By Mike Steffanos
I wanted to do a quick follow up to yesterday's post.
I understand that Scot Boras is a controversial guy, and that he very much had ulterior motives in suggesting that large market clubs have a responsibility to spend at a reasonable level to put a decent product on the field. I don't think that invalidates the points he was making.
Again, I understand that the Mets cannot continue to be an inefficient operation that bleeds money now that the Madoff spigot had been turned off. Still, I'm concerned with where things are going.
First we heard that the payroll would be going down to $110 million, then it became $100 million, and now it's more like $90 million. And there really hasn't been any indication that we've hit bottom.
Instead, we get to be bombarded constantly with David Wright trade rumors because keeping even one homegrown star player is somehow a luxury despite the fact this club plays in the largest of the large markets in this country.
If the Mets have an unsuccessful season in 2012, which certainly seems a good possibility given the strength of the division and the weakness and lack of depth of this roster, it seems likely they will lose money again. Does that mean we could look forward to a $70 million payroll next season as we wait for Jason Bay's and Johan Santana's contracts to expire? Who but the diehards will pay to see that?
Maybe this would even make sense if you could just load up on draft picks, sign a bunch of guys to over slot contracts and spend freely in the international market to push a huge infusion of talent into the farm system. Unfortunately, the changes in the new collective bargaining agreement severely penalize teams for doing that to the point where that route to building a system seems closed.
Beyond that, though, I wonder if ownership's financial problems continue if there won't be scrimping and penny-pinching in ways that are much less obvious but detrimental to the long-term health of the franchise. Given that you can't just spend your way into a productive farm system anymore, I suspect that such areas as scouting and development will be even more crucial. Can a club that needs to send its employees out with shopping carts collecting returnable bottles in order to make their loan payments really be counted on to invest in those areas that aren't all that visible to the fans?
New York isn't a small city with limited entertainment choices, and this team will continue to lose money if they don't field a compelling product. Sandy Alderson and company still have a lot of work to do, and constant questions about the solvency of ownership aren't going to make it happen any faster.
The Mets need to spend more wisely going forward, but they will still have to spend. If the Mets hope to stop bleeding revenue they will need to invest in the product they put on the field. I just don't have any faith in that happening any time soon.
Next time we'll talk some on the field baseball.