MMO Fan Shot: Smart Spending, Saving Money and Long Term Planning

An article by posted on November 16, 2011

It is said over and over again that the problem with the Mets is a combination of financial difficulties coupled with unwise spending and negligence in development of youth needed to build a winning franchise. There is some truth in all of this the only question seems to be in the perception of how bad and how much applies to each argument.

In the case of Bad contracts the usual suspects cited are Oliver Perez (12M per) and Luis Castillo (6M per). There is no doubt about Perez being a bad contract, but you could argue Castillo at 6 Mil was not the financial disaster it is portrayed as being. Was it a great contract? No, but it was not anywhere near the franchise ruining, finance killing, long term killer contract it is made out to be.  He was hurt the first year, had a reasonable year for him in 2009, and in 2010 lost time to Alex Cora and Reuben Tejada. So the low 2010 appearances are as much a product of the manager as the player. Six Mil per year is about what you pay for a decent hitting if unspectacular player in the MLB. Top dogs get 15-20 Mil, League Minimum is around 415K, and potential bubble guys with MLB credits get about 1-2 Mil per year. Split it down the center and you get roughly 8-10 mil as the center line – lower than what Castillo of 2009 would be paid.

Whatever your opinion, both players are gone and off the books. Their money has yet to be re-invested which no matter what opinion you have – that’s money SAVED! You purged salary that was not contributing and took it off the books. The IDEAL way to save money because by doing so you got rid of WASTED money. This is really the key to enacting WISE SPENDING… Purge what doesn’t earn and keep what does.

The following can be reasonably argued as wasted spending:

  1. Jason Bay (halfway through and still nothing!)
  2. Oliver Perez (Done and off the books)
  3. Pedro Martinez (Boston was right about his health, but he was a credibility purchase if nothing else)
  4. Scott Schoenweis (10.8 Mil)

The following are on the bubble and/or wait and see:

  1. Johan Santana (What will happen the next two years?)
  2. Luis Castillo

The following can hardly be called wasted spending:

  1. Carlos Beltran (Would not have missed as much time if allowed to operate immediately after the injury)
  2. Carlos Delgado (Missed playing time but was everything we asked for when we paid him)
  3. David Wright (Clutch/Un-Clutch whatever, 14.2M per for an All Star is not a bad deal!)
  4. Jose Reyes (at 6 Mil per was a virtual STEAL!)
  5. Francisco Rodriguez (Say what you want 15 Mil per for a closer with his conversion rate is not wasted!)
  6. Billy Wagner
  7. Tom Glavine (10 Mil per)
  8. Orlando Hernandez (12 Mil Per)
  9. Moises Alou (1 year 8.5 Mil)

I count six potentially bad contracts (4 for sure) and 9 you can’t really say was wasted money with one still to be determined in the next two years and another right on the cusp of wasted. A lot more hits or value contracts than wasted ones.

That said, spending for the sake of spending is not what anyone proposes. And shedding high waste contracts is not frowned upon by anyone. It’s not so much the cutting of payroll that anyone has an issue with – it is the payroll they are cutting as they seem to be cutting the entire good payroll and retaining the bad!

The reason being they CAN shed the good payroll as someone else actually wants them. But that doesn’t make shedding that payroll smart or in the best LONG TERM interests of the franchise.

There seems to be a few who say long term contracts are always bad. Doesn’t matter what they do, what the money is that’s involved, anything over a 4 year deal is a bad one. But how does that opinion fit into the LONG TERM PLANNING process they claim is equally important as financial stability and reducing waste?

As the plan appears now we are not shedding any wasted Payroll. The entire potential wasted payroll is still here. What is being purged is the good payroll we have either via letting it expire (Reyes) or by trading it away (Wright, Beltran, K-Rod).

It is said the 2012 season is a lost cause and for that reason keeping the guys who make it worth watching is not worth the money. The old standby “we didn’t win enough with Reyes so let’s just lose without him”.

Does that help or fit into the long term view of things?

We hear that there is pitching down in the Minors about two years away from making us contenders. Would they not do even better with an All Star SS and top Run Scorer on the roster?

Is it unwise to start to build and secure the future roster in preparation of their arrival?

Isn’t that what LONG TERM PLANNING is all about?

Or is it more along the lines of “WAIT” till they come up and then scramble to buy multiple players and do what Omar did in 2005 and 2006 only this time with young pitching to work with?

Will there be that many ‘WORTHWHILE” free agents available in 2013 or 2014 for that to work? Or will we be forced to REACH as we did with Jason Bay because we NEED a big bat to contend and that’s available that particular offseason? And what will players get paid by that time? How many years in a multiyear deal will those signings require and entail?

Pitching wins championships, but it takes good defense and offense to win games. The best pitcher on the planet will not survive a team that does not make the outs with the glove or the hits with the bat. He also will not overcome the problems, make his team competitive and lead his team to a playoff if the team just doesn’t have the goods to make his effort worth it! Look at Clayton Kershaw as a fine example. 21-5 Cy Young but his team won 5 more games than the Mets did. It might work if both Harvey and Familia are Cy Young types but does anyone want to bet the 2013-2016 seasons on that notion?

No it is going to take more than that! A LOT more and yes it will take finding some cheap kids by the time 2013, 2014 rolls around AND some combination of MLB gamers who will cost money and require multi-year free agent deals.

A long term plan is not about short term goals. And the short term goals we currently have do nothing for the long term planning and goals.

Financial flexibility is only important if you USE that flexibility. There is no point to it unless you actually remain flexible about using it. Being inflexible on spending is just as inflexible an approach as having it spent.

In both cases no one is signed and no one will be.You have limited yourself to building via the draft which is a 3 or 4 year process at minimum and even longer if you agree with the view of the current administration that drafting 18 year olds and High School kids nets the better return in the long run…a VERY long run! 4 or 5 years away.

In the meantime we should question if we are actually spending wisely. Cheaply yes, but wisely? Pick out the wise signings from 2011:

  1. D.J. Carrasco – 2 Years, $2.4 Mil
  2. Chris Young – 1 year @ 1.1 Mil (totaled 4 games of contribution)
  3. Blaine Boyer – $725 K
  4. Taylor Buchholz – $600 K
  5. Scott Hairston – $1.1 Mil
  6. Willie Harris – $800 K
  7. Ronnie Paulino – $1.35 Mil
  8. Chris Capuano – $3.25 Mil

Sure they were all cheap and not a long term drain but neither was a good or long term fix.

So where is this long term view and smart spending we are supposedly implementing? Is it all in the decision to sign or not sign Reyes?

Is wasting $13.25 MM on eight players who do not make you better, more WISELY spent than spending on a player who makes $13.25 Mil and impact plus contributes to your long term plan and objectives?

Not only does such a player only occupy one roster spot, but it affords you the luxury to place more Kids on the roster, protect them from Rule 5, and pay them only League Minimum. It would still solve your financial issues with payroll and might net you a pleasant surprise in much the way Ike Davis, Lucas Duda and Dillon Gee did when they were brought up despite no one thinking they were MLB ready?

Wouldn’t that VERY MUCH fit into the long term view?

Wouldn’t separating the wheat from the chaff in the Minors by testing them on the MLB level in a season that everyone says is for nothing, make next season much less of a waste of our time?

You all know my feelings on Reyes… I believe signing him is an imperative both for the LONG TERM good of the franchise and because he will do more to stop the financial bleeding of attendance than the money saved on paying him will.

I don’t care if it’s for 4, 5 or 6 years because I know no player has ever ended his career due to a bad hamstring… No player has ever lost his swing due to a bad hamstring.., No player’s batting average has ever gone down due to a bad hamstring… And while a player may miss some time during the season because of a sore hamstring, what is most key is what they do when they are on the field and that hamstring is finally healed for good… And in the case of Reyes that’s some pretty amazing stuff!

Signing him to a 4 or 5 year deal would mean he is still here when the Harvey’s, Familia’s and Wheelers finally make their MLB debut. Hell he might even be here long enough to see Nimmo get his first MLB at-bat… That is what I call a LONG TERM VIEW.

Are there players out there who get paid $20 Mil who might do more than Reyes? Of course, but they aren’t likely to sign with the Reyes-less Mets even if they were available. And if by chance one such player was available right now, which one of you Payroll Slashers would be willing to sign him?

If we wish to save money, then the way to do it is to remove the wasted contracts from the roster. That includes Jason Bay, may include Johan Santana if he can’t cut it and MOST DEFINITLY includes getting rid of all the guys we signed to the roster since Sandy came around, with RA Dickey, an Omar find, the lone exception.

If you want to save money, then let’s stop spending on stopgap fillers who are a waste of time and instead use those roster spots for kids that cost next to nothing and at worse JUST AS USELESS as any one year reclamation project we could sign.

They will do more for the long term goals of the franchise and save money. Worst case scenario is that we lose nothing, learn something, and save half a million in salary. Best case scenario is he shines and fills a position we need for the future or gives us another valuable trade chip.

That’s my version of a LONG TERM PLAN for the Mets.

This Fan Shot was submitted by Mike (Metsie). Have something you want to say about the Mets? Share your opinions with over eleven-thousand Mets fans who read this site daily. Send your Fan Shot to GetMetsmerized@aol.com.

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