The Mets are currently 76-79. Including tonight’s game (in progress), they have seven games remaining: four against the Brewers and three against the Nationals.

If the Mets were in a heated pennant race, they would have lucked out considering their competition over this next week. But since they were eliminated from playoff contention a while ago, I would now like to see if the team can at least manage to finish .500.

So that begs the question: can a .500 finish be considered a success for this team?

With a $136 million payroll (the fifth highest in majors), anything short of a playoff berth is rather disappointing. But we need to take a step back and look at who that money in actually invested in.

Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo combined to make about $20 million. What exactly have they accomplished this year? Carlos Beltran and his $20 million dollar salary only played half the season and has only started heating up once the games stopped counting.

Jason Bay has missed significant time and, even when healthy, did not perform like a nine-million dollar player. And of course, K-Rod has his own issues.

For argument’s sake, if you subtract partial amounts of the money owed to these players based on their actual worth, it would amount to roughly $40 million.

That would put the Mets in the range of the Dodgers and Cardinals in terms of payroll, though still in the top ten.

The Dodgers currently sit at 76-81 while the Cardinals are 81-75. Neither team will  be heading to the playoffs. So based on other teams with similar payrolls, the Mets are right where they are expected to be.

The sad thing is that you can’t just arbitrarily subtract payroll based on the poor performances of your players. The solution starts with not making the investment for an Oliver Perez or a Luis Castillo or getting production from a Jason Bay.

This season, the Mets have been carried by the Pagan’s, Pelfrey’s, Dickey’s, and Davis’s, none of whom make over $1.5 million. That being said, if the Mets happen to finish .500 or better, it could be considered a minor success, knowing the vast under-production and financial burden brought on by some key players.

But still, $136 million for a .500 team is a little ridiculous. The Padres and Rangers are in the bottom five of payroll, one of which is fighting for a playoff berth while the other has already clinched. Though some of this success may have to do with strength of division, it does involve clutch performances by players who do not earn a large salary by baseball standards.

It seems the Mets are bound for a payroll decrease, but it may come at the expense of some of their player’s salaries.

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