NEW YORK -- New York Mets general manager Sandy Alderson insisted on Thursday that he has the ability to add payroll at the trade deadline, although he would not define how much money he can take on.
“I’ve said before that we have the ability to take on money,” Alderson said. “Give you a rough estimate? C’mon.”
Pressed about whether he could add a “major” contact, a combative Alderson said: “I think the answer to that is yes, OK? Now, none of you will believe me, OK? So I’m not sure why you asked the question and insisted on the answer.”
“Look, we’re not trading the four young players in our rotation right now,” Alderson said. “That’s not going to happen.”
The Mets rank last in the majors in batting average at .235 and are ahead of only the Philadelphia Phillies in runs scored. The starting lineup on Thursday night against the Los Angeles Dodgers includes four batters hitting .179 or below, including John Mayberry Jr. in the cleanup spot.
The Mets are 35-5 when they score four or more runs in a game.
Asked if the Mets were wasting their top-notch young pitching with their feeble offense, Alderson said: “Look, I think we have great starting pitching that will get better over time. I understand that great starting pitching doesn’t last forever. But it does last typically more than a few weeks. So we’re cognizant of our strengths and our weaknesses. We’re looking hard to try to improve on those weaknesses. We don’t want to detract from the strengths that we have here both currently at the major league level and to some extent just below the major league level. But we’re realistic too.
“Is there a window? Yes, there’s a window. But, as I said, it’s not a few weeks wide. It’s the longer view that we have to take. It doesn’t mean we’re not going to do anything. It doesn’t mean we’re not trying to make a deal. We’re certainly aware of the team that we have and the imbalance that we have right now between pitching and offense.”
Alderson said a preemptive trade strike was not doable earlier this month because there was no partner with which to pull off such a deal. He noted the first notable trade this month came Thursday, when left-hander Scott Kazmir moved from the Oakland Athletics to the Houston Astros. Milwaukee Brewers third baseman Aramis Ramirez was subsequently traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates on Thursday.
“Things develop slowly before the deadline,” Alderson said. “I think we’re at July 23 and we’ve had the first deal. That’s typically what happens during the course of the month.”
Asked if it would be an unsuccessful trade deadline without a deal, Alderson said: “Not as long as we worked as hard as I think we need to and have worked the process as hard as we possibly can. I don’t want to put us in a position where we make a bad decision.
“On the other hand, we recognize where we are in the standings and what our team’s strengths are and what our weaknesses are. That’s why we’re having conversations. But simply adding a body to add a body is probably not going to make it a successful trade deadline, either.”
On what he owes to Mets fans, Alderson added: “I think we have a responsibility to the fans to do as much as we possibly can to try to improve the team.”
Alderson also said that the insurance money collected on David Wright’s contract does not increase the available money for a trade. The Mets are due to collect 75 percent of Wright’s salary for any period beyond the initial 60 days he missed on the disabled list. Wright is earning $20 million this season.
“That’s a separate situation,” Alderson said. “I wouldn’t say that gives us any more or less flexibility.”
Alderson said an acquisition could be either a rental or with an eye toward the longer term, and could be a role player or more significant addition. Or there could be two acquisitions.
“We’d certainly be willing to consider both, but it’s a question of what develops,” Alderson said.
Any deal is unlikely to occur swiftly enough to coincide with Michael Cuddyer landing on the disabled list, the general manager added.