NEW YORK -- With the All-Star break and non-waiver Trade Deadline fast approaching, Mets general manager Sandy Alderson was at his most glib and forthcoming to a crowd of about 700 SABR members, who gathered at Citi Field hours prior to a New York win over the Phillies on Friday.
During the 45-minute question-and-answer session in the third deck conducted by MLB.com, Alderson took on these hot topics: the signing of Tim Tebow, a possible reunion with Bartolo Colon, his evolution about building a starting rotation, and the future of manager Terry Collins.
Colon, who was designated for assignment on Thursday by the Braves, is definitely on the Mets radar, said Alderson. He added he's still trying to find ways of strengthening the team for a third consecutive postseason run rather than break it down as the July 31 Deadline looms.
"Well, I can't say anything about Bartolo, but I did call Atlanta and ask if we could buy their surplus bobbleheads," Alderson quipped. "And he lives in Jersey, too."
But seriously folks.
"Anyway, he's been designated and as we would with anybody, we'll analyze it," Alderson said. "He hasn't pitched as well as he did in the past so we're trying to look at, 'Hey, what's going on here?' Is it the ballpark, is it velocity, is it location? I mean, what exactly is going on?"
Tebow, he said, was signed last year as much for his marketing value as his playing ability.
"Why did we sign him? Because he's a good guy? Partly," Alderson said. "Partly because of his notoriety as a celebrity. No question about that. And partly, in recognition of that celebrity, this is the entertainment business. My attitude is, why not? I actually think it's been great for baseball. I think it's been great for the South Atlantic League in terms of interest and entertainment. We'll see how far he goes."
About Collins, Alderson noted, the veteran manager has kept the Mets just below .500 despite a rasher of injuries for the second consecutive season, including starters Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz, Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo. Harvey, Syndergaard and Gsellman are all still on the disabled list.
"Terry has done a nice job," Alderson said. "The most important thing a manager brings to a team is the leadership necessary to get through 162 games. It's a real grind. That's the place Terry is most effective, keeping the guys playing and playing at a high level. He's done that for years and years and that's why he's been here as long as he has."
So can Collins stay as long as he wants? His two-year contract extension expires at the end of this season.
"Well, that's a different question," Alderson said. "Am I here as long as I want to be here? The answer is nobody dictates how long they're going to be here unless it's Mike Scioscia or something like that. I'm going to demur on that one."
There has been some criticism leveled at the Mets for their training regimen and their penchant to baby pitchers with restrictive pitch counts and workloads. It's a constant revaluation.
"You can't guarantee success," he said. "What we try to do, whether it's making a trade or managing injuries, is we're simply trying to increase the probabilities of success."
Because of all the pitching injuries, you may be shocked to learn Alderson wants to steer away from high velocity, elite throwers.
"We had this elite starting rotation. Well, that's gone," Alderson said. "In some ways now, I'd rather have a packhorse than a thoroughbred. What's becoming more and more important is going out there every five days to give us five to seven innings rather than being great for a period of time and then not being available.
"It's about being able to pitch and get 30, 32 starts. Don't walk anybody, keep the ball in the ballpark, and we'll take it from there."
Getting back to Tebow, Alderson had a couple of funny stories. In the annual media guide, every player is listed along with his signing scout.
"The problem was, the guy we sent to see him in California did not exactly send in a glowing report. I knew he didn't want his name on it," Alderson said.
Someone said Alderson's name should be listed as Tebow's signing scout.
"Which would have been funny," he said. "Anyway, the guy we put down is the director of merchandising."
In contemplating the signing of Tebow, Alderson said it reminded him of another attempted out-of-the-box signing when he was head of baseball operations for the A's. It was a guy named Michael Jordan, who was about to sign a contract with Double-A Birmingham to give baseball a try during his two-year basketball hiatus.
Alderson called Jordan's agent, David Falk, then one of the most powerful men in the NBA.
"I told him, 'Don't have him go to Birmingham, I'll put him on the A's right now. I can't even tell you who the 25th man on the team is,'" Alderson said. "If Herb Washington can be an Oakland A, so can Michael Jordan."
Jordan's short baseball career ended at Birmingham. Tebow is working his way up the ladder, his strikeouts accounting for 30 percent of his at-bats, one fan pointed out.
"You can buy a ticket at Port St. Lucie right now and boo the heck out of him as far as I'm concerned," Alderson responded as the crowd broke into a raucous laugh.