With the news this week that the Mets are essentially done adding major league pieces to their roster for this upcoming season, it appears as though they will enter the year with a payroll hovering around $90 million dollars. That will prove to be a tough pill to swallow for most Mets fans, as the franchise hasn't entered a season with a payroll this low since 2000.
To be fair, when done correctly $90 million can buy you a hell of a ball club. In fact, a $90 million dollar payroll should still position the Mets in the top half of the league. The issue however, is that this particular roster hasn't been constructed with the precision necessary to field a winner at those numbers. That's not to say that its Sandy Alderson's fault either. He is still wading through a variety of ill advised contracts to the likes of both Jason Bay and Johan Santana (amongst others).
So what will the Mets and their fans get for $90 million dollars this season? First and foremost they'll likely see a lineup, who if healthy, is of playoff caliber. The Mets led the division last season with 718 runs scored (five more than the Phillies). While the loss of Jose Reyes will undoubtedly hurt that level of production, the team stands to benefit from the redesigned Citi Field, which plays directly into the hands of both David Wright and Jason Bay. Will the team match last year's level of production? Probably not..but the offense should remain potent nonetheless.
Yes..$90 million dollars appears to be well spent on the offensive side of the diamond. The same cannot be said for the starting staff. With the exception of Johan Santana, whose aforementioned bloated contract is worth $24 million dollars next year alone, the Mets have committed an estimated $11 million to the remainder of their starting rotation. Those final four (Dickey, Niese, Pelfrey & Gee), complete a starting rotation with only mediocre potential and which would really need to have an outstanding year to see the Mets complete.
The team's financial restrictions not only prohibited the front office from adding quality to the starting rotation, but it also wouldn't allow Sandy Alderson to add the depth necessary to navigate a full year. In a perfect world, a major league team uses between 8-10 starting pitchers over the course of a 162 game season. At this point, the Mets appear set to provide the likes of Miguel Batista and DJ Carrasco with a chance to save the day when (not if) someone gets injured. Simply put...this is a recipe for disaster.
So what will $90 million buy the Mets in 2012? With the aid of a shortened outfield, the Mets will without a doubt outscore some much higher payrolls. The unfortunate part of that equation is that the pitching staff..which will bear the majority of the burden for the franchise's new thrifty approach, will give up far more runs that its offense can overcome. Ultimately, Fred Wilpon's new $90 million dollar New York Mets will find themselves lucky to win 70 games next season. And to be perfectly honest...if the Mets only forfeit seven wins off last year's total in the process of shedding nearly $50 million dollars in payroll...we should consider ourselves lucky as well.
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