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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Megdal: Alderson, Wilpon and Mets?

Megdal’s latest…

So if Alderson is to do anything but fill out the roster with league-minimum players—that salary is $490,000 in 2013, or $9,310,000 for 19 players, bringing the Mets to around $90 million—he’ll need an increased payroll. The catcher he just acquired, Shoppach, a free agent this winter, will require more money than the minimum to be retained.

Yet Alderson’s comments yesterday are based on the idea that he hasn’t so much as discussed whether he can retain the catcher he just traded for. Of course, at this time last year, Alderson was busy insisting that the then-ongoing Madoff litigation would have no effect on the team’s ability to spend, something he then insisted had changed once the litigation had conclded.

With the team eager to lock in its season ticket holders for 2013, pushing that renewal date forward several months in 2012 to August 31, they have a clear commercial incentive to trumpet any newfound ability to spend money on players to the world. The fact that they are instead falling back on the implausible claims, like the owner of the team referring budget questions to a general manager who says he hasn’t discussed or thought about them, is as revealing as anything they could have said.

Repoz Posted: August 15, 2012 at 04:06 PM | 11 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: business, mets

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   1. Danny Posted: August 15, 2012 at 04:55 PM (#4209064)
The logical leaps taken from the actual quotes to the author's conclusions are kinda ridiculous.
Yet Alderson’s comments yesterday are based on the idea that he hasn’t so much as discussed whether he can retain the catcher he just traded for.

Actually, his comments from the WSJ seemed based on his unwillingness to give a reporter a hard figure for next year's payroll and had nothing to do with Shoppach.
   2. PreservedFish Posted: August 15, 2012 at 05:44 PM (#4209112)
Yeah, I don't see what the big deal is.
   3. PreservedFish Posted: August 15, 2012 at 05:58 PM (#4209128)
The fact that they are instead falling back on the implausible claims, like the owner of the team referring budget questions to a general manager who says he hasn’t discussed or thought about them, is as revealing as anything they could have said.


I don't like any of this.

It's sloppy writing, because the list of "implausible claims" begins with something that isn't a claim at all. And was Wilpon asked a budget question? Not according to Megdal's article. He was asked if the team would improve, not if payroll would increase.

"As revealing as anything they could have said." I get that this is a rhetorical exaggeration, but it just stands out to me because it's so incorrect. You know what would have been more revealing? Maybe if he had, for example, revealed what next year's payroll would be? Alderson's comments reveal one of two things: either the truth, that he honestly doesn't know yet (which seems perfectly plausible to me), or the fact that he just doesn't want to talk about it yet. Given that Megdal pores through a year of previous statements on payroll in order to find some Gotchas, I'm not surprised if it's the latter.

> edited to be less mean
   4. HowardMegdal Posted: August 15, 2012 at 06:10 PM (#4209145)
Actually, his comments from the WSJ seemed based on his unwillingness to give a reporter a hard figure for next year's payroll and had nothing to do with Shoppach.

Actually, his comments are exactly based on the idea that he hasn't discussed payroll with ownership. He was asked about payroll specifically. Here is his response.

"I haven't had any conversations with ownership about it."

So, pretty definitive.

And as I point out in the piece, without any jump in payroll, he won't be able to keep Shoppach. So by not discussing payroll, which I think is awfully unlikely, his claim would mean he doesn't know if he can keep the catcher he just acquired. Pretty straightforward.

"As revealing as anything they could have said." I get that this is a rhetorical exaggeration, but it just stands out to me because it's so incorrect.

Okay. Agree to disagree. If payroll is going up, he has ever incentive to say it publicly. Hell, he did so last year when it was going down, though by ultimately more than it did.

Alderson's comments reveal one of two things: either the truth, that he honestly doesn't know yet (which seems perfectly plausible to me),

I mean, we'll have to agree to disagree here. No GM is in mid-August without a pretty good idea of his budget in early November. And Alderson, after what the Mets have gone through, is less likely than most to avoid such discussions when the budget repeatedly changed on him last year.
   5. PreservedFish Posted: August 15, 2012 at 06:22 PM (#4209154)
Okay. Agree to disagree.

I just dislike your turn of phrase because it is literally incorrect. Sandy could have said, "Ownership has instructed me to get payroll under $80 million next year." He could have given a number down to the penny. What Sandy did say was suggestive, but it was not "as revealing as anything he could have said."

No GM is in mid-August without a pretty good idea of his budget in early November. And Alderson, after what the Mets have gone through, is less likely than most to avoid such discussions when the budget repeatedly changed on him last year.

The very opposite might be true: after the lessons of last year, and given the Mets' complicated finances, Sandy may have learned that the topic isn't even worth broaching with Wilpon until November.

And "pretty good idea" is vague. He didn't say he had absolutely no idea, just that he hadn't begun to focus on it, which again, could very well be true. Sandy probably could ballpark it within $10 million. But again, he might have just answered that way in order to dismiss the question.
   6. HowardMegdal Posted: August 15, 2012 at 07:14 PM (#4209201)
Like I said, I disagree. Within the context of his previous statements, the advantage of speaking about any payroll increase, if it existed, as the Mets are convincing their season ticket holders to re-up, and discarding what I view as the ludicrously unlikely prospect that Alderson hasn't discussed 2013 payroll ahead of moments like the trade deadline, for instance, I think his no comment is effectively exactly the same thing as acknowledging that there will be no significant increase. No inaccurate turn of phrase. But if you don't agree, so be it.
   7. Arbitol Dijaler Posted: August 15, 2012 at 08:21 PM (#4209240)
Howard, can you explain how it is the settlement with Picard caused his earlier opinions to go away, thereby saving Picard $6 billion?
   8. PreservedFish Posted: August 15, 2012 at 08:26 PM (#4209244)
OK, agree to disagree.

Let me move onto my other quibble. I'm not sure I agree with your payroll math. Will the Mets just lump the Santana and Bay buyouts ($8.5 mill) into the 2013 payroll obligations? I don't know how teams handle that typically. But they might roll them over into 2014, when they have only $5 million guaranteed so far.

I don't think it's right to conclude that Shoppach cannot be re-signed without a payroll increase. Rauch, Hairston, Cedeno, and Byrdak are all free agents. Shoppach will get in line with those guys and may supersede one of them. Pelfrey may (should) be released. Of course there will be new arbitration awards, most significantly for Murphy. There are a lot of moving parts.

Also, Shoppach is making just over $1 million and he just passed by about 20 teams in the waiver wire. I think his likely salary for next year is small enough that it barely even needs to be budgeted for. At least, it's small enough that in order to definitively say that the Mets can't afford it, you need to be much more specific on the numbers than to just say that they payroll will be "around $90 million."
   9. PreservedFish Posted: August 15, 2012 at 08:30 PM (#4209251)
removed
   10. HowardMegdal Posted: August 15, 2012 at 10:14 PM (#4209377)
Let me move onto my other quibble. I'm not sure I agree with your payroll math. Will the Mets just lump the Santana and Bay buyouts ($8.5 mill) into the 2013 payroll obligations? I don't know how teams handle that typically. But they might roll them over into 2014, when they have only $5 million guaranteed so far.

This is absolutely true. It's why the reporter who gets the payroll number needs to find out whether that includes Santana/Bay buyouts as well. But the math is still tight. Who is a free agent doesn't matter much; Santana, Francisco, Niese, Wright and Dickey all have bumps in salary, totaling around $6.5 million, while Murphy, Parnell and Davis are all arb-eligible, to say nothing of Torres, who is the only realistic center fielder they have right now. So the math is tight either way.
But just to reiterate, the idea that Alderson hasn't inquired about this, and therefore wouldn't know himself if acquiring Shoppach can have any impact on 2013, doesn't make much sense to me.
It's also kind of crazy that they needed to budget for him last winter, when he was making just $650,000 above league minimum, and couldn't.
   11. bobm Posted: August 16, 2012 at 01:40 AM (#4209441)
With the team eager to lock in its season ticket holders for 2013, pushing that renewal date forward several months in 2012 to August 31, they have a clear commercial incentive to trumpet any newfound ability to spend money on players to the world.


Fortunately for them, the Mets also have tickets to the 2013 All Star game (and related events) to tie to those renewals.

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