$1,692,271,335 What is that? It is the amount of money the New York Mets have spent on payroll over the last 21 years according to USA Today.
Now personally I know USA Today is not an accurate representation of what a team actually spent on payroll so please don’t take this post as an accurate accounting but it is the closest to one there is that goes back as far as it does. I recommend heading on over to USA Today’s salaries database page and click where it says “About MLB Salaries” so you can better understand how the numbers are compiled.
What do the Mets have to show for this? 3 Playoff appearances in 1999, 2000 and 2006. Now as a Mets fan the memories of those 3 seasons before being eliminated in that final game I will always treasure. I still to this day say the 2000 W.S. was the closest 4 games to 1 series in my lifetime. Still though when I think about it I can’t get past that for all that money, the Mets in the end have nothing to show for it if the goal is to win Rings.
I am of the opinion that if simply spending more was all it took to win Rings and constantly be in the playoffs then the Mets surely with what they have spent would be among the best in MLB and yet they are not. In fact if there was ever a team that could show that spending more is not the answer as opposed to spending wisely it is the Mets.
The Houston Astros when compared to the Mets have had far more success in regards to reaching the playoffs. For $484,685,753 less they have reached the playoffs twice as much as the Mets. Not spending more doesn’t seem to have impacted the Astros from getting to the playoffs more than the Mets.
Maybe the focus should be on teams within the Mets own division. OK let me just add that only 2 teams over the last 21 years has failed to make the playoffs even once. One team is the Kansas City Royals. The other is the one time Montreal Expos now the Washington Nationals. Once you get past the Nats in the NL East though it all goes downhill.
The Florida Marlins have spent $1,036,873,778 less than the NY Mets and have 1 less playoff appearance. Clearly not spending more has not had an effect on the Marlins. The Marlins somehow have managed to spend $1,036,873,778 less than the Mets and only have 1 less playoff appearance to show for it and unlike the Mets their other 2 playoff appearances resulted in 2 W.S. Rings.
By now I can imagine yeah but what about the Braves? The Atlanta Braves clearly are a team that put their money to good use. Even though the Braves spent $1,509,238,918 which is about $183,032,417 less than the Mets they still managed to reach the playoffs 15 times in the same span that the Mets reached it only 3 times. In fact the only other team to reach the playoffs more are the New York Yankees with 16 playoff appearances. So there it is. The Braves show that spending more equals playoffs. It is just the Mets are the exception to the rule.
How do you explain the Dodgers and the Cubs? Both clubs spent more than the Braves. The Dodgers spent $1,581,041,952 and the Cubs $1,516,703,377. Yet while they had better results than the Mets, they paled when compared to the Braves with them having 6 and 4 playoff appearances respectively.
What about the team to that spent more than any team in MLB other than the Yankees? The Boston Red Sox.
The Sox have spent $1,875,835,232 which is $183,563,897 more than the Mets and have 9 playoff appearances and 2 rings as well to go along with it. Which is exactly what the St Louis Cardinals have accomplished spending $521,727,094 less in doing so. So just to be clear the Red Sox and Cardinals have the same amount of Playoff appearances (9) and W.S. Rings (2) but the Red Sox spent $183,563,897 more than the Mets and the Cardinals spent $338,163,197 less than the Mets in doing so.
So again for me at least this whole spending more thing can not be what it is all about. The exception to the rule in all this though is the Yankees. The Yankees I have said often enough are in their own level. Simply put no team has been able to hang with the Yankees. How far above the rest of MLB are the Yankees?
The Yankees over the last 21 years have spent $2,539,418,747. They have outspent the next closest team by more than a half billion dollars $663,583,515 to be exact. To compare, the Pirates in their entire 21 years have spent $699,270,656. The Yankees have also been to the playoffs 16 times and have 5 W.S. Rings to show for it. Listen I know some will and already have said why can’t the Mets emulate that? My response has been that the Yankees are probably the most iconic and highest valued franchise in all sports. They simply are. Maybe down the road who knows what happens but right now teams can try to emulate the Yanks but no one is going to play at their level.
I even went as far as looking into how often teams that happen to be in the Top 10 in Payroll in MLB reach the playoffs. The idea being that all teams go through peak and valleys in spending so maybe when teams are amongst the top in MLB when it comes to payroll they have more success in reaching the playoffs.
As you probably expected the Yankees lead the way by far. Followed by the Braves and the Red Sox. The Yankees have been in the Top 10 in Payroll 20 of the last 21 years and reached the playoffs 16 times. The Braves have been in the Top 10 in Payroll 14 of the last 21 years and reached the playoffs 12 times. The Red Sox have been in the Top 10 in Payroll 18 of the last 21 years and reached the playoffs 9 times.
Still outside of the Yankees, Braves and Red Sox most teams when in the Top 10 in payroll reach the playoffs less than half of the time. The Seattle Mariners being the worst. 8 times they were in the Top 10 and reached the playoffs zero times.
To close after spending some time looking at this the one thing that I always come back to is that the Mets problem is not that they don’t spend enough or the most. Looking at all the teams in MLB the Mets just have not been as wise on the choices they have made when they do spend. How else do you explain their poor showing the last 21 years?
Here’s to hoping the Mets fortunes change.