New York Mets: Owner Fred Wilpon Rips Team, but He's Not Wrong

James Stewart-Meudt@@JSMeudtCorrespondent IIMay 23, 2011

PORT ST. LUCIE, FL - FEBRUARY 17:  Owner Fred Wilpon of the New York Mets addresses the media during spring training at Tradition Field on February 17, 2011 in Port St. Lucie, Florida.  (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)
Marc Serota/Getty Images

As if New York Mets fans didn't have enough to worry about, they got to wake up this morning to the news the Fred Wilpon felt it was necessary to rip into his players.

The Mets are still dealing with the financial fallout from their involvement with convicted swindler Bernie Madoff.

David Wright and Ike Davis are both on the DL until a still unknown date, and the team just lost two out of three to the New York Yankees in the first Subway Series of the season.

Now is certainly a great time to express disdain for his players.

And not just any players. Wilpon chose his most popular (and important) players: Wright, Jose Reyes, and Carlos Beltran.

In an interview for The New Yorker, Wilpon discussed his rise to power as the Mets' owner and the current state of the team.

Reyes, a free agent at the end of this season, is a main point of contention among Mets fans. The majority believe Reyes needs to be resigned for the long-term, regardless of cost.

Buster Olney of ESPN believes Reyes is at least a $100 million player on the open market.

Reyes is certainly playing for that big payday. He leads the NL in hits (62, second overall), stolen bases (17), and leads the Mets with a .310 batting average.

But Reyes may have to look elsewhere if he wants to get paid.

"[Reyes] thinks he's going to get Carl Crawford money. He's had everything wrong with him," Wilpon said. "He won't get it."

Wilpon practically stamped Reyes' ticket out of town, all but insuring that the team will look to trade Reyes at the deadline this season.

Fans have held out hope that the cash-strapped Mets will find a way to keep Reyes around. General manager Sandy Alderson has stressed "payroll flexibility," and signing Reyes may go against his plan.

And quite frankly, when was the last time the Mets gave out a long-term contract and had it work out?

Wilpon also put Wright and Beltran in his cross hairs.

Wilpon told The New Yorker, that Beltran is "sixty-five to seventy percent of what he was." Wilpon also called himself a "schmuck" for giving Beltran his seven-year, $115 million contract after he hit .435 with eight home runs in the 2004 ALCS for the Houston Astros.

Beltran has battled injuries for much of his Mets career and was a serious question mark at the start of this season. But Beltran has answered every question with a stellar performance thus far.

At the start, it was difficult to imagine Beltran playing 42 games TOTAL this season, let along start in 40 of the Mets' 42 games to this point. Beltran also leads the team with eight home runs and 25 RBI.

Like Reyes, Beltran is a free agent and very likely to be traded this season.

It's understandable that Fred Wilpon might regret giving Beltran a long-term contract (and perhaps why he won't be paying Reyes Crawford-like money). But Beltran also gave the Mets excellent production before injuries took their toll.

From 2006-2008, Beltran averaged 33 home runs, 113 RBI, and 112 runs, not to mention gold glove-caliber defense.

That's invaluable to any team, and despite Beltran's performance over the last two seasons, the Mets weren't wrong to pay Beltran.

The last target of Wilpon's statements was third baseman David Wright, currently on the DL with a stress fracture in his back. Even if Wright wanted to get onto the field to shut Wilpon up, he can't.

Wilpon called Wright, "A really good kid. A very good player. Not a superstar."

Wright is a very good player and he's the face of the franchise. If Fred Wilpon doesn't think Wright is a superstar, he'd better hope he is, because if Reyes and Beltran are traded, Wright will be the only thing left to draw fans to Citi Field.

Fans are undoubtedly perturbed by Wilpon's statements.

And rightfully so. But it's not what Wilpon said, it's the timing.

The Mets were actually playing well. Ye,s they just dropped two of three to the Yankees, but the Mets were .500 for the first time since April 9 on Friday, and despite their issues were actually playing well.

Justin Turner has been the king of New York for the past week, and the team actually had reasons for optimism.

There's just no reason to start blasting players right now. The Mets aren't 10 games under .500 or 15 games out of first place. They're not going out and losing every night.

That being said, Wilpon is not wrong for what he said.

Reyes won't be getting a $142 million contract from the Mets. We already knew that. Did it have to be said? No. If anything, it simply answers the question of whether or not Alderson will convince ownership to open their wallets.

He's not going to be able to. Not after this.

Carlos Beltran? He's having a fantastic season and producing at a level no one thought he still could (at least not for the Mets). That's all true. But is he the 30-100 player he used to be? Certainly not.

That means he's not 100 percent what he was. Maybe Wilpon simply assigned the wrong percentages to Beltran's status. Instead of "sixty-five to seventy," maybe he should've been a little more generous.

After all, Beltran is playing almost every day and with Ike Davis and Wright on the DL, he's the team's sole power threat.

Calling Wright a "very good player" is a compliment. Saying he's not a "superstar" is not a slight. Who are the superstars in baseball? Albert Pujols is considered the best player in the game.

Would anyone like to make the case that Wright is even comparable to Pujols? That would be quite the magic trick.

There are so few "superstars" in this game and Wright not being one of them doesn't make him a bad player.

Most Mets fans might consider Wright a superstar. In the city of New York he probably is. But superstars don't bat .200 with runners in scoring position.

Is it unfair that Wright is on the DL right now? Yes. It's worth noting that Wright has played with this stress fracture in his back since April 19 and wasn't willing to blame his poor start on the injury.

He has shown tremendous strength of character on many occasions throughout his career.

But that's not the sole mark of a superstar.

Did Wilpon have to say these things about his players? No, he didn't.

The Mets lost a reported $50 million last season and are expected to lose another $70 million this season, not to mention the $1 billion they're on the hook for in their lawsuit with Irving Picard.

Poor timing? Yes. Inaccurate statements? No.

Wilpon said things many Mets fans have probably said to themselves in one form or another.

The way it becomes a problem is if it affects the team's performance.

But perhaps these statements have been a long time coming. This team has struggled for years now without a word from ownership. All you ever heard was votes of confidence from the top.

It's almost refreshing to hear management call out these guys for their poor performances.

It's certainly nothing new.


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