It seems like running up debt and spending imaginary money is all the rage these days. It’s not just the government, people do it with their private finances as well.
Now, MLB commissioner Bud Selig has given the Mets the means to do the same. According to this article by Forbes, Selig has given the Mets permission to increase their debt limit by $140MM. According to this article by Fortune, the Mets were already anywhere between $430MM and $625MM in the red as of April.
However, it appears the Mets will choose to be (for once) fiscally responsible. Instead of spending money on signing big-name, overpriced free agents, they are hunting for bargains this offseason. They won’t overpay Jose Reyes – if another team offers him more years and money the Mets are willing to spend, they will not get into a bidding war. They are trying to create a strong foundation in the minor leagues. In addition, they are looking for one or more (likely the latter) minority owners to pump about $200MM worth of cash into the franchise.
It seems like the Mets are increasing their debt limit to cover expenses and stay in business. They know they don’t have money to spend, and they’re doing the right thing by not spending it. Maybe the rest of us could learn a lesson from that.
Now, lest an entire blog post go by with only praise for Fred and Jeff Wilpon (and Saul Katz), their current state of financial affairs is all their fault. Yes, it’s true they were hoodwinked by a master con-artist. Yes, it’s true that Steve Phillips and Omar Minaya gave up money the same way Oliver Perez gave up baserunners (frequently, and with little thought), but in this day and age, there is no such thing as a hands-off owner. Given the economics of baseball, and all other sports, money is as big a factor as performance when acquiring new talent. And the Wilpons were the money.
And now they have no money. In fact, they owe a lot of it.
So, for anyone who still thinks the Mets, as a New York team, should live by the motto, “ABS” – Always Be Spending, they don’t have the money to spend. No matter what their geographic location, they will not sign Prince Fielder, Albert Pujols, C.J. Wilson, Warren Spahn, Rogers Hornsby, or any other big-ticket free agent this offseason.
For the financial future of the team, and for the future of the on-field product, the that’s a good thing.