Dead Weight Could Be Keeping Mets, Manny Apart

The cry for has been loud and clear: fans have taken to blogs, talk radio, and even to make it known they want the future Hall of Fame slugger in the lineup. Unfortunately, there's the whole matter of money, and making things fit within the budget, and Manny looking to earn more than a small country's GDP. 

Of course, considering the discounts Minaya has been able to procure via bargain contracts with stud-closer Francisco Rodriguez and a fan's frustration with the Mets not applying those savings to a reasonable offer for the mercurial superstar is understandable.

But it turns out the great deals Minaya is making today are just making up for some of his more onerous decisions in the past. The big obstacle in terms of the budget is not the total amount, but the approaching luxury tax threshold currently set at $162 million. No one except the cash-heavy Yankees dare graze into the land of luxury tax penalties, baseball's version of a salary cap where a team essentially pays the other teams for having an unfairly high payroll. 

The Mets payroll the last two seasons has been in the ballpark of $143 million ( Adam Rubin provides details of this year's payroll), which would give them about $19 million to work with before being penalized. With reports of Manny rejecting a one-year $25M offer, the Mets simply don't have the clearance to come anywhere close to meeting his demands.

Even if Manny wanted to play in New York so badly that he'd take a discount, such a move would still severely hamstring Minaya in terms of in-season roster flexibility, replacements for injured players, or adding other high-cost players (Jake Peavy, for example) who become available during the season would not be an option.

The real problem, however, is that the Mets are wasting a lot of money. Considering the money owed to ($6M) and the cost of Billy Wagner's broken arm ($10.5M), and the $2M+ going to finance 's internship with the Milwaukee Brewers, and the insurance policy (anywhere from $2-$8M if he meets incentives) and if you add that up all of a sudden Manny Ramirez is a realistic possibility. If not Manny, you could certainly snatch up an Orlando Hudson and one of the and be fielding a significantly upgraded team.

So as they say, a penny saved is a penny earned. And in this case, millions wasted is a Manny lost.

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