The Mets have finally warmed up to the idea of improving the bullpen, or, so said a source unaffiliated with the club. Problem is, the run on relief pitchers already took place in December. At the time, the Mets could have secured one of the better available pitchers for a roughly $4.5 million dollar per year commitment. I averaged years and salary of what I believe were the top 20 relievers signed this winter to arrive at that figure. With truck day fast approaching, practically all the reliable arms of quality have since been signed. Even former Braves reliever Eric O’Flaherty, who is coming off Tommy John surgery, and will miss most, or all of 2014, was smartly secured by the Oakland Athletics for future use.June 18, 2012; Flushing, NY, USA; New York Mets general manager Sandy Alderson (left) and owner Fred Wilpon before the game against the Baltimore Orioles at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports
The same unaffiliated source believes the Mets may target reliever Fernando Rodney. Target? Surely, this unidentified source jests. Rodney is a Yogi bear in search of a picnic basket. If the Mets want him enough, he’ll come running, although some say not.
While I’ll tolerate Rodney over Kyle Farnsworth any day, my point remains, risking an additional $4 million dollar yearly investment a mere two months ago could have potentially paid off quite handsomely over the course of the upcoming season, as an above .500 team should theoretically have a positive effect on the overall gate and game day revenues. Then again, that kind of thinking requires a baseball first mentality. In Flushing, the on-field product still takes a back seat to merry-go-round finances.
There’s a saying – nothing ventured, nothing gained. So far, all ownership has done is reinvest previously allocated funds on a few new free agents. They are yet to spend real, increased dollars. Otherwise, Sandy Alderson would have been free to secure a better relief option back in December. I’m sure such a move would have gone over extremely well with the fans. In fact, within the context of a minor transaction, an additional $4 million dollar (per) expenditure for a relief pitcher would have been viewed as an unqualified step forward for the Wilpons. Instead, apathy and ambivalence continue to be order of the day as budgets change with the weather.
Unfortunately for the bullpen, gaining relief indeed takes on added meaning when applied to the Mets. Ownership only recently, and still tentatively, secured refinancing of their $250 million dollar note due this June. So in Sandy Alderson’s defense, he is only now potentially operating with an enhanced financial capability. Or, at least that’s the image ownership is trying to portray, again.
Ownership has done this repeatedly since the Madoff scandal was first revealed. Sandy Alderson has been just as guilty with his continued double-speak, but in his capacity, I find it more tolerable. He is a buffer between the fans and ownership, who inherited distinctly different obligations to the fans on one hand, and to ownership on the other. All that said, there is nothing that ruins even the best laid plans like money problems.
The facts remain. The Mets still have not escaped their twice yearly payments on Citi Field, and still have a $600 million dollar dilemma facing them in 2015 when SNY comes calling.
They may have been able to spread out this latest impending $250 million dollar note over the next seven years, but that only provides acute relief. They can shake and bake the books and bankers all they want. The continuing reality is that the club still lacks money, and is just as desperate for greatly increased gate revenues this season as they were in December.
I just don’t want to be told everything is fine now, because it’s not. Maybe for the Wilpons things are better, personally that is, as Mr. Wilpon’s initial financial exposure stemming from the scandal has long since been transferred on to the club. Therefore, it is the Mets who are in trouble, and he put them there.
So, go ahead, pick the bottom of the barrel for a relief pitcher with a dollar too late.
This might be cabin fever setting in, and consequently, me lashing out. However, I prefer to liken this to a preemptive strike before ownership’s next snow job!