Given the caliber of player personnel on each team, was anyone truly surprised that the Yankees swept last week’s four-game Subway Series? Even the most sophisticated and mature Mets fan has that elementary school kid in him and takes immense pleasure when the Amazin’s beat the Bronx Bombers. Likewise, the losses to them sting more than to other teams in low stakes games which are historically what the Mets play this time of year. The last two seasons sure seem like a distant memory.
Comedian Bill Maher often has a bit on his Friday night HBO show “Real Time” called “I can’t prove it but I know that it’s true.” There is no certain way of knowing but I strongly doubt that the Mets would have gone winless against the Yankees had they not given both Jay Bruce and Neil Walker away to the Indians and Brewers the week before for basically bupkis in return. If Mets general manager Sandy Alderson wanted to trade Neil Walker and Jay Bruce, as he did Curtis Granderson and Rene Rivera this past weekend, he should have dealt all of them before the July 31st trade deadline. He could have gotten back prospects who are on the verge of being major leaguers as opposed to low-level minor leaguers who will probably never get to “The Show”; mysterious players to be named later; and that particular favorite of Mets management, cash considerations.
Last year when Yankees general manager Brian Cashman thought that the Yankees wouldn’t make the playoffs, he traded relief pitchers Aroldis Chapman and Andrew Miller, for a treasure trove of quality high-level minor leaguers and was widely applauded by both his peers and even Yankees fans who loath waving a white flag. Clearly, Sandy Alderson was more inspired by the prospect of reducing the Mets’ payroll for the last two months of the season than he was getting a return for his player assets. This sends a bad message to not only frustrated Mets fans but to other general managers who now feel empowered to offer the Mets pennies on the dollar in future deadline trades in terms of talent exchange. It’s also safe to say that this kind of parsimonious behavior doesn’t make the Mets a preferred destination for free agents.
While Yankees CEO Hal Steinbrenner is not the spender that his dad was, the Yankees business model has always been on revenue maximization but that involves making winning a real priority and not just lip service. The Mets’ business model has generally been more about cost containment as the path to maximizing profits. Ticket revenue may decline a bit but the broadcasting and licensing revenue streams are constant and high.
Winning on the income statement is what really counts to Sandy Alderson and the Mets’ owners, the Wilpons.