It’s so easy for us to say the Mets are a dysfunctional franchise. We’ve certainly bared witness to it the last few years.
One particular area of criticism that’s often pointed out is the Mets farm system, or lack there-of. The farm system is cultivated mostly by signing amateur free agents and the draft.
The draft is basically like the tax code, the better off your team plays the lower the draft pick you receive. Conversely, the worse you play the higher draft pick you receive the next year. Wouldn’t it be interesting to see teams who succeed get the top draft pick. Talk about a motivational tool.
As interesting as it may sound I really don’t put too much credence into having the top draft pick. But keep your collective powder dry my friends, the Wilpons and Omar aren’t out of the woods with me just yet.
The Mets have had the luxury, if you take pride in having the worst record a luxury, of having the first overall pick in the draft 5 times since 1965. Putting them in order from 1965 to present you have Steve Chilcott, Tim Foli, Darryl Strawberry, Shawn Abner and Paul Wilson.
Out of that list other than Strawberry, nobody really ever made a huge mark. Now I totally understand getting on Omar for his share of mistakes over his tenure. However, when it comes to the draft, to me it’s akin to playing the slots in Atlantic City.
You go to your favorite casino and sit at the fancy machine with the brand new computerized layout with your drink in hand and bloodshot eyes. You put the fresh twenty in and viola, you usually get the same result if you handed the twenty to a bum on the boardwalk. Squat.
I can’t get upset that Omar hasn’t brought his Miss Cleo crystal ball to draft day during his tenure. You can have the very best scouts going and still not hit the jackpot with the draft.
Take the 2006 draft. That year the Royals drafted Luke Hochevar number one. Evan Longoria was taken 3rd and get this, Tim Lincecum was taken 10th. I’m sure there are a few teams in there who would like a do-over in that draft.
Going back in Mets history , Keith Hernandez was taken in the 42nd round by the Cardinals in 1971. Mike Piazza was taken in the 62nd round of the 1988 draft by the Dodgers. Sounds unreal doesn’t it? Drafting isn’t an exact science to say the least. You get the best advice you can and you go with your gut.
Now there is a second and in my opinion the most important component used to bring in talent and that is through the signing of amateur free agents. This is where you can begin to light your fuses.
On November 20th 2009 in an article in the NY Times by Ben Shpigel he stated that the Mets spent less money than ANY other team on the 2009 draft, citing Baseball America as his source.
Allow me to repeat, less than any team. Less than the lowly Pittsburgh Pirates who ironically spent the most of any team. Go figure. In a quote,
The Mets divvied $3,134,300 among their 35 signed picks, more than 50 percent less than their 2008 outlay, when they had two first-round selections and a first-round supplemental pick. By contrast, the average for all 30 teams was a shade more than $6 million. Without a pick until the second round, No. 72 over all, the Mets’ spending was destined to decrease. But their 2009 strategy resembled that of a small-market club that sometimes bypasses talented players in earlier rounds because it does not want to spend more on them than players available deeper in the draft.
Shpigel went on to quote Jim Callis, the executive director of Baseball America and an expert on player development.
”Hardly any team has spent less than the Mets the last two years. On the other hand, the team that has spent the most money is the Pittsburgh Pirates, who hardly have the revenue stream that the Mets do. They recognize that they can’t compete for free agents, but they can compete for amateurs.”
Well, there you have it in a nutshell. The Mets are in the largest market on this planet. Their revenue stream is wider then the Hudson. They have a new ballpark and television rights that are the envy of the league other than the Yankees. What is the excuse? Omar? Fred? Anyone? This is to me the core of the problem with the Mets and as much as we want to beat Omar around for it, it’s ultimately the Wilpons’ fault. They’re the ones who should be ashamed of this, yet I’m sure there isn’t a drop of remorse in them.