Newsflash: The Mets Spend Money

So riddle me this, Batman: how does the third highest payroll in the National League translate to “The Mets don’t spend any money?”

Fanbases from all over are a reactionary bunch.  I think it’s more pronounced in New York City, however, where high payrolls are the norm and superstars come in to sell jerseys and get people to come to games.  Then they retire, and we look to get our fill by seeing who will come next.

We are all guilty of it, as Mets fans, of accusing our ownership, the esteemed Sterling Equities Group, as being “cheap.”  Having the third highest payroll in the National League tells me just the opposite: they are willing to spend money.  It’s just they’ve had the wrong people making the “baseball decisions” for a long time.

I hope that vicious cycle ends with Sandy Alderson’s leadership.  What got the Mets into trouble recently is spending money in ALL the wrong places.  Thank goodness someone is stopping the insanity by putting a cap on the madness.

I am far from an Alderson apologist.  Heck, I was probably the biggest Minayapologist until 2010, when I saw that when other teams had their stars get injured (Boston Red Sox, Philadelphia Phillies), they made no excuses and still kept in the thick of things.  When your Plan Bs and Cs entail crusty overpaid veterans (“but they’re a good clubhouse guy”) and not-yet-ready-for-prime-time players who are barely old enough to legally buy beer, that’s not a good plan.  In fact, that’s not a plan at all.  It’s a let’s-throw-some-elephant-dung-on-the-wall-and-see-if-it-sticks approach.

When you are a “big market” team, there is no REQUIREMENT to spend like one.  What would you pick: a front office with a plan full of the smartest guys in the room to undo damage of reckless years of overspending who will potentially bring in what’s best for the team?  Or would you rather have another guy who promotes speed, pitching and defense and does just the opposite and trades for the likes of Gary Matthews, Jr?

Possibly my biggest complaint as a fan who bleeds Met blue is that on paper, the teams look good, but structurally I knew the foundation was not solid enough to support a long-term successful formula.  The changes start at the top but also rest in a solid farm system.  A big market has the goods to part with in smart trades, and not hope that long-term acquisitions cash in.  Look at the Phillies and Red Sox again, and how they’ve been able to trade for top-flight players in the prime of their career mid-season and off-season, and using their own prospects to finance the transaction (of course, along with contract extensions).  You have to tip their cap because they have a plan, a front office that’s sound and not willing to jump through hoops simply because an impatient vocal minority says they need to make a move we can talk about.

When Omar Minaya signed Carlos Beltran in the off-season leading up to 2005, the Mets became a win-now team.  Completely antithetical to what he was preaching about speed, defense and pitching.  Beltran was speedy, young and was a great defender in his position.  However, he had just come off a career-year and certainly wasn’t sold on the idea to “wait around” while the Mets rebuilt.  That’s more Jayson Werth’s role in Washington (though he’s getting paid in both money and years the cornerstone price).

Dating back to the dismal days of Al Harazin, the Mets have not had much of a plan.  Steve Phillips, to his credit, was lucky enough to draft Jose Reyes and David Wright on his watch.  Unfortunately he and the GMs who followed him in Jim Duquette and Minaya did not do a hot job of building the team around them to be a consistent winner and consistently competitive.

My advice to Mets fans during the Winter Meetings is to not only start drinking heavily, but relax.  Enjoy the holidays and point and laugh at the insanity happening on other teams.  I, for one, am happy that for the first time since I’ve been in grade school basically, the Mets seem to have SOME kind of plan and direction and goals in place.  I’m glad they are not listening to us.

Carry on.