Sandy Alderson’s Pivotal Comment, the Mets’ Mendacity and Bud Selig

by Mr. Met

Today Sandy Alderson made a comment that flies in the face of what Mets ownership and management has been saying for years.

During an interview with ESPN New York 98.7FM, as reported by Metsblog, Alderson stated [emphasis mine]:

I do believe it [payroll] will go up if we’re able to generate the kind of revenue that will support that, and that’s why we have to win.

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First, note that the Mets GM said he believes that payroll will go up. In other words, contrary to the Mets’ mantra that the team is over its fiscal woes and now has “flexibility” to spend again, apparently it’s no sure thing that the Mets will spend more than say, the San Diego Padres or Kansas City Royals or Seattle Mariners or Milwaukee Brewers, let alone those flush Arizona Diamondbacks.

Second, note the huge stipulation that the Mets will spend IF they are able to generate enough revenue to support spending. In other words, there are serious strings attached to the notion that the Mets will function like a ballclub that inhabits the world’s biggest baseball market.

Alderson reportedly made this point in a meeting with season ticket holders previously (why they remained season ticket holders after such a comment boggles the mind), but I cannot recall him stating it point-blank in a public interview like this. 

Back in February 2013, in a team press release, Fred Wilpon stated that:

the payroll will be commensurate with anything we’ve ever done, because we can do it…Everything that was in the past — and you guys saw the pain that we went through — is gone…Ownership does not have a strong parameter on the payroll…This is a different era.

But Wilpon’s most telling statement, which was ignored by the fans and media was this little addendum:

Now the people have to come to the ballpark, but if you have a competitive team, they will.

This is simply an untenable and unacceptable situation for the Mets, their fans and Major League Baseball more broadly.

The only way the Mets will generate more revenue will be to draft prudently while supplementing their farm system with talented Major League players — players on whom teams must spend money.

While the Mets have shown a propensity to draft promising young pitchers, players like Ruben Tejada, Lucas Duda, Chris Young, and to date, Travis d’Arnaud do not strike me as talented Major League players (ask yourself, would these players start on the Braves or Nationals or Brewers or Cardinals or Giants or Dodgers).

And while spending money in and of itself does not guarantee wins, the Mets have not shown any ability to spend like a small-market team and compete with their big market brethren.

Besides the signing of Marlon Byrd, thus far none of Sandy Alderson’s reclamation projects (see the Mets’ entire bullpen under Sandy Alderson’s tenure), let alone larger signings have been successful, while he traded away a serious talent in Angel Pagan for essentially negative value, and received literally nothing for Jose Reyes.

Also, let’s not forget that Matt Harvey was drafted by Omar Minaya, while prospects like Zach Wheeler and Noah Syndergaard (and the aforementioned d’Arnaud) were obtained only by way of the trades of players — Carlos Beltran and R.A. Dickey — signed by Alderson’s predecessor.

This digression aside, Alderson’s final comment that spending more money “probably raises the probabilities [of making money]…somewhat, but it doesn’t ensure anything,” strikes this fan as a total cop-out. To put a competitive team on the field, especially given the Mets’ historical failings in the draft, lack of Major League-ready offensive talent, and inability to scrape parts together to develop even an average professional bullpen, you need to spend money.

All of this brings us to one final question: In light of the facts, how can it be that Commissioner Bud Selig has “no concerns” about the Mets’ finances?

If the facts on the ground were exactly the same but the Mets’ owner was Frank McCourt, it’s very hard to believe that Bud Selig would be singing this tune.

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