Mets GM Sandy Alderson made his first appearance with the media in quite some time today, and it was certainly good to see him back in the swing of things after the revelation that he had been diagnosed with cancer. The club’s top baseball decisionmaker told reporters that he’s back to full speed. (Via the Associated Press, on ESPN.com.) “I’ve been working 100 percent since really just after the winter meetings,” Alderson said. “I just couldn’t travel to Nashville that particular Sunday and Monday. Otherwise I would have been there. But since that time I’ve been in the office and fully participating.”
Here’s more from that appearance and some other notes from around the National League East:
- Alderson added that the Mets are not shying away from spending, despite that perception in some quarters. As he put it, in rather interesting fashion: “The idea that we’re not investing in the team I think is really misplaced and sort of tied up in the populism involving [Yoenis] Cespedes.” Alderson went on to explain that the club’s payroll in 2016 could end up rising by as much as $35MM over its 2014 figure of about $93MM. (The club sat at about $110MM last year.)
- Generally, said Alderson, the Mets acknowledge the importance of Cespedes and outgoing infielder Daniel Murphy to last year’s run, but he explained there was more to it than simply keeping the band together. “I think along the way we learned a few things about ourselves and about the team, and I think the way we’ve approached the offseason puts some of those lessons into play,” Alderson explained. “It’s not as if we’re not looking to improve the team, and, if possible, in significant ways. But it has to make some sense in terms of how these pieces all fit.”
- Signing Murphy wasn’t the Nationals’ first choice, writes Thomas Boswell of the Washington Post, but the team believes that he makes for a good fit and addresses an important need. Boswell paints a fascinating picture of Nats’ GM Mike Rizzo’s negotiations with Murphy — conducted while laid up after back surgery — and notes that the organization feels it has largely done what it needed to this winter. While further moves could take place, it seems increasingly likely that a big trade involving the back end of the bullpen may not be forthcoming. And other roster spots — such as a fourth outfielder — could be filled with relatively minor moves, unless high-value opportunities arise. As for Murphy, Rizzo explained the signing thusly: “We were looking for the best left-handed value we could get, and this guy really plays the game the way I like: gritty, hard-nosed, but with a smart baseball mind. He can steal you a base. Situational hits. And the brighter the lights, the more he steps up.”
- Bringing back left-handed-hitting utilityman Kelly Johnson could spell the end of Nick Swisher’s brief tenure with the Braves, MLB.com’s Mark Bowman writes. The most likely scenario, he suggests, is for Atlanta to showcase Swisher during Spring Training in hopes that he’ll do enough to draw interest from another team. If not other club is willing to pick up some of Swisher’s $15MM in remaining obligations, says Bowman, he could end up just being released.