The New York Mets got their 2010 season off to a horrible start - on October 6, 2009.  That was the day that Mets Chief Operating Officer Jeff Wilpon, Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Omar Minaya, and Executive Vice President of Business Operations Dave Howard appeared on the Mike'd Up - Francesa on the FAN show on their flagship radio station 660AM WFAN.  Amazin' Avenue has a useful recap of that days events as well as links to audio should you care to dig deeper.One key bullet point, as laid out by Amazin' Avenue, is a most damning piece of evidence against the folly of the Mets that day.  It is:
  • Jeff will give Omar the resources he needs to put a championship team on the field. Whatever that is. There is no set number; there are no plans to reduce payroll, and they do plan to be aggressive in the free agent and trade markets.
This is precisely where all the trouble started.  When the ownership and front office of a professional sports franchise go to the media and declare these things people are listening.  Folks are recording it and writing it down.  These words become a mission statement for the organization and a rallying point for it's fans.  They imply intentions.  They give us reason to believe.  So when they turn out to be boldfaced lies at worst, or gross misrepresentations at best, they leave trouble in their wake.Different people have various thoughts, theories and computations related to the Mets payroll.  But the fan, perhaps one who does not have a degree in accounting or the time to inspect and dissect all the Mets credits and debits, knows only that the commonly available and widely accepted resource for MLB payroll information is the website Cot's Contracts. That link shows the Mets 2009 payroll (defined as Opening Day payrolls:  major league contracts plus pro-rated signing bonuses) to have been $149,373,978 and it shows the Mets 2010 payroll to be $126,498,096.  This suggests a $22,875,882 reduction in payroll.The fan hears the team say "there are no plans to reduce payroll" yet sees the team reduce payroll.The Mets free agent signings coming into the 2010 season were Alex Cora, Chris Coste, Mike Hessman, Henry Blanco, Clint Everts, Ryota Igarashi, Elmer Dessens, Kelvim Escobar, Luke Montz, Andy Green, Jesus Feliciano, R.A. Dickey, Mike Cervanek, Russ Adams, Jason Bay, Josh Fogg, Fernando Tatis, Carlos Muniz, Luis Hernandez, Bobby Livingston, Travis Blackley, Jolbert Cabrera, Frank Catalanotto, Mike Jacobs, Hisanori Takahashi, and Shawn Riggans. The Mets trades coming into the 2010 season were claiming pitcher Carlos Monasterios in the rule 5 draft then trading him to the Los Angeles Dodgers for cash, and trading pitcher Brian Stokes to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim for OF Gary Matthews Jr.My dictionary defines "aggressive" as "pursuing one's aims and interests forcefully, perhaps unduly so." The fan sees the above free agent signings and trades and does not define them as "aggressive" or as related to putting "a championship team on the field."In the interest of fairness the fan will note that perhaps the lesser payroll was purposeful with an "aggressive" plan for the mid-season trade market in mind.Doing nothing until August 19, 2010 when they allowed catcher Rod Barajas to be claimed on waivers by the Los Angeles Dodgers and then on deadline day August 31 trading OF Jeff Francoeur literally at the midnight cutoff to the Texas Rangers for IF Joaquin Arias (who had been designated for assignment by the Rangers removing him from their 40 man roster and was days from being sent outright to the minor leagues by them anyway) is not "aggressive."Nothing that the Mets did related to the team's roster, including the one noteworthy signing of Bay, was in fact "aggressive." Today the team is officially mathematically eliminated from post season contention having been eliminated for practical purposes after it's 2-9 post-All Star Game road trip in late July.  Since then the team has never been closer than 6.5 games to the division lead.  In that light the promise of aggression rings hollow.Soon the 2010 season will end.  If there is one piece of advice I could give to the Mets ownership and front office staff it would be "do not approach the local media and suggest you are going to be aggressive in the marketplace to put a championship team on the field while not reducing payroll." Here's why that would be my advice:  Assuming the Mets pick up the $11 million option on the contract of shortstop Jose Reyes they have already committed $113.25 million to 10 players for the 2011 season.  Included in that $113.25 million figure are the $22.5 million due to ace pitcher Johan Santana who recently underwent shoulder surgery, $18.5 million due to OF Carlos Beltran who is still in an on-field recovery and rehab process from knee surgery he had at the start of this season, $16 million due to OF Jason Bay who has yet to return to baseball activities following a July concussion, $12 million due to pitcher Oliver Perez who has shown zero indication that he can pitch passably at the major league level going forward, $11.5 million due to pitcher Francisco Rodriguez whose status is uncertain following the Citi Field family room fiasco, $6 million due to 2B Luis Castillo who is by many measures one of the least productive players at his position, and lastly a piddling $1.75 million due to pitcher Ryota Igarashi who has not ever demonstrated he can provide passable performance at the major league level.That's $88.25 million, or more than the 2010 Opening Day payrolls of 17 major league franchises including 5 (Atlanta, Tampa Bay, Cincinnati, Texas and San Diego) which are strong post season contenders, committed to 7 players who may not contribute in any positive manner to the 2011 Mets on the field.  Repeat:  the Mets have $113.25 million committed to 10 players on the 2011 25 man roster 7 of whom earn $88.25 million and may not play at all or may play at diminished capacity and/or for a partial season.  Given these circumstances to expect the Mets to put a "championship team on the field" is to expect pigs to fly, cancer to be cured and world peace to be established.  The Wilpon/Minaya/Howard triumvirate has shown nothing to indicate that they can "put a championship team on the field" when they specifically go out of their way to say they will aggressively strive to do so.  There is simply no rational reason to expect they can do it for 2011 given the added handicaps of the roster being populated by damaged goods and inflexible salaries, a bad situation this triumvirate bears responsibility for.If by some remote wild combination of skill and luck the Mets "put a championship team on the field" in 2011 it will involve multiple players on the roster competing for Comeback Player of the Year, the field manager being named Manager of the Year and the General Manager being named Executive of the Year.  If that happens I will gladly print and eat this post.There is hope.  Conveniently 2011 reveals itself to be an excellent opportunity for transition.  Many unfortunate contracts will end after this season giving the team greater financial resources beginning with 2012.  Young players such as Ike Davis, Josh Thole and Ruben Tejada who've already begun to establish their presence in the major leagues get another year to adjust to the adjustments made to them and show if they can be useful major league ballplayers.  Other minor leaguers, some who've already had some major league experience such as Jenrry Mejia and Lucas Duda, and others who have yet to reach the major leagues such as Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Jeurys Familia get another year of professional ball to show if they can be useful to the Mets either directly or as fodder for trades.  Hope doesn't always turn into reward and Mets fans know this well. That is even more true given the lack of clarity regarding who will be running the team going forward. Nonetheless there is reason for hope after 2011.Don't crush that hope with an ill advised media campaign.  The phrase "meaningful games in September" already haunts your franchise.  Learn from your mistakes.  Don't go on the radio and tell us that you plan to "put a championship team on the field." Don't go on TV and tell us you have no plans "to reduce payroll." Don't go to the newspapers and tell us you plan to be "aggressive in the free agent and trade markets." Don't pretend you will contend.