From Sandy Alderson’s conference call with bloggers last night. Special thanks to Ean Bauer for asking the question, and to Eric Simon for the full transcript.
Ean Bauer: Sandy, I’m hoping you can clarify something. You’ve described the 2013 outfield as “not a strength,” among other things you also told the season ticket holders in January that the decision not to spend this winter was yours and not ownership’s. I understand you were hoping to land Justin Upton in a trade and you’ve said that precluded you from signing Scott Hairston, specifically. But that’s one spot, while three of the outfield spots that could have been improved with short term free agents like Ludwick or Gomes who wouldn’t have required long term deals or cost a draft pick and spending on drafting international talent cap, what reason do you have for not using more of the money you say ownership made available to you to improve the 2013 squad?
Alderson: I think the simple response, Ian, is in any case where we sign players, we want to have some reasonable relationship between cost and value and if that doesn’t exist then we’re not going to pursue that transaction. Now I understand that not every deal you’re going to make is going to be a great deal from an efficiency standpoint, or from price to value. At some point you’re going to have to “overypay.” The question is how much and how it relates to your current state of baseball affairs. And there are times when it makes sense to overpay and there are times when it doesn’t make sense to overpay. That decision also has to be made from a player to player. And that’s true, Ian, not just in terms of payroll cost but also in terms of talent cost. To acquire Justin Upton, should we have traded Zack Wheeler or Matt Harvey? Well some people might say we should have, but we weren’t going to do that. That was the value proposition, but it comes up in every transaction and at some point- look, it’s easy to say we’re not going to do that because it would be overpaying for a player. At some point, you do get in situation where overpaying is the appropriate thing to do because it may be the last piece or a weakness. I don’t think though, given where we are and given what we’re trying to do in 2013, as well as in 14, it may sense for us to overpay Jonny Gomes. And inevitably there are other things that happen that it just didn’t work out. One of the other people on the call talked about the turnover we had on our roster. To some extent, turnover was something we were looking for. I happen to think fans like continuity, but they don’t like continuity to the point of boredom. And what they’re really looking for is continuity among a core of players. That core may be three, it may be five, it may be ten. But like the rest of our lives: change is inevitable. In some cases, embraced. And people like to see that in their teams as well. So I think what they want is continuity, but they also like change; that’s why they like free agents, and things of that. We’re mindful of that. I think there’s a point at which overpaying becomes a reality, and if you’re going to play with the big boys, you’ve got to step up like the big boys. But that’s not true in every case, and it’s not true at every juncture of a team’s development.