By Mike Steffanos
For the benefit of the dozen of you reading this on the holiday weekend, and in keeping with yesterday's theme, lets look at a couple of myths that have surrounded the Mets in recent history and have some fun with them.
Myth 1: Beltran should bat second
This one has died down almost completely, thanks to the MVP-caliber numbers Carlos is putting up. It had a long life, going back to last year and the early stages of this one, and you still hear it voiced from time to time. I had this to say about Willie's decision to leave Beltran in the 3-hole in my season wrap up last October:
I know a lot of fans thought this was a mistake. I personally liked it. There was a lot of pressure on Willie to put Beltran into the 2 hole in the lineup to "take the pressure off him." Carlos was signed for big money, and will be under pressure for his whole stay in New York. Maybe it didn't pay off this year, but I think in the long run it will help Beltran to realistically adjust to what is expected of him. I thought leaving him in the 3 hole all year was Willie's way of sending a subtle message to Carlos that he will have to find a way to live up to expectations.
Before I'm tempted to take a big bow for this, I remember that I had wavered in this thinking from time to time, and certainly didn't expect these kind of numbers from Beltran in 2006. I guess I'll pass on patting myself on the back then. In any case, Willie Randolph has proven to be one stubborn, unrelenting S.O.B. when it comes to sticking to a decision that he knows is right for the team. He recognized that Beltran was the best all-around hitter on this team, and wasn't about to make any move to lighten the pressure on Beltran. The message was simple, "Live up to the expectations, kid." Of course, Omar and Willie did make several moves to make Beltran more comfortable, and they've paid off, too.
In the long run, two or three years down the road, maybe David Wright is the number three hitter on this team. For now, Beltran has accepted Willie's challenge, and in the process made Randolph look a lot smarter than he was given credit for being.
Myth 2: The Mets have bought their way into the playoffs
You tend to see this in a lot of places, especially where the home team's payroll can't compete with the Mets'. In this article from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on the business of sports, Tim Tucker's numbers show that, although the Mets ranked fifth in total payroll, they're actually sitting in the middle of the pack as far as actual cost per win. The number was determined by using the team's payroll through August divided by its number of wins through August:
|Team Cost per Victory|
|9.||Chicago White Sox||$1,099,099|
While it is interesting to note that the Yankees are paying more than twice as much per win as the Mets, other teams spending more include the Cubs, the Phillies and the Braves, who are obviously all struggling this year. Interesting, too, that the Angels and Dodgers, who are models for other team's farm systems, are significantly ahead of the Mets.
I guess I shouldn't be too surprised by this. I'd love to see the math on the cost per victory of some of those teams Steve Phillips fielded in his tenure in New York. There is no doubt that the Mets have significant resources compared to smaller market teams, but to my mind an approach that doesn't simply involve outspending other teams is more sustainable over the long haul. Mets fans deserve better than 3 or 4 good years out of a decade.
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