One of our longtime readers, tlagee, shared a link to an article in the New York Times last evening, reporting that Standard Poors had lowered the bonds issued to Citi Field from a BB+ rating to BB.
The downgrade by S&P is unlikely to affect the Mets much in the short-term unless they issue new debt, but the move does speak volumes.
You see, as I’ve been saying for quite some time now on this site, it takes a lot more than cutting expenses and slashing payroll to increase profitability. What the Mets need more than anything else is a team that is good enough to draw fans back to Citi Field in droves. Unfortunately, all the front office has done instead is shed the team’s best players and downgraded at various positions rather than doing the inverse.
You might point to the David Wright contract and say “a-ha, the Wilpons are spending again.” Not really. Wright will get paid $8 million less in 2013 than if he had merely kept his 2013 team option intact. He got played for a sucker.
Alderson is still charged with reducing payroll at massive amounts. Some of you still don’t buy the fact that payroll will be near $85 million this season as I’ve maintained, although for the life of me I still cant understand why. Do I have to physically draw you to the well myself?
Even with all the huge payroll slashing during Alderson’s first two years at the helm, $49.5 million dollars to be exact, the Mets still lost $20 million dollars in 2012 – a number which can be mostly attributed to three straight decreases in attendance.
The banks and bond issuers applaud the Mets for drastically reducing payroll at such historic levels, but they’re not idiots. They are not fools. It will take more than that to appease those stuffed suits sitting in their multi-million dollar homes while the maid brings them a Lobster Ceviche and a magnum of Dom Perignon for brunch. They need to see a winning product on the field because only that will generate the revenue to make the Mets viable and profitable again.
This new era of management has given rise to a fanbase that has embraced penny-pinching and the front office’s low-market mentality. This shift was a major coup for the Wilpons who now have a mandate from those fans to never eclipse the $100 million dollar payroll threshold again. But those same fans would rather sit at home and root from their living rooms, than make the trek to Flushing to see the team that is supposedly now moving toward a new and bright direction.
Why is that? Because new and bright directions don’t put dollars in the coffers. All 30 MLB teams think they’re moving in a new and bright direction, it means nothing in the grand scheme of things. It’s just something that sounds good and that teams can market, but in the end the bottom line always comes down to attendance and the only way to fix that is with a winning ballclub.
I shockingly wrote this a few weeks ago and it bears repeating, the Mets are the only team that has yet to sign a major league free agent this off-season. This while shedding two of the team’s most productive players with no return at the major league level. Volumes… It speaks volumes…
You see, I’m not the only one watching this offseason play out… The banks and the mighty silk-clad warriors of Wall Street are watching too. Watching and seeing a disturbing pattern in the force. A pattern so disturbing they needed to downgrade the outlook on the Mets situation – much as I have been doing this Winter as well.
Cash flow volatility was cited as the number one reason for S&P’s actions. The kind of cash flow that is only generated by winning and drawing crowds. The kind of cash flow that comes from a product on the field that is worthy of paying those new high ticket prices in 2013. The kind of cash flow that comes from a fan base bursting at the seams with enthusiasm and excitement as well as fists full of dollars.
It doesn’t take a genius to figure that out, however the Mets needed a genius to turn things around on the field, and not just by slashing salary.
You could have gotten any monkey in a suit to cut payroll if that is all you wanted or all you required. The real genius is to do that while maintaining a competitive team on the field and having fans buy into your philosophy not just with their mouths, but with their wallets as well.
So let it be written, so let it be done.
Happy New Years everybody.