Mets general manager Sandy Alderson fielded some questions on Monday afternoon during a sit-down with reporters. With the offseason winding down, and spring training set to begin in a week, Alderson covered a wide range of topics. But he emphasized one critical point.
When it comes to the Mets becoming competitive again, Alderson said: "It's not that far off."
Here's a few more important points from the day:
On the state of the rebuilding: "We're getting to the point where we can be in the mix. And it doesn't take, if you look at the fundamental composition of our team, it doesn't take, wouldn't take, more than a couple of moves to change the whole perception of things. So, I don't want anybody to believe that this is a long-term project that has no possible realization anytime soon. We're at the point where we can make significant improvement in a hurry."
On the Michael Bourn draft pick question: "Some people have characterized the situation as requiring a rule change. I don't think we believe that. If any chance is necessary, it would be a change in interpretation. But not a rule change itself. This issue has not come up until now obviously because of the fact that it only pertains to us this season. It will pertain to other clubs in future seasons. In the event that we get to that point, I don't think it's fair to say we're looking for a rule change. We're looking to clarify the effect of the existing rule because I think it's a distinction."
On rebuilding the bullpen on a budget: "What I think was interesting about this offseason is that so much money was spent on starting pitching that relief pitching almost became an afterthought as opposed to let's say the market for relief pitching last year. What we've done is tried to be somewhat patient but at the same time take advantage of what the market afforded us."
On the improvement in the NL East: They seem to have improved themselves and they probably have. But that's the standard to which we have to strive and in some ways that's good for us. Because if we can match up in our own division, we can match up with anybody. I think the National League East may be the toughest division in baseball this year. In a way, it provides a model for us. It sets the standard and it also reinforces the direction we've taken because we don't want to just get lucky. We want to be able to compete with teams of that caliber on a consistent basis. And in order for us to do that, we've got to be methodical about how we get there."
Pitching prospect Jenrry Mejia will begin camp as a starting pitcher by Jeurys Familia will start in the bullpen. Minor leaguer Darin Gorski will get a look as a left-handed specialist out of the bullpen... The Mets rolled the dice on a minor league deal for Pedro Feliciano based on the recommendation of pitching coach Dan Warthen. The two exchanged barbs through the press in 2011 when Feliciano took exception to Warthen's theory about why the Mets didn't re-sign him: overuse. With the Yankees, Feliciano vowed to prove Warthen wrong, but he was kept off the field by a shoulder injury that eventually led to surgery... Alderson said he and manager Terry Collins have already discussed alternatives for closer Frank Francisco, who struggled with injury and ineffectiveness last season. "I think a lot will depend on what we see over the course of February and March," Alderson said... Not discussed recently: Collins' lame-duck status heading into the final year of his contract.