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The lawsuits are settled, but the money ain’t flowing for the Mets just yet

Mar 21, 2012, 8:20 AM EDT

Image (1) Mets%20Logo.png for post 3903

When Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz settled their Madoff lawsuit the other day, the first thought among most was “hey, it’s not as bad as we thought it would be.” The next thought was “hey, now maybe the Mets can spend some money.”  The next thought: “when?”

Not too soon, says Sandy Alderson. This doesn’t change all that much right now:

“We’re going through a process of redirection and sort of reinvigoration,” Alderson said. “That takes a little bit of time and a little bit of patience … The immediate impact on our payroll is going to be negligible. The last time I heard, Albert Pujols already had signed for 2012, so those opportunities are past us.”

Which makes sense. And I don’t believe anyone thinks that there’s a reasonable way to spend real money in 2012. Albert Pujols is off the market. And so is everyone else short of people like Johnny Damon and other guys who aren’t going to help this team be any better.

But it’s also the case that the end of the uncertainty about the Madoff lawsuit means that the Mets front office is now going to be judged on the same basis as any other large market rebuilding team and references to their financial challenges won’t carry much weight.

  1. proudlycanadian - Mar 21, 2012 at 8:40 AM

    The money may not be flowing for the players as of yet, but I suspect that libations have been flowing in the boardroom.

  2. Kevin S. - Mar 21, 2012 at 8:45 AM

    That’s not necessarily true, Craig. The Mets were bleeding upwards of $50 million/year independently of the Madoff fiasco. Until they get those revenue streams back up and running at close to full levels, their payroll isn’t going anywhere, and it’s still anchored by two huge dead-weight contracts. The Mets are effectively operating on something like a $50-60 million payroll right now, and they don’t have the multiple cost-controlled studs you need to even think about competing with that kind of financing.

    • tartan1 - Mar 21, 2012 at 8:58 AM

      All of that is due to the front office, current or prior regimes. The front office is in charge of more than baseball personnel on the field. They’re tasked with reviving revenue streams and dealing with contracts. All of that is fair game when judging them on a consistent basis against other teams.

      • Kevin S. - Mar 21, 2012 at 9:23 AM

        I wouldn’t say all of that. Much of it is on ownership, especially when you consider fan ire with the Wilpons is probably a large part of the poor attendance.

      • tartan1 - Mar 21, 2012 at 9:51 AM

        And the front office is tasked with reversing that ship. It’s very difficult to delineate the decisions of ownership and those of the front office. You’re not going to get very far managing a baseball organization if you blame the failures of the on-field product and revenue streams on the boss.

  3. sdelmonte - Mar 21, 2012 at 9:49 AM

    I’m willing to be patient. And I would rather see the team rebuilt from the bottom up in any case (since I think that is how the best teams get to be the best teams in the first place). Going out and spending big bucks right now won’t fix the real problems with the minors that Alderson and his crew are here to repair.

  4. The Dangerous Mabry - Mar 21, 2012 at 10:05 AM

    To be perfectly fair to Alderson, he’s made a point of not blaming the owners’ financial situation for the reduced payroll to this point, and he’s saying the same things now that he’s said all along. Namely, there’s no sense spending money if it’s not going to help the team, and this team isn’t in a position where adding one player is going to make the difference anyway.

    The question is the same as it has been all along: Can Alderson build the core of a championship team over the next few seasons?

    And it’s still way too soon to tell on that.

  5. randygnyc - Mar 21, 2012 at 10:22 AM

    Since the mets are a few years away from being competitive in the NL east, they should consider trading wright, Santana and Bay (if they can put up great 1st half numbers). Cash in all your chips for first rate prospects (pitching mostly). They don’t need MLB ready players now. They need players that will compete in 2014.

    • Kevin S. - Mar 21, 2012 at 10:30 AM

      Yeah, that’s the problem… there’s very little chance Santana and Bay can put up great first half numbers, and even if they did, it’s unlikely teams would surrender first-rate prospects for them unless the Mets ate almost all of their contracts. Wright will most likely be dealt next offseason, as he can void his team option for next year if he’s dealt during this season.

  6. chill1184 - Mar 21, 2012 at 11:54 AM

    Alderson has said that he intends to focus on building a competitive club through the farm. Which is the correct way to do it, not the Omar Minaya method of just throwing money at over the hill stars hoping it would stick. Also with that being said if Santana and Bay have good first halves, Alderson needs to trade them and get some decent prospects. I get why he didn’t trade Reyes (injury right before the deadline, and Alderson though he would’ve been able to resign him) but Santana and Bay are nearing their mid-30s so if the iron is hot Alderson has to strike.

    Alderson has a huge task of him in rebuilding this team in the face of an openly bias, hateful and sensationalist media (ESPN, Yahoo, Fox, Mike Francessa, etc), the mantra of “you cant build in NY” and a fan base who is just tired of the bullshit. However at least for Alderson the financial picture isn’t is as big a question as it was a year ago.

    • kappy32 - Mar 21, 2012 at 12:44 PM

      You couldn’t be more wrong about building through the farm. This team is in a huge market with exorbitant ticket prices & fans aren’t going to pay that money to watch the likes of Josh Thole, Lucas Duda, Dillon Gee & Ruben Tejada while the front office hopes their prospects amount to anything. In NY, you need to spend money to bring fans to the park. The way the Mets conducted business under Minaya was correct; however the deals he made were not very smart. There’s nothing wrong with spending money on proven, big time players, but the money needs to be spent wisely. There is a reason why young farmhands are considered “prospects,” and that is because they are not sure things. The great thing about having a strong farm system in a big market is that you can trade those prospects for established players who are either under team control, or approaching arbitration. However, you don’t build your farm system in a big market by trading your key players. Instead, you build through smart draft choices, paying above slot bonuses, and making 2-for-1 prospect deals. I have no interest having the Mets bank their future on unknowns for the foreseeable future. The only team that has been successful doing that has been the Rays. Other teams, such as the Pirates, the A’s, the Jays, the Padres & Indians, haven’t been successful building good teams through the farm. Given the Mets track record & the fact that Alderson is an extremely overrated (success-wise) GM who hasn’t won a championship since the late 80’s, if they employ this small-market approach to success, they’ll be more like the latter mentioned teams than the Rays. With that being said, with the case being over & restraining orders on the Wilpons, Katz & Sterling Equities being lifted, money will be infused into the Mets around the trade deadline, if they’re in contention, and definitely next season. I can guarantee you they will start spending next offseason, approaching $100 million, then increase again to go all out in 2014 to around $120-$130 million to add established talent around they’re young pitchers. At that time, thank God, Thole, Duda, Gee & Tejada will either be out of baseball, sitting on the bench in another city, or down in the minors, where they belong.

      • chill1184 - Mar 21, 2012 at 3:46 PM

        In case you didn’t notice, Omar left the farm system bare and now the team is paying for it now. The team has no depth and many of the high prospects are still at least two if not three years away. His win now method failed just like it did with the Expos. I however will give Minaya the benefit of the doubt in regards to his time with the Expos because he was hoping that a successful season would’ve kept the team in Montreal.

        You say Alderson didn’t have much success but when Alderson was with the A’s the team won the 1989 World Series, four AL West titles and three AL Pennants and he won two NL West titles when he was with the Padres. Given the life cycle of managers and other baseball executives I would say thats pretty damm good.

        Successful teams have prospects always in the pipeline so the lack of contention is kept at a minimal. Being in New York would just help the Mets retain these talents and not let them walk like the Rays, Royals, Pirates unfortunately do.

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