This has long been billed as the offseason when Sandy Alderson and the Mets would finally have the payroll flexibility to transform the team into a contender for the 2014 season. However, most of the baseball people I ask believe that’s impossible. They cite the lack of a proven core.
Most of the fans I encounter don’t believe the Mets can contend next season except for a scant few.
When I ask fans what the number one reason is for their pessimism, their main gripe is that they don’t believe the Mets will act like a big market team again.
Running at a close second is the their skepticism that the Mets will have this incredible run of sustainable success that was promised to them three years ago.
Yesterday, the Mets GM said that he “doesn’t expect” the Mets to have a payroll below $87 million dollars.
A carefully worded statement that leaves him an out.
The Mets didn’t expect a lot of things to go wrong over the last three seasons, but wrong they went nonetheless.
Today they find themselves needing to fill more holes on the major league roster than they had three years ago when this new and transformative era began.
It seems that every Fall we learn a new term that ends up defining the Mets offseason. We had the offseason of “parameters” and two offseasons of “waiting for the market to develop.” Those two concepts are now ingrained into our Mets psyche. Make room for another one, “payroll concentration.”
“If you want to look at the data and the way we look at data and associate winning teams with payroll concentration, you realize that there are limits to how effective an overall team can be with their payroll concentrated in a small number of players,” Alderson said. “It’s just a historical fact.”
Sandy was talking about the purported danger of adding a player who together with Wright could require a third of the Mets $90 million payroll.
Alderson said two weeks ago that he would like to begin acquiring players early in the offseason because of the eagerness of Mets fans. He hoped that is would energize the base and create some excitement.
“In our situation, we’d like to do something early,” Alderson said. “It would be great, if it’s the right move, and if that kind of thing is possible… We’re working at it.”
However, yesterday he turned the tables on us and asserted the exact opposite saying that upon further review he and his team felt it would be more logical to wait until very late in the offseason to make any significant moves.
“I do think there will be a combination of more proactivity internally as well as a willingness in some instances to wait and see whether the market changes and what’s available to us later.”
General Managers have the right to change their mind, and that’s why you shouldn’t buy into their assertion yesterday that Mets payroll will not be lower than in 2013 as I expect it to be.
He left himself an out as he usually does, and I suspect that given their strategy to wait the market out until late December and January, will there be any players left worth spending $40 million on? I strongly doubt it.
By then most of the higher priced free agents will have been signed – especially in what seems like the fastest moving free agent market we’ve seen in years.
Team are flush with plenty of new cash to spend and it looks like everyone including the lowly Astros are going to spend big bucks.
The other thing to remember, for those of you expecting a return to a big market Mets, is that even a $90 million payroll puts the Mets in the bottom half of MLB payroll levels. Anything less than that and the Mets go into the bottom ten.
Spending doesn’t always equate to winning, but it sure makes things easier. If money were not the big concern that it is for the Mets. To say we want Jhonny Peralta and realistically go out and get him would be nice – it would be refreshing. But instead we measure dollars before we do talent these days. A tick above market value and the player is labeled as a non-option for these new Mets.
I thought it was very telling that a sum no greater than $1 million dollars was the difference in bringing LaTroy Hawkins back. Alderson then said he was too old to rely on. Then why did he make him a $1.5 million offer in the first place? Very telling indeed.
Alderson says he can feel the growing apathy from the fans.
“Do I sense it? Yeah, to some extent. Do I tune it out? Yes, to the largest extent possible.”
What you or I feel doesn’t matter.
We let our apathy decide whether we want tune the Mets out like tens of thousands already have on SNY, and hundreds of thousands at the gate.
The Mets don’t understand that spending is predicated on revenue and that revenue is driven by the fans and their enthusiasm for the team and approval of the product on the field.
Sandy Alderson has improved the farm somewhat, with many of the key pieces coming from trades rather than any development on our end.
But the other undeniable fact is that Sandy has developed a loser… A team that has averaged only 75 wins over the last three years with little chance they can improve on that. But also a lose at the box office. This team has no mass appeal. It doesn’t resonate with the fans. The diehards like us will always stay connected, but for many other fans the disconnect is real and the numbers are incredibly overwhelming for a once proud franchise.
There’s a great big disconnect between the fans – who mistrust ownership and a front office who continues to cover for them.
So now we’re told to wait for the improvements to come which to me screams that the front office is just as disconnected from the fan base as they are from them.
You see Sandy… The waiting is the hardest part…