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Tampa Bay Rays: Smartest Team In Baseball, Make NY Mets Look Even Worse
Ok, I’ll be honest, I had a really good idea for a post as soon as I heard about Evan Longoria’s new $100 million contract extension. However, I had to go to class and therefore wait to actually sit down and write the thing. In that time, ESPN’s Dave Schoenfield, who gets paid to write about baseball full time, wrote an article that hit most of the points I wanted to. Now, I could rehash his argument, but he really did do it well and I’m one to give credit where credit is due, so I would recommend that you check out his work.
Some of the things that he talked about–and that I was going to–include just how good Longoria is and just how cheap he’s been for Tampa (he’s currently in the middle of a six year, $17.5 million contract he signed when he was still in the minors). There are, however, a few things I’d like to elaborate on.
First, you’ve really got to tip your cap to the Rays, again. They have a notoriously tight budget but they’ve still managed to compete year in and year out. In large part, this is because they don’t hesitate to lock up top talent when they see it. Look at Longoria and Matt Moore (who received a five year, $14 million deal before he threw a major league inning). The question until today was, were they willing and able to sign major league players to long term deals?
For a while, it seemed like the answer was no. David Price is climbing in cost as he nears the end of his current deal, and rumor had it that the Rays were contemplating moving him. It seemed like the Rays were going to be forced to rely on minor league talent producing at the major league level and low cost free agents if they wanted to compete. Now, however, we can see that the Rays know a good thing when they’ve got it and are willing to spend what little they have to lock it up. I’m very impressed.
This was a particularly savvy move because of who Longoria is and how important he is to the roster. They now have the key piece of their lineup at a premium position signed for what will be the vast majority of his career.
The Rays always seem to be a step ahead of the rest of the MLB, and that means that they are two steps ahead of the Mets.
While the Rays just appropriately extended what was the most team friendly deal in baseball, the Mets continue to struggle with two contracts that should be no-brainers. David Wright will be a free agent after next season and needs to be signed to a long term contract. Now that Jose Reyes is long gone, Wright is the face of the franchise, the only player on the roster little kids want to be when they grow up, the number one jersey seller, and one of the only reasons to buy a Mets’ ticket. They absolutely must keep him in Queens. However, instead of paying what that would take–around $100 million if not a little more–the Mets continue to beat around the bush for no reason. They really have very little leverage in this situation as they have no choice but to pay Wright because they cannot afford to let him leave.
Wright is one of the premier third basemen in baseball and would get a ton of offers were he to hit free agency. The Mets can’t let it get that far. He is worth more to them than to any other team. Remember when the Yankees were re-signing Derek Jeter and were forced to pay him way more than he was worth as a shortstop because of what he meant to the franchise? Wright is actually worth the cash! It’s the same deal only more extreme because the Mets don’t have a single viable marketing alternative. Unless you count RA Dickey.
Dickey is in a similar situation and, if anything, this one is more baffling and more indicative of the Mets’ ineptitude. The reigning Cy Young Award winner (I repeat: the reigning Cy Young Award winner) is signed for one more season at the very reasonable price of $5 million. Additionally, he is old and not worth much in a trade. The Mets have gotten some incredible seasons out of Dickey for a bargain basement price so you would think they wouldn’t hesitate to reward him with a nice two or three year deal. You would think.
Instead, the Mets won’t pull the trigger on this deal either and I honestly can’t explain why. Why do the Mets insist on alienating their best players and their fan base by refusing to pay for any talent, especially talent that already identifies with the organization? Wright is the quintessential Met. He is the franchise. He must stay. Dickey came from nowhere to be arguably the best player on the Mets. They should love him. He’s the only reason anyone talked about the Mets last season. He made them a ton of money and won them a ton of games. What is going on with this franchise?
The worst part? The Rays continue to make stellar moves on a budget equal to that of the Mets’ postgame buffet. The Mets are from New York. They are the very definition of a big market team and yet the Rays continue to run circles around them. It goes to show you that though there are some major inequalities between the haves and the have-nots in terms of revenue, there is also a major difference in the haves and have-nots in terms of baseball intelligence.