Mets Cutting Rookie League Team

According to Adam Rubin, the Mets are eliminating a minor league team:

The Mets will eliminate their Gulf Coast League team based in Port St. Lucie for 2012, not Kingsport. The cost-saving move still leaves the Mets will eight affiliates, including two in the Dominican Republic, which is more than most organizations, the Mets noted.

The Mets’ statement makes no mention of Kingsport’s future for 2013 and beyond. It reads: “For 2012, we will be conducting our three Rookie League teams in Kingsport, Tenn., and out of our facility in the Dominican Republic and will not operate a team in the Gulf Coast League.”

Does this mean the Mets have been lying to us?

First things first: though the GCL team was based in Port St. Lucie, it is not the Port St. Lucie team that plays in the Class A – Advanced Florida State League. Rather, it is a Rookie League team in the Gulf Coast League.

OK, that aside, let’s take a look at this move. On the one hand, it could be argued that the club was an extra, perhaps unnecessary expense — a luxury, if you will. After all, the Mets will still have — after slashing the GCL club — 6 minor league teams and 2 “developmental” clubs in the Dominican Republic. Among those six include two short-season teams (Brooklyn and Kingsport).

On the other hand, this news coincides with the report that the organization has let go a scout handling the Pacific Rim and an unidentified part-time worker at the Port St. Lucie facility. (Happy holidays!)

Further, these cost-cutting measures follow a report last month that the organization laid off nearly ten percent of its workforce.

In other words, it’s crystal-clear that the Mets are cutting costs due to financial problems, and though cutting the GCL team may have made perfect sense even if the franchise was rolling in dough, it just doesn’t look good. In fact, it looks absolutely horrible.

Actions speak louder than words, and this latest news creates the perception that the reason the Mets did not re-sign Jose Reyes and have not gone after any big-name free agents this winter has nothing to do with “future planning” but specifically due to a financial crisis. Sandy Alderson can tell us 15 different ways that the team’s recent moves are all about building the team for “long term success”, but those statements ring hollow when you see pieces of player development eliminated. You can’t say “we’re building for the future” and at the same time cut a minor league club and scouts — you simply can’t have it both ways.

What’s your thought? Does this news concern you in any way? Do you believe the Mets can trim player development resources while building for the long-term? Is it acceptable to you?

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. Mike B December 21, 2011 at 10:04 am
    “Does this mean the Mets have been lying to us?”

    No say it aint so…

    You just wait till 2015 we are gonna be the Best. And if were not? The people telling us dont care because they wont be working for the Mets.

    This reminds me of when my wife asks me to do yardwork and I tell how nice the weather is going to be next week. These guys are just buying time and its pathetic.

  2. S.S. December 21, 2011 at 10:14 am
    I’m trying to start a “#selltheteam” movement on twitter
  3. Joe December 21, 2011 at 11:21 am
    ” has nothing to do with “future planning” but specifically due to a financial crisis”

    Future planning factors in financial ability. The two are not mutually exclusive. Yes, it looks horrible. Yes, shocking I know, the team is trying to put lipstick on the pig.

    I hear, this might shock you, politicians spin the truth too. I know! Seriously, yes, the fiscal situation is troubling. It is obviously limiting the discretion of Sandy Alderson, who isn’t simply going to say “abandon all hope! don’t purchase tickets or advertising!,” but will try to put the best spin on things possible.

    This is what businesses do. Sorry, Virginia.

    • Joe Janish December 21, 2011 at 10:26 pm
      Politicians? Really? Maybe compare the Mets’ spin doctoring to herptiles, brownie mixes, styrofoam, or something similarly unrelated and irrelevant. I don’t pay money to watch politicians, I don’t buy jerseys with “Ron Paul” emblazoned on the back, and I don’t turn on the TV 162 days a year to watch a politician in action.
      • Joe December 22, 2011 at 11:40 am
        Pols get a lot of attention too, lots of daily coverage and you can get lots of memorabilia too. Ron Paul? Sure him too.
  4. wohjr December 21, 2011 at 12:05 pm
    I don’t want to preemptively step on what surely is a forthcoming post, but yes, they have been lying to us all along. $20 mil for access to MR MET! WHAT A DEAL!!!!
  5. MikeT December 21, 2011 at 12:57 pm
    More negative spin from the Mets hate machine.

    The Mets still have more minor league affiliates than 16 major league organizations. Yes, this is cost cutting, but perhaps the Mets see this as an opportunity to restructure their system and move away from high school and international rookies. These are the players we are talking about here who play in this league. Probably less than 1% of people who play in the Gulf Coast League make it to the show. Yes, you would rather have it, but what if the Mets have a plan that involves shifting away from those types because they have (gasp) information we dont that tells them to?

    Look when you down size you usually study the smartest thing to downsize first. They likely concluded the GCL Mets were redundant or the most expendable. Why are we making a big deal about this?

    • Joe Janish December 22, 2011 at 12:06 am
      Negative “spin”? Come up with one positive element of downsizing and I’ll consider this as “spin” rather than straightforward reporting.

      Rob’s comment below sums it up: if an ownership group can’t make money on Major League Baseball in NYC, then they need to get out and move on. Despite the economy, MLB is making record profits in the several billions — yet, the Mets are broke. THAT’S why this is a “big deal”.

      If Friedrich Air Conditioning Co. couldn’t turn a profit in Florida, would it be a big deal? If Sizzler couldn’t make money in a random state in middle America, would it be a big deal? Heck yes — there’s a demand for the product in the locale, with significant profit potential. Baseball is booming throughout the USA, even in some depressed markets, and the Mets can’t make money in its largest market — even with the advantage of part-ownership of the TV broadcasts?

      Yes, yes, yes — it’s a big deal. An MLB franchise in New York City downsizing and cutting costs is completely, utterly unacceptable and embarrassing.

  6. Dan B December 21, 2011 at 1:39 pm
    I have nothing against an organization making sound fiscal judgements. I have nothing against an organization planning for the future. But it worries me that all the Mets decisions could be viewed as the desperate attempts by the Wilpons to hold onto the Mets because of current financial problems while at the same time hurting the team on the field. Keeping Reyes last year? To keep up revenue. Letting Reyes go in the off season? To keep down costs. Proclaiming to be “planning on the future”? To keep revenue up. Cutting scouts and player development? To keep costs down. Where is the move, and I mean within the past 12 months, where the Mets spent money to improve for either the long term or short term future? What teams bets everything on its future prospects when its top prospects are a Double A pitcher the Giants gave up on and another coming off Tommy John surgery? And then makes cuts in its player development?
  7. Florida Met Fan Rich December 21, 2011 at 1:42 pm

    Of couse its true!

  8. Kranepool December 21, 2011 at 2:22 pm
    This just in:


    Jeff Wilpon, COO and Idiot Son, announced that the Mets have decided to dissolve their major league team and sell off the real property under Citifield. Mr. Wilpon said:

    “As an organization, we have concluded that our resources are better employed in putting together the best AAA team possible. Our goal is to play meaningful games in August. This in no way reflects on my family’s financial resources or our commitment to our fans.”

    In other news, Fernando Martinez will return to the DL, with a debilitating hamstirng injury resultign form his getting out of bed.

  9. Rob December 21, 2011 at 6:25 pm
    Mike T and Dan B make equally compelling arguments for both sides of the story. It may well be that the Mets know something about their GCL team that we don’t and that there are increasingly diminshing returns in continuing to field that affilate. However, the timing of that move appears to suggest severe financial difficulties, all designed to save money that they don’t appear to have. Which raises the question: if the Wilpons can’t afford to maintain a major league team in one of the (if not THE) largest television market in the world, why the hell does MLB allow them to continue to own this team?

    I don’t think I’m overreacting when I ask Fred and Jeff to kindly sell and move on.

    • MikeT December 22, 2011 at 12:22 pm
      That’s a good job Rob. Obviously I find it frustrating when regular teams do similar things it goes unnoticed, but the Mets, who sell papers with their drama, get blown out of proportion. The entire package with the Mets selling shares of the team (the Mr. Met and parking spot stuff) is fairly standard for teams. Don’t forget the Wilpons are the only owners who own the entirety of their team. All other owners have sold shares of their team. Yes the Wilpons have debt, but they also have options to get out of their debt. I don’t necessarily support the Wilpons (just a few years ago I tried to organize a protest outside of Shae against them… then they started winning. Point is I’d love for them to sell entirely, but I also can’t stand the media spin on every little detail of the team and feel it is largely why the team is unsuccessful… but I digress.
      • HobieLandrith December 22, 2011 at 4:51 pm
        Key detail in your comment: “regular teams”, which suggests — correctly — that the Mets are “irregular”.

        “Regular teams” aren’t going bankrupt and publicly begging for loans and investments.

        Do you think the media situation was any different in LA for the past few years in regard to the McCourts / Dodgers?

        Maybe if the Mets provided journalists with better stories to write, you wouldn’t be so frustrated with what comes out in the news.

  10. John December 21, 2011 at 6:43 pm
    Any chance this is part of a larger plan, like moving the spring training site out of Port St. Lucie?
    • Joe Janish December 21, 2011 at 10:12 pm
      Interesting question. I believe that Port St. Lucie is eager to expand the property to add a second team, which actually might be more beneficial for the Mets than leaving, assuming such an arrangement would lessen the financial burden on the Mets (i.e., via sharing costs).
  11. John D December 21, 2011 at 11:28 pm
    They’ve been in cost-cutting mode for years, at least since the Billy Wagner deal, which saved them a couple million dollars in salary but only netted a marginal major leaguer (Chris Carter) but also cost them the Braves’ first round draft pick and a sandwich pick the Red Sox received when Wagner signed with Atlanta. It’s just gotten more overt lately. The Wilpons only had enough money to own the Mets when their main business, the NY commerical real estate market, was hot. Since that market has cooled down considerably and Madoff cost them a good chunk of their net worth, they have no business owning that team.