New York Mets' general manager Sandy Alderson conducted an interview today to address various topics, most important of all being recent financial struggles.
Alderson claims this offseason was all part of the plan. It was, and always had been, to skim the market for low risk, low money players to test out on the roster.
I had no problem with this. In fact I supported it; overly spending money did not help the Mets the last few seasons, and taking a year off is not always a bad thing.
However as I was listening to the interview, he said something I found very disturbing. He said, "Our payroll going into the season will be somewhere between $140 million and $150 million. I think that is significantly higher than we'd like to be on an annual basis"
I did a double take and rewound the track to make sure I heard that clearly.
At the beginning we were told the Madoff scandal would not affect any day-to-day operations, and the Wilpon's were not affected. Now we recently learned they were indeed affected, so much so that they have begun looking into selling a minority stake in the team.
And now, our general manager tells us that the $140-$150 million projected lineup is significantly higher than what they want.
This is not a small-market team. This is not a small-market city. This is not a small-market fan base.
What is wrong with the payroll being in that range? We are a major-market team, in a major city, with an enormous fan base. Every year payrolls typically go up, this is nothing surprising or new.
Remember, Alderson has repeated time and time again they have held back this offseason due to the amount of money they will get once the dead weight contracts are finally shed at the end of the season. However, he has also repeated time and time again they will not spend all this money.
I don't see how anyone can make a prediction like that. What if there is a player on the market they want that will cost half the money they received from the expired contracts? Is he trying to say he won't bother because of financial restrictions?
My faith lingers. Each week we are fed assurances that the owner's financial woes will not affect team operations.
They already have.
Already we are hearing there are restrictions on the amount of money we will use for next year's offseason. Already we are being told that this year's projected payroll is significantlyhigher than what they want. All around, Mets fans are being reassured this Madoff business won't affect team operations, yet the general manager essentially speaks otherwise.
Was Alderson hired because of his skills with a small-market team? Are the Mets heading into a dark future where their payroll dips significantly?
Who knows. Personally I don't think so, but the argument can certainly be made. I for one believe once the team wins, tickets will be sold, and all will be fine. I don't really buy into any of this "the team is going completely broke" nonsense.
Not yet anyway.
Is this the time to panic? Of course not. But it is certainly something that more and more is becoming a spectacle to be analyzed to its fullest.