NEWS & VIEWS: Cooking the Books, the Cleveland Way, Looking Forward to a More Active Jeff Wilpon, and a Brief Imaginary Discussion with Terry Collins About Ike Davis

Jimmy:

Nobody dreams big quite like Sandy Alderson. He’s gone on record in his wild hopes for a “better” team next year, with a “capable” shortstop and a “capable” outfield.

“The goal is to have a better team. Not a better this or a better that.” — Sandy Alderson.

Hold on while I clear my calendar for October 2014. We’re swinging for the fences!

Mike

I’ll be positive today. At least the team is one of the goals now.

Jimmy:

On Monday night I watched some of the Texas-Tampa Bay playoff game. When Nelson Cruz game up for his first AB after the 50-game suspension for PEDS, the Texas fans gave him a standing ovation.

GTY-182561708_001-1024x682

Mike:

We’ve seen this over and over again. Fans forgive and forget, as long as you can hit.

Jimmy:

We keep hearing about Jason Bay coming off the books, but that’s only semantics. As Wolfgang Puck once noted, “It depends upon which books you’re cooking!” Tee-hee. The available money I’m hearing is $30 million — about $5 million less than Francisco & Santana.

cooking1

Mike:

I was harping about this when we first blogged last offseason. When Bay was let go, Bay agreed to move money from 2013 to the future. Wright had dollars shifted in his new deal too, which lowered the old 2013 obligations and moved money out to the future. Yet, from my vantage point, none of that money was invested in the 2013 product. So think about this, going into 2014 we now still owe more money to players that Omar Minaya signed than we owed for them the day Minaya left. Alderson listed waiting out contracts as one of his primary considerations last week, ahead of the team winning. But he didn’t wait them all out, he kicked the can farther down the road.

Jimmy:

Exactly. He stated that his first goal was to, essentially, allow time to pass. You know, tie the tourniquet and wait out the rough times. Instead, he extended them.

Mike:

freddy-kruegerYes, he did not even achieve that very modest goal. But it was not real, and his employers are the Wilpons. There was only one goal, do anything no matter how shortsighted to keep them propped up as they muddle through their personal financial crisis. As they are still here, like Freddy Krueger invading our peaceful dreams, Sandy has delivered for his bosses. I’m sure he will get a big bonus. Because Sandy is in this for the bucks, and he is making plenty.

It’s his last score.

Jimmy:

From what I understand, we now aspire to become the Cleveland Indians.

Mike:

It’s crazy the things you hear these days. I keep checking my zip code, wondering if aliens have shifted the earth’s axis and displaced us all. Nope, I’m still in New York. Notice that when the Los Angeles Dodgers were bought, they were not run as if they played in Cleveland. Wouldn’t it make a lot more sense for the New York Mets to look at how L.A. is doing things?

In case you were wondering it is going like this:

Bill Shaikin (@BillShaikin)

9/28/13, 12:37 AM

#Dodgers sell out tonight. They’ll finish with 29 sellouts in 81 home games. To think they were in bankruptcy when last season opened …

Jimmy:

I read an interesting article by Terry Pluto, titled “Cleveland Indians Drawing Fewer Fans Than in 2012.” That town once enjoyed a sellout streak of 455 games back in the 90’s.

Mike:

Yes, I saw that, hard not to since you passed it along to me. It’s logical to me, we have gotten into this a little bit all year. We now live in a world where most people buy their tickets during the offseason, well in advance. The day of the big day-of-game sale is over. People have phones with calendars on them and schedule everything. You need to have a compelling product before April 1st or it is hard to get a big bang in attendance. It’s another reason why the Super 2 crap can be (depends on your market) dumb business. By the time we brought up Zack Wheeler, most people were done buying Mets tickets for 2013. Ditto Travis.

Most people expected the Indians to be bad in 2013. That includes their fans. By the time they realized otherwise, it was too late to help the team much at the gate.

Jimmy:

And yet, winning will always bring in fans . . . eventually.

Pittsburgh Pirates v Cleveland Indians

Mike:

Oh yes, I do not dispute that. Look for the Indians attendance to spike up in 2014.

Jimmy:

The Wilpons are seeking to refinance their $250 million bank debt. No surprise there. They own a billion-dollar asset, I can’t imagine they’ll have a problem. But money is not my specialty. Thoughts?

Mike:

Two birds of a feather.

Two birds of a feather.

There is a lot of focus on the debt the Wilpons have with the team. It is high, by baseball standards, and the interest they pay is money that cannot be used to pay things such as players. We don’t like that as fans, and I would think the other owners and the players union would be up in arms about it, but it hasn’t played out that way.

As far as the financial markets and the team going bankrupt, once they “won” the Picard settlement I have never seen that as a realistic outcome. The team is worth a fortune, so is the network, and both can serve as collateral. I expect them to be able to refinance, and at more favorable interest rate terms. Hopefully some of it trickles into the team payroll.

As far as the owners going away, they could always sell, but I don’t see how the team goes under.

Jimmy:

Jeff had such a great quote the other day. It was like he started talking and lost focus before the sentence ended. But to be fair: complete thoughts are hard!

“The pressure is on all of us to win. I don’t look at it as pressure, but look at it as an opportunity, how Sandy has looked at it.” — Jeff Wilpon.

It’s like listening to a confused child recounting a bullying episode out on the playground. You want to pat his hand and say, “There, there.”

Mike:

Part of me fears the day that Jeff is left as last man standing. Part of me looks forward to it. It would be painful, but maybe he would crash it so badly that the family has to give it up. My biggest prediction, not a hard one I admit, is to expect a lot of crazy back pages once Fred has passed on. It won’t be boring, that is what I am saying.

Jimmy:

All the big brains are meeting down in St. Lucie. Reading Terry Collins’ comments about Ike Davis, well, yikes. Scary. Here’s Terry with some of my commentary added below . . .

Terry Collins:

“Everybody thinks you’re going to go on a vacation. And the last day of the season, you don’t. You start the next day and get ready for the next year.”
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Jimmy:
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Really, Terry? Everybody thinks that? We were actually hoping that you guys might start working.
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Terry Collins:
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“I talk to [Ike Davis] all the time.”
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:
Jimmy:
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Uh-oh.
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Terry Collins:
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“What we’re just hoping for is that this bad year –- everyone’s allowed to have one –- is behind him.”
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Jimmy:
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One bad year? Wait, um. Just one? I feel like Al Gore. Can we get a recount?
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Terry:
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“Let’s now look forward. Let’s forget about it. It’s over with. We’ll learn from it, we’ll try to get better, but you can’t do anything about it. It’s the past. And let’s move on.” 
-
Jimmy:
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I can’t argue with “learning from it,” but I am wondering just exactly what’s been learned. Other than, as I’ve recounted before, I think Terry loves Ike.
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keep-calm-and-learn-from-the-past

 

 

 

 

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37 comments

  1. RAFF says:

    OK, Jimmy and Mike- You guys get to lead-off every day and set the tone, and today you drilled two back-to-back singles. Thanks for getting it started.
    Jimmy – you delivered a little “Chin-Music” at those expressing the thought that we ought to be modeling something close to what Cleveland or Tampa Bay or other Smaller Market teams have done – Wait for the big prospects, Selectively pick up free agents, Look for Bottom-Feeding Opportunities. As I am one who has advanced that particular model, let me pick myself up out of the dirt and stand back up in box on this one. Given what we’ve been told, regarding the constraints and limits which management has clearly stated, this would be the only logical, workable way to develop a contending team. You have stated on a daily basis that they have approx. $30million to spend- inclusive of the Funny-Math and convenient lies being used by the club to calculate their annual player spending. In other words – You have clearly understood, accepted, and articulated the underlying premise which dictates the logic of this approach — THERE ISN’T ENOUGH MONEY to do it any other way.
    Mike – You’re bucket-footin’ — Swinging for the fences on outside balls in the dirt (See, Also: Ike Davis). Time to start Going with The Pitches… THESE NY Mets, Under This Management , are NOT The Los Angeles Dodgers. We can’t just Wish-Away reality. Until or unless they are sold, this is our lot. Maybe you should sit down Sit Down – I need to tell you some other things: There is NO Good Tooth Fairy. Santa Clause is, for the most part, a “concept”. OH – and the only Females who will REALLY Love You unconditionally, for a lifetime, are your Mother and A Black Lab.

    • Michael Geus says:

      Pointing out the correct way to run a big market franchise is not the same as expecting it from this ownership.

    • No Santa Claus? Really, you’re going there? Can you see that might sound condescending?

      Sigh.

      We’ve been through this. I believe the Mets should add an impact bat to the team as the first order of priority; you do not. That does not automatically make you the “realist” in the conversation. Nor does it make me correct.

      Not every player has to be a star, but not every player can be a supporting, complementary player either. Another impact bat would make a difference throughout the lineup, and be a foundation piece for years to come. And, yes, would make the club more interesting and marketable, too.

      It is true that “your” strategy is the one advanced by the Alderson-Wilpon Mets, and the one we are most likely to see. So you are now officially on board with “the plan.” Doesn’t mean that I agree with it. Or that it’s the only way.

      As I commented on a different board, I believe that selling tickets should be a parallel focus for this organization. Getting fans excited, getting them back to the ballpark, bringing in revenue, would all be positive things. I have not seen anything in three years that shows me these guys give a rat’s ass about the fans, and I think it’s been a disastrous policy overall. BTW, this was the same complaint that fans had in San Diego while Sandy was over there. He bored them to death. And, yes, he’s coming off 8 consecutive losing seasons as GM.

      Good things come to those who wait. But only sometimes.

      JP

    • Patrick Boegel says:

      Reality is wishing them away. This is New York, you can’t sell smoke and mirrors.

      Also, just an FYI to everyone, as nice a story it is that the Pirates made the playoffs, the odds are at best they pull an Orioles next year, at worst, they plummet right back to a 85+ loss team. Unless of course they wise up to the sell outs they have been having and add some talent.

  2. RAFF says:

    Mike- Just a little “Ribbing”- My way of say “ME TOO”. Jimmy made a point of Clarity, recently. Perhaps we all Need to preface our remarks with the following Qualifiers:

    1.What you think the Mets should do;
    2.What you think the Alderson-Wilpons will do;
    3.What we realistically believe they could do (a middle ground).

    I’ll Add a 4th> As an HOMAGE to and expression of solidarity with the MASSES of The SUFFERING (That MTS, for short):

    4) THESE ARE MY ONLY $%*&ing CHOICES?

    • Michael Geus says:

      I agree on qualifying things and will be doing this when I begin to discuss specific moves.

      Right now I have to go have a long talk with my yellow lab, tell her it’s over, as I now want a black one.

  3. Alan K. says:

    Can’t get over Terry’s “everyone’s allowed to have a bad year” comment. Believe me, I’ve never heard that comment from any employer I’ve ever worked for.

  4. Eric says:

    Ike Davis…. resigning Turner (that’s a roster spot!)….. has the Back Sliding already begun?

  5. RAFF says:

    Jimmy and all who espouse THE BIG BAT THEORY: The Mets can/should trade for an Impact Bat. What, exactly qualifies as an “impact bat”? I’ve heard, variously – Tulo, Cargo, Stanton – WHALES. Is this the category of player you’re thinking about? If so – What do you think it takes to get one, assuming one or more is actually available? We know what it took, in prior years, for the Tigers to get Miguel Cabrera and The Sox to get Adrian Gonzalez – Major Multiple Prospects and taking on Major $$$. Next- what will the Mets be left with, in terms of $$ and additional prospects and tradable on-field assets to fill positions on the field via the remaining players and remaining $, in trades, Free Agency, etc? As previously stated- I believe there’s a way to get to an opening day lineup of Professional Major League Players in 2014- A major step forward- and Perhaps a way to get competitive, while maintaining a course on the player development front. I’ve reviewed the 2013 FA signings,- and there were some impact players- or at least very good bonafide profession players who were signed between $2mil -14mil and anywhere from 1-4 yrs. 2014 will present a similar opportunity. Last year, you might have applied the available EXTRA $35mil very nicely with a “pick-and-choose among: Melky Cabrera $8 mil per year/2 Yrs., MBourn (12/4), Victorino (13/3), JLoney 2mm/1, SDrew 9mil/1,… the list goes on. A similar list of 2014 FA opportunities presents a mix and match scenario where you should be able to add two or three real players- without initially sacrificing existing prospects or on field players. Then – you might selectively make a couple deals to fill-in other positional needs, . I’d like to hear your approach. I understand the first part>> Trade for the Big Bat. What’s the rest of the plan?

  6. IB says:

    My plan starts with getting a sane, professional 1st baseman
    I said it on another website, I’d take Lyle Overbay over what we’re fielding. There are some guys who you just can’t watch play baseball anymore. Either they’re head cases or it’s futile or both. Duda and Davis fit that category for me. Start with first base.

    No good team has a Davis or Duda at 1st. That’s pretty subjective but I bet it’s true historically.

    • Wait, “other website.” OTHER WEBSITE??!!

    • Alan K. says:

      I’m not sure that Overbay represents much of an upgrade. I’d rather take a flyer (depending on the medicals) on Youkilis, who probably can be had relatively cheaply on a one year deal, will be motivated coming off an injury riddled season and would bring a solid veteran winning clubhouse presence. How can the braintrust say no to the Greek God of Walks?

  7. IB says:

    I want to add that that’s a really interesting observation about fan’s needing to anticipate a good team before the season begins to have any interest going forward, even if the team does win. I wonder.

    • Yeah, I think Mike is right about this. We’re all scheduled to the hilt. The days of walk-up traffic just aren’t what they used to be.

    • Patrick Boegel says:

      Look no further than Cleveland, they won 92 games this year and I believe were 14th of 15 in AL tickets sold (attendance is a lie by the way, it is gate receipts not gate crossers).

      I love the Mets dearly, but they were a forgotten entity to me this year. The way the schedule goes with Kids, weekends are almost universally gone, so for me to commit long range, I am gonna need more than the random shot that Matt Harvey “could have been pitching” on the day I happened to buy seats. And walk ups are not even an option any longer, I live too far to just get whimsy with this crew.

  8. Adam Rubin just tweeted that SNY’s ratings for Mets games are down 31.6 percent. The patient is bleeding out on the table, doctor. Don’t just stand there, do something.

    • Alan K. says:

      However, the Times reported that the Yankees ratings on YES went down 31.2% Also ratings on the national FOX and ESPN telecasts fell as well. The Mets have plenty of problems but this points to a problem with major league baseball as a whole, especially with younger viewers.

      • Patrick Boegel says:

        As someone who is in the business of television TV ratings, I can tell you this, the complexity of those numbers is beyond compare due to the myriad of ways in which someone can access the programming now. It used to come one of two ways, your local cable provider or network game of the week.

        With MLB tv and the ability to watch via multiple devices there is a ton of misinformation within the sports of Hockey, Baseball and Basketball. The NFL has the by and large glorious distinction of their games essentially happening one day, though they are doing everything in their power to wreck that with each passing year to try and diversify their ability to drive TV revenue.

        As great a market as Los Angeles is, a lot of people do not wait up to watch 1030 games, so until the Dodgers become a fixture on the Fox and ESPN games for Saturday and Sunday they can’t pick up the loss in appeal that a frumpy Yankees franchise brought to the table and an invisible Mets one.

        Bottom line the Red Sox v Yankees and the star power that brought for many years has faded away. Even the Sox are not “names” right now. That is what sells on TV. Philly is down, the Nationals who were supposed to be darlings fumbled this year. So much depends on star power in the Northeast for TV to be up for baseball.

        That said, the sport has ruined itself for an entire generation catering to absurd start times for key games.

  9. IB says:

    James. I confess. I’m a Mack’s Mets fan too. But none of that other greasy kid stuff out there

  10. IB says:

    I gotta think about that days of walk up traffic thing. People have always been busy, even when WE were kids. Hell, my father spent his weekends on the honey-do list, poor sap. There might be more to this than just tight schedules etc. Don’t know the answer, but I’m thinking in terms of a culture that’s preprogrammed day and night – maybe reacts differently to unexpected stimulus. I don’t know. I could be talking through my ass again. But, it’s interesting.

    • Honestly, I’ve got no hard data, so it’s all just a sense that there’s less free time than ever before, and that kids are more scheduled that ever. Organized youth sports has really changed the landscape. Soon my daughter, for example, will be playing “elite” soccer while on the school basketball team and another basketball. My son will be working out with the rowing club, getting lessons in piano & guitar. And we let them both do homework occasionally. There is rarely ever a night when we look up and everybody’s home, nothing on the calendar. I believe this is a widespread reality.

      Quick story: My father asked his mother, who lived in Queens Village, to pick up 6 tickets for him to see one of the ’69 World Series Games. Fine, where did he want to sit, she asked. He shrugged, first-base side. So the old lady drives out to Shea, walks up to the ticket box. They don’t have sits on the first-base side. She is confused. She drives home, calls my Dad. They don’t have seats on the first-base side. All they have is seats in the upper deck. Is that okay? He tells her that it’s okay. She gets in the car, drives out to Shea again, goes to the ticket window. And secures 6 tickets in the top two rows of the entire stadium. Game Five. It worked out pretty well. I remember that day as if it was yesterday. But that world, I believe, is gone.

      Could be wrong though!

    • Michael Geus says:

      I have seen data, but it was years ago and I wouldn’t know where to find it, sorry. But I do believe things have changed, and the day of significant walk-up sales are over. Parents always were very scheduled, I agree with that, but kids were not. Travel sports for me meant I left my block to play the kids around the corner. Those games were played whenever we felt like it, and never took place if our parents had other ideas. And they never attended one, thank god.

      Also, my dad worked a hell of a lot harder than I did, but when work ended it was over. No blackberry, no cellphone, no conference calls with the Asia office at 9 PM. He came home, we had dinner, and maybe decided to head out to the game. On weeknights. Because those games started at 8:00, not 7:00, and ended about two hours later. Now games not only start at 7:00 they go until close to 11:00.

      You put that all together and it makes the spur of the moment sale rarer.

  11. Eric says:

    I swear!…All of those other Bloggers mean NOTHING to me…NOTHING!!!

  12. RAFF says:

    In the words of Foghorn-Leghorn: “Pay attention, boy. I’m cutting but you ain’t bleeding.” We’re in Post-Season, now. Hot-Stove Zone… I hear a lot of comments about trading for “Impact Bats”., “Starting with 1st base”, etc. etc— But I haven’t heard YOUR Plan— Define it. Are you proposing to trade Top-Line Prospects? Are you advocating Free-Agent Signings? Most of all> How are you proposing to get 9 Major League Professional Players On The Field for Opening Day? Do you want to get One Shiny Object? What’s it going to costs? How are you proposing to put a Major League Baseball Team on the field in the beginning of April?

    • Michael Geus says:

      Don’t worry, we will get there. This week Jimmy and I are having our organizational meetings.

    • Patrick Boegel says:

      To begin with, retain Daniel Murphy.

      Now you have a 2B and 3B.

      Sign the Abreu gentlemen who expatriated from Cuba.

      Okay, so Wright $20MM, maybe they just go ARB with Murphy, maybe they cut a deal, so lets call it the latter and $6.5MM, with Abreu getting his ask so that it is only $6.5MM next year though, back load some of what should be a reasonable deal anyhow.

      Keep Lagares in CF, league minimum, who-hoo can hear Jeff and Fred clink glasses.

      Get me some Choo, I don’t give a rip if he costs $15MM that is the price of gas these days.

      Then go big, or go home. Deal Syndergaard, Flores, and any two of the younger A+ guys like perhaps Plaweicki for Giancarlo Stanton.

      Immediately give Stanton an 8 year $120MM deal that takes him to age 32 with some options.

      Wright – 20 Bills
      Murphy – 6.5 bills
      Abreu – 10 bills
      Lagares – 0.4 bills
      d’Arnaud – 0.4 bills
      Choo – 15 bills
      Stanton – 15 Bills
      some SS – 0.4 bills

      That is $67.7MM I don’t care if Bugs Bunny plays shortstop. Backup plan, you can’t be the best bidder for Stanton, you give a little less and go get Tulowitski. $ essentially a wash.

      So in either scenario you either deal with little production from SS or little production from a corner OF spot, either way you have 3 legit all-stars and I think less pressure on Abreu to by the man and also I believe Murphs numbers rise in that lineup, if you get a decent year from d’Arnaud BONUS.

      Pitching, Niese, Gee, Wheeler, that is a total of $7.5MM give arbitration to Gee. We are at $75.2MM total right now.

      See what it takes to get Lincecum, he might take a two year deal to improve his standing, if not go for Arroyo. Roughly $10MM that is a tick above boths value the last couple of years, going rate for pitching is you pay some premium. Okay that is $85.2MM, invite the slow Daisuke and Harang to battle it out in Spring as you inevitably wait on maybe Montero or a couple of others to fill out the rotation. All of this assumes Matt Harvey will not make the health grade, and honestly, betting against Matt Harvey seems foolish.

      Now, if Sandy Alderson can’t figure out how to make a case to fill out his roster and bullpen with $20MM max more to come in at a paltry $105MM with a team that will make the playoffs and sell tickets, then I give up.

      The only part of the above that falls in the you might be underselling what it takes to get it category is Stanton, but, I once heard the Mets could not get Santana, and did.

      Book it, get that and I will buy some tickets.

  13. Eric says:

    100 Million Dollars!!!! Gee Uncle Boegie…that’s sure is a Lot of money!!!! Just like them Big City Teams!!!!!!!!

  14. RAFF says:

    Boegs – I like your aggressiveness. You may find that the Mets are counting payroll differently than we are, given their bent towards counting monies they are paying to retirees as Payroll. Also, not sure if Stanton or Tulo are actually available and whether the price tag will be in line with your thinking. I think that both the Rockies and Marlins want to sell tickets this offseason, and dealing away a big star really hurts their ability to do so- So, IF these guys are ultimately available, it may occur at trade deadline. And there will be lots of other teams with prospects to spare to compete with any Mets offer. That said- you’ve made the case that IF the Mets are really committed to spending $100Mil – they can put a much improved product on the field.

    • Patrick Boegel says:

      That is all I am looking for, I am not a GM nor do I play one on TV, though I do on the blogger nets. It is possible to both spend, and spend within something resembling reason, quickly, to put a killer product on the field.

      The Mets spent $101MM on their rosters in 2005 and 2006. Those were good but inherently flawed rosters.

      The young and controlled pitchers are not going to stay either forever, so at some point, you have to pull the rip cord after jumping from the plane, not while sitting in the cockpit.

  15. Eric says:

    Hmmm…. the Troika and NO Left Fielder versus Uncle Patrick as GM WITH 8-10 million to spend on a Left Fielder…. I’ll take Patrick and the Left Fielder!

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