Reese Kaplan -- Does Salary Dictate Playing Time?


One of the most frustrating things watching a sports team of any kind (not just baseball) is when a player who is simply not getting it done continues to get a prominent role due to what he accomplished many years ago and/or due to his exorbitant salary.  If you take a look at the Mets right now, some of their most productive players like Jeff McNeil and Pete Alonso earn around the major league minimum while others like Todd Frazier, Juan Lagares and Jeurys Familia are paid handsomely for very little production.

So the question becomes should salary dictate playing time?  Furthermore, whose decision is it to fill out the lineup each day?  Apologists for Terry Collins were always saying it was the front office who told him who to play and thus it was unfair of people to criticize him for the inane choices made.  Now people are suggesting Mickey Callaway is in the same bind with Jeff Wilpon and/or Brodie Van Wagenen dictating who gets the starting assignments.

Well, like grassy knoll theories, there could possibly be some truth to that, but it’s unlikely.  If the manager acquiesces to the front office wishes, then he’s essentially saying, “You know better than I do, boss.  Thank you, may I have another?”

This topic will really come to a head when/if Dominic Smith, Brandon Nimmo or Jed Lowrie return from witness protection.  Since July 1st Todd Frazier has hit .200 and struck out more than 33% of the time.  (Yes, he hit a home run last night, but that doesn't make up for 6 weeks of ineptitude).  He is a free agent at year’s end and likely not part of the future.  Therefore, should one of the two outfielders take over for Jeff McNeil with that latter moving to 3B, or Lowrie take over 3B with McNeil staying in the outfield?  Or does salary indeed dictate playing time in the cases of Frazier getting the nod over the much less expensive Smith or Nimmo?

I had a friend suggest that the reality in today’s baseball is that salary very much is the driving factor for the roles played.  I quickly pointed out if that was the case, why isn’t Jeurys Familia at $10 million closing games instead of the near minimum wage Edwin Diaz?   Why isn’t the exceedingly expensive sub-Mendoza Juan Lagares playing every day?  It seems that the salary argument is applied inconsistently.

Right now the Mets are going through their “What’s on second?” exercise with Cano down for the remainder of the year.  Adeiny Hechavarria had his option exercised so they are paying him $3 million for this season.  Since June 1st he is hitting just .176.  Are they trotting him out there due to his salary?  Far be it from me to support the anemic Ruben Tejada, but he’s hitting .340 in the minors.  Dilson Herrera has hit 22 HRs.  Wouldn’t one of them be a better fit?  I’d hate to think that like Lagares, Hechavarria is being kept around because the Wilpons don’t understand the concept of a sunk cost.  Isn’t the goal supposed to be to put the best possible team on the field?


Mack Ade said...

Morning Reese -

Hell of a game last night, huh?

You.re theory here may be moot after seeing the lineup last night. Other than an occasional switch of catchers, this might be the lineup you see for the rest of the season.

Gotta ask...

Did you notice than Panik kept the 9th inning going?

Dallas said...

McNeil, Alonso, Rosario, Conforto are not going to sit. Having Lowrie/Nimmo/Smith come back is a great problem to have. Its a really strong bench in any configuration. I'm actually happy to not see Cano's name in there. His 0 WAR is not helping the team. It would be hard to argue with starting Nimmo/Smith because of their youth and past performance. Ideally it would lead to Frazier coming of the bench most of the time.

Viper said...


Right now you play this lineup everyday if you can. Go with the hot hand. You cannot, CANNOT sit Davis, Conforto, Rosario, McNeil, Alonso.

Ride this lineup for now.

Mack's Mets © 2012