How Mets can make playoffs

For the first time in a while, David Wright is the only big-money player the Mets have. Mike Stobe/Getty Images

With the mega-contracts to Johan Santana and Jason Bay finally off of the books, and David Wright and Jonathon Niese now the New York Mets' only players signed to long-term contracts, the club can spend close to $50 million toward 2014's payroll without exceeding last year's relatively frugal $93 million payroll.

Remember, this is a team that had a payroll of $142 million as recently as 2011. In other words, the Mets have room to spend even if you factor in the owner's financial woes, and, perhaps more surprisingly, a realistic chance of making the playoffs if they do.

The myth of certainty

According to 2014 Steamer projections, the Mets can expect to win 75 games if they stand pat. Depending on how you perform the calculations, baseball teams appear to be spending anywhere from $6 million to $7 million per win on the open market.

Therefore, if the Mets spend $50 to $60 million on free agents they might reasonably expect to improve by eight wins. The problem, of course, is that if a 75-win team improves by eight games, it's still only an 83-win team and 83 wins won't get the Mets into the playoffs.

While this argument seems quite reasonable, it wildly overestimates how much we actually know about the future quality of any team and underestimates the fickle nature of the game.