selig remains confident that Fred Wilpon's ownership group has the money to field a competitive team regardless of how little is being used to improve the Mets, one of baseball's premier franchises in the sport's biggest market.
"They said they do and I think they do," Selig said shortly after the MLB owners' meetings concluded at the O'Hare Hyatt. "It just depends. It's interesting how you rebuild or how you do things. Spending money doesn't guarantee anybody anything. I want to be very careful here.
"As far as the Mets are concerned, I know they're very comfortable where they are and they're very optimistic. I'll take them at their word."
Both Fred Wilpon and COO Jeff Wilpon attended the owners' meetings. Fred declined to take questions from reporters before leaving Wednesday night and Jeff has made it an unofficial policy to not provide updates on the team's financial state.
With no comment from ownership, the only signs that suggest the Wilpons finally may be digging out from the Bernard Madoff mess is their efforts to re-sign David Wright to a multiyear contract extension and general manager Sandy Alderson's recent remarks about more flexibility with the 2013 payroll.
Of course, Wright has yet to sign and team officials have not expressed the same optimism about an extension with R.A. Dickey, who certainly increased his value by winning the Cy Young Award. With so much talk about the Mets potentially trading Dickey after a magical run together this year, Selig was asked if that situation upsets him. "I'm just not going to comment on speculation," Selig said. "The Mets haven't said anything about that and I've spent the last 24 hours with Fred Wilpon. I don't know where this speculation came from."
Actually, from the Mets themselves, and for good reason: With glaring holes in the outfield and a need to upgrade behind the plate, trading Dickey might provide the best avenue to get better faster. Also, Alderson didn't say specifically how much more leeway he would have with the 2013 payroll, and the savings for next season would be significant if the Mets passed on a Dickey extension.
By Alderson's estimation, the Mets' payroll should get a slight bump up from last year's $93 million, but it is not likely to surpass $100 million.
On a similar topic, Selig was asked if other big-market teams, such as the rebuilding Cubs and Red Sox, have a responsibility to put money back into their rosters if they charge some of the highest ticket prices in the sport.
"You bet," Selig said. "But there are different ways to try to compete, and sometimes you've got to be realistic. Sometimes you have to say to yourself, 'I've got to rebuild my scouting, I've got to rebuild my international, I have to do a series of things.' I'm a believer in that."
Selig also is a longtime friend and ally of Fred Wilpon, and his pledge of faith in the Mets likely is derived from that more than anything else.