The Downside To Upside and the Downsizing of the Mets

An article by posted on November 13, 2011

I read a good post this morning from Steve Popper of the Bergen Record who wrote a little bit about seldom discussed return for losing  Jose Reyes – the compensatory picks.

He writes that “draft picks have been the lure for this front office” because they are “confident they can rebuild the Mets’ farm system through smart scouting and drafting.”

As I said before, I’m all for that, but still wonder if that by itself is a complete road map to victory. Ultimately it will still take free agents to at least fill in the remaining pieces of a championship caliber team. Since the death of the reserve clause, there has never been a World Series team built solely on the backbone of a farm system. Free agents always have and always will seal the deal for any team’s post season aspirations. That takes money – a resource that is in very short supply these days in Flushing.

The old saying goes, “It takes money to make money”, which is very true especially in a baseball sense. But with the Mets decidedly determined to cut spending and slash payroll by what could be 40%, how can they possibly make money?

To answer that one must first consider the primary source for a team’s revenue – their fans. The more fans you have, the higher your revenue streams – a fact that is undeniable. But how do you maintain and increase the flow of fans to the ballpark? It’s simple and it’s the number one rule in show business and let’s not kid ourselves, baseball is a show business. You have to give the audience a show worth paying for… A product worth watching again and again. Do that and you have a blockbuster hit, fail and you have a big budget flop.

Now on to the draft pick strategy that the front office has undoubtedly embraced. The last time I checked, I was pretty sure these three head honchos now running the Mets, got their street creds in Oakland, where they are currently having a huge fire sale in advance of Black Friday. Here is a franchise drenched in this philosophy of drafting smart and winning, and yet they are a shining example of how prone to failure that can be. Draft picks are a crap-shoot, much like throwing money on a black-jack table in Vegas. You may get lucky once or twice, but the odds are stacked heavily against you – and the house always wins.

There are plenty of other Oakland’s in the league, mostly forced to focus on the farm because of financial restraints, and Lady Luck hasn’t been kind to any of them either. I doubt she will be so kind to the Mets.

Has anyone in the current regime, particularly Paul DePodesta who is charged with overseeing this great undertaking, ever drafted a player as good as Jose Reyes, the one they intend to replace with their draft compensation?

I recently learned that the Brandon Nimmo pick in last June’s draft was more a product of Chad MacDonald than Sandy Alderson and Paul DePodesta combined. “It was his pick all the way”, a person with knowledge of the situation told me. MacDonald has since resigned after less than a year with the Mets and joined the San Diego Padres. Hopefully, Nimmo will prove to be a nice parting gift, but we have about five years before we get that answer.

What am I leading up to here? I’m not really sure. I’m very skeptical of this whole process largely because it only works 10% of the time and relies more on luck than any inherent knowledge of baseball analytics.

The greatest scouts in the game are great because they spotted one or two future stars in their career among hundreds of flops. As I said, some teams are forced into this draft-only philosophy not by choice, but because of low-revenue streams and smaller markets. I guess I never thought that the Mets would ever find themselves in this situation. But here we are.

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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