Feb 25

Until The Product On The Field Improves, Mets Attendance Will Continue To Decline

mets fans

Josh Kosman of the NY Post is reporting that the Mets won’t have much money to play with this season and are expecting to lose more than $10 million this year as well as suffering a fifth straight year of declining attendance.

“There is little room this year to raise salaries,” said a source familiar with the team’s finances told the Post.

Last week, principal owner Fred Wilpon told reporters that the Mets’ money woes were over and suggested that he had the resources to boost payroll and sign some major free agents if that’s what Sandy Alderson chose to do.

“While attendance is expected to be down,” Kosman writes. “The team is banking on a small uptick in gate proceeds in its second season of so-called dynamic pricing, which allows ticket prices to be adjusted on the fly based on supply and demand.”

As I’ve said repeatedly and will say again, unless the product on the field improves, fans will continue to stay away. People don’t flock to ballparks and lay out a hundred bucks a game just because a team’s farm system ranks in the top ten. What matters most is wins and the players they pay to see.

As I’ve preached for the last two years, it looks like payroll will in fact be around $80 million in 2013 counting dollars that are actually being paid out. In July of 2011, many of my readers were aghast at that projection and yet here we are.

Next season, the Mets will have about $30 million in payroll commitments, give or take a few. Does anyone really expect Sandy Alderson to go out on a $70 million dollar spending spree? I don’t.

Read Kosman’s full article in the New York Post here.

Aug 25

What If Selig Treated Mets The Way He Did Dodgers?

Over a year ago the Dodgers and Mets were in deep financial distress when Commissioner Bud Selig strong armed Los Angeles owner Frank McCourt into selling the team by first taking financial control?

SELIG: What if? (AP)

He did so despite claims McCourt had worked out a regional television deal that might have eased most of the Dodgers’ problems. The Dodgers were eventually sold to a group that includes Magic Johnson, and yesterday they had the resources to pull off a blockbuster deal with the Boston Red Sox and take on over $250 million in payroll. This, after trading for Hanley Ramirez.

Obviously, the Dodgers have deep pockets. Today, while watching R.A. Dickey win his 16th game and break the Mets’ latest five-game losing streak, I couldn’t help but wonder what might be had Selig treated the Mets’ ownership of Fred Wilpon with the same tenacity he directed at the Dodgers.

If for sale, what could the Mets, with the team, SNY and Citi Field brought on the open market? If the Mets had deep pockets I wouldn’t have made the trade the Dodgers because of the players involved.

But, seemingly unrelated resources could have bought other worthy players this team needs. Just wondering.


May 16

Fred Wilpon Praises David Wright With Superstar Label

Last year, Mets owner Fred Wilpon called David Wright: ”A really good kid. A very good player. Not a superstar.”

That was when Wright was struggling and before it was learned he played a month with a small fracture in his back.

Now healthy and stroking line drives at a near .400 clip, Wilpon said this morning Wright was “playing like a superstar.”

Wilpon made his comments this morning at City Hall with the announcement the Mets would host the 2013 All-Star Game.

It is becoming more and more likely that if Wright plays in the game, he will do so representing the Mets.

The organization still faces a mountain of debt, but stung over the criticism of not making an offer to Jose Reyes – they should have just for show – losing Wright would be a serious public relations flop.



Mar 20

Wilpon needs to take Wright stance

Yesterday was a good day for the Mets. Not only did they receive a favorable settlement in the Madoff case, but completed the sale of 12 minority ownership shares at $20 million a shot for a total of $240 million.

WRIGHT: This has been a frustrating time for Wright.

The Mets claim to have lost $70 million last season, and the new money will pay off loans to Major League Baseball ($25 million) and Bank of American ($40 million). They should be able to sustain their operating expenses for this season.

The Mets have a three-year break before they required to pay any of the $162 million from the settlement, so there is some sense of relief in clarity as they attempt to budget until that time.

What then?

Continue reading

Mar 19

Settlement favors Mets. Will it change things?

Whenever a mediator – in this case New York Gov. Mario Cuomo – brokers a settlement between two warring parties, despite the agreement and presumption of peace, there is a winner.

Cuomo said, “nobody gets everything they want in a settlement,’’ but the Wilpons got what they needed in Irving Picard’s “Battle for the Mets.’’

Sure, Fred Wilpon wanted to come away unscathed, but in the end the settlement was kind to him and the Mets. Wilpon gets to keep his team and could be on the hook for just $162 million, far more palatable than the initial $1 billion lawsuit, and later the $380 million ceiling ruled by Judge Jed S. Rakoff.

Picard saw earlier decisions going toward Wilpon; the Mets saw a long and costly trial.

“The closer you get to trial the closer you get to the reality of trial,’’ Cuomo said.

The reality of it is Wilpon could owe less than $162 because the settlement allows him to go after the $178 million they claim to have lost in Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scandal.

Of the $178 million, Picard has already recovered $10 million. So, in essence Wilpon and Picard have formed an odd partnership.

On top of a shrinking settlement, the Mets don’t have to pay anything for three years. While this settlement eases the financial burden on the Mets and possibly offers more a sense of economic clarity, it doesn’t assure the Mets a climate of  “normalcy,’’ as suggested by Cuomo.

Since Carlos Beltran took that curveball from Adam Wainwright to end the 2006 NLCS, normalcy for the Mets has been blown division leads in 2007 and 2008, a shoddy bullpen, a string of injuries, a line of incomprehensible and suffocating contracts, two managerial changes, a front office overhaul and a slashed payroll of $50 million.

The Mets’ austerity forced the trading of Beltran and closer Francisco Rodriguez, and free-agent departure of Jose Reyes. It could also lead to trading David Wright.

What happened Monday was a victory for Wilpon, but it doesn’t immediately change the state of his team of the field. The Mets are projected to finish last in the National League East in their fourth straight losing season.

That is what normalcy has been recently for the Mets and that isn’t about to change. The three-year relief from making payments is likely to be the same window before the team becomes baseball relevant again.

This was a stressful and expensive ordeal for Wilpon, who saw the very real possibility of losing his team. This settlement gives him a second chance. Hopefully, he’ll make the most of it.