The difference between the Mets' words and actions is the same as the difference between Wilpon and Mr. Met.
The conventional wisdom on Michael Bourn's decision to sign with the Indians is that the Mets lost out on the last good free agent outfielder on the market because Bourn wasn't willing to wait around to see if the Mets won their battle to both sign him and keep the 11th overall pick in the draft.
General Manager Sandy Alderson shot down that notion, however. Speaking to reporters in Port St. Lucie, Alderson said that things never got to the point that they asked Bourn to wait to see the results of their request.
Bourn was gone because the Indians offered him a vesting option for a fifth year, something the Mets weren't willing to do. For those of you who still break out in a cold sweat while muttering Omar Minaya's name at the very mention of vesting options, this is likely good news.
And it is totally in line with everything else Alderson has done since taking over the Mets. He's been totally unwilling to engage in bidding wars for players and equally hostile to paying a dollar more than he's decided a player is worth to the team.
It would be easy to see those traits as ways to pretty up the fact that the Mets don't have any money to spend, but the team's adamant that isn't the case. Fred Wilpon said Wednesday that the team has zero payroll limitations and that the team could eventually reach their old heights in terms of their total expenditure on players.
That sounds great, as did Alderson's assertion that the Mets are just a couple of moves away, right up until you realize that it doesn't fit with anything else the Mets are doing in terms of building their organization. Saying there are no limitations while refusing to upgrade an outfield fronted by Mike Baxter is kind of like saying you can order anything you want off the menu at a restaurant serving nothing but gruel.
R.A. Dickey got traded, Scott Hairston wasn't considered good enough to get a competitive offer and the Mets made it clear that the vague potential of the 11th pick is worth more to them than a good center fielder. These are not the moves of a team without payroll limitations.
They may be the moves of a team that feels they will be better in the long run by passing on these players. The Mets would be better off explaining that as clearly as possible because all they sound like now is a team trying to sell austerity as the lap of luxury.