Tag: david howard

Wilpon, Minaya, Howard Explain Your Pain

In case you missed it yesterday, Mike Francesa hosted Jeff Wilpon, Omar Minaya, and David Howard on his WFAN show. Francesa joked that Howard’s presence was “to be a filibuster”. In truth, it was because he is “the guy” associated with Citi Field, and the homage to the Brooklyn Dodgers was of course the most successful accomplishment of the New York Mets franchise in 2009.

Oh did you mistake “success” for “winning”? No, friend … success is bottom-line profits. And as you will hear in the interview, the Mets “brand” did well in its ability to serve its “customers”. But that should be changing in 2010 — if we are to believe the head honchos of the Mets’ organization.

Jeff Wilpon Part 1

Jeff Wilpon Part 2

Understand that the above links lead to material that may not be suitable for all audiences. For example, they are not for those with a weak stomach, nor for the strong of mind. I also would not listen to these clips if you are suffering from anxiety, depression, or stress disorders.

Some of the things I personally gleaned from the interview …

– Daniel Murphy will not return to the outfield, and he may or may not return as the starting first baseman

– Jeff Wilpon insists that the Mets will continue to have one of the highest payrolls in MLB, and that Omar Minaya has no financial constraints

– Further, Wilpon will not be “slicing payroll”, will be “aggressive” on the market, and his commitment this winter is “to give Omar the resources he needs to put a championship team on the field”

– Neither Minaya nor Wilpon believe the team needs a “rebuilding”, and they plan to use a mix of free agent signings and trades to “fix the holes”

– Minaya’s role and responsibilities as GM will not change

– Citi Field was built so large because Omar Minaya’s philosophy was to build a team around pitching, defense, and speed (hmm … the plans for Citi Field, including the vast dimensions, were unveiled in 1998 — when Minaya was an assistant to Steve Phillips)

– the Mets are going to add “more imagery” and a “Mets Hall of Fame” to placate fans’ complaints that Citi Field is an homage to the Brooklyn Dodgers

Conclusion

The Mets have publicly changed the goal from “putting a winning product on the field” to “putting a championship team on the field”. Wilpon claims that the financial coffers are available to make that happen.

We are going to hold on to these two points in particular as we watch and analyze this winter’s moves.

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Mets To Lower Ticket Prices

In a letter to season-ticket holders, the Wilpons wrote:

“Everyone at the Mets – our Ownership, GM Omar Minaya, Manager Jerry Manuel, the coaches, players, front office and staff – shares your disappointment with the 2009 season. You soon will hear from Ownership and Omar about how we plan to improve the ball club through a combination of player signings, trades, enhanced player development and continued commitment to one of the highest player payrolls in MLB.

We are currently finalizing our ticket pricing for 2010. Season Ticket prices will be reduced by an average of more than 10 percent, with several seating areas being adjusted by more than 20 percent. Every Season Ticket Holder invoice for 2010 will be less than 2009.”

Big woop.
mets_tix
More than TEN PERCENT???? And “several” seating areas reduced by more than TWENTY??? WOW !!!!!

Why does this news not excite me? Mainly because I stopped buying ticket packages three years ago, when the prices started to obnoxiously rise at a rate completely incongruous with my shrinking amount of disposable income. A 10-20% reduction drops the pricing structure from “impossible” to “way out of my budget”.

But that’s because the Mets increased ticket prices about 12% across the board after their last playoff appearance, raised them another 20% after the greatest collapse in MLB history, and of course raised them by astronomical proportions (in some cases, as much as 100%) for Citi Field’s inaugural season.

Dave Howard’s explanation for the 2008 raise in prices was this:

“We considered where we were in the marketplace. Our average ticket price is still the lowest among the nine major pro sports teams in the New York area,” Howard said Saturday. “Our payroll is among the highest in baseball. We put our resources back into the team. We tried to strike a balance.”

I never understood what the Mets’ Shea Stadium ticket pricing had to do with Knicks, Devils, Nets, and other teams that played half as many home games and had half as many seats available. And you can’t ever compare your ticket prices to the Yankees — unless you start spending like the Steinbrenners. But Howard needed some kind of stat to use to support his case.

The most recent letter from the organization promises sweeping changes in the offseason — indeed, we’ve already seen the firings of several key people in the front office and at the minor league levels. More should be on the way, but hopefully, this time, there will be some kind of plan in place — rather than change for the sake of change (please, no Art Howe moves this time!). The tidbit about “…continued commitment to one of the highest player payrolls in MLB” is intriguing — and ambiguous. Obviously they won’t be in the $200M range of the Yankees, but they can drop from their current $150M payroll to as low as $110M and still be among the highest budgets in MLB. For example, the Red Sox were at around $120M on Opening Day 2009, the Cubs at $135M, the Angels were at $114M, Phillies were at $113M, and the Dodgers started at $100M.

Prior to the 2009 season, the Detroit Tigers lowered ticket prices and raised their payroll. I don’t see that happening in Flushing. But if nothing else, it should be a newsworthy offseason.

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