A blog dedicated to the New York Mets with some other baseball thrown in.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Wilpon's Follies

In 2003 the New York Mets were ranked 2nd in franchise value behind the one and only New York Yankees. Fred Wilpon took over sole ownership of the team in 2002 when he bought out Nelson Doubleday. The Mets were worth $482 million in 2002 and rose to $498 million in 2003. After successive last place performances and shrinking gate receipts, the Mets dropped $56 million in value in 2004 and that was the third the biggest percentage decrease out of all of the major league clubs. Coming into this season they were behind the Yankees and the Red Sox in terms of franchise value. If the Dodgers did not fall off the deep end in terms of value as well, the Mets may have slipped two spots. Also, don't confuse this as a bad economy byproduct since thirteen out of the 30 major league teams experience a drop off in franchise value while all of the others managed to increase in team value. The Red Sox were worth $533 million coming into the 2004 season after being below the Mets value every year since 2000. The Mets should at least be in that neighborhood, but instead they are almost $100 million less in terms of value.

In 2003 the Mets revenue was $158 million, which was good for fourth behind the Yankees, Red Sox, and the Mariners, who were the most profitable major league franchise. Yes, the Mariners were even more profitable than the Yankees. The Mariners managed an operational income of $17 million dollars in 2003. The Mets on the other hand had lost third most money and were behind only the village idiot (Tom Hicks and his A-Rod contract) and the New York Yankees.

In 2004, the Mets' attendance was up a bit from 2003, but still no where it should be for this team in this town. Wilpon's precarious spending and band-aid solutions have been nothing but a drain to the Mets and their franchise. The Mets should be worth a lot more than they are right now, but due to the rabid mismanagement of this team they are not worth as much as they should be nor are they drawing as many fans to the stadium as they should. It is not for a lack of spending on Wilpon's part though. He spends alright, just not wisely. The Mets were 4th in payroll in 2004 (with Vaughn’s salary taken into account), 2nd in payroll in 2003, 6th in payroll in 2002, and 5th in payroll in 2001. I do not think anyone can call Wilpon or the Mets cheap when they are always in the tops of the league when it comes to overall spending. However, they were undoubtedly at the bottom of the league in getting the most value out of their dollars. They simply have not translated their money spent into wins and have sunk a lot of money into each loss as they have been piling up over the past few years.

After making it to the playoffs in 1999, the Mets made a few moves. The most notable move was acquiring Mike Hampton via trade with the Houston Astros. If Mike Hampton is not a Met, they do not get to the World Series as he was great for the Mets in 2000. The Mets also signed Orel Hershiser, signed Todd Zeile, traded for Derek Bell, and traded for Bobby Jones. They also lost John Olerud to the Mariners in the process who left a huge hole on the team and replaced him with Zeile.

After 2000 season, the Mets acquired Lenny Harris, Desi Relaford, Turk Wendell, Rick Reed, Kevin Appier, Pat Mahomes, Tony Tarasco, Tsuyoshi Shinjo, Steve Trachsel, Jim Leyritz, and Matt Franco. Yes, after they made a trip to the World Series and lost Mike Hampton, they did not do anything to upgrade the team and signed Kevin Appier to an outrageous contract of 4 yrs, $42M. (Pedro Martinez’s deal does not look so bad now)

After 2001 season, the Mets signed Satoru Komiyama, traded for Roberto Alomar, traded for Mike Bacsik, signed Roger Cedeño, signed David Weathers, traded for Shawn Estes, traded for Mo Vaughn, signed Pedro Astacio, traded for Jeromy Burnitz, traded for Jeff D'Amico, traded for Scott Strickland, and signed John Valentin.

After 2002 season, the Mets signed Tom Glavine, signed Mike Stanton, signed Cliff Floyd, signed Tony Clark, signed Graeme Lloyd, signed Rey Sanchez, signed Tsuyoshi Shinjo, signed Dan Wheeler, signed Jay Bell, and signed David Cone.

What's the common thread? No big time player in the prime of their career. A team in the largest market with some of the deepest pockets and highest revenue has not signed an elite free agent under the age of 30. A team that turned the 6th highest profit out of any major league team from 2000 through 2003 did not bring in one big catch in their prime. The Mets also failed to improve their team whatsoever after their World Series performance and were a much worse team in their 2001 campaign which is simply inexcusable. Over the years the Mets signed a lot of great players and some were still effective, but most people they brought in were past their primes. Wilpon continually opened his wallet for the wrong players and tried to patch everything together. I'll be the first to admit, I thought the moves they made after the 2001 season, heading into the 2002 season where good. I was excited about Alomar, Burntiz and Vaughn. I had dreams of tons of homeruns and watching a future Hall of Famer in Alomar man second base everyday. We all kept waiting and watching for him to break out, but it never happened. In the end, we all know how that worked out and it certainly was not good. After a failed 2002 campaign, the Mets threw more bad money at the problem en route to their highest payroll in club history and ended up in last place for the second year in a row. The 1992 Mets were supposed to be the worst team money can buy, but I think the 2003 Mets were the worst team money can buy.

Even when the Mets went to the World Series they were only ranked 8th in the NL in attendance despite playing in the largest market in the world. The past two years the Mets registered 11th in the NL in attendance. Amazingly enough, the Mets are in a position to turn everything around. They have some questions in regards to health, their bullpen, and first base, but they are going to be in the mix if they make no more moves. The Mets can draw 3,000,000 fans and they can do it this year. There is already a huge buzz with the Mets fans and if the team can translate that into some early wins, the fans will come out. If the Mets can get to that 3,000,000 mark, which they have only attained in 1987 and 1988 only, that translates into roughly $20,000,000 in gate receipts alone. I'm not being too overzealous in saying that 3,000,000 is doable this year. 3,000,000 on the nose would have been good for 7th in the NL in 2004 and 11th overall in the majors. The Mets were either 1st or 2nd in attendance in 1985 through 1990 with the exception of 1989 when they were 3rd. Mets fans have proved in the past that they are willing to come out to see a winning product. Wilpon can pay for his big purchases this year if his dollars spent finally translate into a winning product on the field. Forget the network. We know the network will bring in boatloads of cash. Wilpon probably has more than $30 million dollars in revenue on the table by just putting an exciting team on the field that will be in contention for the entire year. He also brought in players that fans come out to the park and see, which is vastly different from their other recent purchases. Fans will pay to come see Pedro pitch every fifth day and fans will pay to come to see Beltran play. Piazza simply was not a draw anymore and Reyes and Wright are just not at the point yet that the casual fan will spend money to come to Shea to see.

Wilpon has done nothing to help this franchise out since he’s owned the team until now. He's lucky enough to have bought a team in NY and to have them be the 3rd most valuable franchise in the majors in spite of the recent years of embarrassing baseball. The Mets turned a profit of $21.3M in 2000, $16.84M in 2001, $11.6M in 2002, and lost $19.30M in 2003. The Mets have money and plenty of it. Now with the network on the way, the Mets as a franchise should shoot into the $500 to $600 million dollar range and the revenue should increase by tens of millions of dollars and should reach the $200 million mark. Wilpon has a golden opportunity to make his franchise one of the best in organized sports and has seemingly tripped over that opportunity. If Wilpon & Co. can put a winning product on the field in 2005 while setting up the future to be successful as well, he could be the envy of sports ownership and just a year ago that idea sounded really far fetched. If he spends a little extra cash today, it could go a long way in the future. Not only will he line his pockets but the extra revenue can go towards a new stadium further driving up the worth of the franchise. Wilpon cannot let a few million dollars stand in the way of Carlos Delgado. If they can pull off the trifecta they have a chance to put 3,000,000 fans in the seats. I’ve already had plenty of people who otherwise would not have gone to Mets games tell me they want go to Shea to watch this team and to me, that speaks volumes about the casual fans that may just be drawn back into Flushing this year in droves.

* * *

  • Texas' offer to Carlos Delgado was worth about $11.3 million in today's value because of the deferred money. However, their tune about Delgado playing first base drastically changed over the weekend and the Rangers subsequently wanted him to primarily be DH and then pulled their offer back off the table. My how things change. As for the Mets, although it is not confirmed, they are rumored to have dropped out of the Carlos Delgado negotiations seemingly handing him over the Marlins since they are they only one of the two teams left that could be considered contenders. Jeff Wilpon and the Mets still say they are waiting for a call back from Sloane and deny backing out of the race.

    "Jeff [Wilpon] and I spoke with Mr. Sloane and let him know our desire to try and get a resolution to this matter [last night]," Mets general manager Omar Minaya said in a statement. "He said he would convey that to Carlos and that he would call us back after speaking with Carlos. We have yet to receive that call back."

    We'll have to wait on this, I'm assuming the Mets are still in it until they say they are out. However, Steve Popper had said the Mets this plan B in place:

    The Mets have developed a backup plan in case the Delgado deal falls through. The team is prepared to turn to an inexpensive first base option such as Travis Lee or John Olerud on the free agent market and return to its earlier efforts to obtain Sammy Sosa from the Chicago Cubs.

    David Lennon from Newsday had this plan B lined out:

    When the Rangers upped the ante Friday during their own visit with Delgado, the Mets reconsidered their situation, estimating that a Plan B of signing Ordoñez in addition to a first baseman would come at a similar cost.

    Now it appears to be their only option. The Mets were interested enough in Ordoñez that they already possessed the rehabbing outfielder's medical records, though it looks to be another week before he will begin working out after two knee surgeries.

    I like the 2nd plan B better.

  • Matt Peterson ranked is ranked as the #9 prospect in the Pittsburgh Pirates farm system.

    Background: Peterson came to the Pirates in the three-team deal that sent Kris Benson to the Mets last July. Peterson missed two starts at Double-A Binghamton before the trade with a strained side muscle, and that affected his control after he switch organizations. He uncharacteristically walked 19 batters and threw six wild pitches in his last five starts of the season.

    Strengths: Though Peterson has the frame to throw hard, he has better off speed pitches at this stage of his career. His changeup is outstanding, particularly against hitters, and he possesses a true 12-to-6 curveball. His fastball is no slouch, as it sits at 90-92 mph and runs up to 94.

    Weaknesses: Peterson could stand to add a bit more muscle to his lanky frame. He also needs to gain better command of all his pitches. His inability to locate consistently led to 18 homers in 2004 after he gave up just four the previous season.

    The Future: How Peterson performs in spring training will determine whether he starts this season back in Double-A or gets moved up to Triple-A. He's still somewhat raw and won’t see the majors until 2006, but he has a chance to develop into a first-rate starter.

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