Sandy Alderson stepped into the hotel lobby at the general managers' meetings and was ready with a quick quip.
''I was upstairs stacking our money,'' the New York Mets general manager said Monday.
He paused for four seconds.
''Don't get excited,'' he said. ''They were all fives.''
And how high was the pile?
''Not as high as some people expect.'' he replied.
After two offseasons of cutting payroll, the Mets are ready to spend now that Johan Santana, Jason Bay, Carlos Beltran, Jose Reyes and Francisco Rodriguez all are off the active books. But only to a point.
''We have more options available to us. We talk about the money we have to spend, but I think in terms of all of our resources, we're in a better position,'' Alderson said.
''Free agent-wise, we're in a better position. Trade-wise, our system is better. We have some accomplished players at the major league level, and we have a little cash. So I think in those terms we're better armed this year than we have been to do so...