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Sunday, February 16, 2014

WSJ: Mets’ Spending Spree May Not Be a Spree at All (Team Vowed a Winter of Investing, but Payroll Remains More or Less the Same)

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla.—In the wake of their fifth consecutive losing season, years of financial insecurity and a payroll that has plummeted at a historic rate, the Mets vowed to invest in the team this winter. They’d spent more than $140 million on players as recently as 2011, but since then their budget had fallen into the bottom half of the major leagues, tens of millions below those of their big-market competitors.

So the Mets went shopping this winter, and on the surface it appeared that they kept their promise: General manager Sandy Alderson committed $87.25 million to new contracts for pitcher Bartolo Colon and outfielders Curtis Granderson and Chris Young, the largest expenditure this off-season by a National League franchise on the free-agent market.

But is the Mets’ effort to spend their way back to relevance a mere illusion?

A closer look at the organization’s transactions suggests that the Mets haven’t added much money at all to acquire new talent. Instead, they reallocated the funds made available by departing players. In fact, their overall payroll will remain mostly unchanged from a year ago—“somewhere in excess of $85 million,” Alderson said. ...

No matter how the Mets account for Bay’s deferred payments internally, it seems clear that, rather than spend major-market money to build a winner, they did little else but replace the money that came off last season’s books.

“We’d always like to have more players,” Alderson said. “But that doesn’t always make you a better team.”

Alderson makes a fair point. Teams with smaller payrolls than the Mets win consistently, namely the Tampa Bay Rays and Oakland Athletics. How a franchise spends usually matters more than how much.

In the Mets’ case, they should get more out of their money. Last season, Santana and Bay never took the field in Queens. Barring injury, the players replacing them will contribute rather than simply cash checks. ...

Ironically, the improvement will likely need to come from within, rather than from the newcomers. Colon, who posted a 2.65 ERA for Oakland last season, essentially replaces ace Matt Harvey, who will miss all of 2014 as he recovers from Tommy John surgery. Granderson, who slugged 84 home runs for the Yankees in 2011 and 2012, essentially replaces departed outfielder Marlon Byrd, who hit 21 homers for the Mets in 425 at bats last season.

In other words, the money the Mets spent primarily replaces the production they lost. So how do they get better? The Mets’ heralded pitching prospects, highlighted by Noah Syndergaard and Rafael Montero, must come to the majors and take steps forward. Travis d’Arnaud, arguably the sport’s best catching prospect, must begin to produce.

But most important, the Mets’ other players, their underachievers, must rebound from disappointing showings in 2013—young players Alderson said “have the capacity to improve.”

JE (Jason) Posted: February 16, 2014 at 08:35 AM | 22 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: new york mets, salaries, small market

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   1. Arbitol Dijaler Posted: February 16, 2014 at 10:36 AM (#4657565)
Did anybody think it was a spree? This doesn't seem worth the ink.
   2. bobm Posted: February 16, 2014 at 11:18 AM (#4657583)
The Mets did nothing to address the two obvious, gaping wounds at SS and 1B. Both were doable via transaction IMO, no matter what PR David Wright regurgitates.

FTFA:
First baseman Ike Davis cannot hit .205. Shortstop Ruben Tejada cannot hit .202. If they do, the Mets likely will end up where they did last year.

"There's only so much you can do in one off-season free-agent wise, trade-wise, to plug those holes," Wright said. "Some of that has to be done with the guys that we have here."


   3. valuearbitrageur Posted: February 16, 2014 at 01:05 PM (#4657643)
David sounds just ecstatic about the situation.
   4. Lassus Posted: February 16, 2014 at 01:31 PM (#4657668)
I feel like I haven't heard anything at all about Wheeler this off-season. Is everything normal?
   5. bobm Posted: February 16, 2014 at 01:55 PM (#4657692)
http://www.nj.com/mets/index.ssf/2014/02/zack_wheeler_tells_mets_he_wants_opening_day_assignment.html
   6. Jason Michael(s) Bourn Identity Crisis Posted: February 16, 2014 at 01:59 PM (#4657696)
I'm pretty sure there was a response at http://www.nj.com/mets/index.ssf/2014/02/mets_tell_zach_wheeler_to_start_throwing_strikes.html , but it might simply be my imagination.
   7. Russlan is fond of Dillon Gee Posted: February 16, 2014 at 02:15 PM (#4657703)
There are legitimate arguments against spending money at the SS and 1B position especially since Harvey is out for the year. The have young players who could be average regulars at those positions. One thing that goes against that is the fact that they have made it public knowledge that they don't like Tejada.

I'm not unhappy with their offseason to be honest.

   8. bobm Posted: February 16, 2014 at 06:04 PM (#4657784)
http://nypost.com/2014/02/15/serbys-sunday-qa-with-noah-syndergaard/
   9. Lassus Posted: February 16, 2014 at 08:42 PM (#4657818)
From the interview in #8:
Q: Three dinner guests?
A: [Comedian] Daniel Tosh, Nolan Ryan, Jesus.

Noah, I'm gonna say that Jesus might want to have a few words with Daniel Tosh.
   10. Joey B. has reignited his October #Natitude Posted: February 16, 2014 at 08:53 PM (#4657821)
Colon, who posted a 2.65 ERA for Oakland last season, essentially replaces ace Matt Harvey, who will miss all of 2014 as he recovers from Tommy John surgery.

Colon heads into this season as my #1 candidate to either collapse, or get busted for steroids. Or both.
   11. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: February 16, 2014 at 10:07 PM (#4657836)
That's a bold, ballsy prediction. Any thoughts on the future of Jason Giambi?
   12. Lassus Posted: February 16, 2014 at 10:09 PM (#4657837)
I don't give that much of a crap about anything but Colon eating innings in something in the general area of replacement level. He does that, it's a good move.
   13. Walt Davis Posted: February 17, 2014 at 12:14 AM (#4657862)
Were there any real 1B solutions out there this offseason? Silly of them to trade for Fielder (and who would they trade?) I guess they could have gotten Corey Hart. Or sign Cano and move Murphy to first. :-)

I suppose they're still a possible spot for Drew to land. It would have been kinda hilarious if they'd signed Peralta in the middle of the ARod fiasco.

anyway, the "big" non-pitcher contracts this offseason were Beltran, Cano, Choo, Abreu (the Cuban), Ellsbury, McCann, Granderson, Guerrero (another Cuban?), Napoli, Peralta, Ruiz, Uribe, Infante, Young. 2 of those signed by the Mets and only Napoli and Peralta fit their 1B/SS needs and both are pretty good bets to be pretty blah.

I think I missed the Royals signing Infante for 4/$30. But that's for ages 32-35 of a guy who's been a very good bench guy to average starter. It's not a lot of money and 5-6 WAR over the life of the contract will break even.

Expansion era, 50% of games at 2B, ages 28-31, WAR of 8-14 (Infante 11): turns up 24 players, 8 of whom produced 5+ WAR from 32-35. Led by Tony Phillips at 20, also Frank White and Phil Garner basically maintained at where they were. Ronnie Belliard (4.5 WAR) seems a reasonable expectation for Infante.
   14. bobm Posted: February 17, 2014 at 12:59 AM (#4657874)
[13] Bringing back Tejada and Quintanilla seems just about worse than anything else the Mets could have done at SS.

2013 SS

                
       OPS sOPS+
COL   .836   145
LAD   .784   129
WSN   .772   125
BOS   .771   126
DET   .765   125
OAK   .763   123
BAL   .741   116
TOR   .733   116
MIL   .730   114
TBR   .711   110
ATL   .706   106
ARI   .702   107
SDP   .697   106
CLE   .693   102
CHW   .692   103
PHI   .688   103
LAA   .669    96
TEX   .663    96
SFG   .660    94
CIN   .646    89
PIT   .630    85
SEA   .624    83
HOU   .624    84
CHC   .624    83
MIN   .614    80
NYY   .598    76
STL   .583    72
MIA   .567    67
NYM   .561    66
KCR   .550    62


   15. bobm Posted: February 17, 2014 at 01:04 AM (#4657877)
Can't wait for more of Ike, Duda and Satin at 1B in 2014

                     
       OPS  SLG sOPS+
BAL   .977 .612   149
ARI   .940 .543   142
CIN   .904 .478   136
ATL   .880 .490   128
TOR   .874 .516   124
SFG   .843 .483   118
BOS   .841 .480   117
DET   .817 .457   112
KCR   .789 .444   104
OAK   .788 .455   103
LAD   .785 .447   103
STL   .779 .438   102
PIT   .768 .422   100
TBR   .765 .424    98
CHW   .751 .410    95
CHC   .743 .422    92
WSN   .742 .409    93
SDP   .740 .399    93
LAA   .739 .446    89
HOU   .738 .423    91
SEA   .733 .411    90
CLE   .724 .399    88
MIN   .721 .403    87
NYM   .721 .368    89
COL   .702 .394    82
TEX   .700 .405    80
PHI   .695 .396    80
NYY   .690 .397    78
MIA   .650 .344    70
MIL   .629 .370    62


   16. bobm Posted: February 17, 2014 at 01:14 AM (#4657881)
At least the Mets addressed the CF issue ...

                                                 
Split  OBP  SLG  OPS tOPS+ sOPS+
as 3B .365 .459 .824   145   124
as 2B .316 .421 .736   118   107

as RF .308 .428 .736   118    93
as LF .327 .374 .701   109    92
as 1B .353 .368 .721   116    89
as  C .288 .366 .654    94    87
as CF .267 .348 .615    82    68
as SS .285 .276 .561    68    66


   17. Dog on the sidewalk Posted: February 17, 2014 at 01:33 AM (#4657890)
SS and 1B should both be better in 2014. Tejada was roughly average playing every day in '11 and '12. Nothing that happened in '13 is encouraging, but if you're setting a line for him for this year, it has to be better than what he did last year. And as I keep saying, if the organization makes a concerted effort to strictly adhere to a platoon at 1B, the position probably won't be a disaster. Only 20% of Ike's PAs last year were against LHPs, but that's still way too much.

I have no idea what the front office is doing with their money, but if they're using it on scouting and player development instead of signing Nelson Cruz and Stephen Drew, I'm fine with them letting Davis and Tejada try to earn back some of their value. Even if they replaced the two of them with players who are better bets to at least be competent, it wouldn't change the fact that they have a total of 1 player on the roster who projects to be much better than average this year.
   18. ptodd Posted: February 17, 2014 at 02:55 AM (#4657902)
Mets have actually cut payroll about 10 million. Taking into account revenue sharing payments (they pay not receive) and the new national TV money, they look to be about 42% of revenue being paid out as payroll, less than the MLB average of 47%.
   19. SoCalDemon Posted: February 17, 2014 at 10:33 AM (#4657945)
Re 9: I'm pretty sure Nolan would have him in a headlock before Jesus could even get his whip out.
   20. Conor Posted: February 17, 2014 at 11:29 AM (#4657978)
I at least hope they will go with a platoon at first this year. I think Duda/Satin could be somewhere close to league average, though probably not that much better. As for SS; I still hope they sign Drew. Tejada probably won't be as bad as last year, but I don't think he is the long term solution. Not that Drew would be, but he'll be better than Tejada this year.

In CF, Lagares is a legitimately outstanding glove, and I think he deserves a chance to play every day this year. And at least they brought Chris Young in to play CF if Lagares totally bombs.

it wouldn't change the fact that they have a total of 1 player on the roster who projects to be much better than average this year.


This is the problem. Wright is awesome, and if the rest of the guys in the lineup have a really good year (for them), they will be above average, but a star season from any of them seems unlikely. I feel like they need another lineup anchor; maybe D'Arnaud is that guy? More likely it will have to come from outside the organization.
   21. billyshears Posted: February 17, 2014 at 03:17 PM (#4658097)
it wouldn't change the fact that they have a total of 1 player on the roster who projects to be much better than average this year.


Granted that Murphy only projects to slightly above average, but I still think there is a little more in his bat than what we have seen the past two years. 2011 wasn't all that long ago.
   22. Conor Posted: February 17, 2014 at 03:25 PM (#4658101)
I agree Murphy could have a year where he hits 310 instead of 290 or so, which would be a help. His K rate has gone up a bit since 2011, not totally sure why.

It really is amazing to me how when Murphy came up he was such a selective hitter (11.9% BB rate as a rookie, 40.6% swing %) and how every year it seems he becomes more and more of a hacker. He's down to a 4.6% BB rate last year, with a swing% of 47.3%

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