Alderson responds to Madoff situation

The perception around baseball, fairly or not, is that Fred Wilpon’s involvement with Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi scheme has affected the team’s bottom line — and with it, its baseball operations budget. Though admitting he is “not privy” to the crux of that information, general manager Sandy Alderson responded Monday with his take on the situation. The complete transcript, courtesy’s Bailey Stephens:

wilpons.jpgHas the Madoff situation affected your baseball operations?
“First of all, I want to emphasize that the plan that we have pursued the last couple of months was limited by only one fact, and that was the level of the existing payroll. Our payroll going into the season will be somewhere between $140 million and $150 million. I think that is significantly higher than we’d like to be on an annual basis — a product of adding some additional players that we felt the roster needed as well as some existing [obligations]. The plan and the approach that I’ve taken over the last two months has been affected at all by any other outside factors.”

Did you know when you interviewed about the Mets’ financial situation?
“From my standpoint, when I took this position, when I interviewed and took this position, I was of course aware of the pre-existing involvement of the Wilpons and the Mets with Bernie Madoff. I wasn’t privy to all of the detail, nor am I or most of us at this point privy to all that detail. And I wouldn’t expect to be.

At the same time, none of that has affected what I have done over the last two months. I don’t expect that it will have any impact on what I do over the next several months, including into the 2012 offseason.”

What are your financial limitations?
“When I came in, I looked at where the payroll had been, what we had committed for 2011, and then took a look at the roster with others involved in management here and determined where we thought we needed to add players, add depth — starting pitching, what have you. And we proceeded accordingly. There hasn’t been any discussion about limitations other than the overall magnitude of the payroll. It’s going to be in the top four, five or six.

None of what I’ve done has been predicated on any issues related to Bernie Madoff or the overall financial strength of the Mets.”

Is there a level of concern about the future?
“No. I mean, obviously there’s a certain level of ambiguity surrounding this news. But from my standpoint, the facts are as they currently exist. And to some extent the decision to find a minority partner or some other source of recapitalizing the franchise is positive news from my standpoint. If there was an initial problem before, that can only be positive from my standpoint.”

Added pressure?
“I don’t really feel added pressure. I do believe that the best tonic for all of this is a winning team. So from that standpoint, it would be really terrific for us to have a good spring and start off the season well and perform beyond the public’s expectations.”

Worried about a negative effect on the clubhouse?
“No. I think that whatever potential distraction it might be we can manage. I think it was important that if a development of this sort were going to arise, that it come now — whatever dark cloud some have described — hopefully will be dissipated at least in part between now and the beginning of spring training and we can focus on baseball.”

How will this affect the Jose Reyes negotiations?
“Again, perhaps naively, I don’t expect that this situation will be a hindrance in that regard. I fully expect that decision will be made as it would have been, in the best interest of the team on the field, and the best interest of the overall sort of financial health as well as baseball future of the Mets — as it would be with any other team. I just again I go back to the notion that if a potential financial issue exists, ownership is proactively addressing it. At this point, I don’t expect that any financial situation will inhibit negotiations with Jose.”

Did you know selling the team was a possibility before you took the job?
“The short answer is, it wasn’t really discussed. I didn’t raise it and again from my standpoint, I’m not surprised by this development just because the Madoff situation was a backdrop to the Mets and a well known backdrop. My enthusiasm and energy for this position and my confidence in the future of the Mets is undiminished.”

Do you have a payroll target?
“At this point, is there a specific number? No. My sense is that, you may know recent Mets history better than I. I don’t know that we’ve gotten this high in the past. One never wants to rest at one extreme or the other. My sense is that our payroll is a little higher than I would have liked it to have been, but we are where we are. We will continue to spend money at very high levels.”

Would your decision to sign on with the Mets have changed if you knew circumstances would change?
“You are right to say that some circumstances have changed … Would it have changed my position? I don’t think so.”

How can you explain the difference in payrolls between the Yankees and Mets?
“The only way that I can explain it is No. 1, we have consist had one of the highest payrolls in baseball. We’ve never before or after my arrival stated that our goal was to achieve payroll parity with the Yankees. We certainly don’t have that goal now. I don’t know that I have to justify the difference … Once our attendance goes back to a more traditional levels, that gives us that much more flexibility.”


—–Follow along on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo.

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