Originally Posted by metswon69
Here's an article from 2009 that discusses the problem. The Wilpons have always refused to spend, even when they had the most money in the National League.
The Mets Finished Last in 2009 Draft Spending
By BEN SHPIGEL
Published: November 19, 2009
How much money the Mets intend to lavish on free agents to fill their many needs is unclear. What is clear is that the Mets, during a dreadful season and increased criticism of their minor league system, spent less money on the 2009 draft than any other team in baseball, according to figures compiled by Baseball America.
Omar Minaya said the Mets were committed to spending for top amateur talent.
The Mets divvied $3,134,300 among their 35 signed picks, more than 50 percent less than their 2008 outlay, when they had two first-round selections and a first-round supplemental pick. By contrast, the average for all 30 teams was a shade more than $6 million. Without a pick until the second round, No. 72 over all, the Mets’ spending was destined to decrease. But their 2009 strategy resembled that of a small-market club that sometimes bypasses talented players in earlier rounds because it does not want to spend more on them than players available deeper in the draft.
The Philadelphia Phillies, who ranked 29th in 2009 spending, were the only other team not to have a first-round pick or a supplemental pick, which comes between the first and second rounds. Traditionally, their approach has been comparable to the Mets’, though the Phillies are not as rigid in adhering to baseball’s recommendations on how much to spend in various rounds of the draft. They do not have the Mets’ resources, either.
The Mets used $1,864,300 on the first 10 rounds of the 2009 draft, less than any other team, and failed to sign their fifth- and sixth-round selections, each a hard-throwing right-handed pitcher.
“With a brand-new ballpark and a television network, the Mets’ revenues are probably among the top five clubs in baseball,” said Jim Callis, the executive editor of Baseball America and an expert on player development. “After spending about $6.5 million when they had extra picks last year, do I think they could have found the money this year? Yeah, I think they could have. It just comes down to the willingness to spend.”
General Manager Omar Minaya defended the Mets’ 2009 strategy, saying that not having a first-round pick diminished their spending and that they were committed to paying for top amateur talent. He added that the Mets tried hard to sign their fifth-round pick, Damien Magnifico of Mesquite, Tex., and their sixth-round choice, David Buchanan of Chipola Junior College in Florida, but that the players rejected what he called fair offers.
“We want to pay for the player whatever we feel the player is worth, and we do the best we can to sign the player,” he said.
The Mets are known for their conservative approach to the draft, particularly since signing Mike Pelfrey, their first-round choice in 2005, for $5.3 million with a $3.5 million bonus. They almost never offer bonuses that exceed the slotting guidelines recommended by the commissioner’s office. They signed their top pick in 2009, Steven Matz, for $895,000, about $388,000 more than what was suggested. But that extra money most likely would have gone to a first-round pick, anyway, so the Mets were not really acting as boldly as they seemed to. Callis said the Mets, the Chicago White Sox and the Houston Astros were the three teams that consistently did not go over the slotting guidelines.
“They may be being good citizens, but it’s not good for the club,” Callis said.
A farm system should perform two functions: furnish the parent club with cheap talent and churn out prospects that can be used in trades. That is how the Mets were able to acquire Johan Santana from Minnesota before the 2008 season, though the Twins were more resigned to dealing Santana than they were overwhelmed by the Mets’ offer. None of the four prospects Minnesota received from the Mets has flourished.
Still, that trade wiped out much of the Mets’ upper-tier depth in the minors, and they have been slow to replenish it.
The Yankees lavished $423.5 million on C. C. Sabathia, A. J. Burnett and Mark Teixeira last off-season, but they have also devoted more resources to the draft and the minor leagues. Now they routinely press their financial advantage in the draft, spreading $7,564,500 (ninth most) among their 27 signed picks in 2009, including about $2.2 million on their first-round pick and about $1.25 million on their second-round pick. Even after paying those above-slot bonuses, the Yankees still spent almost $1 million more on the rest of their 25 selections than the Mets did with all 35 of theirs, despite the teams having comparable picks.
“Hardly any team has spent less than the Mets the last two years,” Callis said. “On the other hand, the team that has spent the most money is the Pittsburgh Pirates, who hardly have the revenue stream that the Mets do. They recognize that they can’t compete for free agents, but they can compete for amateurs.”
Minaya said the Mets would spend more in the 2010 draft, when they have the No. 7 pick over all. The Mets relinquished their first-round pick last year after signing Francisco Rodriguez, a Type A free agent. But even if they sign another Type A free agent, like Bengie Molina or Matt Holliday, their pick will be protected because they finished so poorly last season.
“I don’t like picking early like this,” Minaya said. “I’d much rather be picking late.”