What Happens When A Third Of Your Payroll Is Wrapped Up In 3 Under-Performing Players?

An article by posted on May 20, 2008

Today I read an interesting article penned by the talented Josh Curtis of the New York Observer. In the article, Josh conveys an interesting alternative as to why the Mets and the Yankees find themselves in the same quandary with regard to fan expectations versus team performance.

He takes a rather interesting look at a players value in a way that makes it plain to see why so many teams who shell out the financial windfalls on top players, never really get what they are paying for.

Here are a couple of interesting excerpts from his exceptional piece, and I implore each of you to go to his full article and read it in it’s entirety.

“Value” is the relationship between salary and performance; it’s the extent by which a player’s on-field performance exceeds or falls short of his pay grade. For example, if a team gets 10 wins from a pitcher making $3,000,000, the player has positive value. If it gets 10 wins from a pitcher making $8 million a year, the player has close to even value. If it gets 10 wins from a pitcher making $13 million a year, the player has negative value. Given the combination of their staggering salaries and poor performance, it’s clear enough that the Mets and Yankees have negative value. But why? The reason has less to do with the exploits of players and managers than with the big-market mentality with which the two teams are now synonymous.

It’s apparent to me that the Mets’ worst enemy when it comes to fulfilling fan expectation, could be commensurate with dollars the team shells out for players who are passed their prime. Those players were a great value before the hit the free agent market and cashed in. The enormity of their new contracts rewards them for what they did in their prime and their future contributions are too frequently a far cry from their career norms.

Here is another excerpt that targets the Mets specifically…

Take, for example, three of the four highest-paid Mets: Carlos Beltran ($18.6 million); Carlos Delgado ($16 million); and Pedro Martinez ($11.5 million). Together, they account for approximately one-third of the Mets’ entire payroll. Meanwhile, Beltran is on pace for 12 homers; Delgado is batting seventh; and Pedro has thrown three innings through the middle of May. How did the Mets wind up getting so little performance for so much money? Simple: they bought all three players on the open market at peak rates. In the case of Martinez and Beltran, they were signed as free agents. In the case of Delgado, he was traded to the Mets precisely because they were one of a scant few teams willing and able to pay out the remainder of his titanic contract. Predictably, age and apathy have taken their toll, and not a single one of them is performing at or near the levels most expected when they were signed.

It seems like the big market mentality with which the Mets currently operate, can really backfire when the money is dished out without any thought to the players age and expected declines. A recent example is that of the Luis Castillo 4-year contract. They say you should never go grocery shopping when you are hungry because you will spend much more than you have to. The same rule applies to a team that has a "win now" mentality and a whole bunch of cash to spend like the Mets.
Read the full article by Josh Curtis

About the Author ()

I'm a lifelong Mets fan who loves writing and talking about the Amazins' 24/7. From the Miracle in 1969 to the magic of 1986, and even the near misses in '73 and '00, I've experienced it all - the highs and the lows. I started Mets Merized Online in 2005 to feed my addiction and interact with other passionate Met fans like you. Follow me on Twitter @metsmerized.

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