Chat with Adam Rubin
Welcome to ESPNNewYork.com! On Thursday, New York Mets writer Adam Rubin will stop by to take your baseball questions.
Rubin has covered the Mets since 2003. He's a graduate of Mepham High School on Long Island and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He joined ESPNNewYork after spending 10 years at the New York Daily News.
Send your questions now and join Rubin Thursday at noon ET!
Adam Rubin (12:00 PM)
Thanks for joining me ...
Scot (Washington, DC )
If the Mets don't release Bay next spring but his playing time remains as limited as its been of late, do you think he'd have any grounds to file a grievance?
Adam Rubin (12:01 PM)
No chance he would have a successful grievance. You would have to prove that the Mets, in spite of their best interest, benched Bay to avoid the option kicking in. Clearly the Mets would be justified in not playing Bay, so there's no grounds. Alex Cora a few years ago mulled filing a grievance after the Mets released him before an option could kick in (for a relatively modest amount for the next season). He never proceeded for the same reason: The lack of production made the move easily justifiable by the Mets.
Scot (Washington, DC )
Possibly dumb but honest question: How can a team in a major market, that owns its own network, with a sub-$100 million payroll and an average attendance per game of roughly 70% capacity still lose $23 million?
Adam Rubin (12:04 PM)
It's all complicated, and obviously the books aren't open, so we're just speculating -- educated speculation, but speculation nonetheless. Here are some possible reasons: (1) Large debt payments on the stadium approaching $50 million annually. I thought I read in the Post piece that's actually charged to SNY, but I'm not sure. (2) SNY has Mets TV rights. I've been told in the past that they pay an actual competitive rate, but clearly it's not the rate that would be paid if there were open bidding. So essentially the Mets/SNY based on the rate they charge as a free to broadcast games how they want to allocate profits between the network and team.
Judy (New Jersey)
What's the point of having Wally Backman in the dugout for the last few weeks of the season?
Adam Rubin (12:04 PM)
Just like September call-ups with players, it's customary for minor league coaches to get a call-up as well. That's very often the Triple-A manager. Sometimes in the past with the Mets the time has been shared among multiple coaches, say a week a coach.
Tyler (North Adams) [via mobile]
Any chance the Mets sign Mike Napoli, Josh Hamilton, or Shane Victorino this offseason?
Adam Rubin (12:06 PM)
I'm really not expecting the Mets' payroll to move much this offseason. And the money coming off is offset pretty much by raises before they start. Sure, you can backload upcoming contracts with a low base salary in Year 1. After all, only Jon Niese is under contract for 2014 at the moment, so the payroll flexibility will be there after next season -- even with a low payroll by New York standards. I'm not forecasting that, though. And I'm certainly not expecting any mega-bucks deals like would require for Josh Hamilton.
I have a couple of questions for you Adam. Number one, do you think the Mets will bring back Terry Collins as the manager next season even though he very well could be a lame duck? Right now, I am pretty concerned that if Collins returns as a lame duck in 2013 that every time the team is in the middle of a losing streak people will be questioning whether or not he should keep his job and given that the team might be even younger next year, I worry that those questions will be very distracting for them. Do you really feel it is in the Mets' best interest to bring Collins back as a lame duck given what the makeup of the team may be? My next question has to do with the Wilpons. Assuming next year goes as expected and the team isn't very good, do you think they will be able to survive as owners past next season? What are the odds that they will still own the team as of January 1, 2014?
Adam Rubin (12:09 PM)
I do believe TC will return. I don't know if they'll tack on a year at a sub-$1 million salary just to say he's not a lame duck. But the Mets have been burned in the past and have been required to pay off money to people such as Omar Minaya by adding years when they didn't have to in order to avoid the appearance of being a lame duck. That's costly just to avoid that appearance. ... As for the Wilpons, while their cash flow may not be good, I do not believe they ever intend to sell. And I don't believe they've weathered the most tenuous period in order to survive. So it's merely a question of how low they need to keep the payroll to make their cash flow work.
While his numbers are probably tainted, could you see the mets making a play for melky Cabrera this offseason? Would fill an outfield need and he could probably be had for a 1yr/4mil deal or so given the ped issues.
Adam Rubin (12:10 PM)
Don't know. The Mets have not shown an aversion to signing suspended players. Sandy Alderson's first signing was Ronnie Paulino. And pre-Alderson, Mets ownership was OK given Guillermo Mota a two-year, $5 million deal coming off a suspension.
Jeremy (So. Jersey)
Based on what Wright (and Dickey to a lesser extent) has said, he cares more about winning than money. I feel like they need to make a huge FA move in the offseason to really make sure we keep him, to show we really care about winning. I am not sure how I feel about Josh Hamilton, what with his iffy history, but I think we need to try to get someone like him, especially in the OF to help out with power. Do you think it will even be possible to land a big power guy like him and who out there might be possible/a good fit?
Adam Rubin (12:13 PM)
There's zero chance Josh Hamilton will be a Met. They're not throwing around a ton of cash. As for David, I don't know what to make of him recently saying he's "extremely optimistic" he'll sign an extension this winter. That may be the PC part of him speaking. After all, he said it's about winning. Assuming that's genuine, I really don't see how the Mets are going to demonstrate to him that they're building a contender this offseason, since they're hamstrung by the Johan Santana and Jason Bay contracts. It's not that I'm saying Wright definitely won't sign. I think it's possible. But if that's true, it'll be about a combination of the money and his desire to play for one organization his entire career.
They lost $50 mill last year and $23 Mill this year. Add in the Madoff issues and how long can the Wilpons hold on? Is there any hope that they will be forced to sell in the near future? For as much heat as Terry and Sandy take, I don't think the team's play is their fault. Terry has to play the guys he has and Sandy is limited financially in who he can bring in/keep.
Adam Rubin (12:14 PM)
You only have to sell if cash flow means you can't make payments. There's no evidence they cannot make payments, so I don't expect them to sell. Now, if they had this performance with a $150 million payroll, maybe they would be in trouble. But apparently their cash on hand and SNY profits will be more than enough to offset any losses related to the team itself and their ownership is not in any apparent jeopardy.
Are the Mets content with a 25 million dollar loss in 2012 or will they cut payroll some more to break even next season?
Adam Rubin (12:17 PM)
It's virtually impossible to cut payroll more. There's only a limited amount of money coming off the books. Your biggest salaries coming off are Mike Pelfrey (likely non-tender, $5.7 million), Jon Rauch ($3.5M), Ramon Ramirez (about $2.2M), Andres Torres (probable non-tender, about $2.7M), Scott Hairston ($1.1 million), Tim Byrdak ($1 million). Much of that money, before replacing those pieces, is swallowed by raises to Niese, Dickey, Wright and arbitration-eligible players. And if you count the Jason Bay and Johan Santana 2014 buyouts as 2013 money, then the money is gone before anything is done and it'll automatically be the same payroll.
When will there be a resolution on Mets AAA affiliate for next year? As a Met fan in Vegas, I'm probably one of the few excited about the possibility of having the AAA team here.
Adam Rubin (12:18 PM)
I don't believe you're allowed to even talk to/sign with another affiliate until about Sept. 15. So I would expect at that point the Blue Jays sign with Buffalo and the dominoes start falling. I believe the Mets will wind up in Las Vegas (there may be little else available anyway). I have been told to keep an eye on Nashville -- that it's the Mets' preference over Las Vegas. But the Brewers may very well end up staying there.
Do you think the Mets will bring back Rauch? What was the harm in bringing up CJ when the rosters expanded? Was it simply they didnt want to make another move on the 40?
Adam Rubin (12:22 PM)
Don't know on Rauch. He's a bottom-line guy I think with money, so it depends how much they'll pay versus the competition. They chose Justin Hampson over C.J. Nitkowski as the lefty to promote. Certainly the front office had an attachment to Hampson from their Padres days, so perhaps that gave him an advantage. When they started using C.J. as more than a lefty-lefty guy, the results weren't there in Triple-A. Righties hit .457 against him wit Buffalo. Lefties hit .276, which is also relatively high for a specialist. If nothing else, his Triple-A performance probably gets Nitkowski into a big league camp somewhere next spring training, which potentially revives his career. It wasn't a 40-man roster issue. I believe Hampson had to be re-added.
How do the players get paid? every 2 weeks? so Bay is making $600,000 every two weeks due to his contract?
Adam Rubin (12:22 PM)
Every two weeks, and only during the regular season. They do get very generous meal money for spring training, etc., though.
Adam, even TC admitted the other day that the scouts were wrong regarding Matt Harvey. Do you feel that this is the more the exception then the rule?
Adam Rubin (12:24 PM)
I don't think he said scouts were wrong. He said what Matt Harvey displayed in terms of pitching arsenal in the minors was inferior to what he is displaying now. He is an exception in performing better against major league competition, I would say. I still don't know why everyone wants to make him Dwight Gooden. I like him, and I've always maintained he will be a productive major league starter. But I'm not projecting ace. And I don't think most scouts are, either, in spite of some major league success.
Danny A. (Brooklyn)
Hey Adam,The Mets lost 60M last year, 23M this year, and are projected to lose 15M next year. It boggles the mind that some fans see losing 37M LESS than last year as a continuation of the path the team was heading towards. Thoughts?
Adam Rubin (12:26 PM)
It's not about actual losses. It's about tight cash flow. And tight cash flow remains. They cannot spend at the level they would like because they don't have the financial means to do so. The lower loss is merely a function of slashing payroll about $50 million. Clearly, revenue is down. Otherwise, their loss would have been no more than $10 million.
TC mentioned the possibility of bringing Pelfrey back for the bullpen and perhaps a future as team closer. Plausible? If so, wise?
Adam Rubin (12:28 PM)
T.C. doesn't negotiate contracts. That's Scott Boras' domain (he's Pelfrey's agent) as well as Sandy Alderson. Starting pitching is fine with the Mets, and if you're Boras, why would you steer your client to the Mets to relieve? The Mets have to cut Pelfrey loose in December because he is arbitration eligible. And anyone who is arbitration eligible has to make at least 80 percent of their previous year's salary. So with Pelfrey making $5.6875 million this year, even if an arbitrator sided with the Mets, the floor for Pelfrey's salary would be $4.55 million. The Mets aren't paying that for a reliever who may not even be available at the start of the season. So Pelfrey will be cut loose in December. Once he's cut loose, he can re-sign for any amount. He also is free to sign elsewhere. I expect the latter.
Danny A. (Brooklyn)
Hey Adam,Regarding Wright: If he's being rational, he probably sees a team that (despite the currently limited payroll) is heading in the right direction. They should have a starting staff that's above average, and there will be financial flexibility after next season. I believe that Alderson needs to approach both Wright and Dickey after the season, and not only offer them fair market value extension offers, but wrap those contract offers up in an explanation of what his plan is going forward for the franchise. He needs to make a presentation.
Adam Rubin (12:29 PM)
Very plausible. I'm not as bullish on the next few years as you seem to be, although I do think the rotation is capable.
Jeremy (So. Jersey)
I'm going to the game tomorrow night. I know the Mets have been quiet, but any thoughts on whether the Larry ceremony will be that night? Should I plan to be there early for it, so I can "support" him in true Met fan fashion?
Adam Rubin (12:31 PM)
I imagine it'll be tomorrow night, and I expect to hear something about it later today. I'm sure they're gun shy because 50 percent of the fans will complain whether they did something or not. But every other team has recognized Chipper Jones, who actually has been a classy combatant in the rivalry. There's no harm in giving him some Tom Seaver wine in a lighthearted way or showing a video with fans chanting "Larry."
If Mets sign Dickey and Wright and add new Relief pitchers and OF (melky) and subtract some bullpen (Francisco) and OFs, would they possibly make playoffs next season?
Adam Rubin (12:32 PM)
Francisco is under contract for $6.5 million next season, so he's the closer. Re-signing Dickey and Wright wouldn't really have an impact on improving next year's team. In fact, you can argue that both those players will be hard-pressed to duplicate this year's production (although Wright has tailed off from his hot start).
Thoughts on Chris Young? Will team bring him back on another low base/high incentive deal for rotation depth?
Adam Rubin (12:34 PM)
Wouldn't completely rule it out, but don't see him staying. Aside from his production, the Mets are pretty set with a rotation of Santana, Dickey, Niese, Gee and Harvey (with Wheeler and McHugh waiting in the wings). They could use a veteran arm in camp as insurance, but ideally that arm would be capable of moving to the bullpen should the projected rotation be healthy out of spring training. Chris Young is not going to be a reliever and therefore doesn't fit that profile.
Adam Rubin (12:34 PM)
Thanks for joining me for the past 35 minutes.