By Ernie Palladino
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The personnel affairs of the Yankees and Mets over the last two days have shown us the difference between winners and losers.
Like matters on the field, things come easy for winners. The losers always struggle.
The Yankees, perennial playoff fixtures, simply wait on Andy Pettitte or a Mariano Rivera to decide to come back for another go, and then worry about the money end of it later.
Or sooner. It took almost no time for the Yanks and Pettitte to agree on a one-year, $12 million deal, with another $2.5 million in incentives. The deal was finalized on Wednesday.
The Mets, a struggling franchise beset by talent and money troubles, have to lure their one bona fide, homegrown star –David Wright — past 2013 with an absolute moonshot of a seven-year extension, and then wring their hands while he double clutches over details like deferred payments.
It’s quite comical, really. Here is Wright — a wholesome face of a franchise that has been mired in the valley of losing the past four seasons — who openly asserts that he’d like to remain a Met past the 2013 season in which he’ll get paid $16 million. One might correctly think this would be an easy deal.
But as we have seen on the field, nothing comes easy for the Mets. So far, the reported seven-year offer that would end up paying Wright in the neighborhood of $145 million, counting next year’s take, has only warning-track power.
Just like so many of those fly balls that the Mets’ so-called power hitters smacked for Terry Collins.
What’s worse is that Wright’s agent declared to the New York Post that the sides are not close to closing on this thing. Keep in mind that this total amount, if accurate, surpasses Johan Santana’s franchise-record $137.5 million contract, and would bump Wright’s average yearly salary up about $2 million.
In the old days, Wright might have tripped all over himself to sign such a contract. But now his agent has to think about it. And if it doesn’t get done before Opening Day, they may let this thing marinate until the end of the season, when Wright’s free-agent status will give him the liberty to cut a potentially more lucrative deal with, oh, say, a real contender?
One might think of this whole thing as a graceful way for the Mets’ career leader in hits, runs, RBIs and total bases to get away from a sinking organization that has neither the money nor the desire to surround him with quality bats.
More likely, it’s the six-time All-Star’s agent who is talking in his ear, warning him of tying himself forever — he won’t have much left when the deal expires at age 38 — for a squad that shows little hope of improvement, at least until the potential flow of green stuff begins again in 2014, when Santana and Jason Bay’s numbers come off the books.
Poor Sandy Alderson is probably sitting behind his desk right now, thinking it must be nice to be Brian Cashman. The Yankees’ GM’s biggest worry concerning Pettitte and Rivera was whether they wanted to return. Once those decisions came down, Cashman needed only to worry about the money end of it.
Given the Yanks’ stated desires to keep the payroll at $189 million to avoid the luxury tax, that still should leave enough to make the aged closer happy. And that’s after Pettitte’s payout, which, by the way, adds up to a $9.5 million bump over last year’s $2.5 million base. A 43-year-old Rivera could get two years at an incentive-laden $15 million, which should delight him to no end.
These aren’t exactly hard-nosed negotiations. There is little for the Yanks and their two pitchers to think about, what with both sitting at the ends of their careers. The fact that Wright is in the middle of his career gives him pause.
It wouldn’t if the Mets even showed signs of becoming a winning organization.
Until that happens, their big names must always be wary of hitching themselves to the wrong star.
It’s just the difference between winning and losing.
Do you agree with this sentiment, or is it unfair because Brian Cashman has so many more resources than does Sandy Alderson? Sound off with your thoughts and comments below…