By John Delcos
Photo Credit: Getty Images
New York Mets general manager Sandy Alderson danced around published reports critical of Ruben Tejada’s conditioning and steady media demands to sign Stephen Drew.
Earlier this week, The New York Post, citing unnamed sources, said despite Tejada training in the offseason at a Michigan fitness camp he didn’t look any more in shape than he did last season.
When Tejada first reported, manager Terry Collins said the shortstop, whose job is on the line this spring, looked good physically.
The off-the-record comment could have come from anywhere: from a front office official, a coach or a player. By club rule, the medical staff isn’t permitted to speak to the media.
``Look, we have probably 30 front office and coaching staff down here,’’ Alderson told the MLB Network. ``There's going to be a stray comment about players from time to time. That's unfortunately the nature of the media in New York. It's so pervasive that comments like that are going to be gleaned from time to time.’’
If indeed the comment came from a front office official, that could have easily been prevented if Alderson ordered his staff not to speak. It’s done all the time in all sports and provides an effective muzzle.
Alderson, who said during the winter Tejada could open the season at shortstop, still said the team is looking for improvement.
``We were happy with what Ruben did in the offseason,’’ Alderson said. ``We're hopeful that he'll show significant improvement on the field – back to the levels he has demonstrated, so it's not an unrealistic hope. But we continue to look at our middle-infield situation.’’
There’s no way that can be interpreted as an endorsement.
Ever since the day after the season, which ended with Tejada out with a fractured leg, there have been reports the Mets were interested in Boston free agent Stephen Drew. However, his $14.1 million qualifying offer from the Red Sox, which would cost the Mets a compensatory draft pick, was a deterrent.
Even so, the reports persisted.
``There's been a lot of talk about Stephen Drew obviously,’’ Alderson said. ``My own personal view is at this point, Stephen and his agent are reviewing the situation and perhaps looking at a strategy that prolongs this situation into the regular season or even into June.’’
Alderson didn’t say if the job would be Tejada’s until June.
Drew is currently working out in a facility in Miami owned by his agent, Scott Boras.
In the wake of Nelson Cruz signing with the Orioles – he wanted a five-year, $75-million deal, but settled for a one-year, $8-million contract – there’s been speculation Drew would reconsider.
Despite claims Drew might wait until June – when the draft pick compensation condition would be lifted after the draft – there’s been so signs Boras will back down.
``From our standpoint, look, it does appear that we would be a logical landing spot for someone like Stephen Drew,’’ Alderson said. ``But, at the same time, we have to make our own, independent evaluation and cost-benefit computation and act accordingly, which is what we have done.’’
Translation: Drew remains too expensive.
The Mets are also discussing a trade with Seattle for infielder Nick Franklin, who reportedly would require pitching in return.
Whatever option the Mets choose, it is clear they are not enamored with Tejada. If by chance they can’t land somebody and Tejada keeps the job by default, he needs a big year to stay with the Mets in 2015.
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***John Delcos has covered Major League Baseball for over 20 years, including the Mets and Yankees since 1998. He is a Hall of Fame voter and owns and operates a Mets website, New York Mets Report.com