The Mets are one of the elite clubs in Major League Baseball. Don’t scoff at me, I am talking about in revenues. They just opened a brand spanking new ballpark that they routinely said would increase revenues for the club. They have TV rights that are the envy of the league (second to only the Yanks) and they have a rabid fan base that despite years and years of heartbreak come out in droves to support this team.
The Mets have as many resources as any team out there. The only reason the Yankees can spend more money, is because they have had more success then the Mets, not because they have some money faucet down in Tampa. There is no reason the Mets couldn’t tap into the same streams, they just have to be successful. The Mets failure have been organizational and have been failures of baseball, not business. They often do not have the best people performing the most important jobs. On top of this, despite their revenues, the Mets often operate like a small market team. It’s like because they play in the recent shadow of the Yankees, and have been second fiddle to them in New York, they take on the persona of small market team. It’s a crisis of confidence. The Mets should be the Yankees of the NL, instead they tend to operate more like the Royals and Pirates.
I, as a fan, have a real problem with this. By and large I pay as much as Yankee fans do. I pay a lot to go to games, I pay a lot to watch my games on TV. I feel that money should be put back into the baseball team. It should not be siphoned off to people like Bernie Madoff or to expand the Wilpons real estate empire.
One area that really bothers me is the Mets farm system. The two major ways to make sure this talent pipeline are stocked is through the amateur draft and the signing of unrestricted amateur players.
Baseball operates differently then a lot of other sports with respect to the draft. With sports like the NFL and the NBA the contracts draftees get are pretty much structured upon where they were selected. In baseball it can vary widely, usually based on the players agent and depending on if the player is out of high school or college. Additionally with the disparity in revenues if a kid knows he can get big bucks from a flush big market team, he will put it out there that he demands big market money, often discouraging small market teams from drafting them even if he’s available.
This is one area I would really like to see the Mets take advantage of. By leveraging their advantage as a major market team in this area they can make a big difference with their farm system. Unfortunately as Joe Spector over at MetsMerizedOnline.com reports the Mets often spend far less then they should. In fact in 2009 they spent the absolute least of all MLB teams. How does this happen? Well we do need to take into consideration that they didn’t have a 1st round pick so it would tend to be less then the year before. I fail to understand how they can spend less then teams like the Marlins, the Royals, the Pirates, and the Nats. It just doesn’t make sense. The fact that they selected a reliever with their first pick certainly didn’t help things either.
According to this article in the NY Times the Mets are really doing themselves a dis-service and are operating like they have no idea what their doing:
The Mets divvied $3,134,300 among their 35 signed picks, more than 50 percent less than their 2008 outlay, when they had two first-round selections and a first-round supplemental pick. By contrast, the average for all 30 teams was a shade more than $6 million. Without a pick until the second round, No. 72 over all, the Mets’ spending was destined to decrease. But their 2009 strategy resembled that of a small-market club that sometimes bypasses talented players in earlier rounds because it does not want to spend more on them than players available deeper in the draft.
It gets worse when you consider this:
“With a brand-new ballpark and a television network, the Mets’ revenues are probably among the top five clubs in baseball,” said Jim Callis, the executive editor of Baseball America and an expert on player development. ”After spending about $6.5 million when they had extra picks last year, do I think they could have found the money this year? Yeah, I think they could have. It just comes down to the willingness to spend.”
This annoys me to no end. Do we see a reduction in costs on our end when the Mets have a bad season? We most certainly do not, so why do they get away with not spending money to put a winning product on the field? Examples like these to me are the Wilpons blatantly not caring about winning. Talk is cheap, it’s your willingness to make moves that make me believe your serious owners, or just a spoiled kid playing in his Queens sandbox.
The Mets seem to be more concerned with being good “baseball citizens” and not as much about stockpiling the best possible talent. The Yankees, across town, get it. They understand they have a competitive advantage and leverage it at every chance they get. As much as people bitch and moan about the Yanks, when you sit down and analyze it you really have to admire them as an organization. I would trade the Wilpons for the Steinbrenners any day of the week, even if it means I have to take Hank in the deal.
The Yankees lavished $423.5 million on C. C. Sabathia, A. J. Burnett and Mark Teixeira last off-season, but they have also devoted more resources to the draft and the minor leagues. Now they routinely press their financial advantage in the draft, spreading $7,564,500 (ninth most) among their 27 signed picks in 2009, including about $2.2 million on their first-round pick and about $1.25 million on their second-round pick. Even after paying those above-slot bonuses, the Yankees still spent almost $1 million more on the rest of their 25 selections than the Mets did with all 35 of theirs, despite the teams having comparable picks.
So even after spending half-a-billion on the top free agents out there, the Yanks were still willing to invest more into their future then the Mets. Maybe that is the problem. It’s obvious the Wilpons are horrible when it comes to investing their money, maybe they just don’t understand that the farm system is investing in the franchises future. Now that I think about it, I wonder if they are using Bernie Madoff to handle that investing too?