Euphoria lasts only so long.

The giddiness and amazement that existed with the New York Mets‘ fall wonderland was pure bliss for a franchise that had for too long operated without a semblance of a care for on-field winning.

The run to the World Series provided pleasure in the moment, but just as critically, it gave hope that the Mets would use their newfound springboard to put a dominant contender on the field for seasons to come. With cheap, great starting pitching already on the roster, the Mets need only to put adequate position players behind it to ensure the franchise is a significant threat to the National League pennant for the foreseeable future.

But as this offseason welcomes 2016, Mets ownership, led by Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz, has yet to supplement the pitching. Instead, the team’s debt is keeping it from making any significant free-agent signings. And because of that, the Mets cannot afford to leverage some of their young starting pitching for an impact bat because they need the cost-controlled arms to at least stay competitive in a floundering NL East.

“Mets fans should be celebrating their favorite team’s first World Series appearance since 2000 and preparing for even better days ahead,” Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal wrote Tuesday after the Mets’ latest underwhelming signing—Alejandro De Aza—was reported. “Instead, they’re pissed off.”

Mets fans have a right to be upset, and analysts are clear to question the organization’s offseason direction when the Kansas City Royals, the World Series champions who knocked off the Mets in the Fall Classic, look like major players in the free-agent market when put next to the Mets.

The Mets unexpectedly saved about $12.5 million when Michael Cuddyer retired earlier this month, though some of that money could have been bought out by the club to save the remainder. And it is paying only about $9.5 million for the core of that rotation—Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz—and its closer, Jeurys Familia.

However, instead of capitalizing on that cost control and its enviable pitching makeup, ownership is more concerned with funneling money toward the debt it racked up after losing $500 million in Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme, and an ensuing $162 million lawsuit settlement, ultimately costing $60 million and with the first $30 million due next year, according to’s Adam Rubin.

So, despite a relatively cheap payroll based on market size, up to $60 million in extra playoff revenue based on economist Andrew Zimbalist’s estimation (via USA Today‘s Joe Lemire), a nearly 20 percent attendance increase and spiking ratings for local television network SNY, in which ownership has a majority stake, the Mets are not pumping money into the 2016 product. This is happening despite an expected attendance increase next season, plus increased ticket prices and the ability to increase ad revenue from the TV network.

It should be noted that the Mets were reportedly willing to offer Ben Zobrist $60 million over four years, but he chose to take less money to play for the Chicago Cubs, according to the New York Post‘s Ken Davidoff. Beyond that overture, the Mets have only a trio of uninspiring transactions on the books for next season—signing De Aza, acquiring second baseman Neil Walker and signing infielder Asdrubal Cabrera.

The Mets are still competitive and probably even the NL East favorites considering the Washington Nationals have done nothing to put themselves over the top in this race. The rest of the division is uninspiring, so the Mets rotation alone gives them the competitive advantage.

The problem with comparing the Mets to the Pittsburgh Pirates, as the above tweet does, is that New York is not Pittsburgh. The Mets are in the biggest revenue market in the sport, while the Pirates have to perennially pinch pennies. Fairer comparisons for the Mets would be teams like the New York Yankees, Los Angeles Dodgers, San Francisco Giants, Chicago Cubs and Boston Red Sox.

Yet in terms of payrolls, there is no comparing the Mets to those franchises. They are spending to win World Series. The Mets are spending, or not spending, in order to pay down debts.

“That’s what made us tight,” Wilpon told reporters in 2013, the last time he spoke to the press. “We were still getting revenues, lots of revenues, but those revenues were going to pay off debt.”

That has not appeared to change in the following three seasons. And it is an offense worthy of having the team stripped, as the Dodgers were from infamous owner Frank McCourt when he was rightfully strong-armed into selling the franchise in 2011.

Former Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig ousted McCourt for using the Dodgers’ coffers to fund personal expenses, handing the franchise to the better-equipped Guggenheim Baseball Management that now pumps oceans of money into the club.

Essentially, Wilpon is doing the same thing McCourt did, but instead of snatching his team, new MLB commissioner Rob Manfred called this a “fun fact.” Manfred is not alone in helping Wilpon. Selig loaned the Mets money and then did nothing when the loan was past due.

This is the reality Mets fans live in.

The inebriation of last fall’s World Series run, as wonderful as it was, is gone. The effects of the team’s finances and unwillingness to spend big on an impact player have taken over this offseason, and the reality, for that fanbase, is a sobering smack in the mouth.


All quotes, unless otherwise specified, have been acquired firsthand by Anthony Witrado. Follow Anthony on Twitter @awitrado and talk baseball here.

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