Mets Governed by Finances

The recent report by Bob Klapisch and Steve Popper that Johan Santana could miss the season was immediately and vehemently dismissed as poppycock by the Mets and Johan himself.

This latest situation is just another example of how desperate the financial situation is for the Mets — to the point where it could result in irresponsible decisions. I get that the team needs to spin the news and make everything positive — they have little choice. But if they actually follow through and push Santana onto the mound in July, it’s likely not because he’s ready and not because it’s best for his recovery — most likely, it’s because it will be best for increasing the team’s revenues.

I wrote more thoroughly on this topic, while also addressing the similar issue of pushing Carlos Beltran onto the field and the contrasting story of keeping Francisco Rodriguez OFF of it, in a column at the ESPN SweetSpot today; feel free to read it and provide your comments, either there or back here.

Mets Ruled by Finances

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. John March 16, 2011 at 10:46 pm
    I disagree, to a point with your assessment. There is no question that finances will play a huge role in the decisions this team makes. But I don’t think the Santana situation will be dictated by them because they have too much invested over the next several years.
    I think they are spinning his progress to show they are not giving up on the season. If July comes and they are in contention then they will probably string it along assuming he will not be ready.
    If they are done by July, then they will just say they will be prudent and shut him down.
    Beltran is a different story, They have no investment after this year and are probably hoping they can get him out there so they can shop him in June. Beltran will push himself so that he can prove that someone should sign him this winter.
    So while I agree with your bigger premise, i don’t think they will do anything stupid with Santana because they can’t afford to not have him the remainder of the contract.
    • Mike March 17, 2011 at 9:08 am
      Seriously: every decision, every mundane detail of a team, every comment made by someone on the team about a possible future decision, and every comment made by someone on the team that has nothing to do with anything pertinent to the team will be and is scrutinized and dissected to its greater meaning and astrological relevance.

      Joe, you may have something here, but I’m at the point of no longer caring. Tell me when things actually happen. I think I prefer Captain Hindsight to Super Prognosticator Man any day. At least Captain Hindsight gives something of value (the prospect of learning from past mistakes) whereas Super Prognosticator Man is nothing but self fulfilling prophecies and confirmation bias. Is this what journalism is now? “Hey here’s an idea: what about the Mets move Ike Davis to right field and play Murphy at first base?” There’s no basis for this, and yet it appears in some newspaper. Or: “Mark Cuban should buy the Mets” and then every other paper and blog spins this until it is considered a legit rumor. I really can’t fault a blogger because that is what blogging is all about, but it’s disturbing that it has seeped into supposedly legit journalism and it has made me sick and tired of speculation.

      Being in the front office of the Mets is the hardest job in sports. It turned a smart baseball man and good guy Omar Minaya into a fragile and stupid decision maker, and probably knocked a few years off his life.

      *end rant*

      • Joe Janish March 17, 2011 at 11:45 pm
        Mike, I think there are a few things motivating this type of behavior by bloggers (such as myself) and “traditional” journalists.

        First, it’s spring training, which by nature is all about prognostication. There isn’t anything to discuss other than what might happen come Opening Day (and beyond).

        Second, there is the fantasy baseball angle to consider. Fantasy sports are a multi-million (or billion?) -dollar industry, and the people who play want to get an edge / idea on what may happen in the future. The sources who are consistently “right” about predicting what will happen will be trusted and visited by that crowd going forward, because they provide a value to that audience.

        Third, real news is old the minute it is published on the web. How many times do people want to read, “Dan Murphy went 2-for-4 as the Mets won” ? With all the various outlets vying for attention, the content creators have to come up with something intriguing that differentiates themselves from other outlets.

        Finally, I’d like to point out that this blog is not all about prognostication — though I do admit to it being a common component of the content. I’ve written plenty of straight observation / commentary and also historical pieces; much of the prognostication I write is in regard to mechanical flaws — and the reason for that is to teach parents, coaches, and kids that the MLBers don’t necessarily do everything “right”, and therefore many of their styles should not be emulated.

        • Mike March 18, 2011 at 11:20 am
          I don’t think you are part of the problem Joe, I’m just sick of non-stories being blown up by bored media people. I have the right to ignore it all, but I just don’t think it helps the team when 80 different people with a varying audience constantly criticize every little move the team makes. I don’t see why anyone would think that it is good for the team and its fans. When you point out the mechanical flaw of John Maine and say why he won’t be healthy and successful again, you are giving analysis, not blindly prognosticating. Over time though it blurs together and the legit rumors and stories are obscured by the drudge pulled up by idiots with press passes.
    • Joe Janish March 17, 2011 at 1:27 pm
      John, I agree with you on Beltran. I hope you are right about Santana. What concerns me is if the Mets think they’re “in the race” come June/July and Santana is rushed back to show the fans that there is still a reason to visit Citi Field in the late summer — because he’ll be “the final piece”.

      Maybe Johan Santana has a different physiological structure than mortal men and can come back from reconstructive shoulder surgery in 9-10 months. If he doesn’t, it will take a minor miracle and the luck of the Irish for him to return this season and not suffer a major setback.

      • John March 17, 2011 at 2:38 pm
        Don’t get me wrong. I think the odds are very slim that Santana pitches this year. I just think that it makes sense to be in “denial” now. That way it doesn’t appear that they have given up in April. If July comes and they are out of it, no one will criticize them for shutting him down. If they are still in it, then they will still be selling tickets and won’t need Santana for business reasons at that point.
        It just doesn’t make sense to say he is shut down now and risk the wrath of fans early in the season.
  2. argonbunnies March 17, 2011 at 11:40 am
    Off-topic, but gotta rant somewhere where people think about this stuff:

    If there are a limited number of 2B innings and ABs to go around, why are we wasting any of them on guys who aren’t actually options there?

    Luis Hernandez has never hit well in his minor league career; it doesn’t matter how good a defender he is, he’s a .600 OPS guy… and we already have a slick fielder with a questionable (though better) bat in Hu!

    Justin Turner may be the best option, but it’s not likely, and it won’t cost us anything to stash him in AAA while we check out Emaus or whoever. Turner simply won’t be our starting 2B.

    Finally, there’s Castillo. It’s a little more likely that he’s our best 2B option. But what are the odds of him helping in 2012? 0% And what are the chances of us finding a 2012 2B in 2011 if we give Castillo the job? Also 0%. Let’s give ourselves a chance to find something in an unknown quantity. If Emaus and Murphy can hit and need to learn 2B on the job, that’s as good a use of 2011 as any.

    Plus, Castillo’s a negativity funnel for media and fans; having him gone will be a relief. How does Collins and everyone else forget that he was GREAT after the dropped pop-up? He manned up, played hard, and had a .400+ OBP for the rest of 2009. But all that anyone remembers is the bad stuff. I think he’s just cursed with a sullen-looking face. Anyway…

    Alderson should have demoted Turner and waived Hernandez on Monday if not earlier. No-brainers. (Castillo is trickier.) Instead he’s letting a manager who was hired to be more fiery than brilliant influence personnel decisions. Gah!

    If this team is really going to have the Smart Exec stamp on it, give Collins a reality check. Terry, your job is to evaluate how much 2B playing time you want to give to Hu, Emaus and Murphy. No, there is no “utility infielder” job for Murphy; Wright, Reyes and Davis will be playing every single day. If you’re looking for a spot for Murphy other than 2B, get him in the OF ASAP. Despite a few horrific moments out there, he really wasn’t awful overall, and may have more range than Duda.

    Finally, what’s the logic of having Hu and Willie Harris both on the roster? If Harris is more valuable overall, then spending a roster spot just in case Reyes gets hurt is ridiculous — that’s what AAA is for. If Hu’s glove and hitting potential are better, let Willie go. It’s not like Hairston can’t play the OF. I mean, I’d love to root for Harris, he seems cool, but he’s not much of a hitter and we’ve only got so much room for defensive specialists. We’re already sacrificing future potential (Nick Evans) for current results (Hairston) in one spot; we can’t afford to do that on multiple counts.

    Some of this could be solved by carrying one fewer reliever, but we’ve got the same crunch there as with Emaus and Hu — if we don’t find space for Misch, Izzy, Beato and Acosta, we lose ’em.