An MMO Fan Shot by Ryan Flanagan
Recent off-seasons for the Metropolitans have been full of angst, speculation and in the end, money unspent and fans restless. As the Mets were a top three spender of all MLB franchises just a few years ago, the team’s off-the-field financial decisions, most notably the participation in the ill-famed Ponzi scheme run by Bernie Madoff, have limited the club’s ability to take on payroll in recent years.
The team has strayed from handing big money contracts to top-tier free agents and has instead taken a course of building through the draft, grooming prospects to field a perennial contender similar to that baseball team a borough away did in the late 1990s.
The 2013 offseason was, as promised the past couple seasons by the front office, supposed to be the fruitful acquisition of talent to make the Mets a legit contender entering the 2014 season. An injury to Matt Harvey had derailed much of the hope that this team could in fact contend this year, but it still should have had no impact on who the team was set to acquire towards the future. As we stand at the turn of the calendar year, have the Mets offseason moves warranted any excitement? Moreover, have the Mets offseason moves even replaced what was lost? For that, we analyze:
The 2013 season was certainly a career year for Marlon Byrd. Signed to be a backup’s backup, the Mets had no intention of Byrd, coming off suspension for using estrogen to mask PEDs, to produce anywhere near what he accomplished last year. In a split season for the Mets and Pirates, Byrd hit .291 with 24 home runs and 88 RBIs. That, at a payroll cost of only $700,000. (Even less to the Mets, who shipped him to Pittsburgh for a quarter of the season and with a pro-rated share of the remaining owed salary. His replacement will be making $12,300,000 more than Byrd did in 2013.
Last season was a also monumental year for young ace Matt Harvey. His first full rookie season provided the most buzz around the Mets since 2006 notching 178.1 IP with 191 SOs and a dazzling 2.27 ERA. To the dismay of Met fans everywhere and any true fan of the game, Harvey’s season was tragically cut short with a need for Tommy John surgery, shelving Matt for the entire 2014 season.
Both these players, the team’s most productive pitcher and arguably the team’s most productive hitter in 2013, are not on the roster for 2014. So, what have the Mets done to replace that production? Enter Bartolo Colon and Curtis Granderson.
Pressured to make a move, the Mets quietly acquired Granderson coming off his worst and most injury-plagued season notching just 7 HRs and 15 RBIs over 60 games. The prior year, Granderson smashed 43 home runs and netted 106 RBIs in the friendly and borderline laughable confines of Yankee Stadium’s “Little League” dimensions. Pull-happy home runs don’t occur with frequency at Citi Field, and Granderson stands a much better chance to hit doubles and triples than the long ball.
Playing the opposite corner outfield position, Chris Young was signed on a one year, 7.25 million dollar deal coming off his worst offensive season to date batting just .200 with 12 home runs and 40 RBIs. The Mets are hoping to rekindle Young’s 2010 All-Star caliber season in which he hit 27 home runs and 91 RBIs in Arizona.
Lastly, in an attempt to replace Harvey’s loss in the rotation, the Mets signed 40+ year old Bartolo Colon to a two-year, $20 million dollar contract coming off a season that was arguably better than his 2005 Cy Young performance, notching a 2.65 ERA over 190.1 innings. The “Big 3” offseason moves equate to a tune of $29.25 million in payroll acquisitions for 2014 with Granderson making $13 million, Colon making $9 million and Young making $7.25 million in 2014.
2013 was also the year of addition-by-subtraction in that the Mets freed themselves from Johan Santana, Jason Bay and Frank Francisco’s contracts to a tune of roughly $50 million dollars. That’s $50 million dollars that came off the books towards 2014 of which only $29.25 million has been replaced to-date. That’s a difference of $18.75 million dollars.
The Mets have failed to replace the payroll that was freed this offseason, even though on the surface it appears the Mets have certainly spent. Does this mean that the Mets will surely fail? Absolutely not.
It is, however, rather disturbing that the Mets, whom play in the largest market in the nation and have a fanbase that ranks in the Top 5 in spending power and strength in numbers, fail to maintain a payroll in the top half of MLB franchises.
The fact that this was the “big offseason” where they had all that money coming off the books to spend, and so far in early January have failed to even replace what was lost, is disturbing.
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This Fan Shot was contributed by MMO reader Ryan Flanagan. Have something you want to say about the Mets? Share your opinions with over 25,000 Mets fans who read this site daily. Send your Fan Shot to GetMetsmerized@aol.com. Or ask us about becoming a regular contributor.