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Mets, Payroll, and Going the Extra Mile



By Mike Silva ~ December 28th, 2009. Filed under: Business of Sports, Mike Silva, New York Mets.

One of the common themes over the last decade is the Mets fail to “do what it takes” in order to compete. I have been a critic of what I will call “Plan B” mentality over the years. In 2001 they failed to capitalize on their NL pennant and passed on Alex Rodriguez, a player that desperately wanted to come to New York. Two years later, in 2003, they decided to pass on Vladimir Guerrero, citing injury risk. Both these players would have been the type of impact bat that could have complemented Mike Piazza and elevated the team to contention. Overall, however, as Maury Brown of the Biz of Baseball indicates in his MLB decade payroll analysis, the Mets have spent money at a level only exceeded by the Yankees and Red Sox. Since 1999 the Mets have invested over a billion dollars in player salaries so many would say it’s hard to criticize ownership. Wrong, the Mets, despite the payroll, often spent top dollar on inferior products and failed to go the “extra mile” in other seasons to ensure a complete roster.

The example I always use is how a consumer will go to Best Buy and purchase a $2,000 dollar high definition TV, but instead of adding on the accessories, he decides to go the inexpensive route on the wall mount, speakers, and installation. At the end of the day he could have spent another $500 dollars to complete the project the right way, but instead cheapened out on the final product. Two weeks later the darn thing is on the floor in a million pieces when it falls off the wall. Sometimes I feel that is the New York Mets at various points over the decade.

Last year was a perfect case in point. Instead of going out and spending another $10-15 million on a veteran bat and second lefty out of the bullpen, they decided to roll the dice with Daniel Murphy and asked Pedro Feliciano to pitcher pretty much every day. They got lucky that Gary Sheffield had a falling out in Detroit, or it’s possible they wouldn’t have even had a decent start to the 2009 season.

This is just one example. There are others about how the roster, even during a great season in 2006, was left short. Money is not the only issue, player development can be blamed, but cash can be pointed to in that scenario as the Mets do not like to go over slot in the amateur draft. Think about all the money the Yankees have saved by drafting well, paying over slot, and filling out the roster, as well as acquiring talent like they did Curtis Granderson.

So what does a billion dollars get the New York Mets? One division, one pennant, and three playoff appearances. In comparison the Twins, ranked 25th in spending, have five division titles. You can make the argument that adding just a tiny bit of payroll could have made the difference in 99, 00, 01, 05, 06, 07, and 08. Perhaps the Mets win a title in 1999 or 2000. If the make the playoffs in 2007 or 2008 maybe things break their way. You just never know, but you have to make the playoffs in order for good things to happen. The 2000 Mets are a perfect example of that.

Look at Boston, a major media market, but still second to New York, spending on average another $12 million dollars a year. That could be another starting pitcher, solid outfielder, or a few bullpen pieces. It sounds picky, but $12 million dollars could yield a playoff spot, and countless revenue, if they just went the extra mile.

Should Mets fans complain about the third highest spending? No, but once you’re in that stratosphere does another $10-20 million mean much? Doesn’t it make sense to “go all the way” and get those last few pieces. Sign Chad Bradford to that third year, bring in Delgado a year earlier by paying him extra, or spend on that starting pitcher that could have helped the 2006 squad.

I have nothing against them playing hardball with Jason Bay or Bengie Molina. That makes for good business, but get a deal done and don’t haggle over small stuff. Why settle for an inferior team that is north of $100 million when going a bit higher might lead to a championship? That very well could be the big question we are left with when it comes to the New York Mets during the first decade of the century.

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Mike Silva has hosted sports shows on 107.1 FM Champions ESPN Radio Long Island ,1240 AM WGBB , Blog Talk Radio and live from Mickey Mantle’s Restaurant. He’s also built and maintained two popular social media hubs: New York Baseball Digest and Sports Media Watchdog. Mike has broken national and local stories, as well as been mentioned on the YES Network, SNY.tv, WFAN, Sports Illustrated, ESPN, NY Daily News, New York Magazine, Journal News and the NY Post. Contact Mike professionally at mikesilvamedia.com

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7 Responses to Mets, Payroll, and Going the Extra Mile

  1. Ceetar

    You make it sound so easy, but it’s not. Mark Texiera, the ‘extra’ mile’, could have gotten hurt, or kept playing like April. Maybe Peterson/Randolph steadys Perez better than Manuel/Warthen and they make the playoffs in ’08.

    It’s not about spending the extra money or getting the extra piece, it’s properly evaluating what you have and can get. How many millions of dollars did the Yankees throw away trying to go the extra mile with guys like Kevin Brown and Jason Giambi that didn’t work out?

    So how’s that apply in 2009? Well, the Mets really should get Holliday, or Bay. They really do need another pitcher, but it’s not like the answer is sitting there. It requires creativity, the right package and a certain amount of ‘right time, right place’ in negotiating a trade.

    You can’t just throw money at draft picks and expect that to work out either. The Mets signed most of their picks last year, and they managed to get Santana with guys they drafted, however you want to spin that. Some of their other picks are highly thought of. Davis? Thole? Seems like both have a shot at being real major leaguers, and that would make 4 guys on the Mets like that.

  2. royhobbs7

    The point that the Mets are the highest paying team in MLB is deceptive. Yes, they spend money, but their revenues are amongst the highest. In terms of revenue versus expenditures for player salary, the Mets fall somewhere near the middle of the pack. So, besides spending their money foolishly, they also do not go the extra mile that is needed to fortify the franchise.

    Who might the fans blame that on????

    Is it because of Minaya, the Coupons, a combination thereof or something else??

  3. royhobbs7

    From previous:

    sic.: amend MLB to read National League

  4. Mr North Jersey

    In my opinion both Silva and you Ceetar are half right.

    You are right Ceetar when you say “it’s properly evaluating what you have and can get” Everyone always notice the Yankees overspending on CC and Tex to give them a shot at winning but they never see the failed attempts of money well wasted before they finally got the right players to win a ring.

    Players like Pavano, Igawa, to name the 2 that probably sit highest on that list. In the end though money never gets in the way of them if they feel a player can help them win a ring.

    At the same time though Silva is right when he says the Mets can be accused of doing just enough to address the most pressing needs of the moment but when presented a chance to really sway the balance more in their favor would rather hope to get by with what they have.

    While this off season many will argue that it may or may not be the best one to make an argument that the Mets are addressing their most pressing needs. I personally feel that if the need to get help for Santana at the front of the rotation is not resolved by Opening Day Minaya and or Jeff Wilpon whomever is in charge may regret not overspending for Lackey when it is all said and done.

  5. royhobbs7

    Michael,

    Quite valid, excellent points mentioned. In addition please be reminded of my cavaet above.

  6. mr.unclejay

    Met’s definately have an approach that is puzzling. They never want to do too much. They build teams to compete not win. They constantly depend too much on a few players. Right in the middle of building something great they just slap together crap at the end. Those late 90′s teams just cornered the market on fourth outfielders. Last year the cornered the market on 5th starters. They will never take advantage of the market. They have to overpay for garbage players. Think of there successful years recently and core players played great when they won. They have such a difficult time giving good players a day off because the margin for error is so small (the team is build to win by 1 run if everthing goes right) They can never overcome injuries. The Wilpons want to win as underdogs and not be cheap and market the team as some sort of melting pot microcosm of New York while having good commuity relations with players. I wish they would just concentrate on baseball. If you win you dont need any marketing strategy. Mets fans support a good team.

  7. Steve

    Excellent!!! You have nailed it right on the head, this is exactly what I’ve been saying the past ten years. Offering Olerud a bit more money than Seattle could have put them over the top in 2000, and started the downward trend; likewise any additional impact player in 2001, 2006-08 could have made the difference. The Mets always stop short – always! They always overestimate their team and never address all the holes. Quite a difference from 1986, when the Mets were close two years prior and added another second baseman (Teufel) because Backman couldn’t hit lefties. Can you imagine them doing that today? Omar would be running around saying how good Backman was, end of story. Today, the Mets love filling their pitching staff with 5th starters (“quanity”, Minya says, “is good”). All we hear when the Mets discuss players is “bargain”, “budget”, “inning eaters”. How depressing, not a sign of a quality organization. This same organization seems to thrive on building clubs to shoot for 85-90 wins just to fill the stadium. As Minaya said in 2008, “The Cardinals won the series in 2006 with 83 wins, so we can do it too”. There it is Met fans, the epitome of our misery – an organization that will not strive to be the best. Lets go get our 83 wins in 2010!!!!

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