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Money the bottom line for 2011 Mets

Financial talk will dominate the season. 

It was already topic A from a roster standpoint and boiled over with ownership issues resulting from the Madoff suit.

But with spring training about to start, the fans’ interest may shift to how all of financial machinations will affect the product on the field for this season and beyond.

The potential starting lineups will be a combination of bargain priced players (Ike Davis, Josh Thole, Chris Young, Chris Capuano) and highly paid, but suspect talent (Carlos Beltran, Jason Bay).Throw in Johan Santana if you think he'll pitch relevant innings this season. 

The first order of business, which could take most of spring training, is deciding what to do with Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo, significant drags on the payroll and performance front.

Perez is owed $12 million and, unlike the Royals' Gil Meche, isn’t going to quit and leave the money on the table. Perez did nothing in winter ball to suggest he can be a piece of this pitching staff. If he shows any sign of success, general manger Sandy Alderson will try to move him elsewhere.

But would any GM in baseball take Perez, even with the Mets paying most of his salary?

Castillo, owed $6 millon, will be the starting second baseman or will not be on the team at all, Alderson has said. If he has a hot spring, Castillo could win the job over Daniel Murphy, who will have to show he can play defense and also hit. Brad Emaus and Justin Turner are listed as candidates for second, but this figures to be a two-man race. And the Mets would rather eat $12 million (Perez) than $18 million (Perez and Castillo).

After the Perez and Castillo issues are, for once and for all, decided, there will be intrigue in the bullpen where Francisco Rodriguez will return after his self inflicted knockout last season. He is the closer--or should be --and if he finishes 55 games, he will automatically be owed $17.5 million in 2012. That’s a huge amount in good financial times for any team, a lethal amount for this payroll clearing Mets.

There is a myriad of issues surrounding Rodriguez and his behavior, but it boils down to just one question: Do the Mets need a high priced closer on a team that is not expected to be in the post-season picture? The firm answer is no. How to address thay reality is the issue to be resolved.  

Also hovering is the matter of Jose Reyes and his contract. If he stays healthy and plays well, he is in line for a free agent  fortune.

But will the Mets be able to afford him?
 

 

 

 

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