The Mets' new big-picture strategy

Updated: May 30, 2012, 11:16 AM ET
By Buster Olney

In the summer of 2006, as construction began on Citi Field, the New York Mets ' payroll was a little more than $100 million. The beams and the walls went up quickly, and so did the club's payroll, as the Wilpons anticipated the windfall from the opening of their new ballpark and the strengthening of their network, SNY. New York's payroll climbed to $115 million in 2007 and then to $138 million in '08.

But then came a perfect storm of disasters for the franchise, from late-season collapses to calamitous injuries to, most notably, the arrest and conviction of Bernie Madoff at the same time that Citi Field opened. And despite Fred Wilpon's assertion that the Madoff situation would not affect the team's business, the club's payroll peaked and then plummeted in a record descent of about $50 million in one year -- from $143 million in '11 to $95 million this year.

The team's attendance, which ranked first in the NL in the last year of Shea Stadium, fell to ninth in the NL in 2011 and currently ranks 13th among 16 teams.

The Wilpons have hit rock bottom; their liability in the Madoff case was settled with the payment schedule defined. The Mets' current payroll is now about half of what the New York Yankees are spending across town and a little more than half of the Phillies' $172 million payroll.

So where do the Mets go from here?