It's Not My Money
There are a lot of disappointed fans in regards to this off-season as they feel that the Mets have decided to go on the cheap despite record attendance and a deep trip to the playoffs. However, the Mets are still one of the top spenders and have handled one of the craziest off seasons ever with aplomb. I have no issues with what happened this off-season. The Mets payroll is going to be at about $115 million this upcoming season ($116 million or so while they pay someone to occupy Pedro's spot with Arizona throwing in five million or so for Shawn Green) and there were only three players in Schmidt, Daisuke, Zito that would have significantly helped this team. They needed a frontline starter among everything else.
They made an extremely aggressive and big bid for Daisuke and regrettably lost. They were willing to go for Zito, but not at the price the Giants dished out. Ultimately, they left some negotiating room as you do not just jump out with your best offer. 5 years / $75 million was the base with 6 / $96 probably the upper tier, which would have pushed their payroll over $130 million mark most likely, which is obscene. The Dodgers were smart to jump on Schmidt quickly and get him off the market. The next best starter was Jeff Suppan and he doesn’t appreciably help this team for the Tom Glavine money he is getting. Then you have Weaver, who I wouldn’t mind him for 2 years, but he is looking for a Suppan deal and is a worse pitcher.
I do not believe in spending money to just spend money. At this time, the Mets have a pretty good farm system with two potential aces and three blue chip outfielders. The Mets are willing to deal Milledge in order to get an arm, but Omar is not desperate enough at this point to dish Milledge and another piece off for mediocrity. Spending money does not equal the desire to win. Look at the Yankees cutting down on their payroll as the Red Sox closed the gap to about $20 million in payroll between the two after being about $80 million away.
Omar has been smart for the most part in regards to the Wilpon's money. Most of the contracts signed this off-season will look like the ones signed a few years ago that had the likes of Jeromy Burnitz earning $12,166,667 and teams will be looking to dish them off in the same way. Omar was smart to stay out of the madness and keep an eye on short term deals unless the right player was there.
Furthermore, the Mets really did not have Pedro last season. This year, his recovery seems to be going along as planned and he should be back and in ’05 form at the very least. With a healthy El Duque, Glavine, Pedro, Maine, Humber, Perez, Williams, Pelfrey, and Vargas, the Mets will have a formidable five. The rotation is obviously the wildcard here, but there is considerable upside. The lineup is better than last year, the bullpen looks like it is going to be tight, and I truly think the rotation will fall into place.
Elsewhere, the Cubs are better, but not intelligently built. The have a legitimate ace, but who else after that is really a sure thing to be better than league average? The Phillies pitching looks better on paper and their bullpen is not airtight. The Phillies offense looks better than they are due to the park they play in. The Phillies scored sixteen more runs than the Mets despite playing half of their games at the #9 rank field in terms of park factor for runs while Shea ranked 26th. The Cubs offense ranked 15th despite their field ranking 6th in park factor. The Cubbies added offense, but their biggest issues of being to right handed and having a horrible on base percentage certainly were not addressed. They were the only team to not have an OBP over .320 in bigs outside of Tampa Bay in '06. The Dodgers have some solid pitching, but were ranked 16th in homers in the NL and lost one of their only two guys that hit 20 homers last season.
While I think it is clear the Phillies, Cubs, and Dodgers are better, they are not as good as people think they are. It will not be as easy for the Mets in ’07 and we know that. Also, while a lot of people are attributing the Mets 97 wins to some fluky performances by some Met players, I’m not so sure that matters. They upgrade their offense and managed to bring in plenty of intriguing bullpen arms. They are a legit team when it comes to those two areas and this rotation will ultimately be better than the one that brought them to game seven of the NLDS. Zito was one guy I wanted the Mets to reel in this off-season, but not at that kind of money. The trade market is marked with teams trying to extract too much from the Mets so Omar is having a tough time pulling off anything on that front. Given the climate of baseball right now and how other teams engaged the Mets, this team is right where they should be and the Wilpons have been more than generous with their cash and have shown the willingness to spend.
"I had an absolutely wonderful career that I am very proud of," McGwire said Friday night at a charity event in Tustin, Calif., benefiting the Orange County Abuse Prevention Center. "I'm not in control of what happens - I was in control of hitting the ball."