Morning Report – 4-8-14 – Mets Ownership, Observations

1921 Polo Grounds 

Coming Up –

         2pm – John Sickles - Detroit Tigers Top 20 Prospects

         4pm – John Sickles - St. Louis Cardinals Top 20 Prospects

         6pm -  Grant Holmes, Luke Weaver , Tyler Beede, Michael Conforto, Nick Gordon

         8pm – OF - Zach Shannon - Anderson (OH) HS

There’s a much larger issue here than lack of talent, poor hitting, and the execution of the members of the bullpen.

The ownership of the New York Mets have chosen to operate this team far below the financial standards one would expect from what we call a ’large market team’. In actuality, New York City is as large as they come.

Deadspin[i] estimated the Mets 2014 payroll to be $89,051,758, or ranked 22nd in baseball. Right below them (23rd), another ‘large market team’, the Chicago Cubs, come in at $89,007,857.

Janson Media[ii] estimates that New York City is the number one media market in the United States while Chicago is third.

Figures like this don’t lie and, while both heads of the baseball operations, Sandy Alderson and Theo Epstein, are well known for rebuilding failed operations, the facts still remain that both these teams continue to operate far below the standards set by the league and its Board of Directors.

The New York Mets and their broadcast network, SNY are estimated to be worth two billion dollars, which is considerable more money than the principles of this organization owes to banks and lenders, yet the owners choose to continue to operate at below standard levels.

They chose to operate at both talent and salary levels they said they wouldn’t do when they were granted this franchise. They could have signed better players that were available in the free agent market; actually, there still are better players out there that could be signed today. Instead, they place on the field a team that simply doesn’t have the overall talent to represent the size of the market they are being granted in serving.  

Adding to the problem, and strengthening the argument here as well, is the fact that the team reports an operating loss of over twenty millions dollars a year. The largest portion of this loss comes from declining ticket sales, parking, and the sale of food products as well as league endorsed team paraphernalia. The fan base has simply eroded due to the inferior product that is being turned out year after year.

This is no longer a team problem. This is a matter for Bud Selig, the Commissioner of Baseball, to deal with before he retires at the end of the 2014 season. Selig needs to direct the owners of the Mets (and, I assume, the Cubs as well) that they need to come up with a new operating plan, beginning in 2015 in which the overall salary levels for their team better represents the market they are representing. 
Try to imagine what this team would look like if they spent an additional $50mil in 2014 salaries. They still would have only come in as the 8th overall salary for this year.

There is no defense for this lack operational ineptitude. Commissioner Selig has the power to make this happen and, if the Mets refuses to do as requested, they will then be asked to liquidate their investment for the best of both baseball and the City of New York.

Kevin Kernan of the New York Post has been writing a series of columns on the first base situation or the New York Mets. It is no big secret that, though Ike Davis wins the popularity contest in the clubhouse, it is the desire of the management and ownership to trade him post haste. The only thing that seems to be preventing this is Sandy Alderson’s stubbornness regarding the quality of the player that some other club would offer for Davis. I don’t understand why Alderson is hun g up on this. It’s not like the Mets are playing and showcasing him. Davis had four hits in his last six at-bats, including the pinch hit (not starting) grand slam run that won the game Saturday and two hits on Sunday. This has earned him sitting on the bench on Tuesday. I don’t usually side with the beat press when they keep harping on a point, but, in this case, they should all get together and write ‘Duda or Davis’ stories until something gets done here. This is pathetic.

ERA - 6.75 (28th in MLB)
FIP - 3.91 (19th in MLB)
xFIP - 3.84 (14th in MLB)

According to Brand Keys, here are the most loyal and least loyal fan bases around:

29. New York Mets - I can’t say that it seems intuitive. Because I know a lot of Mets fans. And they have had very few reasons to cheer in the past few years, yet they keep coming back. Whether that’s love or that’s insanity I have no idea, but it’s certainly loyalty of a type. http://hardballtalk.nbcsports.com/2014/04/07/the-cardinals-allegedly-have-the-most-loyal-fans-the-astros-the-least-loyal/


Thomas Brennan said...

Undeniable...even spending on Drew and Latroy Hawkins again would not have cost much and given the fans more hope. In my view, with 2015 on the horizon, they have to begin to break out the checkbook - have to - as they'll have a preponderance of pitching talent in 2015. But they are idiotic to give away 2014, because even for them it is stupid - tons of foregone revenue.

So, as a distraction, I turn to the minors. Vegas offensively is rocking - hopefully you don't mind my including the following:

In 5 games, Las Vegas has gotten on base just thru hits and walks 84 times, for an on base % of roughly .440

Maybe Abreu has something left - he has 3 doubles, 2 singles and a walk in just 9 plate appearances.

Lutz on 15 times in 5 games – a .708 on base %. He has 8 runs and 9 RBIs. And David Wright blocking him. Usually, K’s are a big issue for him, despite a good on base % - only 2 in 22 at bats so far.

I feel bad for on base machine Allan Dykstra, who has only gotten to the plate 9 times so far – on base 6 of them. He is losing at bats to Abreu.

Eric Campbell on base 10 times in 5 games.

Catchers Teagarden and Centeno combined are on 10 X in 5 games too.

Nobody is hitting poorly, making my case that hitting is contagious and why a team like the Mets has to avoid gaps in the line up that put strain on everyone else in it. Like the pressure on d’Arnaud.

Even Seratelli is 1 for 8, but with 3 walks. So he’s getting on.

Puello is 7 for his last 16 plus 2 walks, after a first game 0-fer.

Muno and Wilmer are the worst, having gotten on only 8 of 26 times combined – which ain’t bad.

Juggernaut hitting for AAA.

In the promising news department, even Kirk and Dekker, the K Kings, only have a combined 8 Ks in 48 plate appearances. Combined on base 16 times.

TP said...

Why don't you tell us how you really feel about this ownership. I couldn't have said it any better. One thing I don't agree with is that it is something Selig will or has to deal with. There is no way he is going there. From his perspective, the Wilpons weathered the financial storm and have stabilized the franchise. I don't disagree with that conclusion, with the exceptio of spending on players.

I will add this - I consider the ownership AND Alderson to continue to misrepresent the "gameplan". The overwhelming majority of the fanbase understands that the big long-term deals that tie up big money and cost crucial draft picks is not the way to go. We get it - no Pujols-type, Fielder-type deals. However, the ownership refers to a "plan" and Fred claims financial "health" while Alderson bottom feeds. Colon+Granderson=Santana from a salary point of view and C Young = 1/2 Bay. That is not "spending". Their true colors show when it comes to "upgrades". At a payroll less than 2013, Alderson hemmed and hawed and did not upgrade SS or and a legit, dependable back end arm to the pen. Farnsworth and Valeverde count as scrap heap guys, not dependable back end arms, regardless of performance..signing minor league deals proves this. That was with Parnell coming off a serious injury. No, Alderson floated Vic Black as his plan B, a guy with a history of control problems and only 10 innings of Sept. big league ball. That was and is a fraud, a lie, an joke, whatever you want to call it. Now, with the closer down for the year after 1 inning, the Mets are not "evaluating" their internal options? They will sit tight because Valverde, who was out of baseball last year, had a good week? No check in to Madson? We'll wait a month or so to get a look at Hanrahan? This is the mentality and actions of a team serious about competing? Please. I'll follow and root for the team because I did so long before this ownership/GM, but they continue to perpetuate a lie on the customer base, and until that changes we'll just have to call it what it is.

Thomas Brennan said...

I do want to add, in regards to revenue loss, that I am already seeing Mets offer discounts on tickets in April and May via Sirius XM and Dunkin Donuts. maybe there are others floating around. More fannies in the seats, perhaps, but revenue per ticket will drop a lot as a result.

John Zozo said...

You can't charge top tier in ticket prices and be bottom feeders in payroll. We are not here to payoff their debts!!!!
We should hire Donald Trump to tell the Wilpons "They are FIRED".lol

Reese said...

They operate the team as if payroll is the only component to saving money or generating revenue. Don't they realize that putting a competitive product on the field would spike attendance, advertising revenue and merchandise sales, more than paying for the cost of better players? Geez, a freshman business student would understand this much. How did they get to make so much money in real estate? Do they operate that business the same way?

Mack Ade said...

TP -

I don't expect Selig to do anything. I just wanted to state the obvious.

John Zozo said...

They might be slum lords in real estate, they are definitely slum lords with us!

bob gregory said...

I have to point out that these short-sighted, penny pinching decisions have had broader and longer lasting affects then just the Citifield roster.
1) as I have harped on many times before: the erosion of the fanbase and the morale of the fanbase
that is still around (no trust)
2) a nomadic AAA team that has moved (is it) 4 times in the past few years(?)
3) players on the field trying to over-perform: pitchers feeling the pressure to do too much perhaps
resulting in some of the injury epidemic Met pitchers have been experiencing. Hitters trying to
do too much resulting in over swinging or too much stress at the plate.

Thomas Brennan said...

Hey Mack, John, Reese and Bob

One other "business-stupid" point is the depth of the field. Homers attract fans, as does winning, and with the Bronx BOMBERS across town in a homer-friendly park, these dolts build the Grand Canyon - then invest in Jason Bay to hit there!!! I sent the Wilpons a letter, which I hope they read, that a 73 win team hitting 200 homers will have higher attendance (and revenues) than a 73 win team hitting 100 homers. Yes, you surrender more homers in a smaller park, but that is more than offset by your boys hitting more of them. Then Murphy leads the team in HRs with a deadball era 12 dingers.

So the dopes come to their senses and move the fences in - but not far enough. it helps their hitters - but not enough. So Grandy has already hit a few that would have been homers elsewhere, but not here, so he is seen as struggling instead of off to a good HR start. d'Arnaud hits a long shot that would have been a game-winning 2 run HR - which would have thrilled the fans - but instead it is a long out, and he is now 0 for 15 and still feeling pressure to get off the schneid. if they had moved them in 5 more feet, it would have been a HR-neutral park, rather than still being a tougher-than-average place to compile homers throughout a season. Fans like HRs. had they put the fences in, from the start, at the depth I suggest, David Wright is a cinch for the Hall of Fame because over his career he'd hit 75-100 more at home. Now, he may just turn out to be a borderline HOF candidate. I could go on.

Mack Ade said...

Arthur Pesner · University of Michigan
The $20 million loss is only because SNY is paying far below a market rate to broadcast the Mets. A market rate would add AT LEAST $100 million a year in revenue to the baseball side of the corporate umbrella. It is a shame there is so little understanding of finance amongst the press.
Reply · Like · Follow Post · about an hour ago

Dallas DeVries · Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
If they havent done anything about Jeffrey Loria they certainly won't touch the Wilpons. I think its funny a guy like Cuban can't get into the sport but they let guys like Loria keep killing teams and embarrassing the sport.

Mack Ade said...

Arthur -

I didn't write the Mets profit and loss statement... they did.

bob gregory said...

You are not alone questioning the size of Citifield.
Hitting is contagious and is all about confidence.
Every time a player hits a ball on the sweet part of the bat and it results in an out..... a bit of confidence is eroded, not just for the hitter, but also the team mates that witness it.
Definitely a contributing factor to the player stats and poor home record over the past few years

Mack Ade said...

Thomas -

I've always considered this a very simple game... you score one more run than the other team, no one remembers three days later how you won it. You just won it.

I remember an old Dodgers team that featured guys like Ron Cey... all they did was hit a single, steal second, and score on another single. They won games 3-2 and everybody thought they were a great hitting team.

Fred Wilpon, Jeff Wilpon, Saul Katz, David Lennon, Sandy Alderson, whoever... have decided that this team will represent itself with less than the going rate product. That was their decision and we, as fans and writers, have to live with that.

It's getting hard to keep all this up. We're all getting tired of talking about the same thing. I have 14 other writers here and I don't have one original piece in the hopper. Everybody is moving on to more important things in their lives.

I wrote this to get it off my chest. I may be wrong but my friend Arthur Pesner thinks I don't have the proper knowledge of finance. We're all getting a little worn out on this subject.

Mack Ade said...

Bob -

The size of Citi Field is a cop out.

Both teams have to play in it.

bob gregory said...

yes Mack
both teams do have to play in it
the Mets have to play in it for 81 games
add this aspect to all of the other disadvantages the team is subjected to as a result of the front office/owners and the results are what we have been witnessing

Mack Ade said...

Bob -

The length of this field only comes into play if you are talking about baseballs leaving that fied.

There is no field known to man as being more hitter-unfriendly than Greyson Stadium here in Savannah, but players like Brandon Nimmo, Jayce Boyd, and Kevin Plawecki learned from past players to not try and hit the ball out, just hit to the gaps.

Playing in the same field for 81 games should be an advantage, which obviously, the Mets haven't cashed in on. I put all this into the mental part of the game.

bob gregory said...

But Nimmo, Boyd, and Plawecki are not facing pitchers like, or comparable to the pitchers that the Mets are facing.
Many of the pitchers they are facing in Greyson stadium will never pitch in the majors.
Additionally, Greyson stadium is just a stop along the way for them. The Met prospects will not play year after year in the stadium and many will not even play a full year before moving up to the next level.
Remember, most of the pitches that they are seeing are fastballs.

bob gregory said...

I am not saying that the size Citifield is THE reason for the Met hitting woes.
considering all of the other disadvantages they deal with during a season as a result of the front office/owners poor decisions and the fact they play in NY,
having a less cavernous home field would be one less drain on the hitter's confidence

Mack Ade said...

Bob -

You're playing chess with me now...

Of course they are playing less talented pitchers. They are currently less talented hitters than who is on the parent teams.

And your comment about fastballs is just not true. High school or even rookie ball maybe, but I sit behind home plate and track these pitchers. Your statement just isn't true.

IMO, dimensions of a field is poor excuse. Some teams have more talent. Others find a way to win. Go look at the miserable batting averages currently on the majority of the Braves players (who, BTW, are 4-2)... Uggla .217... J Upton .182... Gattis .167... Heywood .130... B Upton .120

Let's move on.

John Zozo said...

slumlord[ sluhm-lawrd ]
1. a landlord who owns slum buildings, especially one who fails to maintain or improve the buildings and charges tenants exorbitant rents.

So basically this fits our whole scenario. From owners(landlord) to maintenance ( sandy alderson/ wilpons) of our team, to us the fans(tenants).
They should make another movie based on all of us and call it slum lord billionaire.
Also I do love the stadium cause I would rather watch a pitchers duel. It's Aldersons fault he didn't build the offense to its dimensions. We need high OBP, Speed guys on the base paths and defensive wizards on the field (ala the 80's Cardinals). Not a team leading the league in strikeouts!

bob gregory said...

come on now.... how many times have we read that a pitcher that is not able to control his off speed pitches will not be able to succeed in AA and above?
That infers that there are many lower level pitchers that are not able to control their off speed pitches.
hanging sliders and curveballs or sliders, curveballs, and change ups that are not strikes leads to the batter seeing more fastballs over the plate or better hitting counts

bob gregory said...

by the way...
Atlanta is 2 games better at the moment and they have 3 guys batting over .300
and none of their pitchers have an ERA above 3.00
and once again as i said
I am NOT saying the field dimension is THE problem
it is just one more reason (a much smaller part) to add to all of the disadvantages this team has that has eroded their confidence hitting
The bigger problem by far is the front office/owners deciding to begin a season with so many flaws on the team. The players notice this resulting in a lack of winning attitude in some or others that try to over-perform leading to injuries and less production
imagine if the pitchers did not have to worry about every single pitch resulting in one run the offense may never get back.
or batters that did not have to feel pressed to put a run on the board every time up because the rest of the line up strikes out or the bullpen will give away runs.

bob gregory said...

The field dimension is a bigger concern when it comes to attracting ticket sales.
If the front office/owners are not putting a winning team on the field, what will attract ticket buyers?
Like it or not, Offense will draw spectators.
Pulling the fences in to increase offense is a cheaper and faster way to increase ticket sales.
something that seems to fit the Mets operating plan....... not a good plan but ..... then again how many good decisions have there been over the past few years

Thomas Brennan said...

I will summarize my points. As businessmen, the dimensions were previously, and still are, too deep, losing many homers that lessens scoring and excitement levels of fans for (let's assume) the same amount of wins. If the Yanks win X games and the Mets Y, and both hit 200 HRs, the attendance gap will be less than if both teams win X and Y, but the Mets look feeble compared to the powerful hometown rivals. And fans, especially newer undecided ones will have one more reason to gravitate to the Yanks.

Our offensive players have long been inferior, and both my brother and I have less interest to go to a game than if they were bopping. Interestingly, the Sports network last night showed a Met-Cub season opener in Japan from 2000 - when I saw those Mets hitters again, I thought to myself with power hitters of that caliber, I'd be much more inclined to go, even if they did not win any more games. I mean, this team's HR record after 52 years in an anemic 41, a number Yanks' players over the years exceeded dozens of times - I rest my case.
I even believe the Mets' announcing has been dramatically better than the Sterlings and Waldmans and that helps the Mets build fan loyalty (many only go to a game or 2 per year) - yet the attendance gap is huge.

Mack Ade said...

Brian Berness · Seton Hall Law School
The problem is that the Major League owners don't want a real commissioner. They want a stooge like the used car salesman from Milwaukee, Selig. The days of a Pete Rozelle, Paul Tagliabue, David Stern type commissioner is over. As bad as he was, there will be no more Bowie Kuhns or Bart Giamattis either.... could you imagine a commissioner blocking a trade like Kuhn did to with Charlie Finley when he tried to sell Vida Blue, Rollie Fingers, and Joe Rudi in 1976?

Mack Ade said...

Thomas, Bob -

I don't want to keep debating something we aren't going to 100% agree on.

There are so many reasons none of us are happy right now and one is the owner while another is (I give you this) the stadium. All of this would be just fine if the team was 5-1 and Travis d'Arnaud was leading the league in extra-base hits.

You all are going to have a long a painful year, but I have the added job (burden?) of administrating a web site about this team. There is NO CONTENT out there to write about.

I'm not sure right now what all our acceptance goals are. Are you still rooting for a 2014 pennant? Playoff slot? Mid-season trade?

Thomas Brennan said...

I agree there is universality in Met followers' unhappiness. Many are the reasons.

So what am I rooting for? I am rooting for them to somehow outperform early, and stay in this thing until the kids are called up and can help out with continuing the run, or a quick collapse that forces their hand to move out of the status quo.

To stay in it, they'd need bullpen personnel to perform beyond expectations, a few hitters like duda to outperform (hey, if Chris Davis could do it last year, why not one or two of our guys?), and a huge dose of good breaks.

Mike Geus said...

Great article Mack, it's hitting us all at the same time. I want to specifically thank you for reminding people that the team is under reporting it's profits, due to the SNY deal. SNY is not paying close to market rate, but we all know who owns SNY.

Mack Ade said...

Mike -

My assumption is nothing will be done as long as Selig is in charge. Then, after a fair amount of a timely manner (2015), both the Cubs and Mets will be told my the new Commish to up the anty.

As for under-reporting profit and/or loss, there's a very simple process to prove that. It's called an audit.

Now you just need to find someone to do it.

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