This post is it. I’ll comment once with my thoughts about this Sterling Equities news, and then I’m going back to desperately counting the seconds until pitchers and catchers report. (1,173,300 seconds until it’s 2/15, as of this post)
Did the recent Sterling Equities news regarding the Wilpons looking to possibly sell part of the team actually help Sandy Alderson do his job? The news may help Alderson lowball other teams on money-related transactions more so than he might otherwise be able to do. While he’s not going to get players for free that other teams don’t really want to move, if a team is looking to make a deal with the Mets, they might subconsciously be expecting less in return.
Reporters have gone wild with speculation about what this means, that the Wilpons will sell, and that they won’t be able to spend any money. Some predict Reyes traded by the trading deadline as a result, although some predicted this anyway. Buster Olney, who’s actual post is behind a paywall, suggests some rival executives are all but positive Reyes gets traded because they can’t afford to keep him. This suggests two things to me: 1. I’ve never been a fan of Olney anyway, but in the age of blogs and Twitter if what you’re writing is behind a paywall there is a pretty good chance it’s not worth reading. 2. The Mets are best off extending Reyes in Spring Training because even if they wanted to trade him in some crazy scenario, the rumors that they have to hurts their negotiating position.
I don’t expect this news to amount to anything more than another name on the media guide list of owners, but it’s certainly possible this is the start of a slippery slope to a scenario that includes the Wilpons having to sell off the entire team. The initial info seems to suggest that the news is more of a guardrail against that slippery slope than the first tumble, but many of the details are still hidden and most are above my head in terms of financial understanding. What will be, will be. The roster is mostly set. The Mets will play baseball in 2011, and I’ll be able to go there and root for them and cheer for them. That’s pretty much 99.6% of my concern as it relates to who actually owns the Mets.
Still, perception is meaningful. The team may very well be projected to not even afford the letters on their uniform backs at this rate. (One might suggest they stick to only two different uniforms in that case and remove the names altogether) Sandy Alderson may be able to use the perception of constraint when dealing with free agents, and with other teams when the trade involves money or paying contracts, to his advantage. Maybe Alderson finds a suiter for Oliver Perez, and instead of paying 11 million of his contract, he uses the Madoff situation to suggest the Mets only pay 10.5. Maybe Jose Reyes really does want to stay here, and Alderson milks his loyalty by getting him to sign for less under the guise of needing that money to buy competitive players around him.
This is probably still a stretch. The 2011 roster and budget are nearly financially complete, and the Mets won’t likely be looking to spend a lot of money before the All-Star break. At that point, the potential financial windfall of being successful in September and making the playoffs almost always offsets the initial cost of bringing the last two months of an expensive players contract. Sandy Alderson told me that he’d have no constraints at that point, and I hope that remains true. It’ll be interesting to see how Alderson conducts business going further; if crying poor helps him negotiate, or if he dispels rumors by actually spending money on Reyes, or on mid-season acquisitions.