Feb 17

Jeff Wilpon Defends Mets’ Financial Plan

Jeff Wilpon, New York Mets chief operating officer, addressed several financial issues with MLB.com as the club opened spring training.

The Mets’ projected payroll for this season is to be shy of $95 million, but Wilpon said it isn’t necessary to have a Yankees-like payroll to compete.

WILPON: Defending plan.

WILPON: Defending plan.

“I would point to the fact that you don’t have to have that kind of payroll to win,’’ Wilpon said of the $140-million plus payrolls the Mets had prior to bringing in Sandy Alderson as general manager.

Alderson’s first objective was to clear the books of the unproductive salaries of Oliver Perez, Luis Castillo, Francisco Rodriguez, Jason Bay and Johan Santana, all brought in under former general manager Omar Minaya. Alderson also traded Carlos Beltran for Zack Wheeler.

The Mets’ payrolls the past five seasons, all of which they finished below .500 were: $149.4 million (2009); $126.5 million (2010); $143 million (2011); $96 million (2012); and $94 million (2013). The Mets currently have $75 million earmarked for 12 players this season. Barring a surprise signing, they won’t break $100 million. That’s a reflection of Alderson.

“I think he’s put the plan in place, and we’re ready to see the fruits of that labor now,’’ Wilpon said.

The Mets were more active this winter than the past two, and at best are expected to challenge to be a .500 team. Even had they signed shortstop Stephen Drew as most Mets fans want the organization to do, it’s questionable how much better he’d make them.

Another free-agent the Mets passed on was outfielder Nelson Cruz. Alderson wasn’t interested in either, despite a need in those areas.

“If those one or two things were there, we would have expanded the budget for them,’’ Wilpon said. “Just to get a guy because the fans think that’s the right thing to do, that’s not part of the plan.

“Sandy’s not going to overspend for something he doesn’t see value in. The value that we see in those guys versus what their agents were asking for does not meet.’’

The Mets aren’t the only ones thinking that way as both Drew and Cruz remain unsigned.

The Mets are stockpiling young pitching, but have little position-player chips. Wilpon believes that’s their biggest weakness.

“I don’t think we have enough position-player prospects that are ready to compete for jobs at the major-league level right now,’’ Wilpon said. “We’d like to have more, like we have with the pitchers. We’d like to have that same stable of young guys competing for position-player jobs. The guys we have are a couple years away.’’

While Wilpon said it isn’t necessary to have a monster payroll to win, the Mets haven’t won with their $90 million payrolls the past two seasons, either.

The Mets did spend more this year, bringing in Curtis Granderson, Bartolo Colon and Chris Young, but counter those additions with the loss of Matt Harvey and several questions in other areas and what defines a successful season remains unknown.

One thing for certain, it isn’t anything less than a winning record.

ON DECK:  Matt Harvey faces frustrating summer.

Feb 17

A Look At A Spring Training Day; On Tap For Today

The New York Mets are holding their first workouts of spring training today and could be coming off the field shortly. After all, with just pitchers and catchers, there’s not much you can do.

The pitchers are divided into two groups, with one throwing today and another tomorrow. There could be a few pitching fielding drills, but not much else, certainly not throwing to hitters.

The position players in camp will be throwing outside, but full-scale fielding drills won’t take place until later in the week. The Mets have enclosed batting cages and are hitting off tees and pitching machines. There could be batting practice from coaches, but not off any of the other pitchers.

While most position players on the major league level are already in camp, they don’t have to be in Port St. Lucie until Feb. 20, with physicals the following day.

The first full-squad workouts won’t take place until next weekend and the exhibition schedule starts Feb. 28. Until then, the days begin early with meetings, fielding drills – including pitchers – base running drills, and plenty of batting practice.

The days break up in the early afternoon, with the players spending time on the golf course or with their families.

A spring training camp is highly organized, with every player knowing where he’s supposed to be at any of the Mets’ over half-dozen fields.

Today I’ll have the following:

* Mets Chief Operating Officer Jeff Wilpon from a MLB.com report on several of the club’s key financial issues.

* Matt Harvey finally acknowledging he won’t pitch this year.

* Curtis Granderson on what he brings to the Mets.

* A wrap of today’s events.

 

Dec 13

The Times, They Are A Changin’

jeff wilpon winter meetings

Mike Vaccaro of the New York Post

Maybe this really is a sign the Mets are back in the business of brandishing, pairing the Colon signing with Curtis Granderson and seemingly stating, for the first time in forever, Madoff’s $50 billion lie finally has stopped chiseling away at their finances and their foundation. The Wilpons and the Katz’s have been steadfast in their argument that Madoff didn’t kill their baseball team as much as you would believe, but the counter evidence of what has become of the Mets these last five years is compelling.

Remember, before Dec. 12, 2008, the Mets had taken on several varsity-level contracts — Carlos Delgado, Carlos Beltran, Pedro Martinez, Johan Santana, Billy Wagner, even Paul Lo Duca — and bought out the arbitration of their young stars, Jose Reyes and David Wright. The spending didn’t yield a title. But it did produce the best three-year stretch in franchise history, and puts a lie to the theory that whenever the Mets spend money, it winds up in flames. Before Dec. 12, 2008, the Mets had learned to behave like the Yankees — and had learned to like it, truth be told.

Bob Klapisch of The Record

But Jeff Wilpon had a rough day in several of the local newspapers Wednesday, including The Record, as he was challenged to do more after signing Curtis Granderson, and not to punt on the 2014 season. By mid afternoon, the Mets decided to yield to Colon’s demand for a second year. Just like that, the team had its temporary replacement for Matt Harvey.

Of course, Colon is not Harvey; that’s an understatement. And we’ll never know for sure whether the stinging criticism had anything to do with Wilpon’s sudden willingness to stretch the budget. But Mets fans shouldn’t be concerned about the particulars, because Colon is a legitimate front-of-the-rotation presence, despite his risks.

David Lennon of Newsday

The Mets just changed the conversation.

It took close to $90 million, and yesterday’s sizable risk in the extra-large Bartolo Colon. But for the time being, we’re done ripping the Mets for not reaching into their pockets to improve the team. The Mets were the only team to go to four years for Granderson, and with Colon now on board, it’s probably safe to say that no other club was willing to do two. But that’s what we ultimately needed to see from the Wilpons — some signs that they weren’t mailing in 2014 because of the injury to Harvey.

At least the Mets are making us feel like they are back in business. Rather than just hearing about blueprints and a multiyear rebuilding plan, we’re seeing the actual remodeling effort going on, with the addition of impact players who should make a difference right away — not five years from now. Spending money isn’t the answer to everything. But it does stop all the chatter about not having any. For the Mets, that has value.

Thoughts from Joe D.

I beat the Wilpons up all the time, actually I kill them all the time… But to be fair, they are giving Sandy Alderson the opportunity to spend and transform the roster this offseason. Sandy is getting a chance to buy and not just sell. Vaccaro, Lennon and Klapisch do a nice job of conveying that. The Mets do seem to be back in business and regardless of what you think of the moves, just be happy that we can make moves like this again. LGM

Presented By Diehards

Dec 11

Wilpon Says Alderson Doesn’t Have Financial Shackles

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – As the Winter Meetings draw to a close, if Sandy Alderson wants to make a move, New York Mets chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon said resources aren’t stopping him.

That includes pitcher Bronson Arroyo and shortstop Stephen Drew, both of whom have been linked to the Mets since the free agent period began.

The Mets are in desperate need of a starter, but Arroyo is close to signing with Minnesota. They also began the offseason saying upgrading shortstop was a priority, but yesterday Terry Collins said Ruben Tejada is his shortstop.

Speaking specifically to Drew, Wilpon said: “Right now it’s a baseball decision, because Sandy hasn’t come to say, ‘Gee, we have to go sign Stephen Drew,’ or anybody else for that matter.

“I haven’t heard him say that that’s the best thing to do with our resources. He hasn’t come to me and said, ‘Gee, if we had X, we would go take somebody like that.’ So there’s still discussion on who we’re looking at in a trade scenario and what else might be out there.’’

Boston gave Drew a $14.1 million qualifying offer for arbitration, and now wants to retain him. Boston’s plan appears to wait out the market before intensifying talks with Drew. Given that scenario, the Mets aren’t going to get in a bidding war for Drew, regardless of how much Wilpon said Alderson can spend.

The Mets do not want to trade any of their young pitching, and their current trade chips on the major league level continue to be first baseman Ike Davis and second baseman Daniel Murphy.

Davis is hard to deal because teams in need of a first baseman are considering free-agent options before looking to trade.

Reportedly, the Orioles have an interest in both Davis and Murphy, but nothing is close with either.

Your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to respond. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

Dec 10

Wilpon: Matt Harvey Injury Impacted Mets’ Offseason Approach

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – New York Mets chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon conceded this afternoon what we’ve known for months: Matt Harvey’s elbow injury greatly impacted the team’s offseason plans.

For one thing, the Mets would only need one pitcher and not two at the back end of their rotation.

WILPON: Harvey's injury had impact.

WILPON: Harvey’s injury had impact.

“Matt getting hurt has taken away unquestionably a guy who looked like he was going to be our ace,’’ Wilpon said. “It changes things a little bit. We don’t need an extra pitcher if Matt is the guy there. And you might use the resources elsewhere.’’

Since Sandy Alderson became general manager, the plan was to compete in 2014 when the contracts for Johan Santana and Jason Bay came off the books. Now, the talk is for 2015 when Harvey is back from Tommy John surgery.

“I don’t have an answer. You’d like to say no,’’ Wilpon said when asked if the Mets tempered expectations with Harvey gone. “But if he was going to be out there for 200 innings, you’d think the results would be pretty good. Taking away those 200 innings is definitely an issue.’’

Wilpon said Anderson isn’t restrained by finances, but the Mets haven’t moved on Bronson Arroyo, who has been an effective innings eater for years. Reportedly, Arroyo is close to signing with Minnesota. Bringing in Arroyo or Paul Maholm aren’t current options. However, re-signing Jeremy Hefner is, although he won’t pitch in 2014 as he’s recovering from Tommy John surgery.

Alderson said the Mets would be interested in talking to Johan Santana, who just got a $5.5 million buyout from the team. Santana is throwing off flat ground at 150 feet, so he’s nowhere close to being an option. There are a half-dozen teams interested in talking to Santana when he’s ready. Of course, Santana won’t give the Mets any kind of discount. Don’t be surprised if Santana ends up where he started, which is Minnesota.

As for a fourth starter, there’s a disconnect between Terry Collins and Alderson on Jenrry Mejia. Today Collins said Mejia should be ready for spring training, but yesterday Alderson indicated he might not be ready until after the season started.

The Mets are reluctant to open the season with one of their young pitchers in the rotation, but Collins said: “Somebody has to win Rookie of the Year. Why not one of our guys?’’

Your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to respond. Follow me on Twitter @jdelcos