Thursday, June 09, 2016

N.Y. Mets: Damage Control

From the desk of:  HEAD-BUTTING MR. MET

After a financial collapse and an organizational rebuild,
ownership's actions over these last two seasons 
demonstrated a willingness, and growing ability
to be MLB players again.

NEW YORK METS: To my $urprise, the Amazin's are not idly $tanding by...

There's much to harangue with the way the season has gone thus far.

Quite frankly, this station to station offense, and waiting on the long ball approach doesn't exactly sit well with me.  The Mets are indeed tied for the National League lead in home runs, yet they've scored the third least runs.  They additionally boast the fifth worst team OBP, and are dead last in stolen bases (second to last in all of MLB).

Their now concluded series in Pittsburgh put all that futility on full display.  So, if this is Money Ball, I'm contemplating withdrawing my account and sticking the cash back under my mattress.

On the mound, their performance so far has been a mixed bag of goods.  Or should I say good, just not good enough...

On the one hand, the Mets pitching staff boasts the third best ERA, have allowed the fourth least hits, own the fourth best average against, and fanned the sixth most batters.  The bad news is they trail the Washington Nationals and the Chicago Cubs in each of the aforementioned categories.

For the moment, I'm not overly concerned.

What I am, however, is pleasantly surprised...

The Mets front office had a really, really good off-season, and I commended them for it.  In fact, as injuries began mounting this season, I was already handing them a free pass.

Considering their ongoing financial situation, I thought ownership and Sandy Alderson had already done enough, and that the onus was on the remaining starters, back-ups, and minor league call-ups to just suck it up and play through the injuries.  I even cautioned my own friends and fellow fans not to expect much else in the way of transactions, asking what more could they do?

Therein lies my surprise...

The front office has continued going off campus in an effort to bolster the active roster.  And once again, I commend them for both their proactive, and reactive response.  Winning a N.L. pennant last year was great, but this is the type of action which demonstrates renewed and refreshing commitment moving forward.

To account for Lucas Duda's absence, Sandy Alderson purchased veteran first baseman James Loney on May 28 from the San Diego Padres.  Infielder Kelly Johnson was then re-acquired this week via trade from the Atlanta Braves in exchange for minor league pitcher Akeel Morris.

Whether these moves help remains to be seen.  But busy general manager's hands means happy fans ... so just remember no one was complaining when the transactions took place.

After springing into action during last year's trade deadline, then committing big money to Yoenis Cespedes in the off-season, as well as shoring up the middle infield with qualified veterans, one would think the Mets financial situation has settled.

In a sense, it has, but make no mistake, ownership is still heavily in debt.  What they've achieved, however, is an agreeable balance between financial obligation and on-field operations.  Attendance is up-ticking again, and most, if not all of their bank and SNY related debt has been re-re-refinanced through the remainder of this decade.  Separate from that, their settlement with Irvin Picard in the Madoff related claw back suit has been reduced as well.  So, yes, today things are certainly looking up (until salary arbitration starts taking a larger toll on the team budget, that is).

Circling back, being broke is a great reason to rebuild.  Upon assuming control, Sandy Alderson initiated the hasty process of shedding upwards of $60 millions dollars from the Wilpon's payroll.   For several seasons thereafter, he kept expenses low, and merely recycled the same money to various transient players.

If you're into fuzzy math, the Mets acquired Curtis Granderson during this period at an effective net cost of zero - in recycled dollars, that is - as Grandy's contract did not necessarily increase payroll from one season to the next.

Instead, the signing of free agent Michael Cuddyer in November 2014 represented the first real dollar increase in payroll to that point during Alderson's process.  That's the moment when we can say the Mets finally began taking appreciable steps forwards again.

Dare I ask, what else can they possibly negotiate between now and the non-waiver trade deadline in July?

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