Posted by Mack Ade at 12:04 AM
The Re-Construction Of The New York Mets – Part One
My good buddy Jack Flynn wrote yesterday that I have to keep the faith because I’m one of the few guys that write about the future of the Mets, rather than the miserable present.
As all of you know, I’m currently coming to the end of my top 100 Mets minor league players that deserve another year in the system. Today will begin the ten top dudes in the system and some of these will be making an impact as soon as March.
I was known as a “work out artist” when I was in the broadcast industry and the best work I ever did was taking over the management of failed radio stations and turning them around for resale. This kind of work came directly from the banks that held the notes and there was nothing more satisfying than working for someone that doesn’t know two shits about what the hell you do every day.
This alone has made me a viable writer of the New York Mets.
A Change in Control:
Turning a business around comes from the top and, frankly, the first thing you do is replace the top dog that got you in this pit in the first place. Sometimes that person has already been fired. Sometimes it’s a friend of yours and he or she hired you. There’s no room for a conscience for a work out artist. You do what has to be done and you sleep like a baby.
The heirs of Joan Payson sold the Mets in 1980 to Doubleday Publishing, for $21.1 million (sic). Chairman Nelson Doubleday Jr. named minority shareholder Fred Wilpon the club president, who bought 100% of the team in 2002, for $391 million.
It really doesn’t matter who owns the Mets. What matters is who is in control of the operation. All you need is the right person in charge who has the support of an absentee owner, or financial organization that holds the note. Bill Parcells proved for years he could produce a successful sports franchise, but only when he didn’t have to look over his shoulder and see if Jerry Jones was in the locker room.
The last thing I want this piece to be is another ‘fire the manager” or “sell the team” rant. There is enough of them out on the web and that’s not the reality of the situation. The Wilpon family is not going to sell a business that they paid $391 mil for and is now worth close to a billion dollars (in April 2009, Forbes estimated the value of the New York Mets at $912 million). It isn’t going to happen, so get over it.
What does have to happen is Wilpon has to come to the realization that the total operational control of this team must be turned over to someone who knows how to run a ball team, has the respect of the industry, and is given the autonomy to do what is necessary over the next five years (yes, five years) to finally produce a consistent winner that represents the National League in baseball.
The Mets have never been a consistent winner. They began the year I tried out for them… 1962. They just finished the 2009 season. That’s 48 seasons. They won twice.
A bunch of us writers and bloggers have written posts on what we would do if we either owned or ran this team. This multi-part article on the re-construction of the New York Mets is not a pipe dream. There will be no change of ownership and Omar Minaya will be the General Manager for the 2010 season. These are the conditions of taking on the task of turning around this “property”.
The conundrum that exists in 2010 is that Minaya already knows that 2010 will be his last year, unless he wins, at least, the NL East, while at the same time, the future of this team over the long run is not to sacrifice the future with a futile attempt to win one year. Given the choice, Minaya would spend what it takes to sign the top players available in today’s market, but that’s not going to happen for a couple of reasons. One, Fred is done giving Minaya an open checkbook, and two, the Halladay’s of the world want nothing to do with a team owned and run by the Grizwolds.
Yes, new players will be signed, and maybe the Mets will get lucky and bring in another hit like they did in 2008 with Fernando Tatis, but luck doesn’t get you Alex Rodriquez, or Manny Ramirez, or C.C. Sabathia. Nor, will it get you another Johan Santana.
Wilpon can continue to do what Omar started, when he bought Pedro Martinez and Carlos Beltran before the 2005 season. But, once you go down this road, there’s no turning back. You will constantly deplete your minor league system of your future talent, and you will someday have to change fifty bucks for a hotdog.
Big market teams spend the Thanksgiving weekend restocking their successful franchise. The Yankees, Red Sox and Dodgers are all trying to put together a deal for Halladay. The Mets are trying to resign Elmer Dessens.
Concentrate Your 2010 Spending On One Key Position: SP2
If the Mets truly want to begin to a five-year plan to turn this team into a consistent winner, then they should go out and spend the money it takes to sign the best free agent starter that is available. Do like Boston did for Dice two years ago, or what the Yankees did last year for C.C. Take the player off the table. Make the offer 5-8mil more than anyone else will touch. Just do it.
And, don’t tell me you don’t have the money. You own a business worth almost a billion and you paid less than 400 thousand for it. Trust me, you can get a line of credit from CitiBank.
Do any of you participate in fantasy leagues?
Let me ask you a question: Forget injuries… how would you like to walk into the room you and your buddies go to when you draft your fantasy teams, and find out you already have on your team David Wright, Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran, Francisco Rodriquez, and Johan Santana? That’s 20% of your 25-man.
Wilpon need to let Minaya buy the right player, at the right position, and Santana needs to go out on the mound every fifth game knowing the next day will have someone just as good out their doing the same job. You now would have six all-stars to build your future around, plus you probably just guaranteed 30 of the 90 wins you need to win the division.
Tomorrow: Tie Up Loose Ends and a Stark Look At The Affiliates