The top of the food chain on the New York Mets have been out in full force the past 4-5 days with one clear and concise message, “We have plenty of money to spend, and we’re gonna spend it… maybe.”
In a series of four separate broadcast interviews and two print interviews, Fred and Jeff Wilpon have been telling the world: Financial problems? What financial problems?
Both Mets owners have been making the rounds on WFAN, ESPN, and FOX and yesterday Fred spoke to Richard Sandomir of the New York Times, and added even more clarification to what the immediate future may hold for the Mets.
“I think Sterling’s position is excellent. The Mets’ business is excellent.”
“We haven’t turned Sandy Alderson down on anything.”
In regards to whether the team will return to a $140 million payroll, Wilpon told Sandomir, “I asked Sandy about that. He said he couldn’t invest that much money.”
Alderson has been saying as much since last December and in fact his first words as Mets GM, even before he realized what he was walking into, was that he saw no reason why the Mets couldn’t win with a payroll of around $100 million. His first thoughts about his new team was that a $140 million payroll was too much even in a market as large as New York City.
I’ve oftentimes wrote here that spending large is not in this man’s DNA and if you expect that to change then you really haven’t figured out what Alderson is about yet. He is not about paying market value or above on any player – free agent or otherwise. Put away those thoughts of Shin-Soo Choo, Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran. Perish the thoughts of Carlos Gonzalez or Giancarlo Stanton, it’s not happening.
As I’ve ascertained on many occasions, business is booming at Sterling Equities and the rising values far eclipse any debt that tiny division called the New York Mets may have. To put it more succinctly, the Wilpons are going nowhere.
“We don’t need to sell,” Wilpon said, adding that the Mets had not refinanced their bank debt of $300 million to $400 million, due next year. “We have thousands of apartments; they’re full up and we have opportunities to refinance or sell,” he said.
Jeff Wilpon, only days prior, said that Sandy has always had full autonomy to spend and as to why he hasn’t, one should ask him. “It’s his team, his plan, and his decision.”
When he was asked about this in March, Alderson replied, “I have plenty of money to spend, but that doesn’t mean I have to. If you are unhappy with current payroll levels, don’t blame Mr. Wilpon, blame me.”
Now, nearly four months later, Alderson spoke with David Lennon of Newsday yesterday and said, “the payroll will be substantially higher than $55 million, and could approach $100 million in 2014.”
“There’s a substantial capacity there and hopefully we can use it,” the GM said.
Certainly not a sign that that payroll is to go up anytime soon, even in a year that was supposed to be the metamorphosis for the franchise.
“Was 2014 always a target year? Yeah. It should be an important year for us.”
He also took blame for his run of sizable contracts that have largely been busts. “Something that has disappointed me is the inability to get any real performance out of some of the bigger investments that have been made.”
As I always say, Sandy is a nice guy, but if you think he’s going to dole out money like Frank Cashen did for Gary Carter, Keith Hernandez and Bobby Ojeda, or like Steve Phillips did for Mike Piazza, Todd Zeile and Robin Ventura, or like Omar Minaya did for Carlos Beltran, Johan Santana and Pedro Martinez, you’ve got the wrong man.
To bring any marquee free agents to this team will require some serious overpaying – something that won’t happen with Sandy at the helm.
To acquire and major talent via trade will require some heated heated bidding wars that will drive the price up – again, something I don’t see happening.
When confronted with either of those situations this offseason, like a frightened turtle, the Mets retreated into their protective shell. That – in an offseason where there was about $20 million available dollars that went unspent…
There’s something to be said about having ample cash on hand and not spending it, as compared to having no cash at all. The latter hasn’t really been a valid excuse for almost a year now. The cash is there, however the willingness to spend it has yet to peak its head outside of that protective tortoise shell.
The Mets will have $45 million to spend this offseason and that’s just to keep payroll at current levels and includes no budgetary increase. I doubt very much that it will be enough to dole out raises that are due and still have enough for a signature piece. Expect more Cowgill, Brown and Byrd type acquisitions.