The Mets hate talking about their budget nearly as much as they loathe, say, discussing the Vince Coleman years.

You can understand. They have all the accouterments of a big-market team — rabid Northeast fan base, relatively new stadium, own TV network — yet they behave as, at best, a middle-market club.
Blame Bernie Madoff. Or organizational whiplash from big deals gone bad, such as Jason Bay and Johan Santana. Or the parsimonious tendencies of ownership.

But it is what it is. In other words, it’s silly to keep discussing which big fish they should sign. There is a tight budget. These are the rules of engagement. So now their front office has to do a better job of embracing that philosophy. And the best way to do that is stop pretending to want to construct a top-down roster and, instead, vigorously pursue a bottom-up strategy.

What do we mean?

The itsy-bitsy Tampa Bay Rays pride themselves on never being distracted by whom they can’t have. They throw away much of the free-agent list before the buying process even begins and attempt to know more about the small group that fits their budget than any other team. It is, after all, easier to research 25 players than 100.

So I understand why the Mets accepted Jay Z’s dinner invite, even though there is zero chance of signing Robinson Cano. What is the downside of getting to know a potential powerbroker in the sport? And I understand why general manager Sandy Alderson answers questions about Shin-Soo Choo and Jacoby Ellsbury, even if those answers are mainly explaining why the Mets will be signing neither.

But mostly this is a distraction. The Mets have conditioned their faithful to talk longingly about getting to a $100 million payroll, when really this franchise has the peripheral benefits that should support at least a $140 million-ish roster. And the Mets are unlikely to even get to the $100 million this offseason.