Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Reyes will come to philosophy not money

Photo by Michael Baron
There has been a great deal of speculation as to whether the Mets will trade Jose Reyes. Most of those who believe the short stops days as a Met are numbered, feel that the teams financial problems will prohibit them from resigning him. I disagree with the idea that Reyes will come down to not being able to afford him, he may not be a Met next year but that will be more to do with philosophy then finances.

There are several philosophical reasons why the Mets may not resign Reyes, some of them involve money but that doesn’t mean they can’t afford him.

     1) Reyes doesn’t have a high enough OBP (lifetime) for a leadoff man.
     2) His mental lapses make it difficult to justify a huge contract.
     3) They believe the difference between the in-house replacement is marginal.
     4) Based on the draft they value the picks more than Reyes.
     5) What they could get in trade is worth dealing him.
     6) After Beltran they may not want long term contracts.
     7) A free agent SS who would cost less with marginal difference.
     8) They choose to spend their money upgrading elsewhere.

While I hope the team keeps Jose Reyes all eight reasons are valid to an extent and none of them mean that the Mets can’t afford him.

So what makes me think the Mets can afford Reyes despite all the financial doom and gloom?

Even with a significant drop in attendance the Mets are still ranked 8th in the National league (1st 2008/ 5th 2009). The small market Brewers are ranked 7th and spend approx. 80M and the 9th ranked team is the Braves who are spending 84M.

As of now the Mets are only obligated to 66M for the 2012 season, that’s almost a 50% decrease in payroll. To put it in perspective if the Mets made only modest signings this off-season (like last) their payroll would be closest to the Washington Nationals (61M) with the 14th ranked attendance and the D-Backs (60M) with the 13th, in fact the only teams with lower payrolls would be the Padres, Marlins and Pirates.

Despite the decrease in attendance the numbers simply won’t justify a dramatic decrease in payroll that would prohibit them from re-signing Reyes. Now that’s just looking strictly at where they rank with attendance, the Mets are at an advantage with their own very successful network and incredible sponsorship fees.

I don’t believe the league or the union would allow the Mets to make those type of cuts, let’s remember when the Marlins cut their payroll from 60M (2005) to 14M (2006) all while having the worse attendance in the National league there was intense pressure to increase payroll.

There’s much to do about the Dodgers being over seen by the league but not the Mets, to me it seems like the league is involved in the Mets, it’s just that the approach is different. McCourt and Selig don’t get along, so Selig waited to he could legally and publicly step in. With the Wilpon’s being part of the old guard the league sent in their fixer Sandy Alderson, every move since Alderson stepped in indicates the league is fixing the Mets. Modest signings, loan from the league and looking for new partial ownership. If the Wilpon’s were in charge and in that much financial trouble they simply would have had a fire sale and called it a rebuilding process, they already took the hit in attendance.

So if I’m right and the league is fixing the Mets, they wouldn’t allow drastic decreases in payroll. I think what they would find acceptable is a payroll much like the Dodgers (2Nd) or Cardinals (3rd) both carry a 95M payroll, both currently have better attendance but don’t have the large market advantages of the Mets. I believe the league will expect the new partial owner’s monies to infuse the team to keep from having a fire sale.

I think the biggest indication that the league is involved is the partial ownership situation; just a year ago Fred Wilpon was talking about the team being family owned for the next four generations. Now the league has stability in one of its most storied franchises regardless of how Madoff comes out for the Wilpon’s.

So if the Mets cut payroll to 95M which would be approx. a 30% (142M-2011) decrease in salary, they still have 35M to spend this off-season. Without making upgrades to certain positions what do they need; a RF, SP, several relievers, bench players and a short stop. Several of those positions will be filled by in-house candidates and nominal free agent signings. I truly believe there will be the money for Reyes, this will come down to their philosophy on him as a player and how they choose to spend their money.