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Alderson: Mets capable of nearly 90 wins

NEW YORK -- Well, Sandy Alderson did not predict 90 wins. But the GM did say the Mets should have the talent to improve by 10 games over last season. And that would take the Amazin's to 89 wins.

"We won 79 games last year, which was an improvement over the year before," Alderson told Chris Russo on MLB Network on Monday. "We need to take a bigger jump next season. One of the reasons we've been quiet in the offseason is that we have quality players at every position. They're not all proven above-average major league players, but we're at the point now where we have to give them the opportunity to perform. Travis d'Arnaud behind the plate took some big steps forward last year, Lucas Duda at first base, in the outfield Juan Lagares, and then of course the young pitching that we have. Most of our bullpen is fairly young.

Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

Sandy Alderson offered an explanation this week for the Mets' lack of winter activity.

"So one of the reasons we've been fairly quiet is that we've got players with the potential to improve us by 10 games, which is what we need. And so we're comfortable going into spring training, and excited actually, to see those players and see what kind of step forward they take and whether that can translate into 10 or 12 games for us in the 'won' column."

Alderson previously had expressed the goal of trading a starting pitcher before spring training. He's considerably toned down that goal now. Barring a trade or injury, Dillon Gee -- it would seem -- could open the season as a $5.3 million bullpen arm. Alderson has said it is more difficult to trade away an established player during spring training than during the offseason.

"Things will probably work themselves out in spring training," Alderson said. "Hopefully we don't have an injury, but we do have some flexibility in the pen. So if somebody has to move to the pen for a period of time, I think that would be acceptable to us."

Alderson recently drew yucks at a banquet when he introduced Cal Ripken, who was receiving an award.

"Mets fans have been waiting all winter for me to introduce a shortstop," Alderson had joked.

On Monday, after not upgrading at shortstop during the winter, Alderson tried to draw parallels between Ripken and Wilmer Flores. The Mets had abandoned using Flores at shortstop in the minors after the 2011 season because of limited range, but restored him to the position last year because of a lack of capable alternatives.

"In looking at Cal Ripken's career, you know he didn't play shortstop until he got to the major leagues," Alderson said. "There's been a lot of conversation about Wilmer Flores and whether he can play the position. Cal Ripken didn't play shortstop professionally until he got to Baltimore. He had been a shortstop when he was signed as a high school player, was moved off of shortstop almost immediately to third base, came up to Baltimore having played the vast majority of his games at third base, and it was [manager Earl] Weaver that moved him to shortstop, I think, a few months into his major league career.

"So shortstops are often questioned as to their ability to play the position -- and even the greats like Cal Ripken, who's not a prototypical shortstop of, say, the Mark Belanger variety, whom he replaced in Baltimore. It happens with a lot of players, so maybe that's a good sign for somebody like Wilmer Flores."