COMMENTARY | On March 19, the co-majority owners of the Mets, CEO Fred Wilpon and his brother-in-law, team President Saul Katz, were clearly pleased after Judge Jed S Rakoff anonunced the $162 million settlement. Supposedly the settlement clears the way for the co-owners to put this ugly episode behind them so they can work with new GM Sandy Alderson to improve the team.
But nothing has really changed as far as Met fans are concerned. The same inept ownership still controls the team. The same payroll restrictions are still in place. The same shallow farm system is still unable to feed the parent club with enough talent to make a difference.
As an example of the ownership debacles of the past several years, let’s look beyond free-agent signings and non-signings to something as basic as the ballpark in which the Mets play their home games, Citi Field. Citi Field is a great place to see a game. Good seats, close to the action, just like parks used to be. So why on Earth would you design it with 16 foot tall fences at 371 to 384 feet away in the left field power alleys and rob your right-handed hitters of their home runs? David Wright’s home run averages dropped from 16 per year in home games and 13 away in 2006-2008 to just seven per year at home and 10 on the road in 2009-1011. Some of the decline was obviously the result of injuries in 2009-2011, but more noticeable is the dramatic reduction in home runs at Citi versus Shea.
But wait, the cavalry is riding in, er, I mean the fences are moving in. That should help the Mets tremendously. Well, OK, the new dimensions, according to Alderson as reported in the NY Daily News would have resulted in 81 more Mets home runs. And, wait for it, 70 more visitor home runs. So it improves the power gap by 11 home runs over the year. How exactly does that small difference translate into far better results for the Mets? I fail to see it, other than happier hitters may possibly play better overall. But it makes for unhappier pitchers, so that would seem to counter that argument.
Utlimately, it’s simply another example of the Mets ownership making another poor decision, attempting to backtrack or change it, and then sugarcoating it for the fans. Until the owners get serious, really serious, about putting together a strong organization from top to bottom, the Mets will continue to struggle. Meanwhile, I’ll try to be patient and still enjoy watching when I can.
Larry Neumeister, Associated Press (from Yahoo Sports) 19 Mar 2012
Andy Martino, NY Daily News 31 Oct 2011
Stats Source: Major League Baseball