A New York Payroll: Part Deux?

An article by posted on November 5, 2011

Yesterday, I read over Matt Cerrone’s post entitled, “What is a New York payroll?“. Great question, right? And one that is certainly worthy of debate, and I can’t wait to dig my teeth into this one.

Cerrone’s piece was spurred on by a series of tweets by Adam Rubin who said the following:

If Mets decision on Jose Reyes is based purely on another team making astronomical offer, so be it. But Mets decision likely will be more influenced by operating at a non-New York payroll, which is a shame. Point being that Sandy Alderson talks a lot about payroll “flexibility.” Can’t be argued that higher payroll lowers % devoted to any player.

And since everything is an extreme in NY & we’ve concluded Reyes is always injured, games played/year since 05: 161,153,160,159,36,133,126. This is little misleading, but it’s my stat, so I’m entitled: Of 2,614 players to appear in MLB since ’05 Reyes ranks 53rd in games played.

Consider it this way: If you were going to make a mistake and write off the back end of a contract, wouldn’t you prefer it be Reyes and not the outside guys Mets have signed? But no payroll flexibility/middle-market spending doesn’t allow for what Yankees/big boys do. It’s a cost of doing business in the big city…at least until you have your farm system regularly churning out talent, which is the end game.

No one can tell me Jose Reyes vs Ruben Tejada is even a debate. It’s just a question of payroll constraints. I’m not advocating reverting to Minaya days of disregard for back end of contracts. But is this the one we’re really drawing the line on? And why-because payroll set too low?

As soon as these comments hit, the Mets twitterverse was ablaze with “Rubin hates the Mets” and assorted predictable gibberish from the usual suspects that are unwilling to face the reality of the situation.

What Rubin did was simply point out, in the most objective of ways, the real problem with these new Moneyball Mets – a team that keeps shedding it’s best talent as the months go by – even about to divest themselves from their farm system’s best-produced prospect in the last quarter century. The problem here is not Adam Rubin. The problem here is that the truth freaking hurts… That the truth totally sucks… And few fans are willing to admit it…

Getting back to Cerrone’s piece, I mostly agreed with his conclusions, but had a problem with his opening statement that went like this:

Here’s the reality: The St. Louis Cardinals won a World Series in 2006, stripped down the team, shuffled in 21 new players, then won another World Series five seasons later (while also making the playoffs in 2009) and did it while never spending more than $105 million in a single season (despite one player occupying a quarter of that money). The point is, what Sandy is trying to do is not impossible.

I don’t get that…  Whose reality is that? Certainly not the Mets… You want reality, here’s some reality the way I see it…

The Cardinals stripped down the team, shuffled in 21 new players then won another World Series?

What does that even mean and what does it have to do with determining a New York Payroll?

I’d bet anything that all the other 29 teams have shuffled in 21 or more new players in the last five years too…

There’s so many things wrong with that statement, I hardly know where to begin, but let me start here…

The Cardinals did not strip down their team.

They committed themselves to their 2006 core players; Albert Pujols, Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina – and did so at a cost of over $200 million dollars in contracts.

They replaced So Taguchi in left field with free agent Matt Holliday at a cost of $120MM, and this season they brought in Lance Berkman for $12 million dollars.

The Cardinals remained committed to their core players and supplemented them by spending six-figures on Matt Holliday and bringing in Lance Berkman for another $12 million annually. That is why they won… Sprinkle in some role players and and a few average to above average arms form your minors and voila`…  Nothing wrong with that…

If only the Mets were as committed to their core players as the Cardinals were. If only the Mets had signed better free agents like Holliday and Berkman, instead of Jason Bay and the now defunct Luis Castillo and Oliver Perez.

The Cardinals operated with a payroll that was at the top of their scale for the market they operate in. The Mets on the other hand fall woefully short.

Lets talk about a New York payroll…

Only in baseball do fans think it’s okay to compare the wages of a stockbroker in Boise, Idaho with a stockbroker on Wall Street. Does the term “cost of living index” mean anything to you?

Must everything be so black and white and simplistic for some to wrap their brains around it?

To say “the Cardinals did it, hence the Mets can do it too”, is something I expect to hear from my 10-year old nephew, not from anyone with a deep understanding of the game, the economy and the markets that teams operate in.

So what is a New York payroll?

For one, it should probably have a higher maximum ceiling than a payroll in let’s say – Missouri… or Wisconsin…

Why is it okay for the Mets to have 50% higher ticket prices than the St. Louis Cardinals, but not a 50% higher payroll? What’s up with that?

So basically a lot of these new-fangled fans with their new-fangled ideas, think it’s okay to pay more dollars per ticket and yet expect a comparatively lesser product on the field?

Sorry, not me…

Call me a Moneyball Fan…

No, not in the way you’re thinking!

I’m not referring to the Billy Bean/Sandy Alderson way of accruing talent err players.

Call me a Moneyball fan because I want to see MORE BANG for MY BUCKS from my baseball team.

More than anything else Moneyball is about one thing: exploiting market inefficiencies, right?

Guess what, “spending money” is the new market inefficiency for the Mets. Let’s do something about that.

Stop blaming high payroll for the Mets problems – and start understanding that it was spending on the wrong players that got the Mets in this quagmire… Along with some bad luck and historic injuries to go with that.

* * * * *

One other note:

We supposedly have a GM who is rumored to be somewhat of a genius. However, the only trades he has made so far were only geared to shed the team of it’s most productive players. The only signings we’ve made have been reclamation projects and re-threads from the back of the emergency room. We are about to lose our number one core player and he will soon become another team’s core player. I’m sorry Mr. Alderson, but you were no Sweet Genius in 2011.

But don’t worry, round one is over and here comes round two…

Better luck this time.

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.

Comments are closed.