This week's MLB winter meetings are usually an exciting time for fans. Teams begin putting their off-season plans into motion and free agent rumors start swirling around the hotel lobbies and make their way onto Twitter.
But, that won't be the case for the New York Mets. Most believe the Mets will cut their payroll to the $100 million range, down from last year's $140 million. The most exciting change for the 2012 Mets might be bringing in the outfield fences.
So, if payroll is being cut and no exciting personnel changes are expected do Met fans have anything to look forward to?
Sadly, after a month of flirting, Jose Reyes has taken his talents to South Beach and signed with the newly renamed Miami Marlins. The Marlins have been anxious to make a big splash as they open their new stadium, and they landed one of the top three free agents in Reyes. Throughout the off-season, the Mets supposedly wanted Reyes to let them show him a counteroffer before departing, but many believed GM Sandy Alderson was more than content scooping up draft picks as compensation.
It's upsetting to see a homegrown player like Reyes walk away; his style of play was contagious and loved by teammates and fans alike, but $100 million for his injury-riddled services was not worth it. So Reyes took the money, $106 million, to be exact, and he'll be basking in the Miami sun for the next six years.
Last year the Mets sported a team ERA of 4.19, good for 13th in the NL. They don't seem likely to receive any top of the rotation pitching help, either. That is, unless you consider Johan Santana a shoe-in to duplicate his prior success while coming off major shoulder surgery. Top prospects Zack Wheeler and Mike Harvey are a year away, and free agent, C.J. Wilson's price tag of $80 million might be more than Fred Wilpon has in his checking account these days.
Despite all this, there has been no sign from the Mets marketing department that 2012 ticket prices will decrease at the same rate as payroll. The team did announce that no season ticket holders will pay an increase, 80 percent will pay at least five percent less, and 55 percent will see a 10 percent reduction. If the Mets were able to keep their payroll private, that might seem like a good deal. But when it's expected that your on-field product will be 25 percent cheaper, a five or 10 percent reduction in ticket prices doesn't seem like much of a bargain.
Meanwhile, there have been no reports of the Mets cutting the $19 parking fee at Citi Field. If the team admits that a seat to watch their product is not worth what it has been, why wouldn't the parking expense required to get to that seat cost less?
If there were stock options available on the 2012 Mets, CNBC's finance guru, Jim Cramer, would be telling you to buy puts.
Unfortunately, this off-season will likely be a dud. Payroll will be cut, and fans will continue to wonder about their owners' financial plight.
It's even more disappointing to know that when fans receive their discount, it's still less than what the Wilpons are saving. So, as long as prices continue to be obscene and bottled water still costs $4, I'll keep my butt on the couch, or buy discount tickets on Stub Hub and drink the toilet water.
Pete is a lifelong Montauk resident and former sports talk host at 88.7FM WEER. He can be reached via email at Peterfmundo@gmail.com.