Mets Fire SVP of Ticket Sales

leigh-castergine

Terry Collins is not held accountable for the Mets’ losing record.

Sandy Alderson is not held accountable for four consecutive losing seasons.

However, Leigh Castergine is held accountable for subpar ticket sales.

Go figure.

According to New York Post writer Fred Kerber:

Fans weren’t paying at the box office so a Mets executive paid with her job.

With only the Diamondbacks and Marlins selling fewer tickets in the National League than the Mets, the team has fired Leigh Castergine, senior vice president, ticket sales and services who had been with the team since 2010.

“Leigh Castergine, Senior Vice President of Ticket Sales & Services, is no longer with the organization. Although no replacement has been named yet, we have a talented staff in place to handle all ticket related business while we embark on a national search for this role,” the team said Sunday in a statement to The Post.

Entering Sunday, the Mets had averaged 26,631 per home game, surpassing only Arizona (25,088) and Miami (21,484) in the National League. Seven American League clubs had averaged less.

Clearly, there is a stark difference between PAID attendance and ACTUAL attendance. There’s no way the Mets are averaging over 26,000 people walking through their turnstiles. I’d be surprised to learn that the true average is over 20,000. But that aside …

I have no idea why Leigh Castergine was fired. It may have nothing at all to do with ticket sales. Maybe the Mets simply wanted “to go another direction” — a phrase used by Jeff Lunhow when announcing the firing of Astros manager Bo Porter.

If indeed the firing was performance-related, it would seem unfair. How is someone expected to sell a minor-league product to people expecting Major League quality? And at Major League prices, no less?

In typical Mets fashion, the news was announced during a long holiday weekend, in the hopes it would get lost under a pile of news by the time people were paying attention again. The strategy seems to have worked, because no one other than Kerber and Adam Rubin have made mention of it.

Why aren’t any of the Mets beat writers touching this story? OK, maybe they don’t want to go there — it’s a sensitive subject. So where are the other guys, who feed on this stuff? (I’m looking at YOU, Craig, Jeff, and Joel — is there really THAT much to discuss regarding Bo Porter, preseason football, and the U.S. Open? Surely something this salacious is worth a little digging.)

For what it’s worth, there’s a petition to re-hire Castergine. It reads thusly:

The New York Mets, who have played under .500 ball for the past 6 years have fired the Vice President of Tickets Sales and Services. Leigh Castergine held the position since 2010. The men responsible for the debacle of a team on the field have been held harmless for poor fan attendence. This includes General Manager Sandy Alderson, Field Manager Terry Collins and team owner Fred Wilpon.

As a Met fan since 1962 I find the team’s ineptitude frustrating but I find blaming the VP for ticket sales for a lack of attendance appalling. The focus needs to be on the on-field product.

Rehire Leigh Castergine. She did not hit .140 for the month of August.

Again, I have no idea why exactly Castergine was let go, but it IS curious, isn’t it? I just want to know why this is being dismissed as a non-story. It’s not ALWAYS the salesperson’s fault when a product doesn’t sell — sometimes the blame needs to be shared by the creators and managers of the product.

Your thoughts are eagerly awaited in the comments.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. norme September 3, 2014 at 8:34 am
    Another example of gross ineptitude.
    People who actually buy tickets to Mets games are enabling this minor league operation.
  2. friend September 3, 2014 at 9:56 am
    In order to analyze this properly, it would be necessary for us to have access to the highly secretive statistic for “Tickets Above Replacement” (TAR), which adjusts for all of the factors mentioned above.
    • Joe Janish September 3, 2014 at 9:59 am
      Is TAR more reliable than VORT (Value Over Replacement Ticket)? I think we have a large enough sample size, going back to 2010.
      • friend September 3, 2014 at 10:32 am
        Sigh, and just when I had such high hopes for my Fantasy Ticket Sales Team.
  3. Yeats September 3, 2014 at 10:25 am
    Maybe the Mehts players will wear a patch…
  4. meticated September 3, 2014 at 10:40 am
    Joe…In all due respect, you’re becoming a little edgy..totally understandable given your commitment to this blog and valiantly retaining your perspective throughout an agonizingly long season, preceded by painfully similar seasons. It’s got to be demanding to remain devoted amidst such chaos and ineptitude. We share your frustrations obviously. It doesn’t go unnoticed nor unappreciated that you sacrifice time and effort and money to this forum. Why not cracked open a Bordeaux and kick back a bit. Tell us a funny story or anecdotes about baseball. G-d knows we could use the laughter. Next year will be a blessed relief and I don’t just mean the bullpen!
    • Joe Janish September 5, 2014 at 10:52 am
      Is a “little edgy” good or bad?

      I’m thinking of re-posting “throwback” posts from previous years, when I had my “A game.” The annual ineptitude in Flushing has sucked all the energy and creativity out of me.

      What do you mean by “blessed relief”? Is Mark Cuban or Steven Cohen buying the Mets? Or are you regurgitating the “wait till next year!” Kool-Aid?

  5. DanB September 3, 2014 at 2:24 pm
    It was not the firing of a Met official that caught my eye — we don’t know the inner workings and reasoning. It was the comment that the Mets didn’t have a replacement and her responsibilities “for now” will be absorbed inhouse. It seems every time someone is let go, this happens. The Mets seem to be downsizing their operations, not investing in it. When people criticize the Wilpon’s capitolization of the Mets, it is not only their payroll. They seem to have cut costs everywhere, including their much promoted farm system.
    • Joe Janish September 3, 2014 at 2:35 pm
      Good point, Dan, and something I hadn’t considered. Maybe the Mets have deemed that there isn’t any point in a SVP of ticket sales if they can’t sell any tickets!

      Again, though, where the heck are the beat writers? Why is NO ONE sniffing around this situation and getting a story? Is it because all the professionals want to work for MLB? Or they all aspire to lobby the Mets?

      I don’t listen to WFAN very often, but curious if Mike Francesa has discussed this. Anyone know?

      • Dan42 September 4, 2014 at 3:08 pm
        Could be she had ideas that could break the bank, considering this.

        “With the guidance of our senior management and approval from ownership at the Mets, we are looking to take the next steps and invest in business analytics/business intelligence tools and systems to help us work smarter in addition to working harder.”

        https://www.alsd.com/content/conversation-leigh-castergine

        • Joe Janish September 5, 2014 at 10:57 am
          Hmmm … OR … maybe those tools were so efficient they made her job irrelevant.

          Kind of like how the Mets fired half of their MLB scouts after getting a video feed solution that is monitored by one guy in an office.

  6. DanB September 3, 2014 at 5:08 pm
    I think the NY writers and radio commentators have done a horrible job covering the Mets finances. The business side to the Mets have had more effect on wins and losses then any draft pick or trade the Mets have done. But I understand that fans don’t root for an owner and don’t care about capitalization, loan specifics, and business plans. I also understand that sport writers don’t have business degrees. Still considering the cause and affect of it, they should keep us informed.
    By the way, did you notice that Oakland and KC both have lower attendance then the Mets? Makes you question the small market approach from a business point of view.
  7. argonbunnies September 3, 2014 at 5:11 pm
    The first time a Mets fan brought up boycotting games to send a message to ownership, I didn’t see the point. You don’t need to organize in order to keep attendance down — a bad team will achieve that all by itself. As Alderson continued to make short-sighted moves based on false contention, and deliver the Wilpon’s mandate that payroll not increase until attendance does, I kept thinking to myself, “He doesn’t get it. We don’t want a team that can have a hot month and get to .500. We want a team that is good every month and can make the playoffs. Sooner or later this moron will stop these futile attempts at spin.”

    But then a funny thing happened after the All-Star break.

    First, the Mets went on a brief hot streak. Several of their young guns were performing well — d’Arnaud, de Grom and Wheeler. Duda was also on the upswing. Familia and Mejia were holding leads. Nice to see, but definitely too little too late for 2014 contention, and not a real change to the 73-win talent level of the roster. Some guys get hot, others go cold, and then it switches. Whatever.

    Second, attendance picked up. That’s the funny part. Or maybe not so funny. Maybe seeing 30,000+ in Citi Field made the Wilpons happy. Maybe it allowed them to think they’re doing it right. Maybe, like these fans who showed up, they read too much into it, and believed Alderson’s baseless optimism about the viability of winning without spending.

    At the end of this season, the Mets will be in a very similar position to where they were at the end of 2012. All the roster roles are the same, it’s only the names that have changed. I am so sick of this. Send me a boycott petition, I’ll sign it.

    • DanB September 3, 2014 at 6:45 pm
      Argon, welcome to the clubhouse, we have been expecting you. At first you will feel a sensation of bitterness and depression. But as you accept your status as a bitter Met fan, you will find a sense of calm as you learn to deal with it. Then you realize that there is still satisfaction in watching baseball, even if it involves watching other clubs get better and win while the Mets hover in the 75 win zone. Take comfort in something I was taught in college… eventually all bad businessmen are forced out. Someone will see the unfullfilled potential of a big market baseball team and give the Wilpons an offer they can’t turn down. Knowing commercial real estate is not the same as knowing baseball. And as Fred becomes less involved and Jeff takes more control, this will become increasingly obvious.
      • DaveSchneck September 3, 2014 at 9:26 pm
        Hi,
        My name is Dave and I am a recovering Met fan. Not to make light of addiction, but clearly from a Met-baseball perspective, we are all addicts to some degree. I am not enraged, but have yet to experience the calm that Dan refers to. While I agree that eventually the bad businessman will be weeded out, I fear that with the old boy’s club monopoly that MJB is, many of us won’t live to see it.

        Without knowing the employment details, this terminate looks peculiar from the outside. From my POV, this VP was entitled to a raise, assuming those figures in the article are correct. She has managed so far to maintain paid attendance headcount in a season that the Mets do not have the ASG to hold hostage some customers, no Matt Harvey, the face of the franchise doing his best Jason Bay impression, and virtually every oss-season FA signing being a total bust (yes, the $11 mil due Colon in 2015 and inability to deal him combined with the losing 2014 record make that signing a bust. This woman has worked magic by retaining that many addicts, I mean paid customers.

        However, I can’t take those numbers seriously. Only the Mets know actual ticket units sold. The fans at the park for any given day are no more that 60% of the announced paid attendance. Additionally, this year and last, the Mets have had many “specials” that inflate the paid attendance…the 2/$28 Murphy All-star special, the 4/$48 deGrom day special, the buy one ticket bring 2 kids for free. I would bet my house that revenues from ticket sales, the only number that matters, are down again this year.

        So much damage has been done that this team not only needs to win t reverse the trend, it needs to win with a new star or stars in the mix. Harvey, should he return as he was will help, but they also need an offensive player that will excite the fan base while scaring opposing pitchers. It is hard to hold the VP for ticket sales accountable for that void in the line up.

    • Joe Janish September 5, 2014 at 10:59 am
      Did attendance pick up because the Mets were more interesting, or because school was out? And were more seats filled because people were buying those tickets at full price, or because they were getting them for next to nothing through the secondary market? And because the Mets were giving away tickets to any summer camp that would take them?
  8. Bat September 4, 2014 at 11:22 am
    I have been intending to comment on this post since yesterday, and once I went to do so it appears DanB said something similar to what I was going to write.

    Look, it’s impossible to say that this woman was fired because the team hasn’t drawn more fans. Without in any way trying to besmirch an individual’s character or employment history and solely saying this for purposes of debate, we have no idea whether she was fired because, inter alia, (1) she was engaged in an inappropriate, Steve Phillips-type relationship with a colleague; (2) she was generally insubordinate or unresponsive to her superiors; (3) she had a substance abuse problem; (4) she took an excessive number of sick days or was constantly tardy; or (5) she didn’t generate enough ticket sales.

    Absolutely no way of telling whether the answer to this (1) through (4) rather than (5) and further there is dozens of other reasons she could have been fired besides (5) in addition to (1) through (4).

    At the end of the day we are analyzing a business from the outside without little to no inside information so we need to be careful about extrapolating too much. Indeed, this is reminiscent of Joe’s recent claim that the Mets overemphasize analytics verus in-person scouting when he has no data to support this assertion.

    Maybe she was fired because the team didn’t drawn enough fans, but then again equally possible she was fired for some other reason. In my mind the Wilpons largely get a pass from mainstream media even though they are among the worst owners in sports, but that being said you can’t indict people on something like this when there is no evidence which says she was fired due to the team’s attendance.

    • Joe Janish September 5, 2014 at 12:02 pm
      Bat, thanks for weighing in.

      As I mentioned, what bugs me more than the firing is the fact that NO ONE is touching this story. For a week solid all the beat writers and pundits were all over Daniel Murphy for taking of a few days to be a dad, but this potentially explosive story gets two sentences buried as an afterthought in a Sunday column in one newspaper? Where the heck are the “investigative” journalists?

      As for this: ” Indeed, this is reminiscent of Joe’s recent claim that the Mets overemphasize analytics verus in-person scouting when he has no data to support this assertion.”

      It’s not my claim. From the day Alderson brought in DePodesta and Ricciardi it has been continuously and consistently reported by various sources in dozens of stories about one subject or another that the team uses advanced metrics in evaluating performance. And it’s a fact that the Mets began using video fed to a Citi Field office to replace in-person pro scouts. I don’t know what “data” I’m supposed to provide to support these published stories.

  9. Bat September 10, 2014 at 11:04 am
    Joe, you are misstating your initial allegation and my response to that initial allegation. You wrote in the original post that the Alderson regime favors statistics over scouting and I said you have no evidence of that fact.

    You then write this above:

    From the day Alderson brought in DePodesta and Ricciardi it has been continuously and consistently reported by various sources in dozens of stories about one subject or another that the team uses advanced metrics in evaluating performance.

    In respect of this most recent bizarre statement, no one doubts they use advanced metrics. Guess what? Every single team in the majors now uses advanced metrics. Every. single. team. Your allegation was something totally different: that the Mets over-emphasize statistics vis-a-vis scouting, which is something totally different than what you just wrote above. It is obvious that the Mets use advanced metrics; it is not obvious or even remotely apparent that they ignore scouting in favor of statistics, which is something you previously claimed.

    • Joe Janish September 10, 2014 at 11:40 am
      Bizarre statement? This entire conversation is bizarre. I don’t know how to respond.

      What is the motivation for this conversation? Are you looking to call me out on something? Do you want me to change my opinion?

      And I’m feeling really uncomfortable about you using words like “allegation” and “indict” — I feel like I’m on trial. This is a blog about baseball, it shouldn’t feel that serious. Most of what I post here is opinion thrown up for discussion. It’s rarely hard news or investigative journalism. And further, in this specific post I believe I’m clear in expressing that I don’t know the facts behind the firing — my issue is, AGAIN, about why someone who is paid to be an investigative journalist hasn’t produced / published an article on this news. That said I’m completely befuddled as to how this story being treated as a non-story by the usually sensational New York tabloids is in any way relevant to my “unsupported” opinion that the Mets over-emphasize analytics.

  10. Bat September 10, 2014 at 2:55 pm
    The issue Joe is that you frequently say things that don’t make sense like this strange claim that the Mets overemphasize stats vs. scouting (no basis in fact), and then go back later and say that you didn’t say that and you say that the team”uses advanced metrics”, which is indeed bizarre because all teams use advanced metrics to varying degrees.

    Some teams, like the Jeff Luhnow-led Astros, heavily employ advanced metrics while others like the Jim Hendry-led Cubs utilize such metrics infrequently. But the teams in the latter category seem to be declining and again everyone is using the advanced metrics to varying degrees.

    Anyway, this conversation is tiresome. I think your readers see that you are often ripping the Mets unnecessarily: while some criticism of the Mets is very much warranted like the Wilpons’ budget or Jeff Wilpon’s statement that expenditure on payroll will increase when more fans attend games (he has the chicken-and-egg scenario backwards there) some of your criticisms like “the Mets overemphasize advanced metrics” or later “the team uses advanced stats” (?) are misplaced and your readers likely take these overly negative comments with a grain of salt.

    Let’s move on.

  11. Bat September 11, 2014 at 11:33 am
    Uh no Joe – stick to baseball.

    Legal fees and settlement are not going to cost “at a minimum” $18 to $20 million dollars, which is what Colon and Murphy will cost in 2015.

    Nothing has been proven in a court of law and if discrimination is proven in this case the legal fees plus settlement will not cost “at a minimum” $18 to $20 million in a New York jurisdiction case like this.